Why not walk backward?

Gertrude Contemporary, in partnership with the Next Wave Festival, Melbourne, 2014.
Fiona Abicare, Tania Bruguera, Nina Beier, Catherine or Kate, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Aleks Danko, Bonita Ely and Tim Johnson, co-curated with Brooke Babington.

Why not walk backward? considers the implications of reiteration. To repeat, when contemporary time threatens to subsume our sense of history and narrative, is to propose a different type of relationship to time. The group of five Australian and international artists in Why not walk backward?, Fiona Abicare, Nina Beier, Tania Bruguera, Catherine or Kate and Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, retrace old steps – their own and others – using appropriation to deal with the ghosts of the past in new and imaginative ways.

Each of these artists utilise performance or strategies associated with performance to appropriate existing, historically significant works of art through homage, reinterpretation or re-enactment. Working at the intersection of performance and appropriation they address issues of temporality and historiography.

This use of appropriation is taken up by Melbourne artist Fiona Abicare in an evolving installation and performance work. Artist Actor, Artist Auteur reworks and combines costumes worn by female artists depicted in film as the material basis to ground an elaborate network of personal recollections, associations and schematic representations.

Nina Beier’s sculpture Trauerspiel will be recreated by an actor employed to perform the creative act on the artist’s behalf, armed only with verbal descriptions of the original work. This will be the third iteration of Beier’s Trauerspiel: the work dictates that the exhibition copy be destroyed at the close of each exhibition to be remade again by another collaborator at a later date.

Alongside these works will be a video by 2012 Turner Prize nominee and performance artist Marvin Gaye Chetwynd (formerly Spartacus Chetwynd) whose ad-hoc, amateur performances throw together references from art history and popular culture. For Why not walk backward? Chetwynd presents The Walk to Dover, a film photomontage that documents a journey taken by her and a group of friends from London to Dover following in the footsteps of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield.

Returning from a semester at ‘comedy school’ in Chicago, emerging Brisbane duo Catherine or Kate will gently mock and pay homage to mentor artists Paul Harrison and John Wood (UK) and The Art Guys (USA). These video works copy video interviews and artworks by their mentors in a humorously lo-fi and irreverent style that sits at the intersection of performance and appropriation.

Tania Bruguera engenders a profoundly different tenor through her decade-long project of re-enactment in an attempt to effect a reclamation of her Cuban-born compatriot Ana Mendieta’s work within Cuban cultural identity.

Liang Luscombe02-05-14 – 31-05-14_70

Fiona Abicare, Artist Actor, Artist Auteur, 2010/14, reclaimed spotted gum, stainless steel, etched brass, print on aluminium, patinated bronze, hydrostone, calico, Georgette, silk crepe de Chine, leather. Made to Measure print on card, dimensions variable. Photo credit: Christo Crocker.

Liang Luscombe02-05-14 – 31-05-14_72

Fiona Abicare, Artist Actor, Artist Auteur, 2010/14, reclaimed spotted gum, stainless steel, etched brass, print on aluminium, patinated bronze, hydrostone, calico, Georgette, silk crepe de Chine, leather. Made to Measure print on card, dimensions variable. Photo credit: Christo Crocker.

Liang Luscombe 02-05-14 – 31-05-14_78

Fiona Abicare, Artist Actor, Artist Auteur, 2010/14, reclaimed spotted gum, stainless steel, etched brass, print on aluminium, patinated bronze, hydrostone, calico, Georgette, silk crepe de Chine, leather. Made to Measure print on card, dimensions variable. Photo credit: Christo Crocker.

Liang Luscombe02-05-14 – 31-05-14_12

Why not walk backward?, 2014, installation view, Gertrude Contemporary. Photo credit: Christo Crocker.

Liang Luscombe02-05-14 – 31-05-14_110

Nina Beier, Scheme, 2014, online organic vegetable box scheme, delivered to the gallery at scheduled intervals, dimensions variable. Photo credit: Christo Crocker.

Liang Luscombe02-05-14 – 31-05-14_22

Catherine or Kate, We are always trying not to repeat ourselves, 2014, mixed media. Courtesy of The Art Guys and Catherine or Kate. Photo credit: Christo Crocker.

Liang Luscombe02-05-14 – 31-05-14_86

Nina Beier, Trauerspiel, 2010/14, modelling clay, sculpted under instruction by a hired actor, dimensions variable. Photo credit: Christo Crocker.

Laing Luscombe 02-05-14 – 31-05-14_94

Nina Beier, Trauerspiel, 2010/14, modelling clay, sculpted under instruction by a hired actor, dimensions variable. Photo credit: Christo Crocker.