HYPERactive was conceived in a miasma of unreality. The subtexts of works being considered defied description and words failed to reflect anything other than an impression of ideas that sounded absurd, if not impossible. The artists imagined the unimaginable; a talking devil with stories where fact is stranger than fiction, a plague of rabbits on the lounge room carpet, the bizarre replica of a picturesque Austrian town in modern China, a Victorian séance generator, a waterfall over an upturned suspended vanity cabinet, oblique reflections of ceremonial Aboriginal attire in knitted Elmo skin cloaks and paintings that imagine Fat Boy and Little Boy, the two American atomic bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As elements of Ripley’s Believe it or Not emerged and took hold, a dark cloud gathered over this hypothetical exhibition. The ‘devil’ occupies all of these works.
My initial frustration in finding a coherent link among seven diverse works was partially assuaged by way of revisiting the 1990s and the popular writings of Jean Baudrillard and Umberto Eco on hyperreality, in themselves often not always entirely comprehensible. Some refuge, however, was found in the convoluted musings on modern life where images and simulations distorted the realities they attempted to represent – ultimately removed from actuality while generating a new reality based on their own existence. Perhaps my struggle to understand what I was attempting to unleash came from the initial inability to distinguish experienced reality from its manufactured simulations. While all of these works are rooted in difficult truths: nuclear devastation, plague, spiritualism, global malaise, fractured cultures and incongruent simulation, they are neither absurd nor impossible because the artists have given their curious concepts form. Each is imbued with considerable intensity and thus credibility. Hence the problematic space between reality and hyperreality morphed into a zone of hyperactivity where the audience must navigate various courses of earnest trickery, contradiction and illusion.
Featuring works by Bianca Beetson, Claudia Chaseling, Richard Grayson, Jay Kochel, Catherine Laudenbach, Rebecca Selleck and Jay Younger
Image: Rebecca Selleck, Lapin Fam, 2016, Found rabbit skin coats, found rug, planetary motors, heat conductive wiring, electrics, steel, stainless steel, polyester, synthetic stuffing, 135 x 300 x 200cm (approximately); courtesy of the artist