The phallus at the centre of Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran’s work is based on two cultural phallocentric paradigms – the first in Hinduism where Shiva Lingham, a symbol of power and fertility, is widely believed to represent Lord Shiva’s penis and is worshipped as part Hindu creation mythology. The lack of shame concerning genitalia in traditional Hindu society provides a stark contrast for the second paradigm, Christianity, which Nithiyendran describes as a “ … misogynistic, patriarchal religion that inadvertently worships the penis.” It is from the Victorian/Christian view of sexuality, supressed and policed, that modern pornography has emerged; all the more exciting for its furtive character.
The rise and rise of Internet pornography has generated a fertile contemporary context in which the phallus has been able to reclaim its central place. For Nithiyendran, however, this is not simply a story about men and throughout his works he has searched for ways to subvert cultural mores and conventions in sexual fantasy. One Hung Bitch was first based on a film of the same name with transsexual star Suzanna Holmes in the lead role. In introducing a transgender figure into the overall story Nithiyendran is able to distance his work from straight white misogyny.
In the production of his work, be it 2 or 3D, painting, drawing, printmaking, ceramics, sculpture or installation, Nithiyendran appears to pay little attention to technique (as we understand it). His rejection of the rigidities of fine art making have generated a characteristic kind of anti aesthetic and a unique practice able to communicate ideas around sex and societies in ways that are both outrageous and amusing. The raw unfinished quality of his works paradoxically become their finish, their ultimate resolve.
Adapted from catalogue essays by David Broker
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.
The City of Sydney
UNSW Art and Design
Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran is represented by Gallery 9, Sydney
Ramesh Nithiyendran, Black and Gold Dickhead, 2014, earthenware, glaze and gold lustre, 45 x 16 x 16 cm; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.
When Timothy D speaks of an “information dark age” he is not talking about a lack of information. D’s dark age is more about content and while the Internet might be a force for liberation its sinister side will fascinate artists for many years to come. The Internet is Timothy D’s shadowy playground. His innocuously titled and net-centric exhibition Video:Music consisting of video, sound and drawing is, upon closer inspection, perverted and voyeuristic. D is of the last generation of artists not born with the Internet, but who have grown up in its omnipresent company. This exhibition reflects not only an enduring relationship with the net but also covers the period of its rapid development.
The source material for Timothy D’s work is not only the flood of images found on the Internet. He also speaks of the influence of the Flicker or the Structural film movement of the 1960s and early 70s. The proponents of ‘flickers’ challenged the hegemony of mainstream cinema by treating film as the projection of still images presented in very quick succession and celebrating the flickering effect of silent movies of the 1920s. While the sense of the raw physicality of film has been all but lost to the seemingly intangible technologies of digital video, the basic concept of clashing stills remains. Thus D focuses on the endless illusions created by passing images and the effects on human consciousness. Along with his composed soundtrack that augments a sense of conflict between image and sound he, like avant-garde or experimental film makers, aims to generate a disorienting environment in the gallery that will fracture the audience’s understanding of virtual and video imagery as it is encountered in everyday 21st century life.
Adapted from catalogue essay by David Broker; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.
Blaze is an annual showcase of emerging contemporary art in Canberra. Blaze Nine includes the work of nine artists: Madeline Bishop, Michele England, Anja Loughhead, Sacha Pola, Jacob Potter, Dan Savage, Chris Sutevski, Jo Walters and Danny Wild.
When people are exhibited together because of their perceived quality as artists, it’s often difficult to establish an overarching thematic interest amongst work - unusually, the case is not so with this exhibition. If this group were anything to go by, it would appear that what it means to be human is playing heavily on the minds of these emerging artists. Nostalgia for our past and our travels through life to the inevitable end, and what it means to be Australian, appear to be of paramount importance to Bishop, England, Loughhead, Pola, Savage and Walters. The other recurring theme present in the work of Potter, Sutevski and Wild is the ever-present desire to thoroughly dissect and interrogate their respective mediums, and in the process reveal deeper meanings within their materials and techniques.
Excerpt from essay by Alexander Boynes
Danny Wild, 48 Hours in a New Place, 2015, video still, dual channel projection, 4'00 looped; photography by Brenton McGeachie
people do have the right to be bigots you know is part of Pat Hoffie’s Fully Exploited Labor series that has been ongoing for almost three decades. For this particular series she employed Balinese woodcarvers to carve the bumper-sticker slogans 'designed' for Australian tourists in Bali. Part of Hoffie’s interest in these artifacts lies in the way they perform the role of objects of cultural exchange. Each carving provides an insight into the way that Balinese traders view Australians through the items that tourists are keen to buy. Although they may seem a long way from the kind of objects that make their way into museums and collections as evidence of cultural interaction or cross-cultural influences, they are as loaded with traces of cultural trade as any other products.
First shown as you gotta love it in Artspace, Sydney in February 2013, the scope of people do have the right to be bigots you know has broadened to include changes in Australia-Indonesian relations. By April 2014 a change of government and its new priorities has significantly altered the context of the work. This, together with the fact that this exhibition at CCAS is located in the nation's capital, made it important that the components of the installation were reconsidered. For this reason, Hoffie has included parts of quotes from the federal government in relation to Australia's relationship with Indonesia in the face of the ongoing problems of the refugee crisis and in the wake of the 'spying scandal'.
Excerpt from artist's statement by Pat Hoffie.
Pat Hoffie, people do have the right to be bigots you know, 2013-2014, wood, paint, installation view, dimensions variable; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.
Graham Sorrelle is an artist, poet and cameleer. While the latter vocation might come as a surprise, the lines on Graham’s face tell his story like camel tracks across a rugged desert. Working almost entirely with metaphors the camel looms large in Sorrelle’s oeuvre. In his photo series The Camels, Sorrelle is camouflaged, lost amongst the ships of the desert reflecting an affinity with creatures who experience the struggle for survival in the harshest of environments. Camels may not be endemic to Australia’s arid wilderness and yet they thrive, as if they always belonged.
Man, myth and movement; Graham’s birthright is Sorrellism. The only similarity with surrealism, upon which this suspect pun is based, is its relation to the dark side of dreams and his view of landscape as a state of mind. Not quite abstract, Sorrelle’s painted country is bleak, highlighting feelings of isolation, alienation and dread. It is a world in sienna, literally coloured by the coffee he uses as a versatile medium and metaphor.
Sorrellism follows Graham’s personal journey and captures the essence of places he has been, and seen. Across these experiential landscapes we see a monochromatic image of a toddler, innocent and naïve, imbedded in the vast unknown for which life provides no map. The image of the ‘lost’ child, so ubiquitous in Australian painting, fiction and pop mythology is given a very personal workout in Sorrellism. No stranger to the confessional, Sorrelle’s work is relentlessly self-reflective and reveals his sense of vulnerability and powerlessness – the result of what he sees as an inability to overcome the multifarious obstacles thrown on life’s path.
Adapted from catalogue essay by David Broker
Graham Sorelle, Sorellism, an installation of new works, 2013-14, mixed media, dimensions variable; photography by Brenton McGeachie.
Through the tropes of Batman and Robin, Dean Butters’ portraits examine ideas of protracted adolescence and social disconnection. The series looks at the relationships he develops, and the repeating patterns that they form.
Batman and Robin represents the heroic ideas of childhood and adolescence dashed against feelings of an unfulfilled life, one that lacks the sense of certainty we once dreamed of as children. Like Peter Pan's choice to never grow-up, this work is about being unstuck in a world that has moved on around you.
Pop culture and appropriation are enduring themes throughout Butters’ work. Both are used to examine the influences of fiction on the creation and representation of the self. Fictional characters and appropriated imagery become deconstructive tools, that speak to the universality of such imagery, while also questioning the freedom that they ultimately provide to our identities and self-definition.
Excerpts from catalogue essay by David Broker.
Dean Butters, Without Robin, 2012-13, Lambda print, edition of 10, 80 x 120cm; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.