memorate.com.au – Art installation: ANZAC – an alternative perspective

memorate.com.au installation promo

memorate.com.au

An installation by Orange based artist Victor Gordon at the Orange Regional Gallery

Opening Friday the 24th April – 5th July 2015

This exhibition coincides with the 100 year Anzac Day Commemoration and is the culmination of eighteen months preparation. The Orange Regional Gallery is hosting a site-specific art installation intended, not as a static commemorative exhibition to be viewed passively, but as a simulated emotional and intellectual experience intended to provoke thought. Gallery 2 will be transformed to provide a powerful and perhaps confronting artistic response to the supreme sacrifice of soldier volunteers in WWI.

It will provide an historical overview of the military hierarchy and the human resources required to conduct the Great War. The statistics of all Australian volunteers who died as well as those of our community here in Orange and districts will be included.

Website memorate.com.au screengrabA large scale 9 metre long panelled painting will take up one entire wall of Gallery 2. The painting sets ‘the stage’ by [re]presenting the industrial-scale magnitude of tombstone production to meet the demand of the War Graves Commission for an adequate and tasteful commemoration of the dead.

While of intense topical interest at this moment in time to the general viewer on a national scale, Gordon’s installation is directed towards engaging and addressing the local community of Orange, by symbolically bringing together and bringing home, the (approximately 120) volunteers from our district who died in WWI.

Attention will importantly be drawn to one individual, Private Ernest Lachlan Powter, who was the youngest volunteer from Orange to die. Being born on 9th march 1900, he was fifteen when he lied about his age to go to the war and was dead by the time he was sixteen!

Concurrently An image of Alec Campbell, who volunteered at age sixteen and survived to become the last Anzac to die, also features. Of note is his personal reflection on Anzac which evolved and developed after his war service as he matured.

The installation will additionally include reference to contemporary local and national opposition to the war. The shaming symbol of their non patriotic stance, the white feather, will form an integral aspect of the installation, which highlighted the divisive sentiment on the home front and peaked around the two failed conscription referenda debates which divided the nation. Orange was not excluded.

Gordon’s art will provide thoughtful insights into the tough choices young men faced; to volunteer and potentially die, be wounded or otherwise be permanently affected or, face being labelled a coward — which could mean becoming a social outcast, forever stigmatised.

By highlighting the devastating cost of Australia’s voluntary participation in the Great War in young Australian lives, Victor Gordon’s aesthetic response to the Anzac legacy will provide much food for thought.

Art installation – ANZAC, CWD 22 Jan 2015

Orange media article

Read the CWD article

memorate.com.au

An installation by Orange based artist Victor Gordon at the Orange Regional Gallery

Opening Friday the 24th April – 5th July 2015

This exhibition coincides with the 100 year Anzac Day Commemoration and is the culmination of eighteen months preparation. The Orange Regional Gallery is hosting a site-specific art installation intended, not as a static commemorative exhibition to be viewed passively, but as a simulated emotional and intellectual experience intended to provoke thought. Gallery 2 will be transformed to provide a powerful and perhaps confronting artistic response to the supreme sacrifice of soldier volunteers in WWI.

It will provide an historical overview of the military hierarchy and the human resources required to conduct the Great War. The statistics of all Australian volunteers who died as well as those of our community here in Orange and districts will be included.

memorate.com.au promotional materialA large scale 9 metre long panelled painting will take up one entire wall of Gallery 2. The painting sets ‘the stage’ by [re]presenting the industrial-scale magnitude of tombstone production to meet the demand of the War Graves Commission for an adequate and tasteful commemoration of the dead.

While of intense topical interest at this moment in time to the general viewer on a national scale, Gordon’s installation is directed towards engaging and addressing the local community of Orange, by symbolically bringing together and bringing home, the (approximately 120) volunteers from our district who died in WWI.

Attention will importantly be drawn to one individual, Private Ernest Lachlan Powter, who was the youngest volunteer from Orange to die. Being born on 9th march 1900, he was fifteen when he lied about his age to go to the war and was dead by the time he was sixteen!

Website memorate.com.au screengrabConcurrently An image of Alec Campbell, who volunteered at age sixteen and survived to become the last Anzac to die, also features. Of note is his personal reflection on Anzac which evolved and developed after his war service as he matured.

The installation will additionally include reference to contemporary local and national opposition to the war. The shaming symbol of their non patriotic stance, the white feather, will form an integral aspect of the installation, which highlighted the divisive sentiment on the home front and peaked around the two failed conscription referenda debates which divided the nation. Orange was not excluded.

Gordon’s art will provide thoughtful insights into the tough choices young men faced; to volunteer and potentially die, be wounded or otherwise be permanently affected or, face being labelled a coward — which could mean becoming a social outcast, forever stigmatised.

By highlighting the devastating cost of Australia’s voluntary participation in the Great War in young Australian lives, Victor Gordon’s aesthetic response to the Anzac legacy will provide much food for thought.

You can keep up to date with this exhibition by visiting memorate.com.au

Multi-Didactic October 2001

Installation based on 9/11Mixed media installation: Small rug, transparent acrylic cube, wire basket, stainless steel bucket, rope, shaped painted boards and lettering
300 x 69 x 100 cm

This installation was prompted by the events of September 2001. I had, prior to the momentous bombings in the USA been contemplating addressing the issue of suicide, in rural NSW. I had come to learn of the vast numbers of suicides and the fact that they were largely brushed under the carpet so to speak, devastated me. No-one discussed these suicides and I felt compelled to make some sort of artistic statement.

The bombings of September 11th prompted me to respond to both issues in the same work. The bombings however took centre stage in the development of my installation. I combined two salient notions in my approach. The first was that the whole world seemed to out of sync and this resulted in a gigantic imbalance. I conceived of a scale of religious opposites, two hypothetically suspended buckets which did not balance. The second and more important idea was that I perceive that there is little or no compassion among the powers that be in the world. The symbols I have deployed for these polar opposites are the Red Cross and the Red Crescent. Two circular disks with their discrete symbols were placed each half way down their respective buckets to form the surfaces of half full /half empty vessels.

Mixed media installation by Victor GordonThe Red Cross representing the West’s “coalition of the willing”, their shiny stainless steel Crusaders bucket hanging high and suspended off a thick rope tied in an hangman’s noose. To make it particularly germane to Australians, I added the text “lest we forget”, the reprise used after Laurence Binyon’s poem “For the Fallen” at military remembrance services.
The Red Crescent represents the Muslim Jihadi extremists of the world and their bucket is a skeleton which is located under a transparent acrylic box on a small prayer mat on the floor. Above the acrylic box is a dusting brush also suspended from a smaller hangman’s noose.

The work is intended to provoke a correspondence or thoughtfulness on the current imbalance and lack of compassion in the world. More than a decade since making this work little has changed.

 

 

 

 

PRETEXT – 1991

Mixed media installationMixed media installation: Custom built iconic frame, oil painting, assemblages, welded metal, custom built table and stair case, kelim rug, small box draw and human caul
250 x 250 x 350 cm

PRETEXT – 1991
Mixed media installation: Custom built iconic frame, oil painting, assemblages, welded metal, custom built table and stair case, kelim rug, small box draw and human caul
250 x 250 x 350 cm

“O yes, detected in his very heart of home: his children’s father and their brother son and husband of his mother; bed rival to his father and assassin.”

Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

The installation I titled Pretext evolved into an enigmatic erotic metaphor. Bataille described perfectly what I wished to achieve visually. “Eroticism springs from an alternation of fascination and horror, of affirmation and denial.” The resultant work comprised a complex installation resembling an altar, which embodied elements of attraction as well as repulsion. In terms of its form, it became an inter-genre tableau which incorporated painting, sculptural forms and found objects.

At the core of the work in the single-drawer reliquary container on top of the (impractical) table, I located my mother’s caul. This was the actual amniotic membrane that had covered her head at birth, which had been surgically removed, dried out and retained back in 1916. It was thought to be a talisman, an apotropaion, which warded-off disaster, particularly against drowning. Additionally a child born with a caul was considered to be a seer. I had inherited the caul from my mother at her death. Scrutinising the snake skin-like caul it is not difficult to imagine it to be an enlarged dried-out foreskin. Eerie stuff man…

Utilising meaningful personal objects had become part of my iconographic process (I had earlier bolted my mother’s bible to a Zebra skin ). By using pertinent objects from my real world instead of only deploying mimetic devices, I was breaching the divide between the real and representation in my attempt to infuse a more profound sense of verisimilitude

All components of the installation were conceived to appear normal when, in fact, nothing was as it seemed to be. The rich-patterned fabric of the Afghan rug entices the viewer inwards and leads to a logically implausible staircase. The table with its turned legs of differing lengths is entirely dependent on the stairs to keep its equilibrium and is equally impracticable, while the stairs are equally not accessible. They ascend up and under ending abruptly at the back of the table.

The subject of the painting in the central panel is the mother of my daughter Hannah (during pregnancy) who had my mother’s name; Louise Gordon – no biological relation. My mother’s full name had been Louise Caroline (known as Carol) Gordon. My first wife Felicity Carol (known only as Carol) had adopted my surname and become Carol Gordon, so the names of both the mothers of my two daughters were identifiable with my mother’s. Was this merely serendipitous or had I indeed been subconsciously seeking-out successive nominal replacements?

In an archetypal Freudian manner my mother’s absence after her voluntary death, was a probable causal factor for me to metaphorically seek to replace her in my life. On a deep subliminal level was I also questioning my culpability (in a metaphorical sense) of having the desire to have serial incestuous conjugal relations with my mother? As Camille Paglia put it, “Reunion with the mother is a siren call haunting our imagination.”

Interestingly this very substitution would, on matured reflection, eventually provide me the opportunity of breaking those ties and thereby distancing myself from my mother’s power-hold over me. I would strive to sever the proverbial ‘Gordian’ (read Gordon) knot.

The installation’s timber elements, with the exception of the antique single-drawer container, were designed and fashioned by me from new raw-cut American Oak. The design was intentionally based on the hieratic power ‘em-bodied’ in 1st (French) Empire Neo-Classical period.

The traditionally painted reclining nude in the central panel of the tri-partite construction faces away from the viewer, displaying only her back view. The predominant and visibly protruding spinal column, prefigures later art work which delves into the sub-structure of the figure. While the image is intended to erotically entice the viewer in a traditional male-gaze voyeuristic manner, the unrevealing back-view is, in realty, a pose of rejection. She is painted lying on a bed covered by a patterned carpet, the same carpet which, in reality, leads to the stairs. By purposefully not fully-connecting the figure to the carpet via any logical shadow in the painting, the nude almost becomes a cut-out and takes on a floating ethereal quality. The actual carpet had been a shared treasured possession from my first marriage and held significance for me as such.

Image may contain: one or more people and people sitting                                        No photo description available.

The actual (3D) carpet is continued or transubstantiated into painted (2D) illusion on the canvas – and that illusion is then suggestive of itself become reality. Is this not a classic case of “life imitates art far more than art imitates life.”

The construction has, at its apex, a cross formed by an iron hammer and key, similarly paired but functionally illogical and impracticable – yet symbolically loaded. This cruciform is housed in a custom-made coffin-like diamond shape. On the left (or sinister) end of the key, the action-end, is a small negative or voided inverted Petrine cross, nowadays associated with satanic worship; while on the right side handle of the key we find a negative cut-out eight – the symbol of harmony and balance. The key cannot unlock anything as it is impeded by the hammer, which also cannot be used. I dug the hammer up in my childhood garden and the key I discovered embedded in a mud brick while renovating the first house I owned in Johannesburg.

The two panels on either side of the central panel are a re-use of earlier iconography. Made of taut raw canvas pulled and twisted over stretchers, their surface structure and sub-structure are simultaneously visible and pose a visual conundrum. They are each intended to represent one of my two young daughters, their lives metaphorically yet-to-be-painted.