Passing (Art & Text)

Passing conceptually emerged from news items and images in relation to the war in Syria and the subsequent exodus of refugees across the Mediterranean as they sought asylum in Europe, frequently in overcrowded inflatable dinghies. They risked, and far too often, lost their lives. In particular two news items a year apart had a significant impact. One was on the 2nd September 2015, the drowning of Alan Kurdi along with his four year old brother Ghalib and his mother, Rehanna, who were washed up on the beach at Bodrum in Turkey, never having reached their initial destination, the island of Kos, Greece. The televised image of Alan, a small child washed up on the shore, and then gently removed by a policeman, acted like a contemporary 'napalm girl' in its capacity to shock and emotionally engage a news weary public, myself included.

The other significant image was on SBS News 20th September 2016 and showed an orderly group of civilians marching across the European countryside, with what appeared to be a policewoman and policeman at the head of the crowd. There was only 4 seconds of this image, but I immediately recognised this as a pivotal image, which would form the basis of my next artwork. These 4 seconds were slowly, frame by frame in Photoshop, simplified then extended to create the current 18 seconds, the minimum required to be able to produce the video, Passing.

The Title 'Passing' encompassed the whole Installation exhibited at Bellas Gallery in October 2018. This refers to 'passing' in all the varied and potential meanings invoked by the word and the work. Passing as passage, as migration, as transition, as loss, as death, as fleeting; as moving toward, past and away from something or someone. Also, passing and its ambiguity in our current time when we record our lives, our tragedies, our celebrations, and are able to return and re-immerse ourselves in a past experience, though never the same. And finally, the passing of time, and what that means in relation to the emergence of video as an art-form and more importantly for myself, to when the Sony Hi8 Handycam first became available in the early 1990's facilitating a shift in my practice in 1992 from object based toward media based.

Size 10.2 GB
Duration 44:50
Dimensions 720x576

The four 1992 VIDEOS in sequence.

These 1992 videos are already represented on the website.

1. The
Size 3.36 GB
Dimensions 720x576
Duration 14:44

2. The
Size 1.51 GB
Dimensions 720x576
Duration 6:37

3. The
Size 2.73 GB
Dimensions 720x576
Duration 12:00

4. The
Size 2.61GB
Dimensions 720x576
Duration 11:27

The videos included in the 1992 LOOP are vignettes selected from the ninety-five  (90min) Hi8 tapes that retain the audio-visual media captured during my 1992 Australia Council V.A.C.B. Overseas Studio Grant. My intention was to use the Hi8 camera to document (each day) the everyday events that occurred during the almost 6 months I was overseas. My constant usage of the camera as a visual diary and my recording of the day to day encounters as subject matter continued when I travelled to other parts of Italy and Europe.  In this manner I produced a series of videos, which I began to refer to as my ‘found life’ series. At the time (1992) the video camera was not ubiquitous and seemed to act as an attractor to people who associated the camera with a professional not a domestic usage. I would begin filming and would just stay with the moment until, almost without fail, some small moment or vignette would unfold in front of the camera. At times when I did move the camera’s gaze I would find the accidental subjects would move themselves back into the camera’s field of vision. Sometimes the moments began ‘accidently’ and then shifted to something more of a collaborative nature. I delighted in the irony of filming The from above the spiral staircase of the Ottoneum, one of the venues at Documenta 1992.

As well, I collaborated with the family that hosted the Australia Council Studio and a number of locals from Besozzo to produce performative events, which were costumed, documented and became the basis of an audio-visual Installation, Viaggi,1993.

Passing, Bellas Gallery, ‘One Last Time’ Exhibition, 2018

Detail: Fake Life Vests