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Young Creatives Blog

Visual Arts Tour: 6 Movies & The Secret Garden

Tuesday 23 February 2016

  • Review

On Sunday the 14th of February – Valentine’s Day – I was captivated, mesmerised … and slightly disturbed by the exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA) and Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA).

At midday, I met up with Ariane (Young Creative for Dance), Katie (Young Creative for the Perth Writers Festival) and Danielle Morache (PIAF Education Coordinator) at AGWA and we made our way to see one of the short films from Ryan Trecartin’s 6 Movies. We got to see half of Junior War which was filmed by Trecartin when he was in high school whilst drunk and intoxicated with his friends.

Junior War was filmed using a night-vision camera and made it synonymous with the Blair Witch Project aesthetic. The one word I can think of that describes the film is chaotic – as it was filled with young people drinking, smoking, riding pick-up trucks, running around the woods, smashing televisions, smashing mailboxes, and stealing geese lawn ornaments. This was accompanied by several jump cuts and hectic editing which creates a raw sense of energy within the film, but it also creates an atmosphere of anxiety. I believe that some art is meant to disturb so I recommend seeing at least one of Trecartin’s films.

After the film, the three ladies and I took a quick break to discuss what we just saw and share some anecdotes, some relating to Junior War and some not. We then took a quick stroll to PICA to see one of my most anticipated exhibitions from the Perth International Arts Festival – The Secret Garden by Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg! I already got a glimpse of the exhibition when I helped with the installation, but I was not able to fully immerse myself into it.

When you enter the dark gallery, you will be greeted by a labyrinth of silicone popsicles, clay pillows, gold bells, acorns, leaves and bluebells all dispersed on the main floor with neon lighting. The sculptures are complemented by a claymation film of a shaman rabbit and music by Berg. 

The rabbit is seen bouncing on the same cushions and ringing the same bells as the ones placed on the floor which makes it seem like they are oozing out of the screen and the viewer becomes a part of the psychedelic animation. Though it may seem like an ultimate wonderland at first, The Secret Garden is an existential journey where each individual is responsible for their own voyage. As I spent more time in the gallery with the hallucinating animation and intense music, everything started to feel more surreal; and if I stayed in there longer, I would have probably ended up just like the shaman rabbit. 

The next room was filled with tables with Djurberg’s Glass, Solid, Liquid animation being projected on them and Berg’s music playing in the background. On top of the tables are white silicone popsicles (which represent Perth’s current weather as they seem to be melting onto the surface) and bird sculptures that look just as mad as the shaman rabbit.

The final room that we entered played Djurberg and Berg’s older claymation films back-to-back. These include It’s the Mother, The Rhinoceros and the Whale, The Experiment and many others. They are definitely graphic and erotic in nature, and the question on my mind after every film was: ‘Can this get any weirder?’ Then the next film played and the answer is yes, it can definitely get weirder. There was so much going on in each animation that they are almost impossible to describe, but Djurberg transforms naïve characters such as animals and humans into disturbing and fraudulent creatures.  

Djurberg’s animations and sculptures, along with Berg’s music, create an auditory and visually  pleasing exhibition that is absolutely worth immersing yourself in.

Young Creative: Visual Arts

Written By Coeli Caymo