2020? (Review for Eyeline Issue 68 2009)

2020? Ash Keating 2009

2020? Ash Keating 2009

Friday 23rd to Saturday 31st May 2008
Arts House, Meat Market
5 Blackwood St, North Melbourne
Part of the NEXT WAVE FESTIVAL 2008

As the NEXT WAVE festival spread its long reaching tentacles over Melbourne’s diverse artist run initiatives, urban open air spaces, people’s lounge rooms and peculiarly its strip clubs, we were invited to embrace its overarching theme Closer Together. As the thematic string that links the projects and performances of the festival, the notion of being closer together sought to solicit out of the festival viewer an emotional and critical response – an intense physical shudder, a yearning for something better or possibly a reflective exploration of one’s sense of self in an increasingly hyperreal world. NEXT WAVE 2008 has successfully shed light on Melbourne’s emerging artists, curators and writer’s practices whilst also engaging with extremely relevant cultural discourse surrounding globalisation, environmental sustainability and our continued dislocation from the world around us.

One project which reflected the breadth and diversity of NEXT WAVE’s programming was Ash Keating’s ambitious 2020?. This project makes an underlying statement on society’s never ending and ever increasing production of material waste whilst also exploring collaborative practice in art. Raiding his local tip yard, Keating appropriated an overwhelming amount of detritus and hard rubbish re-assembling it into an uncanny and pliable sculptural pile of trash within the bowels of the Meat Market in North Melbourne. Acting as both artist and curator, Keating invited artists such as Susan Jacobs, the collective Inverted Topology, Bianca Hester and Ardi Gunawan to intervene in, re-use and re-assemble the trash into fluid, protean and ever-changing works.

Viewing the project during its first few days, there was considerable activity within the cavernous space of the Meat Market. The main space is framed with large billboard size advertising posters subverted through a canny play or removal of words from advertising slogans, foregrounding Keating’s own history of culture jamming and activism. In one of the old stalls there is video documentation of the various stages of the project – creating a closed loop of imagery – while on either side of main space, there are work areas set up with trash carefully audited and segmented into various material types and colours.

Sitting in the centre of the main space in a sprawling display of geometric form and structure, Inverted Topology have assembled an intricate, abstract and modular sculptural work resembling a children’s playground of times past. Displaying an architectural quality unseen in their previous works, Inverted Topology have used planks of recycled wood, brightly coloured milk crates and old steel buttresses to assemble a structure which juts out and encroaches on the space. The work’s strong geometric lines and inherent materiality is contrasted by a sweeping and languid sheet of white plastic tubing which flows around and within its various nooks and crannies acting as a visible link or open invitation to other artists to extend upon. The modularity of the work allows for the easy addition and subtraction of material, almost embedding the sculptural form itself with the conceptual ideas
surrounding collaboration and the free-flowing nature of the 2020? project.

There is an awareness of the materials and ideas that already inhabit the space as new sporadic entries and exits take place. In a work that creates a visible link between Inverted Topology’s geometric form and Campbell Drake and James Carey’s aesthetically beautiful wooden waterfall work which drapes elegantly over the edge of the scaffolding in a dramatic display of shear scale, Chaco Cato has deftly created miniature tangled biomorphic looking blobs with old black and grey telephone cords. As these
blobs spew out of an opening in the plastic sheeting, a diagonally patterned mesh of fishing wire shades them in an exploration of space and perspective. It is a sublime intervention – due to its subtlety – in an already crowded space.

By emptying out the material’s initial use value and re-assembling it into aesthetically arresting free-flowing and collaborative sculptural forms, the 2020? project is informed by post-modern tropes and strategies. Not only has the collaborative aspect facilitated a project with dramatic diversity in work and mediums but it can also be viewed as an exploration into traditional forms of self-expression and authorship.

2020? has succeeded in generating invaluable discourse on the role of art and its ability to draw light on and inform the wider social body on impending sustainability issues. For Keating and his band of collaborators this is an incredibly pressing matter, and in this regard 2020? has been successful in bringing us all ‘closer together’ in the utopian hope for a sustainable future.

Copyright of Leon Goh & Eyeline 2009



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