Das Platforms / Contemporary Art

Whippersnappers: Three Brisbane graduate artists

by Tim Walsh

02 Mar 2011

LEVEL is an artist run initiative located in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley focused on an exhibition program promoting the work of emerging, early career and established female visual artists.

Selected from the recent graduate shows presented at the Queensland College of Art and Queensland University of Technology's Creative Industries Precinct, the works on display as part of Whippersnappers were selected by LEVEL's directors Courtney Coombs, Alice Lang and Rachael Haynes.

Leena Riethmuller's two screen video work Saliva (self grooming) (2010) records the artist drooling out of her mouth, saliva wrapping around her manicured fingers, before pooling and curdling in her cupped hands. Intermittently, Riethmuller reverses the footage and then plays it again; the saliva is sucked backwards as if with regret before being regurgitated. The pooled spit is then smeared through her hair, slicking it down and then groomed with the nails. Now and again, excess drips from the end of each tendril. Riethmuller has indicated her practice's connection to informe , a concept based on the writings of French author Georges Bataille, translating in English to 'formless'. Bataille, like Riethmuller, holds a fascination with spit that stems from the idea that the mouth has dual functions - it is the tool for our speech, our eloquency and means for communication with others, at the same time as producing the saliva that we drool on our pillows at night. This double function, of an object that functions in a progressive and regressive way at the same time (to communicate like a human, and drool like an animal), also connects with the thought of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud.

Linda Phillips' work It was difficult to remember a time before here (2010) is a large piece of painted canvas, twisted and crumpled before being hung from the ceiling of LEVEL's gallery space. The canvas has been sculpted and then primed to create a solid shape that still maintains the liquid quality of the original material. In its frozen form, the fabric gives the sensation of arcing upwards from the floor, and also spilling downwards, pouring to meet a solid surface. This ambiguity - of being stuck between states, focuses our attention on the key concern in this work, the canvas 'foundation' of painting, functioning as sculpture. Phillips has cleverly painted the interior of the canvas arch in a very light lemon shade, with the more visible exterior stark, antique white, riffing further on the work's focus on duality.

Finally, Brooke Ferguson's interactive piece Conductors (2010) invites visitors to LEVEL to use shards of metal to create an electrical current as they draw on the surface of metal foil. As you draw, your gesture powers a speaker beneath the work that plays music. For Ferguson, her practice relates inscription, notation and score - the writing of music, with the playing of music - collapsing the two into one act.

With an exciting program of exhibitions and public programs forthcoming LEVEL is now an established space that further strengthens Brisbane's increasingly competitive ARI scene.


5 - 25 Feb 2011

LEVEL, Brisbane