Navigation 4: Footsteps in The Corridor
14 September - 30 September
Artists: Vanessa Berry, Rebecca Gallo, Judy Marsh, Sara Morawetz, Mollie Rice, Margaret Seymour
catalogue essay by Nadia Odlum
Offered as a response to Parramatta Rd, a stretch of urban space that is hardly friendly to pedestrian activity, this exhibition claims space for walking by drawing together artists whose practices engage with processes of urban navigation.
Documentation by Molly Wagner
Footsteps in The Corridor
Vanessa Berry, Rebecca Gallo, Judy Marsh, Sara Morawetz, Mollie Rice, Margaret Seymour
Curated by Nadia Odlum
This exhibition draws inspiration from the location of the gallery itself, on Parramatta Road, one of Sydney’s busiest and least pedestrian friendly urban corridors. Many proposals to transform or enliven this essential yet much maligned stretch of road have been made, dying various deaths in the quagmire of Sydney’s infrastructure bureaucracies. The title of this exhibition draws from the latest of these efforts, the Parramatta Road Urban Transformation Strategy released by the NSW Government in 2016, in which Parramatta Road is referred to by the enigmatic title of 'The Corridor'.
The current state of this urban thoroughfare, and the hopes for its future, make it an interesting site on which to present artistic practices that explore the particular experience of the urban environment that can be achieved through the act of walking. In spaces that inhibit or discourage pedestrian activity, walking itself can become a political act, a way of reclaiming space with the body and exploring what is unseen, or in-between, in common space.
Mollie Rice explores human spatiality, and sensations of place, through an experimental drawing practice. Multiple visits to a particular site by the artist yield sound recordings, which are then translated into drawings in the studio, creating a complex connection between percpetion and place, action and experience. The works in this exhibition were created through a series of ten thousand step walks along Parramatta Road, starting from a place of significance to the artist and ending in a new location, which is then explored through processes of active listening and the physical record of drawing.
The small objects in Rebecca Gallo’s mobile were also collected over the course of a walk along Parramatta Road. Carefully balanced and counterweighted, these objects are the kind of ubiquitous urban detritus that would be almost invisible to most pedestrians, yet in this work they are accorded new significance, considered for their individual material properties of size, weight and shape. Together they create a shifting and dancing form, a record of the artist’s own movement through this stretch of urban space.
In the map of Parramatta Road created by Vanessa Berry, quintessential Parramatta Road features like car dealerships and teddy bear stores are elevated to the status of hallowed landmarks. Author of the book Mirror Sydney, and the blog of the same name, Berry explores and reflects the city with the eyes of someone who has traversed it, many times, and looked with intent at the fine details of its fabric and features.
Judy Marsh’s paintings use the visual language of the structures that shape our movement in the urban environment, particularly of hazard signs and barriers. In these sculptural paintings strips of black and white diagonal stripes protrude forwards with an arresting vibrancy. Left open at the side, the works invite the viewer to peer between the panels - filled with carefully executed scaffolding, these sections speak to the in-between spaces that emerge when two barriers are erected.
The two screens in Margaret Seymours Walking in the colour field show a series of constantly changing colours. On the left hand side, the colours are generated by two individuals as they traverse the city. Each participant wears a sensor that analyses the colour of their physical surroundings, which is then uploaded as a single colour to the display. The smaller screen responds ‘local’ movement, with the colours changing in response to people passing in front of the work. Viewers can track the changing colours at margaretseymour.net/walking/remote/index.php.
The work explores the way that public and private spaces are increasingly entwined through mobile technologies, and also serves as an artefact of walking and movement occuring in real time across the city.
Finally, in tribute to another act of walking currently underway, étalon (provisional light metre) is the first presentation of a work that documents the progress of Sara Morawetz, who is currently completing a walk from Dunkerque to Barcelona, echoing the surveying mission taken by French astronomersDelambre and Méchain in 1792 to map the curavture of the earth and thus extract the measurement we now know as the metre. Each day that Morawetz walks yields a new ‘provisional metre’, a result of careful meaurements that nonetheless rarely produce an exact match with the standard metre used today. These measures are projected in light against the standard metre displayed in vinyl — as a reference to both the origins of étalon as a project and the contemporary method of determining the metre length (via the speed of light). This ambitious work returns the concept of measuring itself to the human body, and the process of carving out space that occurs in the act of walking.
This exhibition took place on Gadigal land. Articulate acknowledges Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this land. We offer our respects to the Elders – past, present and emerging – and to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.