“Foreign Lands” and “Ruins” at Kudos Gallery


I thought I’d take a break from music gigs this week and go to a gallery. Part of this is because one of the shows was by our fellow student, Karolina Partyka, so it was fun to be able to go and support a friend. But other than that, I’ve also been thinking about what I should do with the visual side of my creative practice once I finish the course. This is actually the first semester in which I’ve returned to my music practice, and I’m already feeling much more confident about getting back into that, whereas I still feel that my visual practice is lacking and I’ve been consistently terrified of the idea of trying to apply to a gallery for an actual show. But after this week’s lecture from Elizabeth Reidy, it actually sounds less scary, especially when she mentioned the number of applications vs acceptances. For the Bondi Pavilion Gallery, it seems you have about a 25% chance of getting in, which is vastly better odds than I had expected. Funds permitting, I’m hoping to take the rest of the year off after I finish uni, so I might actually have the time to start taking some of this stuff more seriously, and for that reason, I need to make sure I don’t just focus solely on music.

So here are some photos from the opening at Kudos last night. I spent most of my time in the back half of the gallery where Karolina’s Foreign Lands exhibition was. She had a really diverse array of works on show, including photography, video, installation, and VR. There were also some interesting lighting choices that helped set the atmosphere and also distinguished her exhibition from Ruins in the front half of the gallery.

Native, 2016
Single channel projection, single channel audio, pencil & watercolour on paper, ceramic, glass dome, red desert sand, petri dishes, seeds, dimensions variable.

This is one of those ones you really need to go and see to get a proper sense of it (all of them are really haha, that’s how Karolina’s practice is), my photo barely shows you anything of what this work is. The video projection shifts between different translations of the word “Native”, and in front of it are what appear to be specimens of early crops in an imagined human colony on Mars. On the left is a mock up of a crop growing in Martian soil, in the centre, a botanical drawing of a crop adapted for Martian conditions, and on the right, seed samples of 6 different early Martian crops. I personally have some disdain for our obsession with going to Mars, I tend to think we should fix our planet first, but it is interesting to think about how a future society might look back on our earliest steps on the red planet. Karolina’s museum-like work gives you a hint of how that experience might one day be.

For an earlier iteration of this work, and artist statement, click here.

Top: Ancestral Ritual (That Which No Longer Needs To Be Carried), 2017
2 channel video, single channel audio, dimensions variable.
Bottom: Annulment, 2017
Red desert sand, water, ink, dissolving stones, vine cuttings, netting, bowl, light, dimensions variable.

Tucked away around a corner are these two related but separate works. I was already familiar with the top work, which you can view here, but I completely misunderstood the bottom one! At the time, the gallery was already filling up with a lot of people, even though I was relatively early to the opening, so I didn’t get a chance to really read the text, but I took a photo of the label so I could work it out later. Turns out those little rocks are dissolvable! You’re supposed to take one, put all your traumas into it, and then release it into the water to dissolve away. And yes, in case you were wondering, the instructions do ask you not to eat them, although they are non-toxic and food safe!

Speaking of labels, I really enjoyed the way Karolina’s were done. They appear to be clear adhesives attached to the wall, which seem like a neat solution. One of my problems with the Ruins exhibition out the front was that there were no labels at all, only a very short statement accompanying the long list of works, so I struggled to understand what was going on. We also had this problem in our exhibition at Gaffa last year. I know that the general public statistically doesn’t spend that much time reading labels, but I struggle to appreciate art on its own, so I like it when there are decent labels present to explain it for me. (Although it helps if there are less people around so I can read them in peace! I guess that’s another reason I’m not usually a gallery-openings type of person.)

An earlier iteration of Annulment can be viewed here.

Various photographic works (obscured by all the people coming to the opening!)

I didn’t spend much time with the photos, so I won’t say much. The drinks bar was just outside the door so people tended to congregate in this area, and I freely admit that I preferred to avoid people as much as possible haha. But I think I also just find it easier to walk past photos generally, compared to video works which require you to spend more time with them to see what’s going on. You can see the Land Mythology work online here, but Outer/Other is a newer work so it doesn’t seem to be online yet.

Endsville, 2018
4 channel video, single channel audio, dimensions variable.

I also didn’t spend a whole lot of time with this one because it was in the same space as the photos, but from my quick read of the label, it was about utopias and compared various visions of this concept alongside each other using public domain videos. This is also a newer work, so it’s not online yet either.

Mars Barren, 2016
Virtual reality projected space, plywood, acrylic medium, red desert sand, acrylic paint, dimensions variable.

When you walk in, you see this:

Then you pick up the object and point it at the wall!

Ta-dah! Virtual reality but without having to wear those silly glasses! And it gives a neat explorer vibe, like you might be in a cave, despite the projection showing an outdoor scene. I just really enjoyed the atmosphere in this dark red room, and the interactivity probably made this the most engaging work for me. You have to be involved to be able to see what it is, and the narrow view provided by the projection prevents the game from being given away too quickly. I don’t know if the surface of Mars was necessarily the best subject matter to go with this style of presentation, but I honestly didn’t care, it was fun being able to actually touch the object, feel the texture, and play with the projection. It’s also just an impressive bit of technical juggling, to get all these components to work, and I admire Karolina’s determination to create things like this because it’s exactly the kind of stressful undertaking that I would run a mile from!

You can see an earlier version of this work here, along with the full spherical view, but honestly you should just run down there and play with it for yourself, it’s heaps more fun and worth doing!

Papers I collected

Well I photographed the back of the Ruins page by mistake, but if you look at Karolina’s text, the Ruins text was about a third of that before the list of works starts. I do wish the Ruins one had explained a bit more, particularly in the absence of labels in the gallery, but what can you do. I’m mostly just excited by Karolina’s promotional postcard. It’s A5, with gloss finish on one side, and looks heaps professional and probably cost a bit of money to get done! I think the reverse writing was also an entertaining choice, as I saw people trying to view it in a reflection just for fun, but at the same time it’s also surprisingly easy to read backwards which is cool.

Ruins
Not to be neglectful of the other exhibition, here are some photos of Ruins. But I can’t really explain what they are, because I was a bit confused by the small amount of text. I’m also not a huge fan of exhibitions that have very small photos spaced very far apart. On the upside though, it did create a neat little foyer of relative calm between the entrance and the hyperstimulation of Foreign Lands.

Foreign Lands and Ruins are both on show at Kudos Gallery until May 12.

Gallery opening hours:
Wed – Fri 11:00am – 6:00pm
Sat 11:00am – 4:00pm

6 Napier St, Paddington NSW 2021

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