Generator Project | Free.
This Spring, GENERATORprojects presents an exhibition of new commissioned works by Oktavia Schreiner and Murphy Scoular. Brought together here for the first time, both artists explore boundary spaces and the ways humans impose order on the world, drawing on lived experience, otherness and outsider perspectives. Scoular is interested in challenging the distinction between natural and unnatural, linking this to Queer theory and narratives of control; in Schreiner's work, she invites the visitor to explore a space between ideas of fact and fiction, drawing on language and imagery from science, religion and the natural realm.
Oktavia Schreiner was raised in an atheist family in Berlin and moved as a child to a mediaeval, Catholic hillhead village in Southern Italy where, to understand her surroundings, she began to make up her own religion. Schreiner became fascinated with rituals and how these affect the way that people live. Her art practice continues her childhood preoccupation of filling the spaces between modes of understanding: logic and storytelling; truth and knowledge.
In the first half of the room, two large earthenware columns mark a site of wildness and the unknown: a forest, deep and uncontrolled. More, Less, Magic, Transparency, their inscriptions read. Not running into freedom. The words written onto the colourful clay can be read in any order, different for each visitor's approach. The phrasing is ambiguous, suggesting freedom as a space that can be inhabited (or not), and an uncertainty about whether the experience ought to be desired.
A large archway sits in the centre of Schreiner's exhibition, creating a link to the historic past and signifying a transition between outside and inside, human-made and natural, and between the past and the future. Inside are ceramic sculptures of forget-me-nots, an important symbol for Schreiner, representing vessels that contain stories of the past, asking not to be forgotten.
On the far side of the gallery, The invention of religion and the order of the planetoids is a single sculpture, drawing influence from planetary diagrams and a desire for mankind to understand their position in the cosmos. Each planet holds imagery from the religion that Schreiner invented in Italy as a child.
Next to this piece is Confession. This sculpture is like the forbidden apple, representing the original sin that led Adam and Eve to be banished from the Garden of Eden in exchange for knowledge. Split into sections, it allows the visitor to look inside and see beyond the object. There is a confessional hatch cut into the apple vessel which can also be looked through, linking rituals of the confessional to modern day science and practices of therapy. Schreiner uses the story of Adam and Eve to represent anthropological transition, such as the settling on the land by hunters and gatherers or the emergence of capitalism.
In the other gallery, Murphy Scoular has installed a large sculptural installation. Branches intertwine in a structure drawing influence from the nests of bower birds. Scoular aims to encourage visitors to question why distinctions exist and how they might be used to exert power and control behaviour. Scoular's core belief is that 'Nature' is a political term, existing only to exclude and punish the 'unnatural'.
Scoular argues that conceptual divisions between natural and man-made have been used for hundreds of years to create a hierarchy. The perceived value and complexities of man's craftsmanship have been used to justify the existence of God and to create the illusion that man is not only separate to, but above, nature. This viewpoint is not only challenged by the emergence of climate change but also by an emergent trend in thinking that challenges dichotomies.
Whilst the Queer experience is at the core of Scoular's work, this piece expands to challenge how society has been encouraged to view some behaviour, sexuality and identity as less natural than others. These distinctions are widely used to encourage normativity and discriminate against those that do not conform.
Scoular describes bird's nests as innately Queer. Bower birds build nests using found materials in a feat of complexity that straddles natural and unnatural boundaries to create a complicated architectural structure. It is very much both (and neither) 'natural' and 'unnatural'. Scoular explains that building a home despite its unnatural appearance is essentially very Queer, as is finding a home in unlikely places.
Rachel Corr co-curated this exhibition alongside Blair Leeson. Rachel explains how, "it was unexpected to see themes and similarities emerge between these artists. I am interested in craft and was drawn to the materiality of the artists' work. I was drawn to their work because it is also cyclical: it does not have a start or an end, but rather is a continuation of the artists following their ideas. I also really like how oddly immersive and playful they are. Both of these artists have created such joyful work".
The exhibition runs from 25th March to 16th April at GENERATORprojects. The gallery is open Friday - Sunday, 12-5pm.
Information published by Leisure and Culture Dundee.
Promoted By: GENERATORprojects
25/26 Mid Wynd Industrial Estate
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