Popped in to Monstrosity Gallery last night to deliver two art works by The Stoked for the exhibition ‘Fur’. The show, which opens tonight, is a group exhibition by “some of Sydney’s most dynamic and talented contemporary artists” responding to the theme of fur. Curated by West, who has a particular penchant for fur herself, the show features some fabulous works including a delicate painting of a cat skeleton with a wee bell around its neck. The absence of fur in this case is key. Other works celebrate fake fur by sticking it on all manner of objects like cups and frames, and another has painted it wrapped around a dark mask figure. One digitally manipulated photograph depicts the scene of a road kill where the dead animal has been dragged off, presumably by a wild dog, leaving in its place a man with a furry animal head. Strange and provocative responses abound.
The Stoked presents two photographic works; ‘Vulnerable @ Invincible’ and ‘Laying it on the Line’, both featuring a nude female body. The nude is a classical art tradition however, the exposition of human fur specifically in the form of a pubic pelt, remains one of the most confronting acts in contemporary western society. Stripped bare in a public space, the otherwise furless human body is a primal scream, a call from the wild that rattles so-called ‘civilisation’. It is with this intent that the naked body is exposed here in two specific locations intrinsically connected with coal extraction.
Highlighting the significant role that Australia’s coal industry plays in the species extinguishing phenomenon of global warming, a nude woman is artfully tied to a tree with red rope in front of a coal mine in New South Wales, and later to train tracks linking another of the state’s coal mines to an anonymous international coal-fired power station. Laid bare in the harsh sunlight, the single body acts as a metaphor for an entire species struggling to survive in the face of climate chaos.
These photographs document two chapters in an ongoing protest performance art work responding to climate change. ‘Vulnerable @ Invincible’ was performed at the Invincible Colliery to coincide with the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change in Dec 2009. ‘Laying it on the Line’ was performed in January 2011 on railway tracks connecting the Charbon Colliery to the export port of Woollongong. The final chapter in this triptych, ‘Xtinct’, will take place later this year at one of the most polluting power stations in the country. Neither of the images have been exhibited previously and there is also a video component in development for this work. Watch this space.