Artists: Anna May Kirk, Naomi Blacklock, Sundari Carmody, Manisha Anjali, Orson Heidrich, Anna Pogossova, Meng-Yu Yan 颜梦钰
Curator: Johanna Bear
Gallery: KINGS Artist Run
I’m writing on the eve of a waning crescent Moon. As my fingers summon the symbols on the keyboard in a proprioceptive séance of transmission, I’m struck with an overwhelming sense of introspection and a compulsion to yield. It’s Friday and the celestial body of Pluto is stationing to retrograde (until October). This slow orbiting planet induces contemplation, transformation and extremes. Poet and philosopher Lucretius: ‘[c]onsider, therefore, this further evidence of bodies whose existence you must acknowledge through they cannot be seen.’1 Although potent, such manifestations are paradoxically tacit and awkward to measure or validate. How curious it is that these antediluvian forms, arcane ideas and occult themes continue to bewitch and trouble me so thoroughly today.
Similarly, the moon’s new fury is a thought-provoking exhibition about the ‘transformative potential of the unseen, the occult, and the supernatural’ featuring an assembly of artworks that fold in an assortment of composite cosmological and cosmographic cultural lores. Summoning otherworldly entities Aflame, A Singing Sun (2019) is an installation augmented with an extra-terrestrial metallic particle and features a golden halo bonded to the iconographic Prabhavali, acknowledging the Hindu deity as a shifting identity through time. Naomi Blacklock’s performance — shown in the gallery as video documentation — possesses a corporeal quality that is defiant and unnerving in its cacophony and mayhem. An ode to those who resist subjugation. Exceeding the constraints of conventional witchy vernacular.
Seeding the grounds for fundamental change involves more than the outward actions we take. Cutting through the racket of second wave feminists’ debate about indiscernible household labour: freedom fighter Angela Davis brought about a perceptual shift to the limitations of the movement, by affirming that profound change that is ‘radical simply means "grasping things at the root."’ 2 Thus, the potential of metamorphosis starts from the bottom up and this can be difficult to comprehend when drenched in the banalities of domesticity.
Elucidating the experience of exile, erasure and banishment, a series of photographic self-portraits by Meng-Yu Yan 颜梦钰 Orb Sighting (Moon in Leo) (2020), Halo (2020) and Moon Phase (2020) provide a captivating reflection of how the celestial hall of cosmic mirrors plays a part in the terrestrial life of many beings on our planet. I am struck with the insight that as the Moon edges closer to the Sun and away from our planet — during waning crescent phase — we are left to countenance a compelling sliver of illumination in the darkness.
The Moon affects how currents move through the ocean. These flows are analogous to the winds, an atmospheric equivalent. The artworks of Anna May Kirk Night Air (breath) (2022) and Night Air (rock) (2022) seem to bear this in mind. The pungent vessels, talismanic orbs and surfaces accentuated in these delicate sculptures expose the eccentricities of methods for archiving atmosphere and lifeforce. This paraphernalia provokes questions about the fluidity of the aether. I’m led to wonder about impurities in the air: if they are transported by the wind’s movement of air, or do impurities move through the atmosphere coerced by other types of energetic currents and actants? These processes of cosmological repulsion are intractable but the details of how such clusters form remain unknown.
Convoluted manners of valence are present in Technoplasm (2020/2022) a sculptural alter by Anna Pogossova, it is an ectoplasmic portal that navigates the potentials of extra-terrestrial space. Along with the fact that the lunar cycle guides one of the most formidable elements in nature: water. The pull of the moon generates currents that move through the ocean and thus shape coastlines, and working in tandem with the Sun, it creates solar waves. The human body is made up of an average of roughly sixty percent water: this could be one salient reason why many feel the pull of the Moon’s gravitational lure. The phases of the Moon are frequently associated with fertility rites in cosmological mythologies. The Ngarrindjeri Nation (the First Peoples of the River Murray) are said to experience the crescent moon as a ‘promiscuous woman’ who became waiflike during this waning.3 Or we may learn more about the enigmatic character Chang’e (嫦娥) who took refuge in the Moon as a demesne for escape. Chang'e is nowadays known as the name behind China's lunar exploration mission.
Orson Heidrich taps into the evanescent dearth in Multispec (2021) through a kind of file format dance improvisation. The temporality of this 3D assemblage of ‘Internet artefacts’ exhume the substratum of networked infrastructure that is far too often obfuscated and defective by design. The Moon — the Earth's only natural satellite — is now escorted by synthetically engineered orbs that transmit and record, or become merely the flotsam and jetsam of obsolete space junk. The Moon is ambiguous by nature: it offers a guiding light in the sky, and may arouse peace and rumination. The transcendental leitmotif continues into the diaphanous spiralic veil featured in Milky Way (2018). Sundari Carmody intimates interstellar dark matter’s ability to shape and form how we experience ecologies, kernels of ingredients in a spectrum of density fluctuations pervaded by relics from epochs of which the stellar distribution of cosmic strings might be detected. I can freshly appreciate the cosmos as a vessel that we have emerged in, and that we are made of these atoms and elements that pervade it. This work reminds me of an understanding I have when I suddenly comprehend that something I was captivated by seems vastly inconsequential. I should search for a new combination of elements in relation to this newfound awareness.
Beyond what we have, we must find ways to make the unobservable palpable to us, so that what is unobserved may lead us ‘into the new world’. The visionary poetry of Manisha Anjali’s Twin Horses (2022) demonstrates that the space in the mind is without limit. Consider the indeterminate nature of life forms mustered by the human imagination left untethered: being what it is, there may be no boundary to what there is yet to imagine aesthetically. Albeit much remains shrouded in mystery which only adds to its potential for radiance.
An unexpected sense of formidable wonder that something has been fundamentally altered. the moon’s new fury produces a sensation of appreciating that while scientific progress and transformation is — for better or for worse — radical and dynamic, it is the more impervious modes of ritual and cultural transfiguration that captures the élan vital of metamorphosis.
Nancy Mauro-Flude is a performance artist and theorist. Her artistic research is driven by the demystification of technology and the 'mystification' that lies in and through the performance of the machinic assemblage. She is a Research Fellow at Institute of Network Cultures and leads the Computational Poetics and Choreography studio at the College of Design and Social Context, RMIT. Nancy is Founder of the Desponas Coven, an atelier and feminist run web server guided by holistic computing aesthetics. She is represented by Bett Gallery (nipiluna/Hobart).
un Projects’ Editor-in-Residence Program is supported by the City of Yarra.
1 Lucretius, On the nature of the universe. Translation R.E.Latham. Penguin Books, Middlesex 1951, p.35.
2 Angela Davis, Women, Culture, & Politics, Vintage books, New York, 1984, p.14.
3 Duane W. Hamacher and Ray P. Norris, ‘Eclipses in Australian Aboriginal Astronomy’ Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage 14(2), 103 -114, 2011, p. 105.