Time Becomes Form is an exhibition at the ANU School of Art Foyer Gallery running from Tuesday the 26th of July to Saturday the 6th of August. I’m a third year Art History and Curatorship student, and I’ve curated this show featuring the work of several people from the Canberra arts community. Many featured artists are ex-students who have previously studied at the art school, while some are still studying.
The idea for this show originated during a sculpture class I was taking that focused on using subversive and non-traditional art materials. Already interested in Conceptual art, I now found myself interested in the materiality and sensuousness of works by sculptors like Eva Hesse. Works like her 1968 ‘Contingent’, which was on display in the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) for many years, are not sculptures aiming to construct materials into figurative images recognisable to the viewer. Rather, they experiment with materials, revelling in the physical possibilities and the material’s relation to the bodies of both artist and audience.
The nature of Hesse’s work and the beauty of her material choices – much to the horror of her collectors – is that it actually decays over time, changing the physicality of the work drastically. I find a power and beauty with works like this in that they are not at all deceptive. Something like ‘Contingent’ casts no illusions as to its meaning and instead highlights a truth and beauty around its own construction. Through Hesse, I was drawn to a 1969 exhibition, “When Attitude Becomes Form”, curated by Harald Szeemann in the Kunsthalle Bern in Switzerland. The exhibition was integral to Contemporary Art with its vast display of “New Art” – Conceptual and Anti-Form sculptures by huge names like Joseph Beuys, Yves Klein, Sol LeWitt, and Claes Oldenberg.
For me, the way that works in this exhibition use non-conventional materials shows the fluidity and possibility of experimentation with materiality. While also conveying and constructing broad concepts, these aren’t necessarily exclusive outcomes. The works in my show use real time and never create stories, but instead show the mark of process in their very existence, presenting real time and real moments in abstract yet physical ways.
With the influence of “When Attitude Becomes Form” and the material emphasis of sculpture as a medium, this show is not a show of sculpture but rather a show of sculptural form. There are several videos in the exhibition as well as video documentation of a performance by Amelia Chapman, and though these aren’t physical sculpture objects, they are clear documentation and presentation of structures created through process.
Amelia Chapman “The Maintenance Project”
Oscar Capezio “Untitled Finger Painting” 2015
Sabrina Baker “tete-a-tete”