I have just uploaded illustrations of the latest (and probably last) artworks in my nine-year ‘Syzygy’ project. Syzygy involved creating images by exposing photographic films to the ambient light of the stars at night at Lake Tyrrell in the Victorian Mallee. The last artwork of the project, ‘Flay‘, is a nine-piece series of human body prints reiterating the graphite imprint on architects paper of two dancers performing on the dry salt bed of the lake in April 2007. My idea at the time was that the performing human body could represent our human impact on the site (the area is severely degraded), on the non-human realm writ large (eg. global ecological crisis) and the centrality of culture (eg. modernity) in framing our emotional, ethical and material relationship with all other ‘nature’-the generic non-human. On the day of the performance the two dancers from the VCA who volunteered for the task – Siobhan Murphy and Michaela Pegum – initially made marks with their feet and hands on the paper with the graphite. But the results were not particularly interesting. We all agreed naked body prints might work better. We discussed possibilities for a choreography of marks: we wanted to avoid the clumsy voyeurism of work like Yves Klein’s crude ‘anthropometries’. I left them to perform in privacy. On my return an hour later I was handed a ream of salt encrusted graphite body prints. The results were surprisingly dramatic and delightfully ambiguous. A year later a selection of the body prints were used as ‘negatives’ to contact print fresh gelatin silver films by ambient starlight at the same site. Only recently were the films finally resolved and mounted on glass, preparatory to exhibition later this year.
Salt, skin and stars
26 January 2016