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ambient structures

Helen Pashgian, Untitled, 1968-1969, cast polyester resin.

Helen Pashgian, Untitled, 1968-1969, cast polyester resin.

Helen Pashgian’s dreamy, highly-polished spherical sculptural works exemplify the exactitude and complexity of form common amongst Light and Space artists. Objects of complete fantasy, Pashgian’s sculptures use the qualities of light to obscure and mask the object’s material boundaries in order to reveal murky and internal structures that appear as physical manifestations of ambient and sometimes broken light.

I’ve incorporated many of Pashgian’s principles of ambient light into a work that I’m currently producing for an exhibition presented in collaboration with artist and researcher Jessye Wdowin-McGregor at Rubicon Ari in Melbourne next month (March 2019) titled ‘nature', post-nature’. ‘nature, post nature’ explores the idea of the post -natural landscape, in which plants, animals and natural phenomena reclaim a position within environments where ecological systems have been disrupted by human activity. These can be mundane spaces: in between factories at the edges of cities, under freeways and bordering railways unlikely urban landscapes in which the natural world persists against the odds.

Yet to be titled, the aim of my sculptural installation is to use structure to create devices for observing the post-natural and create situations in which one can experience the post-natural as a phenomenon that contain beauty and softness. The post-natural is not inherently evil or sinister as it is often characterised.

one another other

Ren Gregorčič, one another other, ink on paper, 2019.

Ren Gregorčič, one another other, ink on paper, 2019.

On Friday 1st February, my latest solo exhibition ‘One another other’ opened at Brunswick Street Gallery in Melbourne. The show focuses on the reproductive adaptation of Oxalis pes-caprae (also known as ‘soursobs’). Oxalis pes-caprae is plant native to southern Africa that was introduced into southern Australia and other regions of the world where it has become a significant invasive species. In its native environment, soursobs reproduce sexually. However, in situations where genetically suitable mates are limited as a result of a plant’s relocation through human activity, Oxalis pes-caprae has been shown to shift to clonal (asexual) reproduction while maintaining genetic variation in offspring. Research has also shown that Oxalis pes-caprae is able to shift back to sexual reproduction when genetically suitable mates become available, an evolution that can occur in just a few generations.

‘One another other’ is on at Brunswick Street Gallery until 17th February 2019. Click here to visit the gallery’s website.

the same other side

My grandmother loved The Sound of Music – especially the first five minutes. The opening scene of the movie features a mountainous landscape that was familiar to her, having grown up in the regional town of Celje in Slovenia. She would watch the opening scene and comment on how it reminded her of her youth and hometown, of times before the war and before her migration to Australia in the 1950s.

After my grandmother passed away at the beginning of the turn of the century, I have revisited this scene many times in an attempt see what my grandmother saw on the other side of the mountains, beyond the forest, in the river and up in the sky. As an Australian-Slovenian who has never been to Slovenia, my personal experience of my grandmother’s response to the first 5 minutes of the Sound of Music is a potent symbol of what it is like to have a connection and feel an empathy for a place that you have only experienced through the partially-told stories, actions and emotions of another.

Having no primary experience of Celje myself, my image of this village, Slovenia and my cultural heritage and present is tied to a desire to see what was lies beyond and behind those mountains, forests, river and sky. Trying to augment my view to catch a glimpse of what my grandmother was looking at but succeeding only in being able to slow down and reverse what is being presented to me. This is the basis of a new work I’m currently creating, which will be presented in January 2018. More details to come.

Work in progress.

Work in progress.

likeness over convention

Next month I’m heading to the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in Canberra to see the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition ‘Love & Desire.’ I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of the PRB (Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood) style, however I appreciate the significance of the movement as one that rejected the cannon of picture-making that had dominated painting since the Renaissance and thereby contributing immensely to modern-day art practice as we know it.

Coinciding with the 1848 release of Friedrich Engels and Karl Max’s ‘The Communist Manifesto’, the beginning of the PRB movement was marked by a fervent desire to distance themselves from the rigid painting methods enforced by the Royal Academy (which emphasised form, colour and pyramidal composition).

Instead the PRB sought to pursue a more socially-relevant painting style that was not based on formulas nor conventions. The PRB rejected the dogma of those who perpetuated the dominant painting method of imitating the style of the 16th century artist Raphael. Instead they referred to Italian artwork produced before the time of Raphael, which emphasised likeness rather than idealisation, hence; before (pre) the Raphaelites (the people who enforced the conventionalisation of painting based on their own understanding of how Raphael made his).

Over the five years that the PRB were active as a group, their pursuit of likeness gradually intermingled with the rise of scientific understanding to produce works with scientific fidelity, precision, attention to natural forms and according to the rules of observation.

John Everett Millais. Christ in the House of His Parents (The Carpenter’s Shop) (1849–50).

John Everett Millais. Christ in the House of His Parents (The Carpenter’s Shop) (1849–50).

complex adaptation

400% bonus has its origins in my research into the legacy of colonialism and global modernity (the contemporary condition or quality of what it means when we refer to something as being ‘modern’) as a Western imperial tradition centred on the conquering and claiming of territories.

The biological adaptation of soursobs is the perfect example of this legacy; ecological systems are disrupted by human activity on claimed territories which induces the need for a new equilibrium. And as nature disentangles itself from Western imperial narratives by achieving re-balanced states, some difficult questions begin to form: how do we (as individuals and collectively) reconcile with inherited Western imperial narratives? Can we accept that these narratives are fallible constructs? How do we allow for natural, local systems to re-surface? Will we ever be able to accept the ‘known world’ as non-ridged, non-mathematical and non-predictable? And can we accept that the widely-accepted position of human knowledge as objective needs to be dismantled and replaced with ambiguity in order to sustain life on Earth?

Ren Gregorčič, 400% bonus (installation detail), 2018.

Ren Gregorčič, 400% bonus (installation detail), 2018.

cycles of function and form

‘feel forever feels’, an exhibition at Trocadero Art Space featuring a collaborative work of the same name created by myself and Shannon Garrett wrapped up on the 4th August. We’re very thankful that the show has been a great success and prompted many conversations centered on the theoretical framework of the exhibition and artwork.

‘feel forever feels’ is inspired by the concept of social sculpture/socially engaged practice as described by Joseph Beuys; an art theory that welcomes social context into art forms. Sofas (which are the focus of ‘feel forever feels’) are the perfect example of modern social sculptures. Selected by an individual based on personal determinations of design, comfort and aesthetic, sofas often transition from the personal realm of the home to public domains (Op Shops, lawns, fields etc.).

It is here, in public domains, after being shaped by the downward force of bodies over time and surviving disposal, that sofas communicate their accumulate wealth as collaborative, contemporary sculptures; objects that have survived the relatively short timeframes that we allow contemporary functional things to have.

The question is, in a system where the consumer is conditioned to ever expect the new and the tasteful (which is designed and delivered to our door), are we giving up diversity and variety in not only the objects that surround us, but also our cultures and our societies?

simples feel that became complex

Tomorrow is the opening of 'feel forever feels’ at Trocadero Art Space in Fitzroy, a collaborative show between myself and the stunningly talented Shannon Garrrett examing what it means to be ‘forever’ within the context of globalisation. The show presents a series of photographs printed onto suspended double-backed white linen, each depicting a second-hand sofa. 

‘Discarded sofas are products that once embodied ‘newness’ and luxury before becoming worn and ‘out-of-date’ as a result of human use. They are relatable symbols of the contemporary relationship between visual experience, technology and wealth within the system of global modernism where aesthetics are formed, elevated as 'taste' (often through textiles and fashion), used and thrown away.’ 

The exhibition is inspired by the concept of 'social sculpture' as described by Joseph Bueys; a theoretical framework for understanding human activity that has played a part in shaping society or the environment as a form of art.

Make sure to check out the show. Click here for more details.

‘feel forever feels’ Supported by MEL&NYC PROGRAM MELBOURNE 2018 National Gallery of Victoria through the All Conference facilitated program MAKING SPACES.

feel forever feels (installation view), Shannon Garrett and Ren Gregorčič, 2017.

feel forever feels (installation view), Shannon Garrett and Ren Gregorčič, 2017.

when you run a mile

With the beginning of June around the corner, I’ve been focusing on getting my shows ready for the second half of 2019. Local Lonely Girls finishes up at Tacit Galleries, Collingwood on June 3rd; from there I’ll then be setting up ‘what am i to you’ at frotyfivedownstairs for the Emerging Artist Award 2018; and then it’s off to Trocadero Art Space in Footscray with Shannon Garrett for ‘feel forever feels’. Plenty of opportunities to see my work, come to an opening or attend a floor talk. For details about what's on the horizon visit the ‘upcoming events’ section of my website.

Many more projects are in the works so make sure to check my blog for news or sign up to my nifty newsletter.

Shannon Garrett and Ren Gregorčič, feel forever feels (installation detail), 2017.

Shannon Garrett and Ren Gregorčič, feel forever feels (installation detail), 2017.

Local Lonely Girls

It has been a tremendous week. My show Local Lonely Girls at Tacit Galleries in Collingwood opened on 9th May, when I also launched by very first publication of the same name. None of this would be possible without Duncan Bean, Casimira Melican and Shannon Garrett, who have supported me all the way.

On May 19th from 1-2pm, I'll be delivering a floor talk at Tacit Galleries (123 Gipps Street, Collingwood) to discuss the themes of the show and my attempts to combat the often invisible and entrenched hegemonic, non-digital masculine, heteronormative systems of power, class and fortune in which these messages originate. Damn the man.

I hope to see you there!

Installation view of Local Lonely Girls. On show at Tacit Galleries (123 Gipps St Collingwood) from May 9 to June 3.

Installation view of Local Lonely Girls. On show at Tacit Galleries (123 Gipps St Collingwood) from May 9 to June 3.

sour sour sob

'sour sour sob’ is an immersive installation that examines the experience of 'nature' in the Anthropocene that will be on exhibit later in 2018.

I was introduced to Oxalis pes-caprae as an edible plant at the age of 10 or 11 by friends who would eat the sour-tasting flowers and stalks for fun. I would often eat soursobs until my senses became saturated with the taste of metal. Although I no longer eat soursobs, I continue to experience the metallic sensation of over-consuming these plants each Winter and Spring when the iridescent yellow Oxalis pes-caprae flowers bloom.

Stay tuned for more information on this upcoming show.

Ren Gregorčič, sour sour sob (installation view), 2018.

Ren Gregorčič, sour sour sob (installation view), 2018.

 

 

local lonely girls are waiting

I'm all ready and excited to open my solo show at Tacit Galleries in Collingwood on May 9th!

More than 10 years has passed since I opened the email account that I still use today. Since opening my account, I have received countless spam emails promising access to everything that one could imagine; methamphetamines, new age spirituality, brides, porn, free computers, gold, easy ways to tighten my abs, get-rich-fast secrets, Viagra, employment offers, psychic readings, and the list goes on. In a digital universe of limitless possibilities, the highly graphic and often cryptic nature of spam emails have always been both alluring and problematic. Spam emails, particularly those offering pornographic and ‘adult’ services, are problematic for their intentional and creative strategies to deceive others through mechanisms of influence and manipulation. They symbolise the maintenance of a gender order of power that links sex, money and fortune; one that is masculine, dominating and heteronormative.

GREGORCIC DL.jpg

the spirit of things

This week I worked with 志村 信裕 (Shimura Nobuhiro) to curate and install his first Australian solo exhibition in an exhibition called 物の気 ‘mono no ke’ meaning ‘the spirit of things’. I have been working with Shimu for several months to piece the show together, so it has been wonderful to see it come together and surpass my expectations.

物の気 features work by Shimura created in several media, including film, earthenware and text that draws on the artist’s recent investigation into the Japanese concept of 気 ‘ki’. 気 describes the Shinto (the traditional religion of Japan) understanding of what constitutes life force and is the conceptual framework of the exhibition.

The Japanese understanding of what constitutes 気 has, since ancient times, included a vast range of ambiguous and permeable flowing states such as ‘energy’, ‘mood’ and ‘mind’. Unlike in English, 気 or life force, is not confined to natural phenomena and human consciousness but instead also encompasses things that the eye cannot see; a universal flow of energy across many planes of existence. This universal flow of energy is experienced by humans as  feelings of ‘energy’, ‘mood’ and ‘mind’ and can manifest in for example, animal, bugs, water, the wind rustling through trees or mountains or qualities of landscapes. In the Shinto understanding, each of these manifestations of 気 are referred to as a 神 ‘kami’, god.  The uncountable nature of the number of 神 in Japanese is referred to as 八百万の神 ’yaoyarozu no kami’ (literally meaning ‘8 million gods’).

In other news, after many weeks, I've finally completed a new page showing some highlights of my curatorial practice. You can check it out here.

志村 信裕 Shimura Nobuhiro, Bucket Garden, 2012

志村 信裕 Shimura Nobuhiro, Bucket Garden, 2012