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the consequence of what you do to me

In the 1920s Henry Ford of the Ford Motor Company standardised the work week to five days. This initiative introduced the work-free weekend and with it gave Ford workers the time to re-invest back into the company with their higher than average wages. It’s difficult to not feel a little disappointed that the reward that many persevere for is in many ways the carrot at the end of the proverbial stick. Which begs the question: who is holding the stick and why?

I’ve recently finished putting together a photographic work that interrogates the circular truth of the contemporary system of vacations and the often unknown environmental and social impacts of travel. The title of the work ‘If you lived here, you’d be home by now’ is taken from an infamous real estate truism that connects the human longing to escape the mechanisms of capitalist life to physical, purchasable commodities that feed back into capitalism. The title accurately demonstrates the aim of the installation: to present the confusing nature of the leisure in it’s intended form as a capitalist device that ‘create[s] the want it seeks to satisfy’ (John Kenneth Galbraith). Now to, ironically, find the funding. More on this work to come.

Duane Hanson, Flea Market Vendor, 1990 via  saatchi gallery

Duane Hanson, Flea Market Vendor, 1990 via saatchi gallery

APPROACHING THE POST-NATURAL: PART 2

Ren Gregorčič, One another other (installation detail), 2019.

Ren Gregorčič, One another other (installation detail), 2019.

One another other, my sculptural installation in ‘nature, post-nature’ of composed of a series of 5 solid concrete sculptures each with gold detailing. The gold is highly reflective and so it picks up ambient light, casting warm yellow onto the harsh stone surface. It’s a mesmerising quality that reflects my research into the role of intimacy within the context of the Anthropocene.

As Timothy Morton discusses in ‘Dark Ecology’, climate change is linked to our physical and mental distance from geological and ecological systems that are not. Closeness to physical aspects of nature (i.e. rocks, plants, animals) that are not changed or augmented for the purposes of human use (forests, wild animals, natural fields, cave systems etc.) generates a feeling of place and interconnectedness that promotes awareness and empathy. Distance on the other hand folds nature into simplified versions of complex systems consistent with human logic.

Most people’s relationships to nature, I would argue, sit somewhere between these polar opposites; nobody is ever full removed from human-limited nature. However, our access to these places is becoming increasingly limited and so, in our changed world, there is a need for us to establish empathy with the white plaster walls, grey concrete and cold steel materials that now dominate.

I’ve found that soft light and rippled reflections have an interesting ability to create intrigue that seems to establish this closeness of mind and so I’ve incorporated it into One another other. I’m very excited to continue to test the effects of soft light and rippled reflections in upcoming works.

If you’re in Melbourne, make sure to check to see One another other in ‘nature, post-nature’, my collaborative exhibition with Jessye Wdowin-McGregor, at Rubicon Ari (309 Queensberry St, Melbourne) from 21 March to 5 April.

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.

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.

performing the supermodern

On October 2nd I’m excited to be opening ‘400% bonus’ at the Library at the Dock in Melbourne, Australia; a site-specific installation created by me that uses light and colour to emphasise the changed biological processes of the weed Oxalis pes caprae (that have resulted as a consequence of recent human intervention with the plant). The work is heavily informed by supermoderist (otherwise known as hypermoderist) theory.

In 400% bonus, the physical and biological attributes of Oxalis pes caprae are replaced by laser-cut yellow and dichroic acrylic films which generate effects that exaggerate the plant’s qualities (specifically the strong yellow colour of its flowers and dynamic internal structures). These effects are produced in response to the intensity and position of the sun (as well as other light sources) and the relative position of he viewer. The effects created by the acrylic film drive the preformative aspects of the work - individuals experience and perform the saturation of their senses by engaging the installation, which is then observed by spectators.

Biology, human interaction and technology converge to create a work that is not didactic, representative nor bound by material limitations. Instead 400% bonus, like Oxalis pes caprae, seeks to go beyond one hundred per cent; beyond what is considered possible or knowable and where imitation is able to reveal a reality independent of form.

400% is officially being launched between 1-2pm on Saturday October 6th at the Library at the Dock in Melbourne (107 Victoria Harbour Promenade, Docklands VIC 3008). All welcome.

Ren Gregorčič, 400% bonus, 2018. Yellow and dichroic acrylic film.

Ren Gregorčič, 400% bonus, 2018. Yellow and dichroic acrylic film.

joy in people [ repeating ]

Joy in People is the title of a 2012 exhibition by London artist Jeremy Deller, who adapts and appropriates cultural signs, symbols and language in the public domain into artworks that comment on social history, politics and socio-cultural concerns. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been reading up on Deller’s practice, specifically his working methods and aesthetic outcomes of conceptual enquiry to understand my own. Over the past 10 years my practice has shed process in order to be more immediately responsive to not only own thoughts and political viewpoints but also to local and global events and the thoughts of others (which, in a contemporary setting, usually do not have much permanence). As someone who interrogates global modernism, I find myself using this working method to reflect the various states of ‘surviving’ and ‘thriving’ I see people in.

Increasingly, I find myself asking what mechanisms people are using to survive and how do these differ to those that have reached a level of prosperity? Is there any fundamental difference between the actions of those who survive and those who thrive? At what point does an action change from being that of one of survival and that of thriving? Thoughts that have come up after a stranger started talking to me about 'over-population' thinking I would agree and then was offended when I brought up 'over-consumption by the privileged'. He walked away. I kept thinking.

Jeremy Deller, Beyond the white walls, 2012.

Jeremy Deller, Beyond the white walls, 2012.

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.

you probably don’t know but you’ve already won

This year, I have had the absolute pleasure of working with the very talented Gong practitioner Mona Ruijs of Sound Interventions (http://soundinterventions.com.au/) to create ‘you probably don’t know but you’ve already won'. The project is an ambitious, experimental collaboration that combines sound and installation art to engage audiences with the physiological consequences of the Anthropocene (the geological age marked by the dominant influence of human activity on the Earth’s climate and environment) by inducing the listening body: one that is conscious of the forces that are acting on it.

The project has two components: an exhibition of my work ‘sour sour sob’ and sound immersion activations by Mona (held amongst ‘sour sour sob’). In the sound immersions, participants will be invited to lay down on a mat, close their eyes and experience the vibrations created by Mona using multiple gongs, quartz crystal bowls, Himalayan singing bowls, a shruti box and other various sound tools. The aim is provide a space where individuals can sense and contemplate the often unnoticed forces of our changed world (due to the influences of human activity) and how these changes impact our physiology.

We're currently looking for venues - so stay tuned for details about how you can participate!

Image of Mona Ruijs courtesy the artist.

Image of Mona Ruijs courtesy the artist.

 

 

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.

 

 

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

where the rare flowers grow

In 2010 I created a body of performance works that responded to the dry lightning storms that frequently ignited small fires in the arid, abandoned potato farms around the asbestos-clad shack that I as living in. I never finished the performances but the research aspect of that series became an ongoing reference point.

My research into arid landscapes led me to the Kazakh semi-desert; a place where, just like where I was living, a number of rare plants can be found. In the wake of Soviet rule, Kazakhstani contemporary artists such as Said Atabekov (born Uzbekistan but lives and works in Kazakhstan) have turned to the landscape anew to re-set the mythology of a claimed and repressed territory. Flowers feature in a number of Atabekov’s works, including Southern Cross (2009) (below), which is the inspiration for a series of light works I’m currently working on.

Said Atabekov, Southern Cross, 2009 Installation with 21 C-prints Each: 50 x 50 cm. via  Aspan Gallery .

Said Atabekov, Southern Cross, 2009 Installation with 21 C-prints Each: 50 x 50 cm. via Aspan Gallery.