This was a large – that is to say it filled even the EAF’s sometimes seemingly cavernous space – two piece installation. The viewer entered first a kind of antechamber (Strawberry Girl) filled with arrangements, vanity-mirror-style, of cutely girlish objects & surrounded by pink & white illustrative images of a ‘type’ of sexuality that seemed to morph from David Bailley, sentimentalized soft-porn to a more aggressive, punkish & androgynous perversity & provocation. Decor turning scornful.
The larger installation (The White Room – which had been one of the five works chosen for last year’s Contempora 5 exhibition in Melbourne) was a room within a large circular walled enclosure. A secluded, private room within a protective walled moat of white gravel (three tons of marble chip) & stretched gauze curtain. One entered the round outer wall (having found the gap) & crunched across the gravel around the all-white, circular maze – white walls, white mesh, white gravel: a very artificial, insulated purity, slightly sci-fi. But also, given the themes that seemed latent – the ‘enclosed garden’ metaphor for female sexuality, a satin, Elvis-in-Las Vegas sumptuous sexuality associated with the all-white environment, the feel that one might be the encroaching voyeur, the threatening (male) other as one crunched along in search of the inner room’s entrance, or like a participant on a police search – a site of surprise. One might find some sexual act, or a murdered body. The inner site suggested, with its white, padded walls, kinky boudoir as much as padded cell, some private, ritualized confrontation: power & pleasure – as illicit, shameful, merely private, as mercenary transaction.
A third aspect of the exhibition was a small video playing in the gallery toilets, mounted high like a security camera. Its small screen showed a young woman in that same padded room, the camera hand-held & focusing on various empty corners & lines of the room & occasionally, accidentally, on parts of the woman. It seemed an unwilling & uncooperative complicity on the woman’s part. My thought was that the exhibition successfully re-projected normally internalised feelings (of ambivalent recklessness/worthlessness/victim-hood/assertive autonomy etc.,) back onto the viewer.