images: Alex Gawronski, ‘Untitled (Headhunter)’ 2012; Scott Donovan, ‘El Burro’ 2010; Carla Cescon (with Martin Ives) ‘Arse’ 2012
an exchange exhibition
EIDIA @ I.C.A.N.
I.C.A.N. Institute of Contemporary Art Newtown @ Plato’s Cave, EIDIA House
“EIDIA Occupy’s I.C.A.N.” – March 23 to April 8, 2012
I.C.A.N. Occupy’s EIDIA – April 13 to May 12, 2012
opening reception at Plato’s Cave, Saturday April 14, 1 to 6pm
For this exhibition I.C.A.N. considers the physical and symbolic dimensions of the subterranean aspect of the Plato’s Cave vault space—exploring some of the perhaps, seemlier and absurd qualities of urban life and politics. The wall-to-wall white tiling of Plato’s Cave—while superficially anodyne and ‘hygienic,’ conjures also the opposite—a hidden space of unseen actions, of possible torture, a space where the telltale traces of antisocial actions might easily be wiped clean. Indeed, collectively we in the West would appear to be living in schizoid times where regularly what is openly annunciated as being for the ‘public good’ conceals less palatable realities (consider for example the recent US policy of ‘extraordinary rendition’ or the ‘subterranean activities’ perpetrated at Abu Ghraib, or elsewhere the base activities of Austrian ‘psychopath’ Josef Fritzl who kept his daughter, literally underground for years solely for his ‘pleasure.’) I.C.A.N. approaches such terrain obliquely from the broader perspective of the unspoken subterranean dimensions of ‘actually existing’ democracy. Of course, one of the earliest expressions of modern democracy was the crowd-pleasing spectacle of public beheading hinted at in Alex Gawronski’s installation. Meanwhile, the ‘democratic’ arena of contemporary art can simultaneously support the most clichéd and overarching gestures as in Scott Donovan’s parodic video that ridiculously and scatologically combines the unrelated art forms of dance, ceramics and ‘land art.’ I.C.A.N.’s symbolic repertoire also draws further connections between the ostensibly liberatory role of art and stereotypes of the artist’s supposedly necessary withdrawal from public life. Thus Carla Cescon’s contribution (a collaboration with film maker Martin Ives) deploys the kitsch pathos of ventriloquism to suggest the impotency of artists who willingly fulfill the self-defeating fantasy of self-imposed isolation. Overall, ‘I.C.A.N. Occupy’s Plato’s Cave’ represents an admixture of satire and critique conceived specifically for the underground.