Videos, Lies & Language

‘Forms of Deceit’ at the Counihan Gallery in Brunswick is a group exhibition of emerging artists curated by Dunja Rmandic and Edwina Bartlem. The exhibition catalogue asks a lot of questions and the invite asks more questions, unfortunately the questions are unconnected. “The exhibition asks: Why is it that in the presence of visual art we ultimately resort to language? Can images and language be trusted? And can artists themselves be trusted?”

After many years of study of philosophy I know that there are great complexities in the morality of lying, in semeiotics and interpreting images. Perhaps all I know is that blundering into this territory without a guide is not going to be productive. The exhibition, ‘Forms of Deceit’ does nothing to clarify but through its collection of art further confuses the issues. It appears that many contemporary artists and curators would greatly benefit in study of sociology, anthropology, philosophy and semeiotics.

Individually the art is good but taken as a whole the exhibition is just confused.

I particularly enjoyed Joseph Griffiths following in the footsteps of Gavin Turk with his fine graphite drawings of himself in various guises; it is more playful than deceitful. Maria Stolnik’s untitled printed veils with illusionary smiles create uncanny images, but as she is exhibiting both the illusion and photographs of the illusion it is only the printed illusion of deceit. And Mutsumi Nozaki’s sound installation ‘A Role Reversal’ used the very familiar illusion of surround sound.

I liked but I didn’t believe Brant Haslough’s installation: “Discover Scandinavia presents: In a Norther Light: painted light globes from Alajarvi, Finland, Curated by Brant Haslough”. This kind of false mock-exhibition has been popular for many years; the Museum of Modern Oddities is one of the most complete examples that I have seen. Haslough’s display is a fine example of artistic deceit.

Taking the exhibition in an entirely different semiotic direction was Jon Orth large word made of banana peels nailed to the wall, Kiron Robinson’s ‘This is not a sign’, Sam George’s ‘press’ and bcmp. When I was visiting the gallery bcmp (Sam George and Ace Wagstaff) were doing a demonstration (or performance, depending on your level of suspicion) of their project to create a new language. The project raised Wittgenstein’s rule following and private language considerations.

Finally Kate Hodgetts’s video ‘Birds’ and Marita Lillie’s artists book ‘With and Without Consent’ took the exhibition in other directions.


About Mark Holsworth

Writer and artist Mark Holsworth is the author of two books, The Picasso Ransom and Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

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