Affect is dormant or not quite, at least not exactly activated by the sensitive. Rather, it lies in wait, like something present under the surface, beyond the immediately recognisable. Perhaps it is for this reason that it contains its own power, unleashed for us in acts of engagement that are to some extent the result of a simultaneity of distinct experiences housed or held in abeyance in the art object.
It may not figure what type of object or material inhabits this curious, unsettling pool. Objects made by the artist’s hand, fashioned to serve points of connection. Objects recovered by an artist, reconfigured whether to concentrate or obscure past relationships or implications. Objects or sites photographed by the artist, where the touch of the photograph may be in spite of, rather than contained within, its representational capacity. It is, then, less a question of intention or desire so much as the capacity, unbidden, to take us out of ourselves – to move us.
While these are certainly experiences to be had from the work of Fiona Amundsen, Peter Robinson and Luke Willis Thompson, these diverse practices share a quality of precision. In this I don’t mean an exact or delimiting demarcation of what feelings are channelled or what residual emotion may yet lie within the objects they have wrought. Almost the converse, that in the carefully honed and nuanced works is something akin to a telescoping of a physical engagement that renders more unruly, more provoking, more becoming the undeclared, the not physically captured, the affective aspects of these works.
Which makes for a more complex, more ungraspable, more intense and meaningful connection to the provocations stirred by these works. We are rendered uneasy, compelled to response or “swoon” in part because these artists are less interesting in the isolated appreciation or analysis of the art they make but more so in the multiple and unravelling connections and relationships they, their work and we are integrally a part of. In conversation with Mary Zournazi, the French philosopher Michel Serres proposes: “It’s not an ontology we need, but a desmology – in Greek desmos means connection, link … What interests me is not so much the state of things but the relationship between them.”
The empathic conversation suggests this kind of proximity. The inter-relation of artwork, artist, audience (and all our several and complex histories, memories and feelings) is no less intimate, no less a condition by which we are, all of us, changed. Not so much ripples in a pond so much as ripples colliding, eddies and undertows that drag us away and force us back to the surface, gasping.
Peter Shand, Pequod, 2014 (excerpt)
Fiona Amundsen, Peter Robinson, Luke Willis Thompson
21 November – 21 December
Hopkinson Mossman Gallery, L1/19 Putiki Street, Auckland< BACK TO LISTINGS