Kelly’s Garden Curated Projects #1

The Fall by Scot Cotterell

The Fall launches Kelly’s Garden Curated Projects, an ongoing series which will showcase the work of significant established artists from Tasmania, nationally and internationally. The ongoing curatorial program will also encourage curatorial development and the inclusion of invited curators.

Given that the January 2009 launch of Kelly’s Garden Curated Projects coincides with the inaugural MONA FOMA program of innovative visual art and music, the opportunity existed to place a project within that program, so the choice of artist was an opportunity to celebrate the relationship between visual art, music and ‘sound art’. It was also important that the launch project should feature a Tasmanian artist and that a new work be developed for it. There would be few artists currently practicing in Tasmania whose work and interests exemplify this as much as Scot Cotterell. Salamanca Arts Centre has placed a high priority on developing and presenting performative and inter-disciplinary practice both within its annual program and through its associations and the choice of this installation reflects that commitment.

Cotterell’s work runs the gamut from purely visual art at one pole and innovative music and pure sound installations at the other, with various hybrid relationships of these along that spectrum. His practice involves installation, performance, moving image and photography.

To quote from the artist’s description of the work, “The Fall is an object and performance installation that combines a series of psychologically charged ‘pop-cultural’ objects and materials into an aggregate form”.

A luridly-coloured ‘baroque’ fountain resplendent in the centre of the space, gurgles forth endless bubbling Coca-Cola. Fallen disco balls of varying sizes have plummeted to earth and become embedded in the ground around it. A giant swathe of black plastic becomes the background drapery for the whole scene. At the entry point a screen embedded in a panel shows the remnants of a performance by somber sound act ‘machines of indeterminate origin’ (m.o.i.o), whose title suggests the often vacuous, clinical world of manufacturing and capital. The screen shows m.o.i.o performing as a band in the space. Upon entering the space beyond there is no trace of this performance to be found except the soft melodically repetitive somber audio being played into the space, the soft bubbling of sugary liquid and the shifting pinpoint illuminations of light.

“The Fall articulates a mytho-poetic combination of consumer products that aim to augment or decorate spaces – objects that offer the ‘owning of an aura’ – the disco balls for instance, to take the party home with you, or the concrete ‘baroque’ fountain in order to experience the wealth of classical sculpture in one’s own garden.

The addition of the perfomative and recorded sound elements aims to cascade these references into the often ‘bad taste’ aesthetics of popular audio-visual forms, in particular the rock video, and contain this on a screen to shape audience expectation before continuing further into the space. The notion of pathos emerging through these elements abstractly embodies the current uncertainty, or ‘fall’ that we are collectively experiencing” – Scot Cotterell

Cotterell’s work and his position within arts practice reflects current tendencies for artists to be less isolated within a practice defined by singular specific disciplines, something the development of contemporary media has certainly encouraged, but it also reflects a mentality which is flexible and able to collaborate at will with the ideas and activities of others. One may encounter an artist such as Cotterell as a player in a band, (albeit not a conventional one), a solo sound artist, part of a Damo Suzuki Network eclectic grouping, a photographer working in digital media, a solo visual artist, a performer within a visual art context or, as in this case, an installation artist drawing on many of these bases. The old notion of the artist as singular ego, and the instant recognition of that artist’s style and form are passing. Art is more social, it has learned what musicians have always known about the value of collective activity and the intellectual invention which can flow from that. It’s less about the artist perhaps and more about the work.

Sean Kelly, Curator

Kelly’s Garden Curated Projects is an initiative of The Salamanca Arts Centre and made possible through the generosity of Aspect Design and fundraising from SAC’s Supporters at the SAC Quiz Night. This Project was assisted through Arts Tasmania by the Minister for Tourism and the Arts.

The Fall is a component of MONA/FOMA 2009 – the inaugural Festival of Music and Art, a partnership between Moorilla and the Salamanca Arts Centre and curated by Brian Ritchie.