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The Comedy of Errors

Straight Chew

16 August 13 words: Stephanie Parkes
Get your teeth into Bohunk Institute’s latest exhibition

Mary Wintour for Garage Projects

Mary Wintour for Garage Projects

To walk into Garage Projects’ latest exhibition at the Bohunk Institute is a little like walking into a surveillance centre. There is some footage that could be mistaken for CCTV outside B&Q, a video about Earth being taken over by aliens and an invitation to piece together a jigsaw of interpretations of modern life.

Organised by artists Ian Parkin, Paul Crook, Mary Wintour, Abigail Jones, Jack Park and Will Thompson, who are collectively known as Garage Projects, Straight Chew is an assortment of work that seeks to create a multi-media experience – one that includes sculpture, painting, film archive material and drawings.

When you push your way past the front doors into the gallery, you might find yourself in the living room of some rather stony-faced characters. Eventually you’ll realise that you’ve unwittingly stumbled into the end of the exhibition and trundle over to find a floor plan.

Will Thompson: Potato Eaters

Will Thompson: Potato Eaters

The most obvious multi-media projects are those created by Abigail Jones, Paul Crook and Ian Parkin, with a mixture of CCTV-like films chopping quickly between scenes of architecture and images of ordinary people milling around outside. The most captivating of the videos is named Made/Untitled (Heaven’s Gate) by Ian Parkin, projected on an old-fashioned, fat-bottomed television set with narration by a character whose voice is reminiscent in tone to everybody’s favourite sci-fi introduction. You half expect the narrator to burst out with, ‘Space: the final frontier’ in a sort of Star Trek déjà vu as you’re coaxed into watching a broken-up transmission of an epilogue that reviews our time on earth.

In terms of more ‘traditional’ art, Mary Wintour’s oil and collage Simply Sublime depicts a balance between the natural world and modern living. Showing an indoor garden that looks out onto snow-topped peaks, the piece encourages you to think about how we can incorporate manmade elements into a natural surrounding without diminishing an area’s natural beauty. For a more obvious interpretation Abigail Jones’s collages are an analysis of the realities of living in a war torn region of Africa. With her most impressionable piece named A Luta Continua (The Struggle Continues) she depicts the brutal nature of exploitation and violence through images of explosions and struggling children. Partnering this piece is a second collage that is similar to a family tree in style, entitled South Sudan Power Map. It indicates the corrupt and unjust nature of South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, who recently issued a decree to sack his entire cabinet after a power struggle with his main competitor, Vice-President Riek Machar.

Will Thompson: Potato Eaters

Will Thompson: Potato Eaters

Remember those stony-faced characters you met at the beginning? Well, they’re this exhibition’s take on sculpture. Inspired by Van Gogh’s painting The Potato Eaters, Will Thompson seeks to depict the agricultural connection that we have with the land and questions the commercialisation of modern production. Taking a strain of inspiration from the horse food scandal, you see a family of sculptures with plaster cast faces as they act to embody social change and an infusion of manmade ideologies that lead to the abandonment of traditional thinking.

As an exhibition the themes within Straight Chew are sometimes difficult to identify. Although there is nothing specific linking any of the separate artists’ work together, it is easier to enjoy this exhibition by imagining each piece as part of a workroom that offers an analysis of modern culture.



Straight Chew will be showing at the Bohunk Institute until Thursday 22 August. Entrance is free.



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