The Churchie National Emerging Art Prize and Exhibition at Griffith University Art Gallery has included a compendium of works from forty-one artists. Initially formed by a group of parents who sought art patrons and gallery directors to form the award in 1987.
This year finalists were chosen by Chris Bennie – previous finalist and artist; Naomi Evans – Curator and writer; and Simon Wright – Director GUAG and GAW; and judged by New York/Brisbane based artist Dr Maura Reilly – Curator of Contemporary Art, author, and academic. Not unlike previous years this years Churchie has provided a selection of work covering numerous mediums. High Definition Video won Heath Franco this years $15 000 award, Your Door, 2012. Your Door was one of the first to see as you walked into the gallery space.
Franco superimposed the characters onto the front door using simple video techniques particularly repitition. The footage was taken from Franco’s ‘cube’ performance at the Oxford Factory, Sydney in 2011. Your Door delves into the pains of everyday life in an unpretentious and humorous way unveiling secrets and magic found in the everyday.
The spaces Franco uses, the entrance to the front door and his performance at the Oxford Factory are small although he manages to expose numerous scenarios within these static objects, the door handle, the door bell and the mug. He uses minimal verbal language but creates somewhat poignant and powerful statements using again, repetition. Your Door opens the viewer to an alternate universe.
Living and working in suburban Sydney, Franco’s studio practice is often sighted within his immediate surroundings using characters inspired by daily life. Initially a painter Franco uses his knowledge of colour and composition to inform his work.
He deliberately exaggerates their personas, twists their personalities amplifying them into bizarrely perverted characters using costumes he explained that somehow excite him.
It was not only Franco’s works that contained elements of the everyday. Alex Cuffe’s, Ice Cream Castle III, 2012, was just that, a tower of ice cream cones carefully placed upside down forming a tower well over head height, a pool of ice cream surrounding its base.
The work Catherine or Kate, 2008, was a survey carried out while on residency in Iceland, 2011, in collaboration between artists, Catherine Sagin and Kate Woodcroft, asking random people, who is the more attractive and documenting the experience through a grid of photographs. The work reflects ideas of success, judgement, competition, dominance, submission, the individual and the collective, all very contemporary social issues.
It is the secret world of fetish, social taboos and sexuality, in which Anastasia Booth addresses in her work, Marion Glass. Wooden crutches combined with black leather straps and found glass sphere’s represent an aesthetic of sadomasochistic fetish. It is a work covered in uncertainty, using seductive materials and an element of humour. The specific why, how and where of the materials application is an exercise for the imagination of the viewer. The core to this work is based on the historical background of Marion Glass a transgender person of the Australian Colonial era.
Let Me Go, 2011, sees two lovers, a woman (Harris), the other dough, struggling under the ‘stickiness’ of the relationship. It shows a woman deluded by the relationship and her desperate need to survive. It is that sense of suffocation, torment and destruction of the individual, which is in fact the downfall of the ‘ultimate’ union. Let Me Go was mesmerising to say the least!
The Churchie challenges the viewers’ perception of their world exposing psychological vulnerabilities relevant to contemporary society. The finalists this year have given the Churchie for 2012 a dynamic, stimulating discourse for its audience.