Following its acclaimed 2018 debut, Dark Swan Exhibitions takes over Fremantle’s PS Artspace until 14 November with Imaginary Territories, delivering its unique, multi-disciplinary exhibition platform of critically engaged WA artists and performers for a WA audience.
Commissioned by the Department of Local Government Sports and Cultural Industries, this Feminist Surrealist exhibition features significant new contemporary works by five established female WA artists including Jo Darbyshire, Lucille Martin, Rebecca Patterson (33 POETS), Dr Toni Wilkinson, and Dr Kelsey Ashe who is also the curator.
Imaginary Territories is an odyssey that travels within, yet is global in outlook, acknowledging the centenary of the emergence of Surrealist modes of artistic inquiry from Europe 100 years ago, which spread worldwide, right to the ends of the earth, into the far-away Antipodes.
“In an era of environmental/world crisis and political divisiveness, to conceive new realities has become critically important,” said Dr Kelsey Ashe. “The exhibition explores the concept of a ‘territory’ as a domain of the inner world – a representation that expresses an ‘internal truth’.
“Through this Surrealist lens, the artists’ territories are simultaneously real and imagined, explored into being; a place where both conscious and subconscious realities are envisioned. The artists are asked to consider their “inner topographies” and to question how this can assist in overcoming the earthbound borders, barriers and displacements we find ourselves in this modern era.”
Surrealism has been central to some of Australia’s most respected contemporary women artists, including Pat Brassington, Polexini Papapetrou and Petrina Hicks, to name a few. The artists in this exhibition were chosen for their practice related to surrealist enquiry, and also for their interest in the legacy of Feminist Surrealism established by iconic artists such as Dora Maar, Leonora Carrington, Lee Miller, Frida Kahlo, Leonora Fini, Remedios Varo, Kay Sage, Louise Bourgeois and Francesca Woodman.
Surrealism has historically outlined a path back to mythic structures of matriarchy and universal female principles via its innate inward-looking viewpoint that often unites nature/animal/myth with a political/defiant vision and this is evident in all the works presented for this exhibition.
Lucille Martin has created a large scale Photo-Media Polyptych Alumalux Work, Jo Darbyshire a grand scale Installation, Toni Wilkinson Print and Photo Media works and Dr. Kelsey Ashe, Sculpture and Film Projection.
Dr Ashe says her interest in Surrealism stems from the movement’s aim of striving to reveal the sacred within the mundane. “The exhibition is also timely in that 100 years on from its first emergence in Europe, Surrealism’s influence and legacy is experiencing unprecedented levels of revisionist attention from curators, artists and writers worldwide, particularly for women artists who have found its strategies for artistic enquiry essential to their practice,” she said.
2020 has been a major year for international recognition of Dr Ashe’s work. She returned from the USA in Late January just as the COVID lockdowns began, after placing second in a juried International Women in Surrealism Exhibition; a remake of the notorious 31 Women exhibition staged by Peggy Guggenheim in 1943.
Ashe’s submission, her film, Pearls and Blackbirds, commissioned for the Fremantle Biennale in 2019, was immediately then shown at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh and invited into two group shows in New York at the Barrett Art Centre and at Site: Brooklyn Gallery. She was also appointed as the Co-Editor of second issue of The Debutante – a UK Based Arts Journal devoted to Contemporary Feminist Surrealism.
PS Artspace, 22 – 26 Pakenham Street, Fremantle
Exhibition continues to 14 November 2020
For more information, visit: www.psas.com.au for details.
Image: Lucille Martin, New Worlds, Other Worlds, 2020 (detail). IPhoneography, photo media instillation on archival acrylic face-mount.