Sarah CrowEST: A Serious of Objects

Making, un-making and re-making are fundamental processes in Sarah crowEST’s practice. Her work has always been on the move – packing and unpacking ideas of formation and transformation whilst humorously commenting on social and environmental agendas. Her assemblages of blobs, lumps, found objects and textiles exemplify Sarah’s multidisciplinary practice and commitment to process. A lot is left to chance; focussing on exploration and experimentation, haphazardly stumbling on an appropriate and concise outcome.

A Serious of Objects at the AEAF is a collection of crowEST’s sculptures and ‘non-paintings’. Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the gallery, Sarah’s solo exhibition is not only a fine representation of her current practice; her materials and documentation offer a little insight into her own history with Adelaide and its artistic community. Lining one wall hangs a series of large pieces of unfinished Belgian linen repurposed as ‘canvases’; strewn over the surface the artist has hand-stitched remnants of cloth leaving exposed marks of paint or aerosol paint – signs of its previous function, and a cue to Sarah’s commitment to sustainable materials and recycling. Similar to an heirloom quilt full of history pertaining to one’s family, crowEST has hoarded (and continues to collect) donations of fabric from friends, family, and influential types. crowEST considers herself a bit of a social recluse believing this to be her attempt at ‘networking’ and documenting her community. The pieces are titled with a list of names who have contributed to the piece, cataloguing their relationship with the artist whilst sharing ownership of the work without being overly sentimental.

Cycles, processes and experimentation is consistent across the exhibition. A catalogue of images pinned to the wall relay Sarah’s on-going investigations into materiality and highlight some of locations, interactions and influences Sarah has felt over time. Again, this piece continues to morph, much like her sculpture, increasing or decreasing in scale. The images are both documents and artworks in themselves, some have been tampered with, and others are records of people and surroundings. Whilst experimenting with ideas of the unknown Sarah has created a cyclical narrative that exposes a kind of energy which can only be produced through constant exchanges of movement.

Sustainability plays a significant part in Sarah’s oeuvre. She believes in re-using materials and wasting nothing. Her sculptural pieces are constructed from a collection of discarded materials and endure a process of rearticulation with every public presentation. Her piece accomplished naturally without effort (2012-14)is a testament to her philosophy; her lumpy mound sits quietly with wide glass eyes looking out at the exhibition inhabiting the space almost like a gallery invigilator. These sculptures are curiously funny and quirky and are reminders of Sarah’s process driven practice. These forms have an embedded history within them – beaten, crafted, and carved into every dent of their surface.

It cannot be denied that the artist’s hand is at work in this show. A Serious of Objects is a fine example of Sarah’s determined practice whilst being both playful and critical. Whether this show is an introduction, continuation or finale for some of Sarah’s objects, there is certainly an abundance of possibilities on show here.

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Sam Songailo: Digital Wasteland

Sam Songailo’s Digital Wasteland is an absorbing experience. From the floor to the ceilings of the CAC Songailo has crafted an immersive, painterly, ‘digital’ environment. The gallery is separated into a series of installations, including video and sculpture, widening your interaction with the work whilst challenging the traditional mores of painting.

Whilst meandering around the space you sense that the walls have a certain hum, order, and syncopated rhythm. Your eyes dart, weave and refocus confused by the UV light and scent of settling paint fumes. This chaotic array of colour and lines morph and transform as you travel from room to room. Installations like these are wildly popular and engaging but sometimes run the risk of being a carnival-act as opposed to ‘artwork’; here Songailo toes the line – he wants you to experience the work, enjoy yourself, whilst investigating his own ideas of painting and installation art.

In the accompanying sculpture(s) we see remnants of forms sitting awkwardly within this experiential and hypnotic digital scape. The title, digital wasteland, would imply that The Digital Age has been and gone, but, what Songailo has created here, is in the thick of its animation. In perhaps a formal nod to contemporaries like Jim Lambie the puncturing of this environment with the inclusion of sculpture is necessary in reading anything other than a fractal pattern of monumental scale. In the front gallery a small stack of thin strips of wood lean up against one wall ushering you towards them; shaman-like and a visible sign of the artists labour. In the back gallery a boulder-like object, weightless, yet sizeable, precariously balances on a formal plinth taken over too by the digital pattern. These sculptures (and the video work in the middle gallery) are examples of Songailo’s extended practice and assist in creating a few points of reference when navigating the installs. They sit lifelessly as if their function has already passed; visible remains of once animated objects.

Animism and subjectification are clear criteria in reading contemporary sculpture today. Critics spend a lot of time looking at the way objects are made and examine how they are fixed within a particular order of knowledge. But how do we retain this process/perception in the age of technology? We now exist alongside networks that create an abundance of data or devices, and a voluptuous amount of digitalised material. These advancements are causing artists, to look further back; to reflect, and retain some of the fundamentals whilst properly addressing the totality of our current landscape in both a tangible and intangible state.

Songailo has created a series of moving networks that involve ourselves, these objects, and the environment around us. Digital Wasteland is an immersive experience that is engaging without recourse or critique; you can empathize with it on a whole other level. What Songailo has made here is something vital and mortal, emerging from something that could be read as cold and lifeless as code.