Berlin Burghers Microwave Monet – Justene Williams

10 April – 27 June

This exhibition premieres Justene Williams’ latest body of work, Berlin Burghers Microwave Monet, seven video works intended both as individual pieces and as a single entity. The exhibition’s points of departure are a handful of travel photographs of the artist. Although an avid photographer for more than twenty years, very few photographs of Williams exist; mostly this handful of travel snaps – of which all but one were recently lost.

Williams says the ‘videos really don’t resemble at all the photographs, which are catalysts for memories which trigger emotions and bring other images and ideas to life. It is the process of looking back to understand and make sense of the now’.

Williams began working in video in 2005 and her work in this new direction is characterised by several features, each equally startling: her idiosyncratic choreography, the elaborate ‘yeti’ costumes and the shaggy, diaphanous ‘constructions for camera’ (both phrases are the artist’s). The videos continue her long-held interest in optical processes, repetitive actions and consumerism, also Futurism and Dada.

These works are sumptuous. The construction for camera in Shake and Bake- Aeroplane humping machine and Rings looks like a mad 70s disco/television cooking show set/space ship environment. The action in both works is manic, but where the endless cooking task of Shake and Bake – Aeroplane humping machine becomes almost unbearable, the swaying yeti in Rings has a comforting clown-like quality – and the action takes a wondrous trajectory from many rings bouncing on both yeti arms, to all rings bouncing off one arm, and then the arm is covered with rings again. Magic!

As the yeti moves in front of the fringed paper backdrop in Pulp Action and Swing, we see what looks like a moving impressionist painting; the suit and the construction for camera function like paint daubs. There is both absurdity and gravitas to the task in Pulp Action. Life, the work seems to suggest, is about ridiculous and difficult things we do again and again. This exhibition is rich with ideas – the artist ranges from existential observations to childlike play, always in finely crafted, intriguing and lusciously dense scenarios.

Justene Williams Artist Statement

While primarily photographic, my practise exists between notions of abstraction and figuration. In recent years it has expanded to include video, which uses sound and lighting, movement and costume, photographs and temporary sculptural elements often built specifically for the camera to bring together the physiognomies of abstraction and figuration. I am interested in examining ideas relating to perception, representation and how to make an image in a world saturated with them, and also in looking back through history, examining how it is remembered, or forgotten through the photographic document. Using wastefulness left in the world as a tool in my creative work, I try to respond to the symbiotic relationship that exists between humanity and its material environment. I try to confront the time and reality we live in and find a position from emotion and energy and then try to give form to this position.

For more of Justene Williams’ Artist Statement please click here.

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