Vocal Thoughts | Curated by Peter McKay

Vocal Thoughts

Anna Davis + Jason Gee – Chris Howlett – Daniel Johnston
Tellervo Kalleinen + Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen – Dani Marti – Kate Murphy

Curator Peter McKay

10th September- 10th October


CACSA Projects 2010 # 8 presents Vocal Thoughts curated by Peter McKay is an exhibition focused on various forms of mental unrest, bringing to the fore exchanges that are largely left unspoken, or sometimes engaged with a closed mind. Blurring the line between public and private, internal dialogue and social exchange, this exhibition provides an opportunity to form a more intimate perspective on the individual experience than we may be familiar with in a world fixated on positive thinking and public face. Accessing and appraising a spectrum of emotions – and complemented with insights into the medical, political and economic frameworks that have evolved to manage negative feelings – at times this exhibition leaves little to the imagination.


Anna Davis and Jason Gee’s [Sydney] collaborative art practice involves scavenging the debris of popular culture to explore some of the more disturbing patterns and humour underlying our everyday lives. Collecting and manipulating fragments from film, television, computer games and the Internet, they utilise sampling and cut-up techniques to create absurdist collages and agitate the media environment. In Biohead Actualized a digital ventriloquist doll regurgitates the language of contemporary self-help strategies, the actualisation movement, Erhard Seminars Training, psychotherapy and new age personality auditing. Engaging in an uneasy conversation with the audience, the doll answers very personal questions about its emotional state and continually gives unqualified advice. In the tradition of the ventriloquist show the Biohead offers a façade of humanness that transfers hidden agendas and speaks the unspeakable. Confused, wounded and neurotically manifested the Biohead is a by-product and mouthpiece for a society infatuated with ‘the cult of the self’. Davis and Gee have previously exhibited at: Campbelltown Art Centre; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; and numerous Australian regional galleries as part of dLux Media Arts’ touring exhibition Face to Face. As solo artists they have exhibited at the: Art Galley of NSW; Fremantle Arts Centre, Perth; Inter Communication Centre, Japan; and Ujazdowski Centre for Contemporary Art, Poland.


Chris Howlett [Brisbane] maintains a multi-disciplinary practice, working across performance, installation and screen-based media. His Homesteads series of The Sims based machinima considers the influence of technology and the media on the family unit, war, and politics. The dystopia he presents inspires reflection on the complexity involved in negotiating the balance of freedoms and protection. Howlett was awarded an Anne & Gordon Samstag Scholarship in 1998 to complete a Masters of Fine Arts at California Institute of Fine Arts. Howlett is a finalist in the Premier of Queensland’s National New Media Art Award 2010 currently at QAG/GoMA, Brisbane and has previously exhibited at the: Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane; Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; ISEA 2004, Helsinki; and LA Freewaves 9th Biennial Festival of Film, Video & New Media, Los Angeles; Accidentally Annie St, Brisbane; and The Farm; Brisbane.


Daniel Johnston [Waller, Texas] has sustained a cult-status music profile since the mid 1980’s after appearing on MTV, influencing numerous American bands including: Sonic Youth; The Flaming Lips; Nirvana; and Yo la Tengo. As a teenager in the late 1970s Johnston began to experience severe bouts of depression, countered with periods of extreme creative activity, and was eventually diagnosed as bipolar. Johnston has led a tumultuous life, relying on friends, family and a delicate balance of prescription medication. Johnston’s practice is an outpouring of his ambitions and anxieties as an adult, explored in his own versions of popular comics Casper the Friendly Ghost, Captain America and a host of characters of his own creation that are continually entangled in a biblical good-vs-evil binary with eccentric slippages. Johnston has also exhibited widely throughout the USA and Europe in the: 2006 & 2008 Liverpool Biennial, UK; Day for Night, 2006 Whitney Biennial of American Art; V1 Gallery, Copenhagen; Clementine Gallery, New York; Arts Factory, Paris; ARC, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Villa de Paris; & Kunsthaus, Oerlikon, Zurich. In 2006 a feature length documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston was released, with a biopic is slated for release in 2011.

In 2005 Tellervo Kalleinen + Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen [Helsinki, Finland] initiated their ongoing work Complaints Choir in Birmingham, later establishing the project in Helsinki, Hamburg, St. Petersburg, Chicago, Singapore, Copenhagen and Tokyo – with more than 65 other do-it-yourself choirs established independently with the artists’ endorsement. Complaints Choir is a workshop-based art project that invites participants to pen their grievances, which are then collected, set to an original composition and publicly performed with great cathartic effect. Prominent complaints include an erosion of manners, money and relationship problems, limited work opportunities, poor public planning and infrastructure, sneaky politicians and the degradation of the natural environment. Complaints Choir has been exhibited at the: Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Signal, Malmo; Sparwasser HQ, Berlin; and Mori Art Museum, Tokyo. Earlier collaborations have also exhibited at: Artspace, Sydney; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest; P.S.1. Contemporary Art Centre, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei; Finnish Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki; and the 2006 Singapore Biennale.


Dani Marti’s [Glasgow & Sydney] Time is the Fire in which we Burn, depicts the artist in bed with his interview subject John, who in this intimate setting recalls his heart-wrenching experience as a prostitute and drug addict struggling to stabilize his life and maintain intimate relationships. Marti’s candid portrait of John demonstrates his enduring strength of character, insightful humor, philosophical engagement with the world, and most of all his resilient humanity. Marti has previously exhibited at: Kunsthalle Winterhur, Switzerland; GoMA, Glasgow; Glasgow International; Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Sydney; Gallery 4a, Sydney; Sherman Galleries; Sydney; ARC One, Melbourne; UQ Art Museum, Brisbane; Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto; with forthcoming presentations at Stills Gallery, Edinburgh; Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, Sydney; Museum of Moderne Kunst, Arnhem, Netherlands. Marti is represented by BREENSPACE, Sydney.


Video artist Kate Murphy [Sydney] presents The Appointment a documentary style video set in a psychiatrist’s office that invites the audience to consider both their potenital emotional fragility and that of others, by taking the viewer into a conselling session and making them the subject if they choose. In 2004 Murphy was awarded the Helen Lempriere Travelling Art Scholarship, and has recently exhibited in: What I Think About When I Think About Dancing, Campbelltown Arts Centre; Contemporary Australia: Optimism, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane; Rising Tide: Film and Video Works from the MCA Collection, Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; UQ Art Museum, Brisbane; Artspace, Sydney; CCP, Melbourne; Sutton Gallery, Melbourne; Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Perth; Adam Art Gallery, Wellington; CAST Gallery, Hobart; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Performance Space, Sydney; Newcastle Region Art Gallery, Newcastle; The Physics Room, Christchurch, New Zealand; Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne; and Canberra Contemporary Art Space. Murphy is represented by BREENSPACE, Sydney.

Click Here for Vocal Thoughts catalogue by Curator Peter McKay

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