Australian historian Robert Musil once said: “There is nothing in this world as invisible as a monument.” This is ironic, considering commemorative public art is both ubiquitous and familiar; looming figures celebrate past triumphs and serve as symbols of collective mourning. How many times have you walked past the Queen Victoria monument next to the QVB and not taken notice?
Armed with Cinefoil, two Canadian artists have embarked on the monumental task of interpreting our public art collection in a completely new way. As part of the Biennale of Sydney, collaborative artists Hadley + Maxwell (aka Hadley Howes and Maxwell Stephens) are building a whole sculptural installation from impressions taken with a matte black foil from statues around the city. The work, called Manners, Habits, and Other Received Ideas (2014), will ensure you won’t look at the statue of Matthew Flinders at the State Library or Il Porcellino (the boar outside Sydney Hospital on Macquarie Street) the same way again.
Here are the artists in action:
Hadley + Maxwell have been working together since 1997, channeling thought-provoking ideas into video, sound and mixed-media installations. They are no strangers to the Cinefoil sculpting method, having created figures from impressions in five other locations as part of a work called Graces and Exemplars (2013):
The gestures that are recorded by the foil pieces come from monuments and public sculptures that are designed to be highly legible, as in, their significance should be easy to read by a general public. When we print them and remove them from their original context we free the gestures from this signification and put them into new constellations alongside one another.
You can check out Manners, Habits, and Other Received Ideas at Carriageworks from 21 March – 9 June.