Megan Cope (Quandamooka), Helen Grogan (Australia), Nik Pantazopoulos (Australia), Stuart Ringholt (Australia), Sriwhana Spong (New Zealand / United Kingdom), Sue Williamson (South Africa)
Curated by Zara Sigglekow
11 May - 16 June 2018
21-31 High St, Preston VIC 3072
Emotion is a force, both cognitive and sensorial, that occurs between things: people, concepts, and objects. It circulates, drives and sticks. With discursive and centrifugal ambitions, this exhibition explores how select contemporary art practitioners observe emotion through personal and historic lenses.
In The Cultural Politics of Emotion, feminist scholar Sara Ahmed argues that emotions exist as ‘impressions’ between things. According to Ahmed, the concept of the ‘impression’ is the act of pressing on someone. As such, it clouds one’s ability to distinguish between bodily sensation, emotion and thought, as though, eventually, they are experienced as indistinct realms. This conception brings together the two historical ‘camps’ of emotion theory: emotion as primarily tied to bodily sensations, and emotion as cognition.
The works in this exhibition show facets of emotion congealing at different points on this spectrum: sometimes weighted towards a bodily sensation, at other times towards a cognitive judgment – or somewhere in between. These artists wrestle with ideas of emotion, of content that is loaded with feeling, and at times where emotion might sit within art practice, touching on ethical, aesthetic, social, and the spiritual dimensions. In all, there is a sense of the historical weight threading through: the inheritance of trauma, of love, of the passing down of feeling. A consideration of the past permeating the present, and complexity, because the past bleeds, and emotion bleeds, into the now.
These artists resist emotion as spectacle. Instead, they operate in spaces that are softer, cathartic, and compassionate, while simultaneously acknowledging, at times, negative emotion as a fundamental part of the human condition.
Great Movements of Feeling was accompanied by a forthcoming online publication, including a catalogue essay by Zara Sigglekow and text responses by writers Laura Couttie, Ellen van Neervan and Sarah Werkmeister.
Visit the exhibition’s website here.