Day 327: Mortality Observed, by Michelle Molinari
Some of the VCA students explore in their works the ever popular subject matter of animals in art – although in our day and age it has progressed far beyond the tableaux of such Old Masters of the genre as Jacob Jordaens, Melchior d’Hondecoeter or Rosa Bonheur. The way in which Michelle Molinari approaches taxidermy, for example, brings to mind Joseph Kosuth and his famous installations of a chair, a photo of the chair, and a copy of the dictionary definition of the chair.
The majority of Australian artists who are focusing on taxidermy in their oeuvre usually work within a single media – be it sculpture, painting, or photography. Molinari, on the other hand, works across various media by presenting within a single space taxidermy installations of animals, which are accompanied by paintings and lithographs that are derived from – or inspired by – these installations. Her painting technique is superb and meticulous; the ability to convey the textures of soft fabrics, cold glass domes, fox fur and bird feathers are outstanding. Accompanying lithographs show that Molinari can successfully convey the sensation of differing tactile textures across a number of mediums with great precision and accuracy.
Day 327 bis: White Anaesthesia, by Georgie Mattingley
Georgie Mattingley’s three channel video White Anaesthesia is truly mesmerising to behold. A white cat, a white mouse, and a white goldfish are slowly waking up from either a natural or chemically-induced slumber. The lazy way in which cats wake up by opening one eye, then the other, then carefully surveying their surroundings before finally deigning to lift their heads would be familiar to any of the cat lovers. The movements of the mouse – and especially of the goldfish that at the start of the video lies listlessly at the bottom of the aquarium – are more mysterious and more curious to observe.
One can easily read into this installation underlying subtexts of the hidden, of the subliminal, of the predator and the prey, and perhaps even ethical questions of science experiments and animal welfare. But what one truly takes away from this work is the most incredible aesthetic effect of the all-pervading, unifying, minimalist white.
Works by Michelle Molinari and Georgie Mattingley are on view at the Victorian College of the Arts until November 25.
[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries]