“I like an exhibition that reads as a first person shooter”, says the press release for Quake II, curated by Holly Childs, running at London’s Arcadia Missa and featuring the work of two Australian-based artists Marian Tubbs and André Piguet. Taking its name from the 1997 video game, which in turn takes its title from the 1996 original, Quake, the show was conceived as a “non-linear curve” against Childs’ upcoming book Danklands, published by the aforementioned London gallery and launching across Europe and Australia through mid-December.
The exhibition very much reads as an interactive video game. Boarded off from the outside by white exhibition walling, there’s a window smashed through the panelling and supporting pinewood frames with a view inside that’s blocked by the back of Tubbs’ ‘untitled (the sea)’ (2014) video. It’s part of the artist’s ‘New Hunger‘ installation, featuring among other things a person-sized makeshift doorway where on walking through manouverability is key.
That’s especially true at an exhibition opening where the gallery floor is not only littered with Piguet’s lego trees, a mug, a red and white-dotted ceramic mushroom and a glazed and raw clay candle holder, but is also crowded with human bodies. At the centre of this single work installation scattered around the room, ‘WET_TIP_HEN_ax (blk lgn pale edit) Feat. SLCT troll garden garb’ (2014) lists “pigment”, “small amounts of gallium” and the presumably made up word of “tetrahydrosmaugs” as its materials, while a cloudy, semi-transparent battle-axe made from resin hangs in its centre. It’s fluoro axe-head equivalent is lying on the floor in a corner.
Tubbs’ dazzling stews of synthetic colour drift across loosely hung fabric limping from and falling out of wall-hung frames, a ribbon of motionless-but-abstractly-moving material tumbles down from ceiling to floor. “Feminist repurpose video #gamergate subversion shit” says the press release, as one considers the video raining Emojii and immaterial images of torn out fragments of words in ‘untitled (the sea)’. It’s at eye level and blocking the hole in the gallery wall, while announcing, “It’s hard for girls”. On the floor in the corner, ‘Vulgar Latin‘ (2014) projects screenshots of a YouTube window with a view into industrial sludge that’s suspended in time, floating across space. The soundtrack travels from pensive piano to crackling and crunching synth lines that slice across 2D gradient rectangles giving the illusion of 3D cylinders. Sometimes they bounce back from, other times bouncing out of, its frame. Bit coins. Coinye. Spilt milk. A wavy strip of snakeskin.
In announcing an interest in content that “reroutes its form” at the final Lunch Bytes in London before reading Augustine’s “make-up tutorial that is also subliminally a climate change awareness campaign, or a self-defence for women pep talk”, excerpted from Danklands, Childs expanded on an interest in physical space mediated by the online, in a Google Maps still of the Melbourne Docklands where it’s secret Control Pond Q is hidden from virtual view. In Quake II, Childs, Tubbs and Piguet present the spill over from the realm of the video game to the gallery floor in the implicit culture war of an exhibition that for once makes the Invisible Wall visible. **
Exhibition photos, top-right.