It is in this proximity that the works become an accumulation of meaning, conjuring up previous works and versions that act again as prompts. In this sense, An Eel in the Devil’s Haystack at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery is linked to ACW’s work Partition # 13, Assemblee des culs / Ass Assembly, presented in The National 2021: New Australian Art at Carriageworks, Sydney.
The painting titled Ass Assembly Ken Done Style is presented as a trace are shown concurrently in both exhibitions. While other works, such as Like an eel in a haystack / Comme une anguille dans un boite de foin, were originally exhibited in Assemblee desculs /Ass Assembly in Paris in 2017. The image of the devil, from previous performances, reappears in a reflection, a small shiny image absorbed into the veneer of the picture, no longer a monster, no longer a threat, the monster that-is-not, the monster that is whatever the other is.
In one of their ongoing projects, Explaining contemporary art to live eels, ACW invite art experts to speak to live eels held in aquatic installations in exhibitions and later returned to the waters they came from. Leave a message: Explaining contemporary art to live eels is a sonic archeology of the much-loved durational work, known for their performative attitudes towards speech, meaning, matter and publishing. This radiophonic piece includes interviews with the artists recorded by Anabelle Lacroix during the summer of 2020, and sounds from performances, conferences and exhibitions that compose the work since 2004.
Contrary to transgressive fascination or psychoanalytic reading, ‘An Eel in the Devil’s Haystack’ explores the idea of what we experience in the mode of reception is nothing more than a material sense of our own living. Influenced by post-structuralism and relational aesthetics, ACW explore how reality is perceived through cultural models.