The act of suspension is magic. Mikala Dwyer's kinetic sculpture Diviner manipulates the principles of balance and opposition to reveal the magic of gravity. Carefully selected objects are poised in harmonious equilibrium, taking into account both the physical and sensual properties of the media. Immaculate squares of Perspex and polished mirrors are grounded by a bag of earth; the heavy density of black is mitigated by the luminescence of transparency and mirrored light.
There is a jewel-like sensibility to the collection of objects dripping from the ceiling: Perspex diamonds, black prisms, and bronze rings. Dwyer's practice of fashioning necklaces for walls has been taken into three-dimensional space. The mobile becomes a kind of architectural jewelry that decorates (and delineates) a void. The apparent weightlessness of the objects also playfully undermines the principles of architectural construction. There is a disjunction between the knowledge of an object's physical weight and the perception of its lightness. The state of still suspension enacts a kind of silence on the space, as if the objects are held in place by a spell.
Tapping into the inherent power of materials is a recurring theme in Dwyer's work. In Diviner, the reflective surfaces of the prisms and panels recall the magic possibility of scrying mirrors. The ancient practice of scrying utilises the translucent or luminescent qualities of materials for the purposes of divination. A cut piece of obsidian or glass may be used to relax vision and focus, to mesmerise and unstructure thoughts, and make one receptive to divinations from the spiritual realm. When in motion, Dwyer’s large mirroring surfaces have a destabilizing effect on perception and the body. Reflected images move from plane to plane, transitioning between dimensions and discombobulating the body schema. There is potential for visions and transformation, a state of possibility echoed by the mound of inert soil from which growth could be summoned.
Opposite the Diviner, objects with past lives gather together. Dwyer has mummified found (or lost) ceramic items in clay. Vases, ashtrays and trinkets, once belonging to someone else, have been roughly encased in clay, re-fired, and glazed in gold. The process is a play on alchemy – an attempt at turning base into gold. But here, the transmutation is more of a pantomime, for the aura of the original remains, seeping through the cracks. These are possessed objects – ghostly and beautiful.
Mikala Dwyer has been exhibiting internationally since 1982. Solo exhibitions include Mikala Dwyer: Panto Collapsar, Project Arts Centre, Dublin (2012); Mikala Dwyer: Drawing Down the Moon, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2012); Square Cloud Compound, Hamish Morrison Galerie, Berlin (2010); Outfield, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney (2009); Costumes and Empty Sculptures, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2008); Moon Garden, Aratoi Museum, Masterton NZ (2008); Black Sun Blue Moon, Hamish Morrison Galeri, Berlin (2007); Mikala Dwyer: an Australian artist’s project, City Gallery Wellington (2002); Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2000). Group exhibitions include the forthcoming Less is More: Minimal and Post-Minimal Art in Australia, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Victoria (2012); Plus ou moins sorcières 2/3: épreuves ritualisées, La Maison Populaire, Paris (2012); Forever Young: 30 Years of the Heide Collection, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne (2011); The Ecologies Project, Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne, curated by Geraldine Barlow and Kyla McFarlane (2008); Lost and Found: An Archaeology of the Present, TarraWarra Biennial, curated by Charlotte Day, Healesville (2008); Mystic Truths, Auckland Art Gallery, curated by Natasha Conland (2007);)Den Haag Sculptuur 20007 De Overkant/Down Under, The Hague (2007); High Tide, CAC Vilnius and Zacheta National Gallery, Warsaw; Face Up: Contemporary Art from Australia, Hamburger Bahnhoff, Berlin, curated by Britta Schmitz; Contempora 5, Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne (1999); OrientATION, 4th International Istanbul Biennale, Istanbul (1995); Australian Perspecta, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, curated by Victoria Lynn (1993). In 2009 Dwyer was the recipient of the prestigious Australia Council for the Arts Fellowship Grant. ‘Divinations for the real things’ is Mikala Dwyer’s second solo exhibition with Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery.