The work evolved from a series of ideas that came into focus during its making. Initially I imagined cross-pollination between two different images and scenarios; that of the figures in Gericault’s painting Raft of the Medusa and the figure of Marilyn Monroe in her famous dress and high heels standing over a wind vent in the street. This hybrid in turn spawned a generation of new images and affects; high heel shoes morphed into dissolving ice objects that in turn created new forms such as the image of a raft. Cross-currents between images and objects created turbulence in which figures circulated in space; falling or rising in an indeterminate relationship between elements. At times this chaos resolved into more deliberate outcomes as a raft was slowly constructed from the debris.
These unfolding layers could be seen like active jump cuts in a film sequence where different sensations are evoked as the viewer is taken through an experience of various materials, processes and realities.
Time is depicted in images and animated stills or through the transformation of one material into another. Place is space; and movement is suggested through such objects as a shoe or a raft or literally in the morphing of one form into another.
Time and space are contingent elements whose true reality is virtuality. Concrete reality can then be seen as a construction which limits through definition, then expands through imagination. When we consider virtual reality within media such as photography, film, video etc we are perhaps more accurately embracing reality not as a copy but as the essence of our world as virtual.
Escape Artist: Castaway suggests a cast of personas that are peripheral and uncertain. The exhibition suggests threads without privileging or resolving any of these into a dominant weave. Ultimately, it is about the desire to imagine; to imagine is to expand the world in order to inhabit the world more vividly in its virtuality.
—Julie Rrap, 2009
Julie Rrap has been a major figure in Australian contemporary art for three decades. In 2007, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney held a major retrospective of Rrap’s work (curated by Victoria Lynn). Rrap was included in the important Australian Show in 1988 that toured to the Frankfurter Kunstverein in Germany and major museums in Japan. Other significant group exhibitions include Fieldwork: Australian Art 1968 – 2002 at the National Gallery of Victoria, Systems End: Contemporary Art in Australia that toured Japan and Korea in 1996 and the 1992 and 2008 Sydney Biennales. Julie Rrap’s works are held in every major public collection in as well as many corporate and private collections in and overseas. Rrap has been selected for the prestigious Clemenger Contemporary Art Award at the National Gallery of Victoria in September 2009. Escape Artist: Castaway will be Julie Rrap’s tenth solo exhibition with Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery.