Merilyn Fairskye's first solo exhibition at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery.
Exhibition Dates: 29 October – 23 November 1985
"Here is an area to pass through ... to sit on one of the few concrete benches in the concourse for any length of time is to become profoundly uncomfortable, as though one were on exhibit in a vast empty hall. "
Richard Sennett, The Fall of Public Man.
Figuring It Out
Figures of speech. Figures that speak. Attempts to re-figure speech.
In search of a place from which woman can speak, the artist collects, re-presents and forces together disparate fragments of patriarchal discourse: the body in pictorial space, the imagined spaces of public architecture, the language of hydraulic engineering, heroic moments in Art History, the body of homosexual pornography.
These ascetic images function partly through a series of refusals. For instance, the deployment of the coupled image of woman but not as a functionary of a separatist utopia, or references to water which refuse the symbology of life-giving forces. Then there is the refusal of the lush of painterly surface. Colour is colour here. Hard, flat, declarative. Painterly areas exist purely as such: incidents of brushwork in an inter-discursive field; disconnected and speechless, butting up against the garrulous chatter of architecture and pornography.
From Defect to Effect
The interplay of words and images proliferates possibilities along multi-directional lines of force. I wish to track and fix one of these. To insert the jargon of hydraulic engineering into images which problematise the representation of woman momentarily acknowledges the function of double entendre to disrupt the singularity of meaning. An extreme case here which draws attention to the necessity of refusing such connections for ''rational" (male) discourse to function efficiently. For the words, "restriction controls accumulator discharge" in this context conjure up another functional discourse - that of gynaecology which positions the female body as a reproductive machine constantly fraught with the threat of mechanical failure ( a literal "defect in the symbolic universe of men" in the words of Nellie Richard). The quoted Pieta, doubly holy, is now re-figured in the textual field of reproductive function.