27 October – 19 November 2005
Fiona Hall’s exhibition at Roslyn Oxley9 will feature three major new installations, Tender, Scar Tissue and Understorey, recently exhibited in the major retrospective of Hall’s work (curated by Julie Ewington) at Queensland Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of South Australia.
Tender consists of dozens of simulacra of birds’ nests of all shapes and sizes, improbably fashioned from American one-dollar bills, each bearing the official declaration: “This note is legal tender”. The American dollar is the most desired currency in Third World countries, for those desperate for it, like birds scavenging for material to build their nests, the greenback provides shelter. Here, in its ubiquity and availability, the dollar bill is made to assume the form of each exquisitely differentiated avian habitat, at exactly the moment of modernisation, the advance of capitalism and the spread of deforestation is depriving many birds, animals and indeed people, of their environments.”
(Julie Ewington, Fiona Hall, Piper Press, p. 169)
Scar Tissue, made entirely from knitted video tape housed, for the first time, in its new museological vitrine home, “includes children’s toys—a golliwog, a bear, Mickey Mouse—along with body parts. Once again the viewer’s memory and role is emphasised: who has not seen a multitude of such toys in recent television news footage, whether pathetically abandoned in war, placed at motor accident sites, or, more bizarrely, used in ritualised public mourning, such as that for Princess Diana? One is now haunted continuously, on a daily basis.”
(Julie Ewington, Fiona Hall, Piper Press, p. 140)
Understorey is an exuberant yet shocking account of the inter-relationships of life and death. The work contrasts two views of the tropical environment: the eighteenth and nineteenth century European notion of the equatorial forest, or ‘jungle’, as a site of luxuriance/fecundity/adventure (and also zealous hunting for plant and animal specimens); and the contemporary reality of on-going civil unrest and the displacement of people from traditional territories due to land clearance, urbanisation and the political after-effects of colonisation/ The work depicts elements of plant and human material, using a variety of media, though predominantly glass beads, the currency of colonisation. It includes a number of three-dimensional objects made entirely from minute glass beads threaded onto wire. A recurring motif is the use of camouflage patterning – a symbol of our time that transforms the patterns of nature into the fabric of conflict and hostility. Understorey brings together fragments of a beautiful, fragile, transient realm, and in the way of science, traps them in the filing system (morgue) of the museum display cabinet.”
(Fiona Hall quoted in Julie Ewington, Fiona Hall, Piper Press, p. 163)
Fiona Hall has exhibited widely in and internationally since the early 1970s. A major retrospective of her work, curated by Julie Ewington, was held at Queensland Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of South Australia this year. To accompany the exhibition, a lavish monograph (192 pages) was published by Piper Press. A full cv can be found on the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery website. Fiona Hall had her first solo exhibition with Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in 1995.