IMG. 1. splitting open the surface on which it is inscribed (Shelley), La Trobe Gallery, 2020. IMG. 2-6 & VID. 1. splitting open the surface on which it is inscribed (Shelley), Gertrude Contemporary, 2018. IMG. 7-8. Helen Grogan, splitting open the surface on which it is inscribed, gradual graduation, Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Melbourne, 2019.
Helen Grogan’s practice is concerned with systems of observing, sensing, and locating. She is hyper-aware of the ethical tensions of the subject viewing an object, an audience viewing a performer, and seeks to disrupt this relationship that can be fraught with power imbalance. splitting open the surface on which it is inscribed 2018, is an exploration of the agency of an object. That is, how to work with an object with limited subjective impact and reveal its materiality and agency, encourage a more sympathetic relationship between viewer and artwork, and the place/architecture within which it sits.
The work consists of a 15-minute choreographic score, enacted for three different restrictive camera views and a detailed stereo audio recording. A thin mirror-finish steel disk is forged, folded, and pressed by the score participant Shelley Lasica, revealing both resistance to her actions, and compliance to her force. The manner in which Lasica undertakes her actions is sympathetic and adaptive to the object’s response. All the while, the surface reflects the room, actions, and apparatus around it. The visual replay of this event within the exhibition is fractured and dispersed across three screens, while the sonic re-articulation manifests as a synchronised real time diegetic audio recording. The sum of this effect is the creation of an embodied sensorial empathy between viewer, artwork, and gallery space in which it sits…
Emotion is a force, both cognitive and sensory, that occurs between things: people, concepts, and objects. It circulates, drives and sticks. With discursive and centrifugal ambitions, Great Movements of Feeling explores how select contemporary art practitioners observe emotion through personal and historic lenses. The title of this exhibition is lifted from the sociologist Emile Durkheim who ruminates on emotion that arises in a crowd, acknowledging it originates from no particular consciousness. It speaks to emotions nebulous nature as it circulates in the world. The feminist scholar Sara Ahmed argues that emotions exist as ‘impressions’ between things. According to Ahmed, the concept of the ‘impression’ is the act of pressing on someone. As such, it clouds one’s ability to distinguish between bodily sensation, emotion and thought, as though they are experienced as indistinct realms…
Emotions are orientations towards things, towards objects, towards people. Art encourages feelings: it is predicated on a viewer encountering cognitively and sensorially, an artwork towards which they may develop a position. In this way, art is implicit in the passing around of feeling. The works in this exhibition—whether concerned with voice, actions of objectness—are spaces, enclosed in artwork form,
where the complexity of emotion arises. They speak from different positions but threaded through is a concern for how emotion operates in the world, nudging towards a softer, more complex and compassionate weaving of feelings through our lives.
PHOTO CREDITS. IMG. 1-4, 6. Christo Crocker. IMG. 5. Helen Grogan. IMG. 6-7. Laura May Grogan & Helen Grogan. VID.1. Helen Grogan with intro footage by Eva Ostign. IMG. 8. Helen Grogan
Helen Grogan, splitting open the surface on which it is inscribed (Shelley), 2018, was comissioned for Zarah Sigglekow’s group exhibtion ‘Great Movement’s of Feeling’, Gertrude Contemporary.
'Great Movements of Feeling' featured artists: Megan Cope / Helen Grogan / Sriwhana Spong / Nik Pantazopoulos / Stuart Ringholt / Sue Williamson. The exhibition toured public museums in the state of Victoria 2019-2021 through NETS Victoria.
Helen Grogan, splitting open the surface on which it is inscribed (Shelley), Gertrude Contemporary, 2018. Choreographic score design and development: Helen Grogan. Choreographic score enaction for Gertrude Contemporary foyer site: Shelley Lasica. Sound Recordist: Liam Power. Lilac research: Atong Atem, Jess Gall, Laura May Grogan, Simon MacEwan, Liam Power.
Helen Grogan, splitting open the surface on which it is inscribed, cutting closer to the cache, Abbotford Convent, Melbourne, 2019.
Helen Grogan, splitting open the surface on which it is inscribed, gradual graduation Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Melbourne, 2019.