The Urgency of Our Time
The Politics of Perception Catalogue Essay, Latrobe Regional Gallery 2015
by Dr David Sequeira, Director Latrobe Regional Gallery
To download this text as a PDF please click here
The works of Jasmine Targett and Debbie Symons presented in The Politics of Perception demonstrate more just environmental theory. The works in this exhibition are of ‘our time’, grounded in personal concerns about global warming and endangered species. Now more than ever, environmental concerns are an intimate aspect of mainstream consciousness. Whilst we may not always observe the rituals of recycle wheelie bins and green shopping bags, there is no doubt of their place (however cursory) in Australian culture.
This type of mainstreaming calls into question the role of art galleries and artists in ‘dealing with’ such concerns. Of particular importance is the active or passive voice that the gallery uses to express its connection to such concerns. As the Director of a regional Victorian gallery, I am more interested in art that raises questions than I am in art that chants a slogan. More specifically, I am interested in art that encourages audiences to experience themselves as part of something much bigger. Mainstream consciousness has made new demands of artists and presenting information is not enough. The works in this exhibition are ‘of our’ time because of the depth of connectedness that they implore.
The work of Jasmine Targett and Debbie Symons holds powerful insights into global resources and critical issues but that on its own is not why it is so significant. This work is important because its imagery is poetic and imaginative and it encourages audiences to consider themselves in relation to environmental concerns. Both artists are engaged in processes of art making where by the relationship of the audience to object (whether it be sculpture or projection) is central to the works’ conceptual ambitions. For me, the potency and urgency of these works lie in their ability to reveal something previously hidden about me, about the world and about my place within it.
Dr David Sequeira