From the roof I throw stones that crack the street, leaving crevices as dark and as blue as the ocean floor. Everything here smells like snow. Shadows are always cool against the cliffs of slate and glass. In the centre of the piazza, a tower. On the top floor, a man with a ram's head shakes his horns slowly back and forth. From his fingers slide bright strings of dough, dripping and sizzling on the stones far below. In place of fingernails matt small poultices of leaves. The veterans all sleep loudly beneath creamy folds of paper. I fold it, and then fold creases and imaginary creases until the picture is embedded into the plane and springs away like an origami box, falling open, trampled thickly by bare feet.
A bulbous city, lightly covered with earth. All the policemen carry paper lanterns and keep tigers in their pockets in case of an emergency, pull tail. I'm driving a 1984 Toyota Celica, white, with pop-up headlights and a broken indicator. The chassis stinks of bongwater. The map is stuck between the seats. I ripped it, prying out directions from beneath the sticky vinyl. Our contact was refusing to budge. Burnt chickens and leaking gas pipes. We could be in Thailand, but we're not. I wanted to go home and cook pasta. Bringing deep pans of salty water to a luxurious, rolling boil and frying up mushrooms with garlic, fresh chillis and handfuls of chopped parsley. I flicked on the radio, poured a glass of wine. The telephone rang. I cradled the receiver and waited.
Who is this?
Who is this?
Hello? Who is this?
The phone hit the floor with a dull click and skidded across the linoleum. I picked it up carefully and with my right hand jimmied up the window sash and tossed it into space. I was wearing a powderblue suit that day, with black loafers, a pink necktie, blue shirt and cufflinks shaped like bullets. I was looking for clues.
Friday, August 10, 2007
The Fold: Nathan Gray
Joint Hassles, 2a Mitchell Street Northcote 3071
27th July to August 17, 2007.
Salt crystals on paper. Psychadelic dreams. Museological mutations. Nathan Gray's latest exhibition of sculptures and works on paper at Joint Hassles is like some light, fragile portal into a world sparkling with the residue of hallucinogens. Almost all the pieces feature hand-made fragments of paper, stained, marbled and saturated with organic swirls of colour. The collages are pinned behind glass like specimens in a muesum or flattened out origami, and matched with titles like "Pyschraficial Hood" and "The Hawknotist". Sprawling beneath the framed compositions are a series of free-standing sculptural growths. In making these works, Gray began by constructing simple, geometric frames from pieces of wood. The skeletal structures were bolted together using wingnuts and then used as supports for aggregations of paper, prints, cut-outs and string. The evolution of the forms seems slapdash, but they also have something of the lyrebird bower about them, as if Gray has nested out in the gallery and built little encampments out of shiny, precious lures.
The works in this show were originally generated as a response to Gray's recent experience at the Osaka Museum of Ethnology in Japan: "All the best parts of all the cultures of the world were mixed together, masks, costumes musical instruments, weapons and rituals. I tried to recreate some of the energy of this place by making my own masks and tools." Gray describes his collages and sculptures as abstract representations of relics, collected from a fictional neolithic village. "But instead of being ethnological", he explained, " I realized how much I was being influenced by album covers and band posters. I guess this is my culture." Music has played a large part in Gray's artistic productions for several years now: he has been collaborating as one-half of Snawklor for nearly a decade, and has also designed album-covers and t-shirts for various Melbourne band, including Architecture in Helskinki. The Grateful Dead album-covers from the 1970s are cited as a particular source of inspiration, and one that feeds Gray's broader interest in psychadelia and "the unseen". Traces of the Dead's fractal mandalas are particularly noticeable in Gray's Inspirational Vibrelation and Ud. Shaped like stylised guitars, these wall mounted sculptures sprout with quasi-symmetrical paper trails.
It then seems particularly appropriate that Gray has also been using his exhibition as a container for sound. The visual component is complemented by three musical performances in the gallery. Gray's own trio, The Fold Ensemble, is playing on Saturday 11th of August at 2pm, and features synths, loops, recorders, vocals, wah and (I am promised) extended guitar solos. Electronic duo Halfman/Halfmoffarah performed in July, and Snawklor held court amongst the collages last week. "As always", Gray writes, the exhibition "deals with my continued investigations into display and composition, the psychedelic and unseen, music, energy and colour." In his work at Joint Hassles, Gray has taken these ideas and constructed an unnatural history that remains poised as if on the brink of collapse.
More Nathan Gray work at www.undodesign.com