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Apr
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Review: ‘Antony Gormley: MEMES’ at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 17th March – 23rd April 2011

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Antony Gormley
‘MEMES’ installation view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne
2011
Photograph by Tim Griffith
Courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery Melbourne and Sydney

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The size of the figures surprises the viewer on entering the gallery.

Then observe the figures engagement with the gallery space.

The tensioning points between figures, wall and floor are fantastic.

“Placed directly on the floor they become acupuncture points within the volume of the space, allowing the viewer to become conscious, through the disparity of scale, of his/her own mass and spatial displacement as s/he moves around and amongst the works.” (Antony Gormley text, see below)

The figures lean, are lopsided, collapse, pose, are reordered and reconfigured.

They teeter on the edge of cracks in the gallery floor (perhaps a metaphor for humans standing before the abyss).

They form yoga poses.

They are Transformers (some of them remind me of the Star Wars ‘AT-AT’ Storm Troop Carrier, the ones that look like deadly mechanical elephants).

The figures self-replicate 27 communal blocks in different assemblages.

There seems to be a (metaphyiscal?) connection between the figures, through gesture, across space.

“A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes, in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.” (Wikipedia)

They mutate, much as the human is mutating into the posthuman.

“The randomness to which mutation testifies is implicit in the very idea of pattern, for only against the background of nonpattern can pattern emerge. Randomness is the contrasting term that allows pattern to be understood as such.” (see below)

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PS. We were down on our hands and knees looking at the figures (just like some of their configurations) and this gave a whole new perspective to the work.

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“What happens in the case of mutation? Consider the example of the genetic code. Mutation normally occurs when some random event (for example, a burst of radiation or a coding error) disrupts an existing pattern and something else is put in its place instead. Although mutation disrupts pattern, it also presupposes a morphological standard against which it can be measured and understood as mutation. We have seen that in electronic textuality, the possibility for mutation within the text are enhanced and heightened by long coding chains. We can now understand mutation in more fundamental terms. Mutation is critical because it names the bifurcation point at which the interplay between pattern and randomness causes the system to evolve in a new direction. It reveals the productive potential of randomness that is also recognized within information theory when uncertainty is seen as both antagonistic and intrinsic to information.
We are now in a position to understand mutation as a decisive event in the psycholinguistics of information. Mutation is the catastrophe in the pattern/randomness dialectic analogous to castration in the presence/absence dialectic. It marks a rupture of pattern so extreme that the expectation of continuous replication can in longer be sustained. But as with castration, this only appears to be a disruption located at a specific moment. The randomness to which mutation testifies is implicit in the very idea of pattern, for only against the background of nonpattern can pattern emerge. Randomness is the contrasting term that allows pattern to be understood as such.”

Hayles, Katherine. How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999, pp.30-33.
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Many thankx to the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery for allowing me to publish the text and photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. All images courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery Melbourne and Sydney.

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Antony Gormley
‘MEME CXXVII’
2011
Cast iron
37.3 x 9.3 x 7.8 cm
Photograph by Stephen White
Courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery Melbourne and Sydney

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“A Meme is a cultural analogue to a gene. Forms that are transmitted in thought or behaviour from one body to another, responding to conditional environments, self-replicating and capable of mutation.

The miniature or the model allows the totality of a body to be seen at once. These small solid iron works use the formal language of architecture to replace anatomy and construct volumes to articulate a range of 32 body postures. The ambition is to make intelligible forms that form an abstract lexicon of body-posture but which nevertheless carry the invitation of empathy and the transmission of states of mind.

Displayed widely spaced within the architecture of Anna Schwartz Gallery in Melbourne, the works interface with the architecture of the gallery. Placed directly on the floor they become acupuncture points within the volume of the space, allowing the viewer to become conscious, through the disparity of scale, of his/her own mass and spatial displacement as s/he moves around and amongst the works.

This will be the first time that the Memes series, begun in 2007, will be shown together. The space of art as a reflexive test ground in which the direct experience of the viewer becomes the ground of meaning is a continual quest in this artist’s work and continues the exploration of scale seen in the expanded dimensions of FIRMAMENT at Anna Schwartz Gallery Sydney in February 2010, and the miniature scale of ASIAN FIELD, seen in the Sydney Biennale of 2008.”

Antony Gormley

Text from the Anna Schwartz website

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Antony Gormley
‘MEME CXLI’
2011
Cast iron
4.5 x 9.5 x 36.4 cm
Photograph by Stephen White
Courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery Melbourne and Sydney

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Antony Gormley
‘MEME CXXIX’
2011
Cast iron
10 x 7.7 x 29
Photograph by Stephen White
Courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery Melbourne and Sydney

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Anna Schwartz Gallery
185 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, Victoria 3000

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday 12 – 6pm, Saturday 1 – 5pm

Anna Schwartz Gallery website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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