03
Nov
13

Exhibition: ‘Guest Relations’ by Robyn Stacey at Stills Gallery, Sydney

Exhibition dates: 9th October – 9th November 2013

.

X marks the spot

Somehow these photographs just don’t work for me.

Intellectually, I appreciate the Inception-esque concept but visually and emotionally I am ambivalent towards the images. They feel more like caricatures than engaging works of art. Human beings stare blankly off into the distance, as though there was some meaningful relationship between this “dead pan” look and the upside down camera obscura image; thought bubbles appearing above the head (as in a cartoon), emanate from stilted, frozen, blank-faced human beings. Dead pan, introverted looks do not make for engaging associations – between elements in the image or between the image and the viewer.

The tableau vivants evidence little life, to wit, the oh so correctly crossed legs in Room 3907 Sofitel on Collins, Morgan; the impeccably placed photographs in Room 2515 Shangri-la, Isobel (who would ever put photographs on a bed like that?); and the artfully placed dumbells in Room 4821 Sofitel on Collins, Chris (all 2013, below). X certainly does mark the constrained, constructed spot. Paradoxically, the images that work best are the ones where the human beings are absent, because the viewer can imagine the visage (and visualised thoughts) of the occupants, without seeing them. Then, and only then, do these images work as dreamlike scenarios and fulfil the artist’s desire to produce surreal and psychological spaces which seem to materialize their inhabitants’ distant thoughts.

However, as they are presented, each element of the image feels quite divisible, and all the elements of the image never feel fully integrated with each other. Hence the images feel less than fully resolved. What this body of work needed was a bit more panache and savour faire. Perhaps more distortion of the camera obscura image and more life from the protagonists would have brought the symbiotic relationships to life. You only have to think of the murder of Ann Lively in the film Minority Report to understand how these head cloud “visualisations” have incredible psychological power. I get none of that here.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

.
Many thankx to Stills Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. All images are copyright of the artist. View the online catalogue which has an interesting essay by Isobel Parker Philip.

.

.

Robyn Stacey. 'Room 1306 Mercure Potts Point, Jodi' 2013

.

Robyn Stacey
Room 1306 Mercure Potts Point, Jodi
2013
From Guest Relations
Type C print
100 x 133cm

.

Robyn Stacey. 'Room 13 Cartwright, Michael and Katherine' 2013

.

Robyn Stacey
Room 13 Cartwright, Michael and Katherine
2013
From Guest Relations
Type C print
100 x 133cm

.

Robyn Stacey. 'Room 14 Cartwright, Ocean' 2013

.

Robyn Stacey
Room 14 Cartwright, Ocean
2013
From Guest Relations
Type C print

.

Robyn Stacey. 'Room 14 Cartwright, Harbour' 2013

.

Robyn Stacey
Room 14 Cartwright, Harbour
2013
from Guest Relations
Type C print
100 x 146cm

.

Robyn Stacey. 'Room 5126 Pullman Hyde Park, Brielle' 2013

.

Robyn Stacey
Room 5126 Pullman Hyde Park, Brielle
2013
From Guest Relations
Type C print

.

.

“Hotel rooms are waiting spaces: waiting in rooms for people to arrive, for events to start, or just waiting to go home. They are also private spaces.”

.
Robyn Stacey, 2013

.

.

This striking new series by leading contemporary art photographer, Robyn Stacey, combines the simplest form of the camera, the “camera obscura”, with high-end digital photography to explore a specific context: the hotel room. The project explores the fleeting and ephemeral experience and how this is captured as a moment out of time, by the photographic still. 

Through Robyn Stacey’s photography we imagine other people’s private worlds. For the past 5 years her spectacular compositions have breathed new life into the old families of Sydney, reviving their personal objects from historic collections to evoke scenes as if they’ve just exited the room, leaving only a sprinkling of crumbs. Now, for Guest Relations she has turned from high fidelity studio photography to the non-digital process of camera obscura, Stacey brings our gaze to contemporary life and the transitory meetings of private and public worlds within the modern hotel room. Like pinhole photography, the camera obscura allows light in through a tiny hole in order to project a scene from outside onto an inside surface. Stacey recreates this process with ambitious scale and in unexpected settings, transforming the interiors of high-rise city chains and quiet coastline holiday destinations, into darkrooms for dramatically projected landscape vistas.

Turning from high fidelity studio photography to the non-digital process of camera obscura, Stacey brings our gaze to contemporary life and the transitory meetings of private and public worlds within the modern hotel room. Like pinhole photography, the “camera obscura” allows light in through a tiny hole in order to project a scene from outside onto an inside surface. Stacey recreates this process with ambitious scale and in unexpected settings, transforming the interiors of high-rise city Hotel chains and quiet coastline holiday destinations, into darkrooms for dramatically projected landscape vistas.

This historical form of image making, which Caravaggio and Vermeer are said to have used to create their impressive Baroque paintings, elaborately decorates the otherwise hermetic hotels rooms by wallpapering them with the world outside their windows. Normally characterized by modern minimalism and standardized comforts, these interiors are covered with the colonnades of buildings, the cityscapes of roads, rivers and parks (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane), and the turquoise shores of a sunbather’s paradise, such as the Gold Coast in Qld. Businessmen, young couples, and solo travelers are actors in these dreamlike scenarios; the upside-down, reversed and distorted visual effects of camera obscura, produce surreal and psychological spaces which seem to materialize their inhabitants’ distant thoughts.

Like stills from the sets of movies, Stacey’s images offer us fragments of untold narratives. Intimate and enigmatic moments glimpse the plethora of stories we can only imagine might play out within a hotel rooms’ four walls: the melodramas of domestics, the passionate professions of love, and the time-slowing boredom and loneliness that might accompany a life spent in endless waiting. Through the theatrical and distorted view of camera obscura is revealed a roving, fragmented and homogenized portrait of contemporary life. But by imbuing the transitory with the timeless, Stacey suggests that behind these closed, generic doors, we may all be looking outwards, seeking moments of beauty, clarity and meaningful connection.”

Press release from the Stills Gallery website

.

.

Robyn Stacey. 'Room 2016 Shangri-la, Courtney' 2013

.

Robyn Stacey
Room 2016 Shangri-la, Courtney
2013
From Guest Relations
Type C print

.

Robyn Stacey. 'Room 3907 Sofitel on Collins, Morgan' 2013

.

Robyn Stacey
Room 3907 Sofitel on Collins, Morgan
2013
From Guest Relations
Type C print

.

Robyn Stacey. 'Room 2515 Shangri-la, Isobel'  2013

.

Robyn Stacey
Room 2515 Shangri-la, Isobel
2013
From Guest Relations
Type C print

.

.

Artist statement

“The project, Guest Relations, was developed for an Artist in Residency earlier this year, at the Sofitel on Collins in Melbourne, renowned for its uninterrupted panoramic views over Melbourne city. The aim of the residency was to explore the hermetic, but transient nature of the hotel room.

As the view is a significant part of the hotel experience I wanted to incorporate the external cityscape into the interior. By making the room into a camera obscura (the simplest and earliest form of pin-hole camera) the external view is then naturally projected back into the room, upside down and in reverse, allowing me to photograph the view and the room together in one image.

This visual combination creates a unique and powerful dreamlike setting that serves as the backdrop and creates an environment for the guests to be photographed in. There are no tricks – just utilising the earliest and simplest form of photography to produce spectacular cinematic results. The people in the photographs are not models and they bring their personality to the rooms, in a sense creating their own narratives. The project has since been extended to Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.”

 Robyn Stacey, 2013

.

Robyn Stacey. 'Room 2015 Pullman Hyde Park, Chair Still Life' 2013

.

Robyn Stacey
Room 2015 Pullman Hyde Park, Chair Still Life
2013
From Guest Relations
Type C print

.

Robyn Stacey. 'Room 3601 Sofitel on Collins, Mr. Hoey' 2013

.

Robyn Stacey
Room 3601 Sofitel on Collins, Mr. Hoey
2013
From Guest Relations
Type C print
135 x 100cm

.

Robyn Stacey. 'Room 4821 Sofitel on Collins, Chris' 2013

.

Robyn Stacey
Room 4821 Sofitel on Collins, Chris
2013
From Guest Relations
Type C print
127 x 100 cm

.

.

Stills Gallery
36 Gosbell Street
Paddington NSW 2021
Australia
T: 61 2 9331 7775

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday 11.00 am – 6.00 pm

Stills Gallery website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top



Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Études’ 1994

Join 2,181 other followers

Follow Art_Blart on Twitter
Art Blart on Pinterest

Lastest tweets

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.

November 2013
M T W T F S S
« Oct   Dec »
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  

Archives

Categories


%d bloggers like this: