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Where's the frame

May 17, 2024 4:58 PM


Mark-making, the fundamental act of leaving an imprint, whether it’s applying material toa surface or gesturing spatially, is an assertion of presence, a sign of existence. It’s a tan-gible act that leaves a trace which immediately carries within it a suggestion of absence,hinting at the space between what is and what is not. This duality embodies the transientnature of existence, where every moment of presence simultaneously acknowledges theinevitability of absence.

In this ongoing flux, mark-making can be seen as a way of anchoring oneself in a shift-ing reality. It represents an effort to assert stability amidst change, to create a tangiblepoint of reference amid the constant motion that defines life. The trace left by every markspeaks to this reality, suggesting that what is created also carries with it the possibilityof fading, of being altered or erased over time.

The trace, therefore, has a certain ambiguity—it can act as a witness to something thatonce existed, but also as a reminder that its context and meaning can shift. This inherentuncertainty in traces challenges the permanence of mark-making, implying that eachmark, despite its attempt to solidify presence, contains a fragment of absence. It under-scores the idea that they are not mutually exclusive but are instead intertwined, eachinforming and shaping the other.

In the exhibitionActs of Transience, Mandy Franca and Katrina Cowling explore thesethemes, capturing the fleeting moments of everyday life and punctuating them with dis-tinctive mark-making techniques that act as signs and markers of existence.

Franca delves into existential inquiries and the interconnectedness of human experiencethrough her practice. She combines figuration with abstraction, bringing together imagescaptured with her iPhone and various traditional art techniques like collage, painting, anddrawing. By using expressive mark-making to physically rework these photographs, sheexplores it as a sign and marker of existence.

The exhibition presents works from the seriesAnArea of Land Dominated by Trees, inwhich Franca draws inspiration from the opening sentence of Wikipedia’s description of a‘Forest.’ Through this exploration, she examines diverse realities and forms of intelligencethat extend beyond humanity, encompassing contemporary technology and the naturalworld in a more-than-human context.

The work explores the social and communicative nature of trees, pointing to a more-than-human context that challenges the boundaries of human intelligence. This exploration un-derscores the idea that interconnectedness extends beyond human relationships, invitingviewers to reconsider their place in a broader, evolving ecosystem.

This approach resonates with the ambiguity inherent in these expressive traces: whileher marks create a sense of solidity and presence, they also suggest the underlying tran-sience of our rapidly changing world. Through this process, Franca connects individualexperiences to broader communal narratives, emphasising care and interconnectedness.

Katrina Cowling’s sculptures, with their spatial drawings in light and ceramic, mirror Fran-ca’s gestural approach while exploring themes of vulnerability and precarity. Cowling’swork, with its leaning, flailing, and teetering forms, encapsulates the tension betweenpresence and absence, demonstrating that even the most deliberate marks can be subjectto instability. By combining materials from disparate vernaculars—industrial, everyday,natural, domestic, rural, and urban— captures conflicting forces of stability and instability,safety and threat, growth and collapse.

Cowling’s sculptures negotiate spaces and edges, often referencing architecture, mod-ernist design, the human body, and bodies of land. Rather than isolating any medium, sheis interested in the relationships between objects and materials, generating atmospheresthrough these poetic frictions.

This tension not only underscores the transient nature of existence, where every structureand gesture embodies the duality of presence and absence, but also serves as a poign-ant reminder of the ephemeral essence inherent in all acts of creation. Just as marks on asurface hint at the space between what is and what is not, Cowling’s sculptures evoke asimilar sense of fleetingness, where the potential for change and collapse is ever-present,echoing the impermanence of existence itself.

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