Surface to Air data-maps of the first year of the Ukrainian Civil War; the way conflict sits between the ground and the sky.
Karen Woodbury Gallery.
Melbourne, Australia : 2015
Surface topographies are mapped within the folds of fabric sheets, plotting the changing borders and conflict sites as they fall. While the textiles work as graphic data maps, the drawings also show a more personal the feeling of standing on fragile ground, how easily it can be moved and pulled from underneath.
These works, as well as the sewing pin medium, draw a strong reference point to the history and visual language of women mapping conflict through textiles; from Afghan war rugs, to political Kanga wax-prints, American Civil War quilts & European battle tapestries.
In contrast, the Air works show wild, gestural sonic notations – mapping the way in which war hangs above a city. Using data from loops of news footage, these intuitive drawings plot the reverberations, echoes and ringing of car bombs, missiles, grenades and riots.
Like the fallen textiles, the sonic scores are first made quickly, almost as if by chance. Serving as a meditation on anger, these split-second reactions are then replicated laboriously and painfully, pin-hole by pin-hole; down to the slightest fabric ripples, flicks and breaks of charcoal.
While a nod to the Surface To Air missiles used in the conflict, the title also hints at a private experience of war, coming up for breath in resilience. Tying this together is a work charting a single heartbeat, accompanied by a glitchy, quiet pulse constantly playing in the exhibition space.
The sound references a beating, flickering eternal flame in a WWII memorial in Kharkov, Ukraine – the artist’s home city. It sits above a killing field, where it is said that upon discovery, the earth was still moving with prisoners of war still buried alive, echoing a collective heartbeat through the forest air. It is how war has always existed – surface moving to air, pulsating, always keeping on.