16 Feb - 13 Mar 2011


BRIDGET CURRIE  |  Polygon Wood Artist Statement, 2011

In his autobiography, mathematician Norbert Wiener, a leading contributor to studies of feedback systems, an area that has had profound implications for subsequent developments in engineering, systems control, computer science, biology and philosophy, writes:

We are so used to feedback phenomena in our daily life that we often forget the feedback nature of the simplest processes. When we stand erect, it is not in the manner in which a statue stands erect... Human beings stand erect, however because they are continually resisting the tendency to fall down, either forward or backward and manage to offset either tendency by a contraction of muscles pulling them in the opposite direction. The equilibrium of the human body, like most equilibria which we find in life processes, is not static but results from a continuous interplay of processes which resist in an active way any tendency for them to lead to a breakdown. Our standing and our walking are thus a continual jujitsu against gravity, as life is a perpetual wrestling match with death. 

Polygon Wood incorporates work from the last four years, all of which is united by an interest in weight and resistance as both a sculptural idea and psychological analogy. While the term resistance is laden with a political burden, it is also resonant with many other areas from electrical resistance, to resistance training. Abstract whilst resisting abstraction, resisting the construction of an easy narrative, these works investigate the strength embodied in stubborn matter and life’s vital longing for equilibrium.

The sculptures Against Gravity, Untitled (arm piece) and Polygon Wood use timber gleaned from abandoned gardens, storm damaged street trees and municipal prunings. The resilient and casually decimated forms of urban trees are also catalogued in an ongoing series of photographs trees among people.

Mute and resisting Heavy Shit: knock, knock presses into service two spherical forms as the clapper of a bell and part of a door knocker. Both objects have the capacity for percussive sound but are rendered dumb by inertia.

The title, Polygon Wood, is taken from that of a Belgian plantation forest located along the axis of the Australian advance on 26 September 1917 2. Shelling reduced the wood to a waste of stumps and broken timber. Initially drawn by the curious name in some documents, on further research I found archival photographs that show a barren landscape populated by the remains of blasted trees and churned soil. Louis McCubbin painted several watercolours of the strange battle scarred place. The artworks in this exhibition echo the broken, curiously graceful remnants of that forest.

- Bridget Currie