31 Mar - 25 Apr 2004


Exhibition text by Brett Adlington, 2004

Photography is generally seen as a static beast, with its strict protocols of shutter speeds to achieve the perfect exposure. James Geurts’ work belies this laboured approach to photography, without resulting in merely letting a time exposure cast its shadow on the surface of the film. The abstracted nature of these works is the result of Geurts’ playful use of the camera, taking the equipment beyond its intended use to create works that explore the artist’s intimate connection with water.

The site-specific nature of the images starts with the artist’s gestural drawings made as a response to his physical location. Geurts then re-photographs these drawings and further abstracts the work by holding refracted lenses in front of the camera. This constantly evolving picture plane mimics not only the variability of water, but also the flashes of light that pass through it.

There is a sense of performance in the creation of these works, with mental images of the artist moving around the camera in a rapid form of creation. Both the format of the images and their content extends the artworks outside the confines of the camera. The playful way in which the works are constructed offers a Dadaist air of surprise to the final image etched onto the film.

This idea of the artist performing behind the camera is specific to the time and the place of the creation of the work. Interior/Exteriorwas created early in the morning at a remote surfing spot from inside the artist’s car, invoking the freshness of the sea air and the oblique morning light. The condensation on the car windows, whilst also commenting on the idea of the surfing road trip – expectantly waking to check out the day’s surf in store – is the signifying element that draws the threads of this exhibition together. It is the point where we see a lens-like object (the window) meeting with water (the condensation). 

The fluidity evident in these works conjures up images of being immersed in water. There is an aural and tactile quality to the works, we sense we can hear the lapping of the water or feel salt encrusted on our skin. We can also imagine being underwater, seeing shafts of sunlight filtering through the ocean. The intimate connection with water is inherent in someone who seeks out the littoral zone as a place of leisure and escape.

Previous works of Geurts’ investigated the idea of the vernacular of the Australian highway, with surfing the central motif. Part visual travelogue, we were aware of the artist’s transient nature via the dingy roadside diner in the work Elysian fields. In this exhibition though, there is a sense of the artist’s connection to place. The nostalgia is gone and we feel we belong and are enveloped by this watery world.

- Brett Adlington

Curator, Exhibitions & Collections Gold Coast City Art Gallery