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The Fen: Friggy

posted on 2019-04-01, 00:00 authored by Meredith Randell
'The Fen: Friggy' is an audio-visual artwork about a paperbark tree covered in roots and vines, compulsively masturbating in a swamp landscape in Byron Bay, NSW. The anthropomorphic sinuous forms are suggestive of human body parts, genitalia, nubbins or muscles. The disturbing audio-visual signifiers are of frantic human breathing synchronised to motion design of rubbing, pulsing, gulping and sucking. Its perversity results from these co-existing binaries surrounded by disturbing gulping maws embedded in the crevices of the bark but also from the combination of the magnified anthropomorphic sinuous root and vine forms that relentlessly pursue a climax that never occurs because of the Sisyphean loop. This cinematic landscape was successfully exhibited online and in physical gallery spaces in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Cairns, Logan and the Sunshine Coast. Artworks created for 'The Fen' creative practice research project all implement perverse and abject strategies resulting in the simultaneous abject emotional reaction of attraction and repulsion – which is necessary to create “the place where meaning collapses” [93]. These artworks are beautiful, hybrid monstrosities that seduce, beguile and disturb. These landscapes represent my experience of forests - vast in scale and detail, the same forms captured from different angles and perspectives - all shown at once - all connected. Through the addition of sound and motion these landscapes come alive and embody the typically hidden respiratory, digestive and reproductive botanical compulsive consumptions in these places - with an emphasis on being simultaneously sensual and repulsive. From the body of work produced for 'The Fen' project, 'The Furnace' is one of six artworks that are deemed to be successful because they have all been finalists in prestigious national art awards judged by peers or have been commissioned by public funding bodies. It is not possible to effectively gauge the reaction of audiences in this article and thus measures relate to peer recognition and geographic reach. All of the artworks use similar abject audio-visual strategies to create the “the place where meaning collapses” (Kristeva 1982, 2). These artworks are not factual representations of these natural areas but instead present new myths of these landscapes. All of the visual elements have been manipulated to satisfy the aspirations of the project. The distorted visual space aspirations of multi-perspective, compositional interiority with high detail in both the foreground and background, and the exclusion of a horizon line are all fulfilled in this cinematic artwork. Repetitive, compulsive, consumptive motion is synchronised to disturbing audio and the co-existing opposing binaries presented in 'The Fen' artworks include human and non-human, subject and object, plant and animal, culture and nature, possession and dispossession, life and death, strange and familiar, real and surreal, union and separation, and soothing and threatening. The artwork’s perversity results from the co-existence of these binaries but also from the combination of the anthropomorphic sinuous tree forms with human audio. All of these artworks are based on a kairological Sisyphean loop except for 'GASH' (Randell 2016). Reach: 2016 ‘[UN] natural urges’ Brenda May Exhibition, 2015 Sunshine Coast Art Prize Finalist, AntiMation Touring Exhibition, 2015 Paramor Prize: Art+Innovation Finalist, 2014 BEAF, 2014 CCP Salon, Virion, Parer Place





Brisbane, Qld


Randell, M

Place of Publication

Brisbane, Qld

Additional Rights

© The Artist

Peer Reviewed

  • Yes

Open Access

  • Yes

Creative Works Category

  • Visual art work

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