Geography of Space, Archaeology of Time

Izabela Pluta

Utako Shindo

26 October
—1 December 2018

Each year the ACP facilitates a dialogue between an Australian and an international artist with the aim to foster and expand meaningful creative engagement within a global network.

Izabela Pluta (Sydney) and Utako Shindo (Tokyo) have been ‘in dialogue’ over the past year exchanging their unique perspectives and approaches to image-making.

Meeting in Melbourne, Sydney and Tokyo, they have been open to each other’s nuanced understanding of place, and its complex articulation through photographic thinking and practice.

Both poetic and analytical, the work of the two artists actively engages with translation, mutation and fragmentation. In an attempt to suspend geographical specifities and fold time, they have utilised material traces of the past and fused them within a contemporary experience of place.

Allison Holland
Curator

  • This exhibition is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia-Japan Foundation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

オーストラリア写真センター(ACP)では毎年、グローバル・ネットワークにおける意義のある創造的連帯を育み・発展させることを目的として、オーストラリア人アーティストと国際的アーティストの対話の促進に取り組んでいます。

イザベラ・プルータ(シドニー)と進藤詩子(東京)は、この1年間「対話」を持ち続けながら、「像(イメージ)の形成」について、それぞれの独自な視点とアプローチについてやりとりしてきました。

メルボルン、シドニーそして東京で行ったミーティングでは、場所性についてのニュアンスを含んだ理解や、写真的な思考と実践を介した複雑な表現について、互いの考えを本音で語り合い、受け入れてきました。

詩的かつ分析的なこの二人のアーティストの作品は、翻訳、変化・変異、断片化といったテーマに積極的に取り組んでいます。地理学的な特殊性を宙吊りにすること、或いは時間を折りたたむよう停止すること、このような試みとして、アーティスト達は物質的な過去の痕跡を活用し、それらを今日的な場所性の経験のなかに溶け込ませるのです。

アリソン・ホランド(キュレーター)

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About Izabela Pluta

Polish-born, Sydney-based Izabela has exhibited widely in Australia and undertaken research and artist’s residencies in Barcelona, Paris, Belfast, Beijing, Japan and Malta. Izabela has been commissioned to create a significant new work by the Art Gallery of New South Wales for 'The National 2019: New Australian Art' exhibition. In 2017, she was a finalist in the Bowness Photography Award at the Monash Gallery of Art, and in 2018 shortlisted for the MAMA Foundation National Photographic Award. She is a lecturer at UNSW Art & Design, Sydney and represented by THIS IS NO FANTASY, dianne tanzer + nicola stein, Melbourne.

izabelapluta.net

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About the Work

Izabela’s work explores an underwater rock formation situated off the coast of Japan’s western most islands, where the Pacific Ocean and the East China Sea meet. This oceanic relic is allegorically potent prompting archaeologists and scientists to speculate on it being either a natural anomaly or a cultural artefact. The artist questions: How does this site evoke myth, making us complicit in the fiction that surrounds it. Or, how does mythology transcend fixed notions of place to offer an alternate set of shifting coordinates.

Izabela Pluta, Cavitation, 2018
Three-channel video with audio. Duration 9:06 min
Editing: Vera Hong. Voice: Izabela Pluta reading an adaption from W.G. Moore, The Penguin dictionary of geography, 4th ed. rev. 1973. Dive briefing with staff of SOU-WES Yonaguni, Japan, 22 January, 2018. Project assistance: Paulo Macchia, Andrew Yip, Janusz Pluta, 3331 Arts Chiyoda, Tokyo, and Sou-Wes Diving Company, Yonaguni, Japan.  
This project has been assisted by a UNSW Art & Design Faculty Research Grant. Courtesy the artist and THIS IS NO FANTASY, dianne tanzer + nicola stein, Melbourne

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Video

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Dialogue

Utako: In Ode to Zephyrs' murmuring petal #1 the petals indicate the white flowers of this Japanese apricot tree (ume) you also see in moving image Listening to Misterioso. When I made all thirty-five cyanotype prints the tree had already fallen over in my family’s garden. The shadows of the ume branches are fallen ones and the other shadows of leaves were from other trees in the garden near where the ume had been standing. I call the work 'Ode to....' because the presence of spirit/memory/life of ume tree was still there in the other living plants and trees in the garden.

Allison: For me the images are like the aura, the vegetal life forces shared by all the plants living in the garden. In creating this work, you are poetically visualizing your sensitivity to this entanglement.

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About the Work

Utako is inspired by ‘the untranslatable’ and moved to create poetic places where nuanced ‘shadow-light’ transfers into, and out of, a fertile silence. The artist employs various utsuru, or processes that reflect, project, trace, emerge and transfer. Residing and engaging with several sites in both Japan and Australia, Utako investigates how objects embody place within the grand narrative of time.

Utako Shindo, Ode to Zephyr’s murmuring petal #1, 2018. Cyanotype prints on paper. Courtesy of the artist, with the support of Sutton Gallery, Melbourne. Photograph by Christian Capurro.

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About Utako Shindo

Currently based in Tokyo, Utako studied at Rikkyo University and has participated in many international art projects and programs. Utako has stayed for extended periods in Australia, studying at the Victorian College of the Arts before completing her PhD at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Ideas.

Actively exhibiting in Australia and Japan, Utako’s work has been displayed at Centre for Contemporary Photography, Margaret Lawrence Gallery and Sutton Gallery in Melbourne. In Japan her work has been exhibited at BankART Studio NYK, Yokohama; KANZAN Gallery and HAGI ART, Tokyo; and Kurumaya Museum of Art, Oyama. She has undertaken residencies at Bundanon and Bogong, in New South Wales, as well as the Arquetopia Foundation in Peubla Mexico. In 2019, Utako’s year-long research and creative project in New Mexico, USA, will be supported by a Fellowship from the Agency of Cultural Affairs, Japan. 

utakoshindo.info

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Dialogue

Izabela:
[For the work Cavitation] I have a series of takes from the air, which I made using a hovering drone. These segments – which are rather eclectic – record the coast line where large rock formations (limestone rather than sandstone) have fallen into the sea. While this footage doesn’t depict the underwater formation that drew me there, I’m finding that as I continue to decipher the material I have, all the work is less about the formation’s ‘appearance’, but rather about how the archaeologically disputed underwater formation resonates with a broader exploration around temporality, mutability and the impermanence of places. This is something I thought may have happened and I think we touched on that when we met – the idea of the experience of a particular place building knowledge and intuitively holding and unravelling more than the site itself can offer.

Utako:
Thank you for sending the images and texts through, which are wonderful. I have to take time to think more about the ideas explored there but here is my first impression: your works at 3331 Studio (Tokyo) appear to my eyes becoming living things – growing or metamorphic. Your emails clarify and articulate some interesting ideas and processes (thank you)… I pick up: "temporality, mutability and the impermanence of places", "the experience of a particular place building knowledge and intuitively holding and unravelling more than the site itself can offer", and "finding, fragmenting, translating and reconfiguring materials that are both photographed and found". When I work, especially from Tokyo, I 'think' about my ideas and processes in my languages (Japanese and art). But I feel that what I've been working and will be, shall have some resonance with these ideas and processes you express in your words and works (both exhibited and in progress).

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About the Work

Izabela’s drone-mounted camera surveys, at times erratically, the nearby terrain from above. Occasionally it comes across found artefacts, or flotsam, which have drifted with ocean currents to serendipitously fall between the enclaves along the coastline.

Izabela Pluta, Cavitation, 2018
Three-channel video with audio. Duration 9:06 min
Editing: Vera Hong. Voice: Izabela Pluta reading an adaption from W.G. Moore, The Penguin dictionary of geography, 4th ed. rev. 1973. Dive briefing with staff of SOU-WES Yonaguni, Japan, 22 January, 2018. Project assistance: Paulo Macchia, Andrew Yip, Janusz Pluta, 3331 Arts Chiyoda, Tokyo, and Sou-Wes Diving Company, Yonaguni, Japan.  
This project has been assisted by a UNSW Art & Design Faculty Research Grant. Courtesy the artist and THIS IS NO FANTASY, dianne tanzer + nicola stein, Melbourne

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Video

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About the Work

Utako: The earth's shadow indicates a lunar eclipse, so this idea is also captured in my work Listening to Misterioso (2011-2018). In thinking that the moon is derived from a piece of the Earth, which separated billions year ago and so I imagine the branches of Japanese apricot tree (梅 Ume) contain some natural elements also found in the moon. In the early stages of making these works, the whiteness of the ume petals in the video was linked to the colour of the plaster.

Allison: There is also a strong connection to the triptych of cyanotypes Ode to Zephyrs' murmuring petal #1 (2018). This work is the result of playing with light and shadow on different types of printmaking/drawing paper, as well as Japanese paper some of which are made from the inner bark of the mitsumata, or mulberry, tree. I appreciate these links in your practice.

Utako Shindo, As it were a meteorite of the earth’s shadow #1-15, 2018. Plaster relief. Courtesy of the artist, with the support of Sutton Gallery, Melbourne. Photograph by Christian Capurro.

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About the Work

Izabela Pluta, Ocean currents #1 (detail), from the Abstruse terms and general uncertainties series, 2018. Chromogenic print on metallic paper. Courtesy the artist and THIS IS NO FANTASY, dianne tanzer + nicola stein, Melbourne

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Dialogue

Izabela: I’m interested photographic processes associated with anomalies, chance and coincidence. This work sits within my broader exploration around temporality, mutability and the impermanence of places – exploring the seas as a site of change. The work draws on my experience of this curious site [Yonaguni], which in itself can be described as an anomaly. The work for exhibition comprises several components that reflect on how material forms come together and subsequently come apart.

Allison: There is this great book you have been reading by Bernhard Klein and Gesa Mackenthun ‘Sea changes: historicizing the ocean’ (2004). It discusses the sea in terms of its myths and the constructed binaries that have been overlaid onto it throughout history. For some cultures it was a site of madness and irrationality, associated with the feminine, the untamed and in opposition to civilization. This reaffirms the site of your project as anomaly, in that it is speculated by some to be evidence of a submerged civilization.

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About the Work

Utako Shindo, How it just remains, how it subsides, and how it undoes ‘I’, 2018. Single channel video, with sound. Courtesy of the artist, with the support of Bundanon Trust, NSW

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Dialogue

Utako: My most recent works were inspired by residing in Tokyo, and also Bundanon for a certain period of time. That means, I live(d) the everyday t/here, in a certain rhythm, punctuated by my personal and work life, along with the change of light, atmosphere or seasons. The repetition of everyday ­– continuous 'living' – in turn, allowing me to notice rich shades of color, or to be attuned to different tones of sound: all very subtle. They are experienced as nuanced 'shadow-light' or/and fertile silence.

In this rich place, I am reminded again and again, that 'borders' between natural and artificial lives/worlds are porous. Indeed, the sound, light or wind leaks or escapes from/into other sides effortlessly. Perhaps I can draw analogy with how the life/anima transforms/metamorphosis from one body to another, beyond the intention/limit of the body itself. 

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Video

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Dialogue

Izabela: My creative process relies on immersing myself in specific locations to explore how place is manifested and how we form relationships with that which remains. I examine the visual, material and practical relationships between practices of archaeology and expanded forms of materiality in photography to explore processual phenomena and our engagement with the uncertainty of the ecologies of relation, geographies of memory and place.

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About the Work

While exploring the submarine monument and nearby coastal terrain, Izabela collected a trove of mementos. Removed from the geographical and temporal narrative of the original expansive landscape these appropriated objects took on greater significance in the mind of the artist. This series of micro-portraits, staged in Izabela’s Sydney studio, construct new identities for each artefact effectively evoking their histories while fusing them with the present.

Izabela Pluta, Weathering, Mirage, & Sounding, from the Abstruse terms and general uncertainties series, 2018. Chromogenic prints on metallic paper. Courtesy the artist and THIS IS NO FANTASY, dianne tanzer + nicola stein, Melbourne

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About the Work

Utako Shindo, Listening to misterioso, 2011-18. Single channel video, with sound. Camera assistance by Alex Kershaw in 2011. Courtesy of the artist, with the support of Sutton Gallery, Melbourne

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'Reminiscent of long gone by'

A boxed garden 
time drifts 
sheltering the growths 
remains of the tree, receive 
untranslatable motherhood 
May forever 
her ‘Ode’ to 
the Zephyr’s murmuring petal

A cinematic architecture
the descendent
the silent sun, the moon
as it were
a meteorite of the earth’s shadow
still fertile
his ‘Lament’
“everything is so far and long gone by”

Listening to misterioso
tears and laughter sleep
over cities and highways
returning to a twinkle
for the first time and at last

Utako Shindo, April 2018

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Video

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About the Work

Izabela Pluta, Talus, from the Abstruse terms and general uncertainties series, 2018. Chromogenic prints on metallic paper. Courtesy the artist and THIS IS NO FANTASY, dianne tanzer + nicola stein, Melbourne

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Quote

One of the deepest parts of the ocean, forming a depression in the sea floor of limited area, and having relatively steep sides.
The supposed horizontal displacement of portions of the original continent, which comprise the entire landmass of the world to form the present-day continents. 
The laying down of solid material, which has been carried from a distant part of the earth’s crust by some natural agency.
A fracture in the earth’s crust along which movement has taken place, and where the rock strata on the two sides therefore do not match.
An optical illusion in which images of distant objects are seen, caused by the reflection of light through layers of air of different density.
A movement of the surface water on the ocean.
The wind, indicated by direction, at a certain place or in a certain area, which has a considerably higher frequency than any other.
The process by which the depths of the sea is determined.
The regular, undulating movement of the surface of the sea, which does not break into waves.
A current of air, moving with any speed in any direction, but generally assumed to be parallel to the earth’s surface.

Adapted from W.G. Moore, The Penguin dictionary of geography, 4th ed. rev. 1973.

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About the Work

Utako Shindo, Night Site #1-6, 2018. Colour inks on Kakita paper. Courtesy of the artist, with the support of Bundanon Trust, NSW and Kawalabo! Kawara Printmaking Laboratory, Tokyo. Installation view at the ACP Project Space Gallery. Photographer Utako Shindo

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Dialogue

Utako: The sites, which I photograph at night, are mostly faintly exposed to be visible. They are the sites where I feel the possibility of being open, or pervasive. This is suggested in the reflections or the actual light sources, or a combination of both artificial and natural (for example, the street lights and moon light). This feeling actually resonates with the sensations I had when walking at night during my Bundanon residency. At that time, I could not articulate why I was drawn to the night walks. But in reflection I can say there is some similarity with my recent walks [in Tokyo].

I am perhaps absorbed into the particular kind of darkness where I feel invited and connected to what one may call, as Allison suggested, ‘the grand narrative of time’, ‘collective memory’, or what I call 'fertile silence' as immeasurable spatiality. This concept of time/space to me resists translation, remains untranslatable into a type of language that is limited only to a particular period and place (a culture, a society or a civilization). But possibly can be embodied in art?