The power of art to recast and re-inscribe meaning is thoughtfully explored in the dual exhibition The Fit In Room & The Poetry of Object 0.1. An experiential, playful space, well suited to the innovative environment of the Tooth and Nail Gallery, the exhibition is delivered in an open salon style format, inviting attendees to physically immerse themselves within the spaces of the multiple installations.
Originally titled The Fitting Room, the premise of David Paul Jobling’s project lies in a tactile, textile interrogation of identity and social roles (himself artist, dramatist, broadcaster, scribe), through a ‘fitting room’ set up which allows the participant to question and explore the use of media images and language in shaping one’s sense of self, by literally ‘trying on’ Jobling’s screen printed wardrobe.
The images and words printed on the clothes are broadly drawn and presented using a punk aesthetic, ‘messy, haphazard’, in an anarchic attempt to deconstruct the monopolistic influence of media forms to control images and the creation of identities; as David himself describes, “in a strange sort of way the content is really about media and the way it has shaped a fictional version of me through half-truths, misconceptions and opinion.”
Made possible via a grant from Arts SA Richard Llewellyn Arts & Disability Trust, the Fit In Room is at once personal and political, an interpretation of both a personal history and journey, through feelings of being an outcast, or outsider, to representing broader elements of social displacement and discrimination, encountered and enabled through limiting cultural stereotypes perpetuated throughout the media, its images and its language.
Juxtaposed against Jobling’s pieces are the sublimely evocative works of Indigo Eli. Her materials, some organic, others ordinary and mundane, include leaves, tree branches, hankies and mugs, all of which are curiously altered, inverted, or scrupulously presented, such as the precise configuration of gum tree leaves spilling out across the gallery floor, with the inscription ‘everything is transient’ emblazoned unerringly upon each leaf.
By inverting the natural order of things, and in reconfiguring the mundane, she invokes the need to continually question how we inscribe meaning, how we can each defy or redefine, and how art can mould, cast and reinvent everyday experiences. Her pieces signpost the limitations of language and media forms in the creation of meaning and identity; in moving beyond the constrictive nature of words and syntax. Eli creates her own unique language, a ‘poetry of the object’. In their ‘silence’ these pieces speak volumes, as she “seeks to make the intangible tangible”, and contrasts well with Jobling’s busy, verbose aesthetic.
Amidst this lacuna of meaning, the opening evening of the exhibition served to further discombobulate; offering a spoken word or ‘poetry massage’ recital, the jarringly absurdist spoken word performers offered viewers mere threads of coherency, but, perhaps there’s method in their madness. As with spoken word, the installation pieces are imbued with whimsy and caprice, and allow viewers the chance to re-envision themselves, their language, and their identity.
Be yourself, or be many selves, blaze your own trail and if you wish, be as Indigo Eli would have us be, “the dye in your jeans… flirt with moonbeams”.
Reviewed by Jordana Lennox
The Fit in Room and The Poetry of Object 0.1
Where: Tooth and Nail Gallery, 22-28 Caromandel Place, Adelaide
Opening hours: 10am – 5pm Monday to Friday
Image credit: One of the pieces by Indigo Eli