KIT WISE The Sea, The Desert, The Stone, The Shell

31 July to 30 August 2014

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Sarah Scout Presents is delighted to present The Sea, The Desert, The Stone, The Shell, an exhibition of recent work by Kit Wise that continues his exploration of the role of contemporary art in ‘witnessing’ events of disaster, trauma or crisis.

The exhibition’s title is borrowed from a series of essays by W.H Auden on William Wordsworth’s dream (related in the Fifth Book of his Prelude), in which Auden provides an analysis of man’s relationship to the ocean as filtered through the lens of Romanticism. The ocean – and water more generally – has become a key motif in Wise’s practice., and The Sea, The Desert, The Stone, The Shell presents key works that revisits Romantic concerns such as emotion versus logic, while also highlighting notions of the sublime, updating them in response to contemporary events.

In one series, found imagery surrounding the recent disappearance of Flight MH370 presents the ocean as a void, or absence, and is juxtaposed with hard edge abstraction. Specifically, Wise utilizes mirrored surfaces to implicate the viewer and blocks of colour: the ‘International Orange’ and pink used by science and disaster organisations to differentiate man-made forms from the landscape. Meanwhile, other work – video and digital prints – abstracts imagery from the Japanese tsunami of 2011 and offers an affecting sense of distress.

Kit Wise has initiated a major collaborative public project this year at MONA, Heavy Metal Retaining Wall, and an urban performance work, Birrarung River Drawing, commissioned by Maudie Palmer as part of the ongoing Birrarung Project. Recent solo exhibitions include Arcadia, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago (2012); Disaster, Australian Experimental Art Foundation (2011); Summertime, ACCA@Mirka, Australia Centre for Contemporary Art (2009) and Rhapsodia at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (2007) among many others. Wise has been curated into numerous group exhibitions throughout Australia, Europe, and Asia. In 2009, he was selected into the Asian Art Biennial in Taiwan, at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and in 2011, he received support from Arts Victoria and the Besen Family Foundation to present a major new digital video work at the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago. Wise is currently Associate Dean (Education) and a Senior LecturerAssociate Professor in Fine Art in the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture, Monash University, Australia; as well as the Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours Course Coordinator.

I would breathe water

Jordan Baseman (USA/UK)
Siri Hayes
Lily Hibberd
Rosslynd Piggott
Kit Wise (Curator)

Exhibition dates
30 August to 6 October 2012

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Sarah Scout is delighted to present I Would Breathe Water, a group exhibition curated by Kit Wise that brings together works by artists from Australia and the UK that consider the medium and politics of water in contemporary life. Jordan Baseman, Lily Hibberd, Siri Hayes, Rosslynd Piggott and Kit Wise utilise cinematic, sculptural, textual and photographic means to explore our complex and at times contested relationship with the world’s most essential and prevalent resource.

The exhibition’s title makes literary reference to Sylvia Plath’s poem ‘Full Fathom Five’ and Ariel’s song in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Both of which observe the vastness and energy of the sea as humanly isolating, strange, and even fatal.

Lily Hibberd’s Retelling, Untelling Two Rivers echoes the sentiment of ‘Full Fathom Five’ through the act of story telling. The artist combines written and spoken text to evoke in viewers the experience of her journey from the source to the mouth of a dying river. At nominated times during the exhibition Hibberd will conduct a number of live readings from the book, as participatory performances, both in The Paperback Bookshop and at Sarah Scout.

Photographer Siri Hayes is similarly concerned with issues of environmental deterioration. In collaboration with contemporary classical composer Eve Duncan, Hayes examines the fragilities of marine ecosystems in light of Australian bay dredging projects through the works Transmitting by nautilus and Geomorphic listening.

Jordan Baseman’s The Black Sea presents a field recording of the English Channel, made near his studio in Brighton, UK. The film accentuates the turbulent nature of the sea and celebrates the collision of representation and abstraction, through the arbitrary effects of hand-processed film.

A continuation of her captured air series, Rosslynd Piggott’s Star comprises a collection of elusive sculptural pieces accompanied by moving image. Piggott’s evocative practice reflects a specific moment in time and place, using glass ‘memory’ vessels to collect air from the baroque Giardino di Ninfa in the Lazio region of Italy. Star was made as a benefit work in support of the 2011 Great Kanto Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami recovery efforts.

Kit Wise’s work Tsunami addresses the aftermath of the devastating tsunami that followed the magnitude 9.0 Tohoku earthquake on 11th March 2011. Using open source archive photographs taken by American military surveillance aircraft soon after the event, Tsunami explores the relationship between montage as both disaster and studio practice, re-flooding the images to consider how we interpret and respond to the documentation of crisis.

Wise’s curation takes history’s romanticised vision of the oceanic landscape, and in particular Australia’s obsession with the beach, and imbues it with a strong ecological conscience. I Would Breathe Water invites us to embrace this amorphous, bittersweet condition and to ‘suffer a sea-change.’

Jordan Baseman is represented by Matt’s Gallery, London
Rosslynd Piggott is represented by Sutton Gallery, Melbourne


During the exhibition Lily Hibberd will be moving between The Paperback Bookshop and Sarah Scout undertaking a live reading performance. Hibberd’s performance involves the reading of fragments from an unfinished novel The River Runs Twice, comprised of a fiction about the future of a river woven with the recollection of a journey Lily made down the River Magdalena in 2011. For the stone projection piece Casting Stones into the Future River… participants will be invited to imagine the future, aided by a game of poker-hand probability. Hibberd’s live reading performance will take place on the following dates:

Fri 31 August & Sat 1 September
Fri 14 & Sat 15 September
and Fri 5 & Sat 6 October

KIT WISE Explosion

2 to 25 September 2010

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Text by Tom Nicholson