The Dark Mirror comprises new and recent work by Chantal Faust, Lou Hubbard, Hayley Millar-Baker, Mark Rodda, David Thomas, Christian Thompson and Julie Vinci that is at once reflexive, reflective, apocalyptic. Engaging strategies of concealment, revelation, unmasking and subversion, it considers the idea of post-identity in our post-truth world, largely via the domestic and the personal. As 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of James Cook's first voyage to Australia and the Pacific, the exhibition seeks also to provide a series of counter narratives to the Cook landing and colonisation histories.
Hayley Millar-Baker's photomontage series I'm The Captain Now, 2016 presents new visual narratives through the melding of the artist's personal histories with inherited familial archival imagery. These haunting works provide an alternative paradigm by which to view and understand the complexities of conversations concerning faith, spirituality and social justice from an Indigenous perspective.
Chantal Faust's Love thy neighbour, 2012 is the performance/iteration of a Slavoj Žižek lecture of the same name, filmed as the artist goes about her everyday domestic occupations while attempting to reiterate the Slovenian philosopher's eclectic oration. As its title suggests, the discussion leads into the territory of the Other, the exotic stranger and the idea of a multiple subject performing identity which is mirrored in the act of monologue rendition.
An absurd encounter between everyday objects, Lou Hubbard's Butter Box continues the artist's interest in providing humorous yet biting counterpoints to the grand narratives we often encounter in Australian contemporary culture while Mark Rodda's abstract and figurative paintings ruminate on the fractal-like links between cosmic and molecular themes; the macro and the micro; the universe and atom. Similarly ambiguous, David Thomas's 'overpaintings' are contemplations on the complexity and layering of time and memory. Composed of matte black acrylic paint applied over existing paintings by the artist, the works act as both mirror and void, simultaneously concealing and proposing anew.
Also engaging the mask as a strategy, works from Christian Thompson's series Museum of Others, 2016 replace the artist's face with those of Others - specifically English colonists such as James Cook and Augustus Pitt Rivers. Together with Equilibrium - in which Thompson's face is concealed by a dark mirror or crystal ball - these silent, powerful works contest and subvert the colonial gaze.
Subverting the female gaze, Julie Vinci's sculptural composition Figure in the Mirror presents a faceless, apparently female, figure posing in front of a dirty mirror. At once intimate and abject, the figure seems to both absorb and reflect the humiliations and disappointments of contemporary life - yet its meaning remains delightfully out of reach. At the heart of the work, as in each of those in The Dark Mirror, is the impossibility of really understanding others, despite our compulsion to judge and our need to connect.