Body of work

 

THERE’S still time to catch the confronting WA Art Gallery exhibition BODIED before it closes on Monday. 

Toying with our perception of the human body and what it represents, six artists from across the globe deliver an eye-opening mix of video, animation and digital prints.

Artist Wong Ping’s Stop Peeping is a video animation based on his attempts to get to know a young woman he met in his Hong Kong apartment block.

Featuring saturated colours and surreal cartoon-style graphics, it’s an entertaining and slightly wry take on contemporary life in urban Hong Kong, touching on disconnection, loneliness and eroticism.

“His images come straight out of his experiences in Hong Kong, the hustle and bustle of the city, the strange tales (and fragments thereof) he is a witness to,” says exhibition co-curator Robert Cook.

“Seeing that vision here, where he was a student, well I can only imagine…The body operates very differently in these very different cultures.

“It was a thrill to show the work of Wong Ping, who was actually a student in Perth for a while, before going back to work in Hong Kong.”

Perhaps the most outré work on show is the video Human Flesh by Finnish artist Jani Ruscica.

Featuring eyes, mouths and hair on body parts shaped into letters, it’s a jarring and disorientating trip through the alphabet. 

The exhibition also features artists Gordon Bennett, Alin Huma, Cheiko Kawaguchi, Kawita Vatanajyankur and Cheryl Donegan, whose 1993 work Head was one of the most famous and provocative pieces of video art ever made.

The low-fi video features Donegan performing what looks like fellatio on a plastic container with milk spurting out of it, while grunge music blares away in the background.

The work is perceived as a kick at pornographic images of domination and sexual slavery, and is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Cook says there is something for everyone in the exhibition.

“We wanted to create a kind of light (yet politically engaged) awareness of ‘the body’…the viewer’s own, and those around them,” he says.

“Of how our bodies signify at different times, for different people, and the desires and layers of power around this.  

“Obviously that idea spoke to the various compounding crises of 2020, crises that continue and that had been long brewing.

“We did not want to address them directly but to offer space to come at the body and the works in multiple ways, maybe even to work through some of the issues at play.”

BODIED is on this weekend only at the WA Art Gallery in Perth.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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