‘In the centre of Fedora, that grey stone metropolis, stands a metal building with a crystal globe in every room. Looking into each globe, you see a blue city, the model of a different Fedora. These are the forms the city could have taken if, for one reason or another, it had not become what we see today. In every age someone, looking at Fedora as it was, imagined a way of making it the ideal city, but while he constructed his miniature model, Fedora was already no longer the same as before, and what had been until yesterday a possible future became only a toy in a glass globe.’ Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities.
Captured in small glass globes, like an island is surrounded by water, these works are more or less there. They aim to capture the mystery of the island, a place apart from the world, a world in themselves. Reinvented, fantasy objects, islands are both connected and separate, part of our common mythology and shadows of their real selves. Apart from the physical and geographical aspects of islands and the very real complex relationships between people and the land, there is also the psychological islands that we hold in our minds; floating fragments of memory. It is this idea of ‘on island’ that Kylie and Jane are trying to explore; the idea of some thing triggering an emotional, psychological or sensory response or trying to capture that fleeting and impossible to possess ‘precious moment’. Our work talks less of the physical or attainable ideologies of islands and more of the intangible places and spaces that we all file away in our minds and on a more existential level the idea of being and not being. Just as snow domes aim to capture the essence of a place, a person or a moment so to do our Memory Globes aim to trigger a connection to another time, another moment. Some additional thoughts on islands from Jane Summers.
“For the first 4 1/2 years of the 5 years that I have been living in the USA my visa was stamped ‘Legal Alien’. It gave me no access to social securities, to vote or authorization to work. I was locked out of participating fully in society. I could be here on the soil of the USA but it did not allow me to be involved in its systems of acknowledgement. The label itself ‘Legal Alien’ denotes that I am not of this place. I am not illegal but I am not familiar and I am not foreign, I am alien. I mention this as I now have a new perspective on immigration and the psychological affects this applies to people who are displaced. By no means do I mean to compare my situation to those of people who are fleeing conflict, disease, natural disasters, or war , as I have chosen to move here and privileged enough to do so, but it makes me question the idea of land and particularly the notion of islands differently. What does Island or land mean to people all over the world, and what will it mean in the future with over population, climate change, and the increasing economic and political challenges…”
Kylie and Jane have collaborated on several projects before in Australia but never across continents, and the trans-Pacific communication has been somewhat challenging, as Jane now lives in Los Angeles. However, it has brought an appropriate perspective to the notion and title of the exhibition ‘On islands’.
Kylie had a sense of what she wanted to say for the exhibition and snow domes provided a very helpful constraint to our exploration. Jane had been working on sculptural ideas around exoskeletons and shadows of things. The ideas connected both in terms of content but also scale; we needed a size that was transportable from LA to Sydney.
The other advantage of the domes was that we needed a vessel of sorts to allow both of us to work on the same thing simultaneously on different sides of the ocean. We first thought we would use natural materials and Jane would make fragile ephemeral pieces from fish scales, lizard skins, leaves and hair, however we soon realized customs would not be favorable to our idea and confiscate our pieces on arrival.
While the time lags and lack of face to face have provided their own constraints they have also given us both the opportunity to experience being both separate and together on this project, imagining what the other is thinking and developing more options than perhaps we would normally have.