I’ve never had a complaint before, but this post hit a nerve. I removed it, and am reinstating it today (also in response to a request). It discusses a new series of artworks that include a narrative about a particular death. The offence caused, it would seem, relates to the discussion of death and the personal sensitivities inherent in this particular series of works, LAMENTATION, by Karike Ashworth.
The artwork deals with Ashworth’s process of coming to terms with the death of her mother – its palpable grief but also the physical and material processes that surrounded it. I believe her art is an attempt to share this journey and as art it is transformed into something other; as such it necessarily transcends the personal although there are some elements that remain true to her own memoir and lived experience. Olivia Ashworth wrote, “We are all touched and extremely proud of Karike’s work and are passionate about its message reaching others.”
Art may take us well outside our comfort zone, but those who find this material difficult might be interested to peruse the quote from Robert Hughes below. Death may stimulate all sorts of emotions and feelings – it is important to express them. Thank you to all who read and discussed this post.
Karike Ashworth’s exhibition “LAMENTATION” was displayed 16-19 July 2014 at The Hold, West End. It traced Ashworth’s journey through the grief of losing her mother to cancer in 2012, offering the opportunity to discuss the power that personal narrative may play in contemporary art. Panellists Dr Bill Platz, Dr Courtney Pedersen and Dr Liani Burton shared insights on the topic informed by the power of Ashworth’s exhibition on Thursday 17 July. While the discussion was recorded courtesy of The Hold and Luke Kidd, the exhibition was powerful. The poignant subject matter was beautifully realised in its expression of the physicality of the experience of grief and the embrace of ritual. The claustrophobic embrace of torn Queensland Health sheets displayed below was titled 3 hours, 20 minutes, 2012, the Lamentation video in which Ashworth repetitively washes strips of sheets, and the embroidery of her mother’s diaristic recordings into Pillows.
The power of memoir in contemporary art is very strong – not the element of memory in itself but the life lived that is expressed and transformed in art. This exhibition and its subject took me to Nick Mitzevich’s Dark Heart (AGSA, 2014) catalogue, in which Robert Hughes is quoted (p.31):
“The basic project of art is always to make the world whole and comprehensible, to restore it to us in all its glory and its occasional nastiness, not through argument but through feeling, and then to close the gap between you and everything that is not you, and in this way pass from feeling to meaning … It’s done by individuals, each person mediating in some way between a sense of history and an experience of the world.”