2016 Program pt 1

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William Mansfield

Opening 04.05.16 6-8pm
Artist Talks 26.05.16 6-7pm

Inferno transforms the traditional white-cube gallery space into a theatrical, flame-drenched representation of the terrifying netherworld of Hell, as portrayed in Dante’s epic poem Inferno.
The work is a physically imposing multi-sensory experiential installation simulating the experience of being imprisoned in eternal damnation.

Inferno draws on the religious and mythological notions of Hell and its various depictions in art and literature, with particular consideration to the fear instilled by the concept of Hell in my own Catholic upbringing. This installation incorporates the spectacle and kitsch theatricality I recall from my own experiences of Catholic school masses and liturgies, imbued with exuberant performances, colour, symbolism and craft. Inferno subverts the conventional religious incarnations of Hell as an unrelenting perdition by poking fun at the systems and ideas that I grew up with.

Dante’s Inferno acts as a guide on how to live a moral life and evade the temptations of sin by illustrating the consequences of enduring torment. Inspired by the sadistic humour in Dante’s rendition of Hell, my work offers an alternate reading of it as a playful and mysterious space-altering abyss. I aim to expose our inner child with a nod to the unrestrained enjoyment experienced in environments like Ikea’s ball-pit, amusement park funhouses and ghost trains.

Inferno dissolves the notion of choice typically invoked in installation art. The viewer–come–participant is at the mercy of the environment, which forces an immediate interaction and response through an unsettling mix of fear, fascination and playfulness.

Inferno presents a version of Hell inspired by cinematic clichés and cultural references. Initially humorous and amusing, as the audience moves deeper through the work they will be forced to think about the worst Hell of their own imagining.


William Mansfield is a Sydney based multi-disciplinary visual artist. Pursuing a dynamic experimental DIY aesthetic, he utilises a broad range of mediums including video, sculpture and installation. Mansfield’s unique practice conflates ideas of schlock horror and glitch art with childhood nostalgia, interrogating notions of torment and the grotesque with irreverent and kitsch humour. He employs pre-cinematic devices and handmade dioramas to weave together open-ended narratives within his work.

Mansfield graduated from COFA UNSW with 1st Class Honours (2007) and has since exhibited widely in solo and group shows. Mansfield was the co-founder of the theatre and remix collective Rhubarb Rhubarb responsible for Wonka (2007) and The Mad Max Remix (2009). Mansfield co-created the hybrid theatre show Some Film Museums I Have Known at Nextwave Festival, ACMI Melbourne (2010).

Mansfield aims to reveal the mechanisms behind cinematic spectacles and illusions by remixing and manipulating cultural memory. Through his installation and sculptural work, Mansfield challenges traditional notions of the gallery by physically altering the space to impose on the audience, contradicting their expectations through theatrical trickery. This was explored in Grand Chasm, an experiential installation referencing human intervention in nature, Firstdraft gallery (2011).

More recently, Mansfield’s video practice explores interpretations of vulgarity and the puerile through the garish and humorous reappropriation of sampled material from cinema and television history, evident in Technicolour Yawn MCA Artbar (2012), and Chunder from Down Under, Televisions Festival Carriageworks (2013). He is currently a studio resident at Brand X’s Arts Incubator Space in St Leonards.