Alone and Palely Loitering
Elise Harmsen & Nathan Beard
Opening 01.02.17 6-8pm
Artist Talks 23.02.17 6-7pm
Alone and palely loitering brings together the work of Nathan Beard (WA) and Elise Harmsen (NSW) as an exploration of the photographic image in relation to their individual family histories. Through working with found archives – each artist examines the forceful play between positive and negative, animation and stasis situated within each of the images – negotiating their relationship to the present and the process of image making.
Nathan’s recent work has focused on albums of found family photographs from his mother’s abandoned house in Thailand. Exploring these albums condenses years, even decades, and a sense of melancholy pervades this process of looking. The otherness of the past, and of the environment depicted, is compounded by the archaic photographic techniques preserving them.
In particular, this body of work focuses on a a series of images relating to Nathan’s late uncle who suffered from dementia in the final few years of his life. Nathan’s process of preserving and accentuating the physical wear and tear of these found images, carefully disrupting and manipulating the surfaces of the prints by hand, unpacks ideas of memory and nostalgia that relate to the projected content of these images as much as the photographic technology that they’re captured with.
Elise has developed work almost in reverse to this process – a negative. Unlike the found personal archive of Nathan’s familial history, Elise has collected images from a real estate website advertising the sale of her mother’s apartment shortly after her death in 2011. Unlike the nostalgia and poetic nuance associated with Nathan’s found images, the real estate’s images are poorly composed, out of focus and taken to reach a mass audience.
Working with this point of contingency, the work attempts to re-connect these images with a semblance to the past. Having no other images of her mother from this period in her life, Elise uses her own apartment as a conduit for this process – objects belonging to her mother shift between spaces – projections appear, objects disappear and are transformed back again photographically.
Elise Harmsen and Nathan Beard met whilst undertaking a BA (Art) at Curtin University of Technology, Perth WA (2005 – 2007). Having been strongly influenced by each other’s practice they have previously shown together in Law of proximity, 2007 at Moores Building Contemporary Art Gallery, Fremantle WA and more recently in E S T A T E S, 2015 at 55 Sydenham Rd, Marrickville NSW.
Nathan Beard (b. 1987) is a West Australian-based interdisciplinary artist whose work is primarily engaged with exploring the myriad influences of his Thai-Australian cultural background.
Syncretism is a process which best describes Beard’s approach to his Asian-Australian heritage, as it implies that there are no fixed elements in culture but a contingent affiliation of disparate terms capable of shifting positions or altering relations depending on circumstances and permeable boundaries. The implicit tensions and realignments between binaries of East/West, highbrow/ lowbrow, and centre/periphery are critically deconstructed and playfully explored for their creative potential in Beard’s practice.
Beard graduated from Curtin University with First Class Honours in 2010 where he currently works as a sessional academic.He is also part of the collaboration The Greater Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere with Abdul Abdullah and Casey Ayres.
Elise Harmsen (b. 1987, Perth, WA) is a Sydney based artist working with video, performance and projection based installations. Her practice explores the nuances of the projected image through examining its relationship to memory, time and space. She currently runs a studio space in Marrickville, NSW and is represented by Sydney ARI, 55 Sydenham Rd.
Originally from Perth, WA and relocating to Sydney as an artist in residence at Artspace in 2011, Elise worked collaboratively with artist Jürgen Kerkovius under the name Elise/Jürgen from 2006 – 2012.