Nick Mangan

Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces
200 Gertrude Street Fitzroy Melbourne, September 2005
The Colony compiled a series of objects and each object a crowd of bits hewn from a variety of woods. Op-shop finds including polynesian-styled-souvenir-salad-spoons, pacific-islander-shop-trinketry, teak side-boards and knitting needles accompanied hardware store items such as axe and hammer handles. Nick collected the already-constructed and cut it out, and into, material. Each bit was frayed, as it entered into the collective; implying that everything is always coming undone, and at every instant. At moments, it seemed that the crafting which gave rise to the object-conglomerates might not be an activity entirely proportionate to the movements of a single maker; but instead arose from processes connected to some kind of multitudinous force of labour (such as the insistent holes that emerge from the mouths of a million termites, or centuries of embodied knowledge compressed into a technique like knitting). Even though we know this is not the case, the works obsessive-compulsive hyper-crafting solidified and then burst into symbolic resonance, so that something like the re-enactment or third-hand appropriation of the semi-archeological, semi-ethnographic, held sway. At first encounter, the work seemed to yearn for a nostalgic return to origins; in which notions of the authentic (of the real, the ritual) was sited, and fashioned within an aesthetic of ‘the tribal’. But this work implies a post-faux-neo-tribalism, or an appropriation of appropriations (and so on); of an authentic that never-ever existed. This work tells us the real is so very un-real and it lives in the crevices of a souvenir spoon, or a gallery floorboard, or wherever.
Bianca Hester


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