Kelly’s Garden Curated Projects #8
An installation by Jack Robins
“Jack Robins‘ recent work seems to inhabit a place between the spaces of the body, architecture and objects. His recent work also has something of the sense of the Folly in that it proposes relationships with familiar structures and objects but these suggestions never coalesce into resemblance. They evince an initial sense of familiarity and then transcend that and assert their uniqueness both as forms and as defined spaces.
The relationship Robins’ work has with the body also manifests as performance, (as in the case of this installation), in fact for the past fifteen years it has always engaged with the body in some way, how it moves through and inhabits spaces and environments. Although Robins originally developed this connection through movement-based theatre and dance (Butoh particularly) when based in his native Canberra, it finds expression now also in performative work and in the kinds of spaces he creates within which the body is instinctively and active dynamic element. (It is interesting that in Japanese architecture more that any other the primary element of scale is the human body – acting as the harmonic integrator even in structures as large as the Meiji Palace).
Creating ‘a space for the body to engage with’ is how Robins describes the development of his sculptural and installation practice. I have always strongly held the conviction that sculpture is more about spaces than it is about form. Any sculpture, (by virtue of the facts that it has form and sits in space), interacts with space in a variety of ways, but architectural space is more about how the form actually constructs the space. This is perhaps the key to forming a useful distinction between sculpture and installation practice. The body then become a key element in defining the space dynamically.
The minimalism of Robins’ constructions allows the space for a body to inhabit and interact with the defined space effectively, due to the relative simplicity and clarity of boundary. It also presents the possibility of the space spatially defining or enclosing a performative action or process.
In Robins’ own words, “After a while I moved further south to Hobart, a different space and different influence. Here I was able free myself from the confines of the city’s canyons and create work to a human scale. My work now examines the construction of space and highlights the habitual nature of human movement and interaction within shared environments.”
“As I have progressed as an artist and my practice has shifted, it has occurred to me that my own body has been inherent in all the works I have created. In regards to this and to my most recent works, I feel I have come full circle as I re-engage with performance as a material to describe the space in which we live, move through and share.”
This work exists in two forms which are co-related. Over the duration of this installation / performance Robins will construct a pine-frame grid which locks the space centrally, this structure will grow over time, so the construction of the grid itself is performative and it later becomes a space for the other performance. A stage-like construction will also be erected towards the end wall, and utilised in the performance of the reading of selected texts. These will be a series of texts which have been seminal in Robins’ artistic development as well as texts provided y others for whom they are also of significance. Robins will alternate his days between reading and construction as the work slowly develops to a final stage. Video will record the reading/building/reading process and this will be live-streamed from Robins website.
The progress of building engages the artist in a dialogue with materials, measures and realisation/manifestation – a concept becomes a thing, an idea becomes a sculpture, architecture. Process invites both engagement and reflection, even a distancing.
Reading has some similarities. The reader is no longer of the world, transported both into another’s consciousness and what that has created simultaneously. Yet like the builder the reader remains present and distant. The viewer engages with the act of the performance and the product of the performance yet does not engage directly with the performer. In a strange way the performer becomes an object, a physical component of an event, even perhaps a sculpture? The theoretical implications are reflected in Robins’ statement.
“I guess the essence of my work comes down to how people relate to and use the space with the aesthetic lying firmly in a reference to works from the minimal/conceptual decade. All the works I have made over the past four or so years have directs references to specific works and tropes from this period as a way of continuing a dialogue with Modernism; it is very much art-for-arts-sake, however I’ve primarily been making within an academic context, so I feel this is justified. The work I’m proposing for Kelly’s Garden is a step away from the processes of making I’m used to and will put me on uncertain ground in terms of how it will be received.”
– Jack Robins
Like all useful art activity the nature of the art work is never clearly known until it happens. Like the conceptual artists who have played such an important role in Robins’ development we receive a concept, a proposal and we may choose to test which its effects are at the moment of becoming actual, there is risk, some things are unknown. Would we have it any other way?”
– Seán Kelly, Curator
Friday 3 June – Sunday 9 July 2011
CONSTRUCTION (Artist On Site):
The exhibition will continue to grow and change throughout the three weeks. Jack Robins will spend the mornings reading aloud material that has inspired practicing artists. In the afternoons he will continue construction.
– Saturday 4 June 2011, 10:00am – 5:00pm
– Wednesday 8 – Saturday 11 June 2011, 10:00am – 5:00pm daily
– Wednesday 15 – Saturday 18 June 2011, 10:00am – 5:00pm daily
– Wednesday 22 – Saturday 25 June 2011, 10:00am – 5:00pm daily
Friday 3 June 2011 @ 5:30pm
Exhibition to be opened by curator Seán Kelly
Biography : Jack Robins
Born in Canberra, Jack Robins initially studied Gold and Silversmithing at RMIT before moving to Hobart to study Sculpture at the University of Tasmania, where he is currently undertaking a PhD. Robins’ practice incorporates sculpture, installation and performance to examine the social construction of space and highlights the habitual nature of human interaction and movement within shared environments.
Recent solo exhibitions have included (re)visit at Poimena Gallery (2010) and vice versa at Inflight ARI (2009). His work was also included in the group exhibition Lookout at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (2010). In 2007 he was the recipient of the CAST Curatorial Mentorship, curating the exhibition Companion Planting.
Robins sat on the board of Six_a inc, an artist run initiative in North Hobart, as the publicity officer and artist liaison and is currently teaching at the Tasmanian School of Art, Hobart. He has exhibited in Hobart, Launceston, Melbourne and Perth.
Kelly’s Garden Curated Projects is an initiative of The Salamanca Arts Centre and made possible through the generosity of Aspect Design and fundraising from SAC’s Supporters at the SAC Quiz Night. This Project was assisted through Arts Tasmania by the Minister for Tourism and the Arts.