Julie Louise Bacon | The Clearing

The Clearing

  • 26 Sep

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This project explored the ways in which social and intimate realities are shaped by the force of absence as much as the experience of presence.  Whilst ‘the clearing’ is traditionally associated with a forest, the philosopher Martin Heidegger invoked the experience of the space as a metaphor for the contours of our reality, which he said, are determined by the limits of our perception as much the objects we observe. He stated that ‘things show up in light of our understanding of being’, reflecting a view of the senses and reason as enmeshed.

The project engaged with artworks and practices that explore the physical and metaphysical relations between absence and presence, as well as the political and poetic implications of the interaction of the two. The shift in the way that things appear and disappear may reconfigure the experience of the city and landscape, as much as it ‘recollects’ the content of histories and personal memories.

The project had three iterations, beginning with a screening and debate in 2010 at This is Not a Gateway festival of critical urbanisms with: Victoria Lane (Archivist Black Cultural Archives), John Newling (Head of Sculpture, Nottingham Trent), Fran Cottell (Senior Lecturer, Camberwell College), James Geurts (Artist). http://thisisnotagateway.squarespace.com/2010-programme/

Following this, in 2011-2012, the concept formed the core thematic of a 6-month residency hosted by RMIT in Melbourne, as part of the School of Art’s international Artist in Residence Program. The project was supported by an Independent Curatorial Reseach Grant from the Quebec Arts Council. During this time I established a network of conversations in the city, joining the Art+Philosophy research cluster at the Center for Ideas, and staging events at the Victorian College for the Arts and RMIT. http://www.schoolofartgalleries.dsc.rmit.edu.au/PSSR/2011/drawing-horizons.html

The residency developed throughout 2012 into an exchange and networking project with the Melbourne-based curator Simon Maidment and Satellite Projects. Supported by awards from Quebec Arts Council and Arts Victoria, a series of meetings and seminars were held at institutions and artist studios in both countries. These explored the potential of creative projects to generate ‘a clearing’ in terms of the physical, cultural and historical conditions of urban and rural settings, reflecting on the interaction of indigenous and European presences, and contemporary trends of (im)migration.