Sunday 26 March 2017 8.00pm
Parliament: An island in an island, is a proposition for a major new public artwork at GASP, by Janet Laurence & Tega Brain.
As part of the GASP Swimmable: Reading the River program (2015-17), the artists have proposed a work that takes the form of a small island, to be located just off-shore, in the shallows of the Derwent River.
The artists will present their proposition at GASP on 26 March, 2017, as part of the Ten Days on the Island festival. We welcome and encourage audience discussion on the night.
The island is to be a meeting of two constructed environments, two ‘houses’ of Parliament. The upper house is terrestrial, taking the form of a small tiered land-form, planted with specific vegetation and designed to attract and accommodate bird populations of the area as well as indicate seasonal transitions. The lower house is submerged around its edge – a constructed reef designed to support aquatic communities and offer new habitat to these river lifeforms.
Parliament is a whimsical platform for the representation of various non-human communities at the GASP site. It is a project that asks how might we create infrastructures and architectures that cater to the interests of both human and non-human communities alike? How can we co-produce environments that are not exclusively designed to be in the service of humans, but rather that incorporate a wider ecological agenda?
Parliament is an open artistic and ecological experiment and discussion, taking the form of an island. As a part of the Derwent Estruary system, the river at GASP has seen over a century of degradation and is lost significant habitat for salt marshes, oyster reefs, sea grass beds and whale colonies. A stark reminder of this is the 1849 painting on display at the Tasmanian Museum called Offshore whaling with Aladdin and Jane. The painting depicts a gruesome scene of the Derwent River – alive with whales and whalers in hot pursuit. The caption explains in the early 1800s, whales were so plentiful in the Derwent River that residents living nearby complained of sleeplessness due to the noise of their song. Today a lone whale is only spotted every few years in the vicinity of the GASP site. While the painted scene would have been located further down river towards Risdon Cove and Hobart than where the project site is located, this document of Tasmania’s ecological history is emblematic of what has been lost during the past two centuries.
Given the losses of these extraordinary communities, at scales we are unable to quantify, we are in desperate need of opportunities to amplify and celebrate the river’s often overlooked and under appreciated ecologies. Parliament: An island in an island, aims to do this, approaching the Derwent River in the context of a rapidly changing environment. As a small but symbolic intervention, the project marks a shift in perspective and an acknowledgement of our intimate entanglements with the river and its communities. Parliament is a work for the Anthropocene. It does not aim to reconstruct a native ecosystem or restore something that once was, nor is it a resolved answer to a complex set of problems. Rather it is intended to articulate an open question, through establishing an open system and an uncertain collaboration with other species. It is an experiment in art, ecology and environmental politics.
The island will provide a point of focus at the GASP site, which in itself, is a complex, dynamic environment. As the new island communities grow, shift and change over the decades, the work will act as a point of comparison and a marker for the environmental changes that are forecast such as sea level rises. As a place that can be observed from shore but not easily accessed, the work will create environmental curiosity and aims to foster stewardship on the Derwent River, at Glenorchy.
Exploring notions of art, science, imagination, memory, and loss, Janet Laurence’s practice examines our physical, cultural and conflicting relationship to the natural world through both site specific, gallery and museum works. Experimenting with and working in varying mediums, Laurence continues to create immersive environments that navigate the interconnections between all living forms with the alchemical and transformative exploration of hybrid landscapes, that involve a fusion of natural and urban elements.
The work explores what it might mean to heal, albeit metaphorically, the natural environment, fusing this sense of communal loss with a search for connection with powerful life-forces. Janet Laurence lives and works in.Sydney. She has been a recipient of an Australia Council Fellowship, a Rockefeller and Churchill Fellowship and the Alumni Award for Arts, UNSW. Laurence was a Trustee of the Art Gallery of NSW, a former Board Member of the VAB Board of the Australia Council and is currently a Visiting Fellow NSW University. Art and Design Laurence exhibits nationally and internationally and has been represented in major curated and survey exhibitions Her work is included in many museum university and corporate collections as well as within architectural and landscaped public places
Tega Brain is an artist and environmental engineer whose work explores the technologies, interfaces, and institutions shape our relationship with larger environment systems. She creates site specific installations, disfunctional devices, experimental infrastructures and information representations (sometimes using underpants).
She teaches at the School for Poetic Computation, and is currently visiting faculty in New Media at SUNY Purchase. She has recently been an artist in residence at the Environmental Health Clinic, New York University and in 2013, was awarded an early career Creative Australia fellowship from the Australia Council for the Arts. She has had regular exhibitions in Australia and internationally, having recently presented work at UNSW Galleries, Sydney, the Dublin Science Gallery and the Eyebeam Centre for Art and Technology, New York.
This project has been assisted by
the Australian Government through the
Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.
This project was assisted through
Arts Tasmania by the Minister for the Arts.
Elwick Bay Foreshore
Brooker Highway 7010
03 6216 6373
GASP Head Office – Glenorchy City Council
374 Main Road Glenorchy
Glenorchy Art and Sculpture Park is a Not-for-Profit Australian Public Company Limited by Guarantee
ACN 145 591 304.