Section 32

Section 32, 2016. Lead artist, creative producer and writer Clare McCracken // key collaborator, performance director and performance writer Brienna Macnish // key collaborator, sound designer, composer and technology designer Robert Jordan / associate artist, creator of the Black Room Jessie Stanley //performer/devisor Kasey Gambling // performer/devisor Isabella Vadiveloo // performer/devisor Ernesto Munoz // performer, message from mars Paul Blenheim // production assistant Andrew Ferris. Section 32 was commissioned by Knox City Council and has been assisted by an anonymous donor.

Our city is in a state of flux: climate change, rapid population growth, housing affordability, technological advances such as driverless cars and shifts in the labour market are all gearing up to permanently change both the look of our city and how we inhabit it. Over four weeks Clare, and a team of collaborators, transformed an ordinary suburban house inside and out creating an immersive installation that transported audiences to the end of this century to experience the future of the Australian suburbs.

Section 32 is the first of a tetralogy of works developed by Clare McCracken as part of her creative practice research PhD at RMIT University. McCracken’s research is informed by the mobilities turn in sociology which contends that mobilities sit “at the centre of constellations of power, the creation of identities and the microgeographies of everyday life”(Cresswell 2011: 511). Consequently, it is through our analysis of mobility systems and their impacts – contemporarily and in the past – that we can come to understand the forces that have shaped the spaces we inhabit, our relationships, and our concept of time. McCracken’s research will see her develop works that respond to these systems and their impact throughout the centuries from a uniquely Australian perspective.

Within the tetralogy of works Section 32 takes the future as its subject matter, ruminating on what the car centric outer suburbs of Melbourne may look like by the end of the 21st century. It contemplates how domestic routines, interpersonal relationships and the fabric of the house itself will adapt to a post carbon world affected by climate change, extreme weather events, population increase and new technologies such as driverless cars and virtual reality. The work is informed by the work of sociologists, contemporary philosophers and cultural theorists such as John Urry, Anthony Elliott, Tim Cresswell, Manual Castels, Rosi Braidotti and Paul Virilio, but also by Melbourne’s history of planning, development and environmental policy.

Section 32 would not have been possible without the support of the following people and organisations. John Smart from Smart Graffiti, RMIT School of Art in Public Space, Andrew Ferris, Chris McCracken, Kate McCracken, Hannah Macnish, John Twyford, Molly Warren, Kurt Luttin, Sue Shee, Martin Brennan, Marcia Ferguson, Patrick McCarthy, Michael Hearn, Martin Buden and the residents of Rose Avenue, Boronia.

Cresswell, Tim. 2011. ‘Mobilities I: Catching up’, Progress in Human Geography, 35: 550-58.

VILLAGE

VILLAGE, 215-16. Lead artist, creative producer and writer Brienna Macnish, key collaborator and visual designer Clare McCracken, key collaborator, sound designer, composer and technology designer Robert Jordan. VILLAGE was commissioned by Junction Arts Festival and has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. This project is also supported by the Victorian Government through Arts Victoria. Our project partners are, Word of Mouth Technology Melbourne, All About Gardens Launceston, and BMW Launceston, our venue partner.
VILLAGE, 2015-16. Lead artist, creative producer and writer Brienna Macnish, key collaborator and visual designer Clare McCracken, key collaborator, sound designer, composer and technology designer Robert Jordan. VILLAGE was commissioned by Junction Arts Festival and has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. This project is also supported by the Victorian Government through Arts Victoria. Our project partners are, Word of Mouth Technology Melbourne, All About Gardens Launceston, and BMW Launceston, our venue partner. Photographs by Lucy Productions and Andrew Ferris.

VILLAGE is an immersive audio installation created over twelve months in collaboration with the residents of retirement communities in Launceston, Tasmania.

VILLAGE takes you past the manicured lawns and behind the lace curtains to find out what life in a retirement village is really like.
Tasmania’s population is the oldest in Australia and it’s ageing the fastest. While the media prints headlines about the state’s immanent transformation into a “retirement island” VILLAGE asks, “Would that really be such a bad thing?”

VILLAGE sits within a context of significant social change and at its heart the project seeks to foster intergenerational empathy and connection. Through an audio-documentary that shares the stories of older people, and participatory events that bring a younger audience into the world of retirement village living, VILLAGE is a gesture towards how intergenerational connection within our communities might begin.

In conjunction with the audio installation, two satellite events were run as part of Junction Festival. Let’s Talk About Death, was an advanced care directive workshop for all ages produced in collaboration with Palliative Care Tasmania and Common Ground was a intergenerational afternoon tea connecting older and younger female leaders within the local community.

VILLAGE is the second part of a planned trilogy of works creatively produced by Brienna Macnish that explore ageing in contemporary Australia. The first part of this series, HOME was presented at Next Wave Festival 2014.

Three Strolls Through the CBD

Three Strolls Through the CBD Three strolls taken during May, 2016. Illustrated by Clare McCracken. Exhibited at the 3 O'Clock Gallery, Melbourne. Supported by Plan International.
Three Strolls Through the CBD
Three strolls taken during May, 2016. Illustrated by Clare McCracken. Exhibited at the 3 O’Clock Gallery, Melbourne. Supported by Plan International.

In the introduction to A Room of One’s Own, writer Virginia Woolf describes in detail an afternoon where she used the act of walking through public space as a way of working through complex ideas. Just as she finds herself on the precipice of a discovery she is interrupted by a gardener who rushes forward to point out that, in her absentmindedness, she had strolled from the path onto a section of grass set aside for male academics. Most cities tend not to officially or legally regulate and restrict the mobility of women; however, as Plan International Australia’s recent survey highlights (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-12/nearly-a-third-of-young-women-dont-feel-safe-in-public-places/7405434) – women continue to restrict their own movement through public space due to perceptions of safety. Three Strolls Through the CBD maps the diverse usage and interaction of women within Melbourne’s CBD during three slow walks down La Trobe Street, Little Collins Street and Hosier Lane. The map documents both the presence of women in the city, and their incredibly diverse usage of its public spaces as a way of offering an insight into how we may design cities with the uses of women in mind.

I Was Here

I Was Here, 2016. Conceived and project managed by Clare McCracken, narratives by Clare McCracken and Zaiber Khan with photographic documentation by Andrew Ferris. Exhibited at 3Oclock Gallery, Melbourne. Supported by Plan International.
I Was Here, 2016. Conceived and project managed by Clare McCracken, narratives by
Clare McCracken and Zaiber Khan with photographic documentation by Andrew Ferris. Exhibited at 3Oclock Gallery, Melbourne. Supported by Plan International.

Melbourne, like many cities around the world, frames its identity through the narratives of a select few, placing bronze sculptures throughout the CBD to celebrate their contribution to the city’s identity. With the exception of the Women’s Suffrage Monument near Parliament House, and the monument currently being planned for the RMIT campus, which will commemorate Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner – the two Tasmanian Indigenous men to be hung publically outside the Old Melbourne Gaol, these narratives tend to be those of white European men. However, as Jean-François Lyotard pointed out in his1979 essay The Postmodern Condition, while these state-sanctioned metanarratives are important to a city’s identity, it is the ‘petits récits’, or small narratives, which actually give us an insight into the true makeup of place. Petits récits are first person narratives, which generally reflect a small or single event.

In his book Mobilities, sociologist John Urry argues that power relations determine when and where different social groups walk; consequently, it could be argued that the lack of female narratives in our cities’ public spaces contribute to women’s lack of comfort in such locales, as it appears as if they belong to men. The I Was Here project proposes to momentarily change this by creating guerrilla monuments to the women of Melbourne by filling certain public spaces with short narratives – the petits récits – of the women that use Melbourne’s public spaces on a daily basis.

SkypeLab

SkypeLab 2015-2016. Curated by Prof. Henning Eichinger (Germany) and Dr. Maggie McCormick (Australia) with Associate Professor Yonglei Ma, in China. Supported by the Baden-Württemberg Stiftung, the Goethe-Institut, Reutlingen University, Germany, RMIT University, Melbourne and East China Normal University, Shanghai.
SkypeLab 2015-2016. Curated by Prof. Henning Eichinger (Germany) and Dr. Maggie McCormick (Australia) with Associate Professor Yonglei Ma, in China. Supported by the Baden-Württemberg Stiftung, the Goethe-Institut, Reutlingen University, Germany, RMIT University, Melbourne and East China Normal University, Shanghai.

SkypeLab is a creative research collaboration between Reutlingen University, Germany, RMIT University, Melbourne and East China Normal University, Shanghai that explores the role of drawing and portraiture in identity perception within the public space of Skype.  Over 12 months Clare contacted and talked to six international artists she had never met before over Skype.  These conversations, and the blind contour drawings created during the conversations, were then turned into a series of finished works exhibited at the Städtische Galerie Reutlingen in 2016.   Clare’s response used the international language of cross-stitch to explore how women, for centuries have used the medium of textiles to maintain and develop relationships across distance.

Josie and the Constellations

Josie and the Constellations, 2014 - 2015. Temporary installation in the Wide Open Road contemporary art space, Castlemaine. Supported by Wide Open Road Art.

For thousands of years cultures have looked at the night sky, drawing lines between the stars to create constellations.  For each culture these shapes have shifted and changed to reflect, both the objects in their immediate surroundings, and the myths that dominate their identity. Josie and the Constellations playfully looks at the constellations of the past, while imagining both the observation deck, and constellations, of contemporary Australia.

The Becalmed Heart

The Becalmed Heart, 2015. Creative concept and direction by Brienna Macnish, key collaborator and visual design by Clare McCracken, key collaborator and sound design and composition by Robert Jordan, lighting design by Christopher Page. The Becalmed Heart was developed with support from Underbelly Arts and premiered at Underbelly Festival, 2015. It was supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria and by the City of Melbourne through the Arts House 4 Walls initiative.

The Becalmed Heart is a large-scale immersive installation that invites audiences to enter a world created from refuse. It is a meditation upon our waste and the impact of human intervention on nature. Inspired by images of vast plastic islands floating across the surface of the ocean, landfill sites and the work of Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky this project attempts to capture the grotesque beauty of devastated landscapes.

“…calm and shocking. …It is a powerful reflection on consumption, mass consumerism and our impact on environment. A strong, vivid comment about our relationship with nature and the impact of climate change, executed in the most brutally beautiful way.” – Fenella Kernebone

The Becalmed Heart is currently seeking new presentation oppurtuntities. Please contact the artist if interested.

The White Building – Tapestries

Works created during a residency at the White Building, Phnom Penh, 2014. Supported by Sa Sa Art Projects.

The single greatest issue facing the residents of the White Building is housing security.  As Cambodia rapidly urbanises, it is the urban poor that are forcibly removed from their homes to make way for shiny new apartment towers they cannot afford.  During a residency at the building, McCracken chatted to the residents of the building about their housing concerns and asked them to teach her how to cross stitch.  The cross stitching of pictorial tapestries was a popular hobby during McCracken’s stay and an effective way to connect with the residents of the White Building. Moving away from the images provided in the tapestry kits, McCracken stitched the grates, bricks and vents that residents had added to the building to make it an effective home.  She then gifted these small bespoke tapestries to some of the residents she got to know.