“..the boat is a floating piece of space, a place without a place,
that exists by itself, that is closed in on itself and at the same time is
given over to the infinity of the sea…”. (Foucault 1967)
On the 21st of July 2018, McCracken boarded the ANL Wahroonga and steamed from Australia to China – an artist in residency, dwelling in motion for 13 days. The route roughly mirrored that of her great-great-grandmother who travelled from Australia to Asia in 1874, a family narrative that has been passed down between generations in the form of a well-thumbed diary written during her adventure.
The Place Between was a one-day exhibition of the works created during the residency on the ship, exhibited in the Mission to Seafarer’s Norla Dome. The work was a meditation upon the social, environmental and political implications of international trade, the mobility of women, our connection to the ocean and the place between Australia and the rest of the world in the 19th and 21st century.
The Place Between is part of a series of projects created by McCracken, exploring the impact of mobility systems (cars, planes, and ships) on Australia; and the way in which they have, and continue to, shape our connection to environments, our sense of time and social relationships. It combined performance, photography, story telling and film to create a mixed media series of works which wound together the artists contemporary expedition on the ship, with that of her great, great, grandmother. In doing so it created a poetic, generational image of the place we generally fly over – the place much of contemporary Australia ignores – between Australia and the rest of the world.
CREDITS: The Place Between 2018, exhibited at the Mission to Seafarers Melbourne. Lead artist, writer and producer Clare McCracken // documentation of performances Andrew Ferris.
In the early 1980s McCracken’s father took the Alpine Shire and the small township of Myrtleford (Victoria, Australia) to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, contesting the proposed construction of a 17 metre concrete snowman. The big snowman reflects the anxiety of identity experienced by rural Australian towns after the construction of the post Second World War road networks in Australia. As they lost their train-lines and were bypassed or driven though, many Australian towns felt like they were slipping off the map of Australia and fading into economic ruin. The big snowman was part of a tradition, inherited from the United States, of big sculptures in small townships, designed to put these communities on the tourist map by trapping the passing car in awe. Ultimately, McCracken’s father was successful and the giant snowman was never built; however, an estimated 300 ‘big things’ were installed from the 1960s on, and many still line Australian rural roadsides.
The fight over the giant snowman was lengthy and vicious: a conflict that gave McCracken her first nickname – “Snowman Killer” – which plagued her early years of school. Snowman Killer combines performance, sculpture, photography, film and storytelling to present the archive from the original snowman controversy, McCracken’s memories of the ordeal and a 7500 km road trip she took with a big carrot – a to-scale representation of the nose of the never constructed snowman – across Australia visiting ‘big things’. In doing so the work also explores the architectural, social, emotional, gendered and environmental impact of the car on rural Australia throughout the second half of the 20th century.
A sample of the audio work that this project turned into is below. If you would like a copy of the whole audio work, so that you can listen to it while driving, please contact the artists – firstname.lastname@example.org.
CREDITS: Lead artist, writer and producer Clare McCracken // documentation of performances Andrew Ferris.
Clare is currently looking for exhibition opportunities for Snowman Killer.