“...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, Clare boarded the ANL Wahroonga container ship and steamed from Australia to China – 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 artworks are a meditation upon the social, environmental and political implications of international trade, the mobility of women and the place between Australia and the rest of the world in the 19th and 21st century.It is part of a series of projects that explore the impact of mobility systems (cars, planes, mobile texhnology 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.
The Place Between by Clare McCracken; performance documentation by Andrew Ferris, 2018. Exhibited at the Mission to Seafarers, Melbourne (2018) and WORD OF MOUTH, Venice (2019) a Venice Biennale pop-up curated by Peter Hill.
The Place Between: Orlando Floats / 1080p / infinite loop
The Place Between: Passing Manus Island / 4K / infinite loop
In the early 1980s Clare’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. 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 Clare 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, Clare’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.
An audio book of Clare’s adventure will be released in July 2019 please email Clare for your free copy - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lead artist, writer and producer Clare McCracken / documentation of performances Andrew Ferris. Clare is currently looking for exhibition opportunities for Snowman Killer.
The Big Spider and the Big Carrot, Urana.
Snowman Killer: End of the Road. Conceived, Written and Produced by Clare McCracken / Video Documentation and Editing - Jim Arneman / Music - Golden Hour written and composed by Nick Huggins / Props and Costume - Andrew Ferris, Mattea Davies & Clare McCrackenSnowman Killer: End of the Road. Conceived, Written and Produced by Clare McCracken / Video Documentation and Editing - Jim Arneman / Music - Golden Hour written and composed by Nick Huggins / Props and Costume - Andrew Ferris, Mattea Davies & Clare McCracken
Delivery of the Carrot Ashes to the Birthplace of Big Things – Las Vegas
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.
The work contemplated 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.
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 and 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.
Photographs by Rhiannon Slatter and Andrew Ferris.
Section 32: A Tour Through the Work
A Tale of a Tortoise About the Square
In the late eighteen hundreds, Charles Baudelaire felt that the traditional arts were inadequate when it came to recording his rapidly industrialising city. Baudelaire argued that artists should immerse themselves in the metropolis and become ‘a botanist of the sidewalk’. The tool for this interaction was the flâneur – a way of strolling slowly through the city aimlessly ‘in order to experience it’ - to walk at the pace of a tortoise.
Adopting these concepts, and reflecting on the safety of the female body in Melbourne’s streets post Jill Meagher’s violent death, Clare became part tortoise, part dandy (part endangered spices, part urban explorer) and went on a series of long, slow walks. Over four weeks she walked from Federation Square to the Melbourne Ports, the International Airport and 30km up the Yarra River to Darebin Creek. As she strolled she documented what she saw turning her lengthy adventure into an artist book.
A month after her exploration of the city Clare occupied Federation Square, handing her artist book to the people she met as a record of her lengthy participation on the streets of Melbourne. As Clare moved about the square a film played on the big screen documenting her evolution from ordinary woman to dandy tortoise.
By Clare McCracken, 2013. Commissioned by Federation Square. This work was also recommissioned by Melbourne City Council and RMIT Univeristy to interrogate the safety of Hosier Lane as part of Urban Lab, curated by Fiona Hillary.
Clare McCracken acknowledge the Woi Wurrung and Boon Wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nations on whose unceded lands she lives and works. She respectfully acknowledge their Ancestors and Elders, past and present.