Paradise is where I am
3rd November - 21st November 2010
Victor Georgopoulos, Sally Mannall, Rod McNicol
“… paradise is where I am” is the final line of the poem The Worldly
One by Voltaire (1736) and the title of this exhibition that
brings together three distinct bodies of work that each touch upon
experiences of anticipation, fear and ones own mortality.
The Worldly One uses reason with satire to argue that happiness
is a state of mind fixed on the materiality of the present rather than
a promised heavenly utopia located in the abstract of the ever after.
“… paradise is where I am” is about the here and now, the vantage point
from which we remember the past and imagine the future.
Rod McNicol’s photographic portraits were produced during a residency
in the cancer ward of a Melbourne hospital over 20 years ago. Each
sitter only weeks from death was photographed holding an image of their
younger selves. While we are familiar with the photographic document
as a record of the past and the people in it, anonymity provides a
distance where we forget that every photograph prefigures its subjects
death. Rod McNicol’s portraits in combination with their titles (Pam
died six weeks after this photograph was taken. She is holding a photograph
of herself aged six, taken by her father who was to die when Pam was
only twelve. 1989); reveal the sitters awareness of the ritual and
occasion the images were to commemorate.
Sally Mannall’s photographs The good life, of a semi-naked
couple camouflaged in body paint are a humorous and playful consideration
of issues of survival and mortality. A middle aged grey haired couple
are blurred into an indistinct relationship with their surroundings,
a fecund suburban vegetable garden. The work combines the optimism
of self-sufficiency as a survival instinct and response to current
environmental issues with its inverse potential; the dissimilation
of a sense of self into the surrounding milieu. A disappearance through
camouflage that is both an exaggeration of precaution in a society
obsessed with risk and one that suggests the fragility of life and
cyclical processes of reabsorption and renewal - blood and bone.
Victor Georgopoulos is a local historical salvage archaeologist .
For this exhibition he has chosen to share a personal collection of
items belonging to his great uncle who migrated to Australia from the
Macedonian village of Neret in the province of Florina, Northern Greece
in 1936 He became the guardian of his orphaned mother whose parents
had perished as a result of the Greek civil war. These salvaged items
include hand made notebooks detailing his dietary observations recorded
as he lived with bowel cancer for the 25 years before his death in
1983 at the age of 87. The collection also includes audio recordings
taken during a journey his great uncle and mother took in 1964 to claim
a husband for an arranged marriage. This trip was to uncover an alternate
ancestral reality where tragic events were to unfold.
Text by Elvis Richardson
Rod McNicol is represented by Pace Gallery, Melbourne. Rod McNicols
works in this exhibition are from editions held in the collection of
the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.