Alex Gawronski: Prophecy, 2010

‘SURVEY’, Lot 77 Eveleigh Railway Yards, Eveleigh, Sydney; curated by Janis Ferburg and Laura McLean

(Steel waste paper bin, MP3 player, perpetual sound loop of computer trash being emptied)

Virtuality strongly conditions many aspects of contemporary society. The virtual though is more than merely propositional. Certainly, today and on manifold interconnecting fronts, virtuality is truly ‘realer than the real’. Yet what could be realer, more concrete, than urban construction, another major factor determining the pace and forms of contemporary urban life. Indeed, lately rates of urban development have risen exponentially. In Sydney for example, many industrial spaces have already been transformed into private and commercial properties. One remaining site though recently abandoned by State Rail, adjoins the Carriage Works complex in Eveleigh. This is where the exhibition/event ‘SURVEY’ took place for which this particular work was produced. The work, ‘Prophecy’ comments on how recently abandoned ‘transitional’ spaces are at the moment of their transition, rendered equally virtual. This means that such spaces suddenly become both ciphers of their former existences and, perhaps more importantly, portents of unknown futures. In this way, they are simultaneously both full and empty. The usually short-lived netherworld into which such deserted sites slip at the same time suggests many momentary possibilities.

In this work, a steel waste paper bin fitted with a false bottom emits a looped soundtrack of computer desktop trash being emptied. Thus, the real, concrete reality of the bin as a physical/historical container is lent a purely virtual, symbolic function:  the bin endlessly empties invisible rubbish. The intended use-value of the bin now harbours instead the trace of its own superseded function. Similarly, the railway sheds locker room where this work was exhibited, signifies a mode of industrial production long outmoded. The virtual future haunts the building as much as if not more than, its soon to vanish past. Likewise, the lived histories of those who once worked in this space daily have effectively been trashed along with an entire discourse of manual labour that valued the collective ownership of public services. The self-emptying but already empty waste paper bin ultimately suggested that the wasting of space amounts equally to its virtualisation; historical space is atomised due to its instantaneous accessibility to pure speculation.

Written by alex gawronski

November 27, 2016 at 10:02 PM