Appin Labyrinth


Alex Gawronski: Partition, 2012

‘Appin Labyrinth’, APPIN HOTEL, Appin, Sydney, curated by Lisa Andrew and Bronia Iwanczak

(Digital print, perspex, mdf, metallic paint, digital video)

The ‘Appin Labyrinth’ utilised each of the 11 rooms of the Appin Hotel complex in Sydney as an individual installation or performance venue. The work I executed for this show took the regional setting of the Appin Hotel as its starting point, further taking into account the traces of any preexisting art in Room no. 14. In this instance, the preexisting art in question was an old reproduction of Vincent Van Gogh’s famous ‘Irises’, a momento from an exhibition held at New York’s far-away and prestigious, Metropolitan Museum in 1987. This print was unceremoniously half-hidden, jammed behind the microwave and rendered barely decorative, as far as standard hotel room decoration goes.

The mere indication of well-known, highly-valued art, no matter how half-hearted and second-hand, functioned here as a signifier for ‘real’ art and High Culture in general. Faded evidence of the ‘priceless’ original therefore testified to a greater desire for centrality and prestige in their conspicuous local absence. Fittingly, desire was split between an unobtainable ideal and a gritty, less-than-perfect present. Such desire naturally extends to the sexual, a fact referenced in the room by the wall-length mirror reflecting the hotel beds as well as the heavily reiterated image of the flowers themselves. Reflected in such a way, the hotel room became an image of desire’s idealism. However, like the faded hand-me-down print, the reality of the Appin Hotel room signaled more convincingly desire’s ultimate unattainability.

For this work, the Van Gogh print was re-photographed on site, framed and then shoved equally inauspiciously on top of the hotel cupboard; a representation of a representation rendered further distant via its reflection in the bedside mirror. Meanwhile, the hand-cut number on the room’s front door was filmed from a static frontal viewpoint. Relayed on the hotel TV set separating the beds, it symbolised entertainment, another desiring mechanism, albeit in this case, entertainment undermined. As a further mirroring device, the temporal but visually a-temporal image, suggested surveillance as a form of relentless self-scrutiny reflecting nothing but endless unrealised promise.


Written by alex gawronski

July 12, 2012 at 1:06 PM