Sunday, May 11, 2008

ON NOW- The Myth of Sisyphus- George Paton Gallery

“The Myth of Sisyphus”
Tyrone Renton (curator), Makiko Yamamoto, Mutsumi Nozaki, Ayako Oshima, Tess McKenzie, Darren Munce, Lucy McNamara.
George Paton Gallery
06-16 May 2008


Camus recognised that as humans our life experiences can mirror Sisyphus and his terrible task. We, ourselves in this modern world, often also get stuck in uncomfortable endless cycles: bad relationships, dead end jobs, grocery shopping, the mundane, the ordinary. Within The Myth of Sisyphus (curated by Tyrone Renton), each of the artists invited to explore the banality of existence and the crux of the sisyphian concept, embrace the cruel nature of repetition as experienced by a conscious entity.

Mutsumi Nozaki technologically imprisons “Mr Hopeful” within the screens of the common television set. Even though Mr Hopefully circles from one screen to another (very much like a goldfish) looking for a way out, it soon becomes obvious that there is no escape, only the search for escape. I couldn’t help but recall the few times in the last year in which I’ve sat down hoping to watch television but in vain have been ‘captured’ by the screen, channel surfing continually, looking for a good program, an escape from banality, but not finding one. Mr Hopeful’s imprisonment is also reinforced in the way the TV’s are composed in the space, facing each other so that the spatial area inbetween the four screens becomes akin to the inside of a box.

Tess McKenzie’s “Rock’n’Roll” emphasises repetition in a number of different ways within the one work. McKenzie’s “Rock’n’Roll” is a polycarbonite record containing 4 different “rolling stone” songs from popular music history that have been edited in a John Cage fashion by eliminating any audio that does not quote Sisyphus’s “rolling stone”. Subject matter and lyrics within popular music are repeated and regurgitated ad infinitum, the spinning nature of the record when being played physically mirrors a rolling stone and the records, like a lot of collateral from the 60’s is fashionably cool again. Even if the record where to falter and start skipping during the course of the exhibition, the work would still be operating within a Sisyphian context.

One conclusion I reached from the artwork which acts as research into Sisyphus’s punishment is that the repetition really isn’t that bad, that it is not quite the punishment we expect it to be, because as Camus stresses: as human beings are incredibly adept at adapting, the punishment is in the stopping.

Do not stop and you will be fine.

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