Right thurr

In the corner of the exhibition Unsettled sculpture is the larger of Carolyn Eskdale’s two untitled works and it has been on my mind.

The exhibition provides tactility at a distance and relief from the expectation of audience performance. ‘Tis the season of the more didactic and the make-your-own about town, but to paraphrase Chingy, sometimes, I love it when you just put it right thurr.

Eskdale has worked one of the Sarah Scout gallery walls into a lather. An off-white, fingerprinted and hand-pressed patina of plasticine with squared-off edges has been squidged into and over the cornice. The largest work in the show is almost imperceptible upon entering the space … which is a kind of a writing-lie. Not much is beyond or beneath seeing in the gallery space, since the specifics of context set eyes to alert, so scratch that. Rather the work ghosts and apes the fabric of the gallery space, its woolly quality toying with focus.

Eskdale has worked ash into the centre-ish of the plasticine so the domestic gallery space is forced to carry a grubby schmear, like sex on sheets. Eskdale’s work unsettles best where wonk has an important and appealing place in this show. Off-white and grey/black make it appear like the room couldn’t handle the heat or handle the pressure and works around the jostling patrons and the abrasion of white walls, with inattention and excuse-mes.

I recently heard Stuart Geddes speak about ‘desire lines’ as part of a CCP lecture series—reminding us of British artist Ryan Gander’s project which takes the form of a lecture. Desire lines concern little acts of rebellion in urban spaces, in the form of man-made pathways, that Gander describes ‘have been worn away by people who cut across the middle. They’re always the most direct route people want to take, which is why they are called desire lines’. The equal opposite paths are trauma lines, which he has also documented, of well-worn pathways through hospital emergency rooms. A related examination of artistic practices where alchemy and unruliness combine with a kind of necessity or desire were at play in this thoughtful and complex exhibition (noted objectively and without bias). There is an unbounded and don’t-fence-me-in character at play in both projects, which is common to Eskdale’s installation, appearing timely and comforting.

Unsettled sculpture, Sarah Scout Presents, Melbourne, 14 November to 14 December 2013.

Carolyn Eskdale at Sarah Scoutt Presents, December 2013. Photo courtesy Phebe Schmidt.
Carolyn Eskdale. Photo: Phoebe Schmidt