Exhibition News

Anxious Bodies - Jane Burton, Pat Brassington, Jane Eisemann.

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Published Thursday, 13 March 2003

Anxious Bodies brings together the work of three photo-artists, Jane Burton, Pat Brassington and Jane Eisemann, whose images all converge through literal or abstract depictions of the body. On display at the Art Gallery of NSW from Saturday 29 March to Sunday 18 May 2003.

The bodies they photograph are presented as morphed, or structured so that the figure is distorted or altered. This exhibition highlights not only the diverse manner in which three photographers approach the subject, but also examines the connections between their practices. Their work is edgy and seductive, anxious in spirit, intent and meaning because their images are infused with black humour or dark mystery.

Jane Burton, for example, presents the female figure in unusual and isolated environments, constructing a kind of psychological drama where the future is unsure. Her moody and filmic photographs are imbued with a sense of mystery, where the body denotes an unspoken desire. Each series is presented as a quasi-narrative as the photographs are linked in look and content with female forms placed alongside black and white landscapes, empty interiors, deserted car parks or glowing orange public telephone boxes.

Bodies and other anthropomorphic shapes occupy the spaces of Brassington’s digitally constructed images. Her work is about the body and of a modern surrealist sensibility. Brassington’s images are characteristically dreamlike and at times they can be quite abject and confronting. Her recent photo-works, however, are lighter in tone although they are still creepy and perverse because they continue to slither in and out of fixed readings. She achieves this by using odd and thoughtful titles, which redirect and enhance the meaning of her work.

In contrast to Brassington’s mischievous compositions, Jane Eisemann’s work is moody and dark. Like Brassington, Eisemann uses digital tools to charge her works with ambiance and suggestion. In recent work Eisemann is combining figures with architectural interiors she sourced in Vietnam and Japan and presenting them in a triptych format. Here, veins are discernible through skin that is shot through with a bloody red tinge and heads are metaphorically cut off at the neck by the frame of the image.

The three artists in Anxious Bodies all use the body to explore different ideas. Their work acknowledges the history, theory and weight of the body as subject and they explicitly employ it as a point of comparison and conjunction. Burton and Eisemann do this by pairing the human form respectively with landscapes and architectural interiors. Brassington, however, adds titles that both deflect the viewer away from the content and add further meaning, using the body as foil, a known entity that becomes strangely unknown.

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