The Secretary 2014 & 2017
The Secretary responds to issues associated with the future of the book by reflecting back on the past. It conveys a sense of loss for the book in the codex form as the digital consumes the analogue. Constructed as a triptych, the work merges installation, performance and video to evoke the impact of that loss on the individual through secretarial tasks of recording, sorting and storing information. It is also about the surfeit of information, of being completely engulfed and consumed by information while simultaneously attempting to accumulate and prioritise that information. It reflects on the never-ending process of gathering the past into the present, of ordering and managing the constant flow of history.
Book Futures exhibition with Tim Schwartz
Curated by Daniel Chaffee and Jennifer Rutherford
SASA (South Australian School of Art) Gallery
Hindley Street, Adelaide, South Australia
3 – 26 September 2014
Book Club exhibition
Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, NSW
Curated by Meryl Ryan
25 August - 15 October 2017
Artists: Chris Bond, Deidre Brollo, Simryn Gill, Stephen Goddard, Julie Gough, William Kentridge, Archie Moore, Patrick Pound, Cyrus Tan and Ahn Wells.
Book pages, furniture, spectacles with wooden lenses, video (20’ 20” loop), sound track:
Cornelius Cardew’s ‘The Great Learning: Paragraph 7’, the Scratch Orchestra, London, 1971.
With special thanks to Gerard Willems for project assistance, the SASA Gallery Team, especially Derek, Julian, Jordan and Steve, the Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery team, and the Cornelius Cardew Estate for kind permission to use Cardew's 'The Great Learning: Paragraph 7' recorded in 1971 by the Scatch Orchestra, London, England.
Excerpt from The Secretary
The work consists of three large-scale elliptical installations of thousands of overlapping book pages that flutter across the walls and floor. The lighting is low and the air is filled with the hum of Cornelius Cardew’s Paragraph 7 from his avant garde opera of 1969, The Great Learning, which is based on translations of Confucius by Ezra Pound. On the central ellipse of overlapping pages is a projection of a woman who sits at a small wooden table, writing with great concentration over pages that she tosses to the floor. She wears glasses that have lenses made from the rings of trees, so she sees what we cannot see. This references the ancient practice of divination through the use of seer stones, most particularly the Urim and Thummin of the Old Testament, which were worn either as spectacles or in a specially designed breastplate, enabling communication with the divine. But this secretary does not see her visions in stones, she sees them in the rings of a tree, evoking a symbolic connection to nature and to the concept of the tree of knowledge.
This project was made possible through study leave from the University of Tasmania and has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.