Art Beat Monitors at Floating Land
As Gallery Director for Noosa Regional Gallery and Floating Land 2023, Michael Brennan, explores the important role that art in the environment plays in finding understanding and common ground.
Maybe it’s a bit much to get into a philosophical discussion about the meaning and purpose of art in the closing pages of a regionally focussed lifestyle magazine. But then again, why not? Don’t worry – I’ve only got a couple of hundred words (and I’ve already used forty-three (fifty-two), (now fifty-five…))).
Anyway, one of the particularly valuable things I think art and artists can do is take the pulse of a society at a given time and alert us to its ailments.
It’s something that so many celebrated and important artists do – give us access to their lens on the world – allow us to look through their eyes with the colour and shape of their lived experience and see the things that we might not otherwise see.
It’s certainly one of the things that Noosa Regional Gallery sets out to actively make space for, and this year, our flagship art in the environment biennale – Floating Land – has embraced the idea as its central theme.
One of the biennale’s projects takes the unusual and unorthodox space of the exterior wall of a toilet block in the Noosa Woods as its gallery.
Award-winning artist, Todd Fuller, has been invited to present two hand-drawn animations, shown on flatscreen TVs mounted to this coarse concrete public amenity. Fuller’s work often deals with themes of love and loss, steeped in notions of identity, community and place. These two works, in particular, give animated form to early documented accounts of same-sex relationships in Australia’s history.
The tales, however, do not end well, with one work detailing the demise of a bushranger who was arrested while cradling his dying younger male lover, and the other depicting what could be considered the first European trial and recorded gay hate crime – two young Dutch sailors marooned on separate islands off the coast of Western Australia for their relationship with one another.
No spaces are neutral, and all places bring with them a history of association and meaning. This is something that Floating Land exploits, with artists and artworks collaborating with the spaces they temporarily occupy, changing our understanding of each for a moment in time.
Public toilets are no doubt loaded spaces for some queer communities, with judgment often levelled at one group of people, primarily by those who exist outside of it.
But as Fuller’s successive still frames stream across these TV monitors with rhythmic regularity, we’re offered an opportunity to pause and reflect on the outcomes of our judgements on how others might live their lives.
FLOATING LAND: US AND THEM
24 June to 30 July 2023
Taking in sites across Noosa