Sylvie Blocher: What is Missing?
What is Missing? has liberated candid insights from local people about their unspoken dreams and desires.
The Hon. Barry O’Farrell, Premier and Minister for Western Sydney*
C3West continued it’s working relationship with Sylvie Blocher, commissioning the artist to produce a new Living Pictures series in response to her residency in Penrith with Campement Urbain. The Living Pictures are video portrait studies of individuals or groups within society that Blocher has produced with various communities and different locations around the world. Blocher explores communal issues through these portraits, as well as personal concerns, asking questions to which her subjects respond with often surprising candour. Presented over single or multiple screens, Blocher’s works envelope viewers spatially as they address the complexities of modern urban life.
Blocher’s new commission for MCA and C3West, What is Missing? focused on the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the Penrith community by interviewing volunteers from the area. Engaging and frequently provocative, What is Missing? explored a range of themes from cultural identity and migration to issues of authority, masculinity and self-expression.
Although they are not presented in the final videos, Blocher’s questions to her subjects play a critical role in What is Missing? Wide-ranging, politicised, deeply personal, idiosyncratic, sometimes perplexing or even invasive, they aim to draw the speaker out from themselves, to shed their carefully constructed sociality and reveal a more intimate version of themselves.
Blocher describes her questions as 'tools that touch the people’ who come before her camera. She explains that her subjects, 'can be rich or poor, but they want to look they best before the camera. I ask impossible questions…which can be almost childlike in their simplicity, but they provoke something in the person in front of the camera, perhaps a kind of catharsis or release’.
The exhibition, Sylvie Blocher: What is Missing? was an in-depth presentation of Blocher’s Living Pictures works, with What is Missing? at its centre. It was presented concurrently at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest, where it also featured work by Campement Urbain.
The catalogue published in association with the exhibition, Sylvie Blocher: What is Missing? is currently available through the MCA Store.
Image: _Living Pictures/ What is Missing? _(detail) (still), 2010, single-channel video installation, colour PAL, 16:9, 33:33 minutes, English version, Commissioned by Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney for C3West Courtesy and © the artist
- The Hon. Barry O’Farrell, Premier and Minister for Western Sydney, _The Future of Penrith/Penrith of the Future _symposium, Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House, 22 October, 2011