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Justene Williams

Crutch Dance 2011

Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds provided by the Coe and Mordant families, 2011

multi-channel digital video, colour, sound, 13 CRT televisions, synthetic polymer paint on wooden pallets

H 188 W 440 D 220cm

About the Artwork

Justene Williams creates still and moving imagery in her ‘lens-based’ practice. She interrogated the camera as ‘a machine for making images’ in her earlier works, which blurred the objects under the camera’s gaze, exploring different ‘marginal’ or suburban archetypes, and now, more recently, creates works that play across the boundaries between performance, portraiture and fashion.

Crutch Dance is part of a recent cycle of work that pushes lens-based imagery into painterly and sculptural realms. This work relates closely to a group of moving image works that the artist has undertaken where she creates overwhelming environments constructed from detritus, photographs and suburban props, and in the case of Crutch Dance, Williams has used a treadmill. Using similar props, she then creates costumes in which she wears for the camera.

The bizarre environments that the artist makes become the stage for increasingly odd actions built around repetitive, collaged movements – running, dancing, ducking and weaving like a punch drunk 3-dimensional painting. The figure, camouflaged against the backdrop, disappears in and out of vision accompanied by jerky movements akin to a Futurist or Cubist dance.

The work itself has a sculptural presence – it is displayed on teetering accumulations of television monitors, placed on top of hastily painted wooden pallets. The monitors remind us of their own obsolescence – they are big, bulky, black boxes that are disappearing fast – as opposed to stylish, thin plasma screens.


Statement of significance, Glenn Barkley (curator), MCA, 2011

I use wastefulness left in the world as a tool in my creative work. I try to respond to the symbiotic relationship that exists between humanity and its material environment.

Justene Williams, 2011

Justene Williams

– About the artist


Justene Williams’ work encompasses video, photography and performance. In recent work she has constructed elaborate sets and costumes made from collaged paper and a variety of “waste” or refuse materials. In these complex and fabulous environments she performs absurd actions in an attempt to reconstruct the essence of lost images (both from her personal archive of photographs and from the annals of art history).

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