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Blog – Par Avion arriving at the MCA

Posted on Sept. 17, 2012 in Artist and curator Interviews.
Par Avion

Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro
Par Avion 2011–12
Installation view, Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco, California, 2011
70 cut metal pieces from Cessna 172 aeroplane, gaffa tape, postage paraphernalia
Courtesy the artists and Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco and © the artists
Photograph: Jessica Skloven

In a couple of weeks time, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia will be hosting a new exhibition of work by Australian artists Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro. Healy and Cordeiro have been collaborating as artists for over a decade, and are well known for their large scale installations. Many of their works have been made from transportation devices and structures that give us shelter such as houses, a caravan, an aeroplane and even a tank. One of their recent works consists of an aeroplane that they cut into small pieces and posted from Australia to the Frey Norris Gallery in the United States where it was reassembled into the shape of the original plane. Each piece of the plane is now being returned to Australia, by post, for the artists’ solo exhibition at the MCA. Curatorial Assistant Kelly McDonald tells us more.

What sort of aeroplane is it and how many pieces are there?

The aeroplane is a Cessna 172 which has been cut into 70 pieces. Each section has gaffa tape to keep the edges safe, postage stamps and Par Avion (airmail) stickers attached.

How much does the heaviest piece weigh?

The heaviest piece weighs 8.65 kgs. The sections are hollow, so although some of them are over 1 metre long, they aren’t very heavy. In total, the dissected plane weighs 231kgs as the engine and internal components have been removed.

Why is it called Par Avion?

Par Avion means ‘by air’. It is a French term used around the world to designate letters and packages that are sent by air mail. In a statement about the work (artist statement, Par Avion exhibition catalogue, Frey Norris Modern and Contemporary, San Francisco 2011), the artists have said “We think that it is apt that such postal etiquette should be placed upon the small parcels that once comprised a vehicle of air travel.” When the artists found the plane, it was old and could no longer be used for flying. By posting it by air mail, Healy and Cordeiro have enabled the plane to be airborne again and travel much farther than it did when it was functional.

Where did the idea come from and what were the artists influenced by?

Healy and Cordeiro live nomadic lives as artists and have created several works about travel and personal mobility. They were inspired to create this work after reading tales of travel, adventure and discovery in classic literature such as Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne; On the Road by Jack Kerouac and Peking to Paris by Luigi Barzini. According to the artists, planes like the Cessna 172 symbolise a spirit of individual adventure and endeavor; exploration and personal as well as geographic discovery.

Where has the plane travelled to?

When the artists found the plane it was in a scrap yard in Roma, which is 500 kilometres west of Brisbane in South West Queensland. After they cut it up they posted each piece to Frey Norris gallery in San Francisco, USA. Before that it had only made short trips within Australia. Through their art work Healy and Cordeiro have given this small plane the ability to fly all over the globe.

Claire Healy & Sean Cordeiro runs 4 October – 2 December 2012 in the MCA’s Level 1 North Gallery.

To find out more about the exhibition, visit the webpage

To find out more about the artists, visit their website

Posted by Kelly Stone