Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)
06 Mar 2008 to 01 Jun 2008
Fiona Hall: Force Field presented an in-depth survey of works by the Australian artist encompassing the last four decades of her practice. The exhibition included key works from the 1970s to the present and included new work made especially for the exhibition.
Born in Sydney in 1953 and based in Adelaide, Hall began her career in photography and extended into diverse media including sculpture, installation and garden design. Her work is characterised by its use of ordinary items and materials, which are transformed into complex and allusive objects.
Rather than reflect a chronological progression, the exhibition was divided into a number of chapters where works from different phases of the artist’s career were brought together. Presenting Hall’s art in this way revealed the diversity yet consistency between her earlier and recent practice, allowing a kind of archaeological layering of her formal and conceptual concerns.
The show opened with a suite of works that explored ideas of the ‘domestic’. While ‘home is where the heart is’, it is also a zone in which the material, emotional and spiritual aspects of life jostle, clash and sometimes achieve a tentative equilibrium. The second suite of works pivoted around notions of the ‘Body’. Both early and recent works reflected Hall’s alertness to the body not only as something sexual, vulnerable and a part of Nature, but also as a political, contestable and complex entity.
A group of works exploring humanity’s relationship to the natural world and concepts of Paradise formed the centre of the exhibition and the meditation on natural history continued through a suite of works investigating life-forms such as birds and insects. Works which explored the connections between diverse life forms in symbiotic or competitive relationships highlighted how we are not external to, but enmeshed within the complex and delicate web of the natural world.
Other works looked at the overlapping territories of power, politics and the environment, reflecting the artist’s interest in camouflage and the instinct for survival and defence mechanisms. The exhibition concluded with works that suggested narratives of exchange and colonialism, of enlightenment and exploitation.
Produced in association with City Gallery Wellington, New Zealand, Fiona Hall: Force Field toured to the following venues:
• City Gallery Wellington, New Zealand: 11 Jul – 19 Oct 2008
• Christchurch Art Gallery: 4 Dec 2008 – 1 Mar 2009
• Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (selected works): 4 Apr – 1 Jun 2009
• Newcastle Regional Gallery (selected works): 1 Aug – 27 Sep 2009