steel, digital print on acrylic, digital print on canvas, jelly wax
150 × 150 × 100cm irreg.
Museum of Contemporary Art, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the artist, 2016
Untitled, by Marian Tubbs, is a free-standing sculptural work that questions how we see and come to make meaning in a world caught between the real and the virtual. Tubbs’ found imagery in Untitled is ripped from the internet and the street, recycled as collaged digital prints on transparent acrylic screens and fabric wall hangings. Thrown together in an eclectic mix, then overlaid with messy jelly-like blotches of wax, the screens of Untitled revel in things that are half-seen and half-understood, obscured by physical distortion or digital degradation. Fragments of text, torn from the 19th century poems of Emily Dickinson, refer to encounters with the absent; such as the hummingbird whose unseen presence is betrayed by the vibrating blossoms it leaves behind, from the poem ‘In My Garden Rides a Bird’. The construction of meaning about this particular encounter rests on an assemblage of incomplete facts and assumptions. Tubbs provokes an equivalent search for meaning in her seemingly random collage of garish, cover-girl style lips, laid in a formation that suggests a face. Similarly, the mind construes an anthropomorphism in the sculptures’ steel frame, which from a certain angle, resembles a shambling, crooked figure struggling to stay upright. The haphazard metal structure appears to have hobbled from a wrecking yard, trailing the rubbish of a throw-away society.
Tubbs materials are the refuse of a society that no longer values them. Her images and materials, whether gathered from the streets of the real world of the screens of the digital world, are submitted to another cycle of use and consumption in her artworks. In this sense, what was once valued and then discarded becomes value-added when chosen by the artist and regarded by an audience, troubling our definitions of both art and the idea of intrinsic value. The endless build-up of imagery, information and materials in contemporary life operates in a global circulation in the real and virtual worlds. In this sculptural work, Tubb suggests that the virtual flow of data on our screens constantly throws up new fragments of encounters and experiences, imagery and information while the real flow of materials degrades into old, worthless rubbish. In Untitled, Tubbs posits a duality of disposability and permanence, rendering them as unstable values that permeate our online and offline environments.
I don’t want to be curated within an inch of myself, mess is paramount – both in content and form
Marian Tubbs quoted by Anna May Kirk, ‘Art We Heart: Marian Tubbs’, FBI Radio, 29 February 2016, http://fbiradio.com/art-we-heart-marian-tubbs/
Born 1983, Sydney. Lives and works Sydney.
With a practice spanning internet, video and assemblage-based installations, Marian Tubbs explores notions of value, materiality and the digital image. Her work conflates material binaries between body and object, physical and virtual, and high and low culture. (1)
Selected solo exhibitions include In Practice, Sculpture Centre, New York; Zona Maco Sur, ltd Los Angeles, Mexico City (2017); Contemporary Monsters, Minerva, Sydney (2016); transmissiondetox.com, Inaugural Online Commission, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney; riven, Station Gallery, Melbourne (2015); Quake II, with Andre Piguet, Arcadia Missa, London (2014) Concrete Island, with Magnus Pettersen, Rooster Gallery, New York (2013) and Have you ever been to the House of Cashmere? Maybe we should go and just roll around sometime, with Sol LeWitt, DB Project, Sydney (2012).
Selected group exhibitions include Abstract Sex*, Bard CCS Hassel Museum, Annandale-On-Hudson, USA (2016); Pleasure and Reality, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2015); Contemporary Print Culture, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (2015); Relational Changes, Christine König Galerie, Vienna; Liquid Architecture, Firstdraft, Sydney (2015); Primavera 2014: Young Australian Artists, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney (2014); Disappearance as work in progress, Maldives Pavilion, 55th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2013); Here and Now, Carriageworks, Sydney (2013).
In 2016 Tubbs was awarded the Australia Council Arts Projects for Individuals and was also the recipient of an Australia Council New Work Grant, Emerging in 2014. Residencies include Firstdraft Gallery Studio Residency (2012); Gertrude Contemporary Emerging Writers Program, Melbourne (2011) and Ville de Paris, Cite Internationale des Arts, Studio Residency, Paris, France (2009). Her work is held at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra and the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
(1) Peter Johnson, ‘Marian Tubbs’, Proposed Acquisition, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, 2016Learn more