Athena Thebus and Chloe Corkran: Drippy Rock
TCB Art Inc.
1 – 18 August 2019
By Camille Orel
Drippy Rock is a title that could take on both literal and figurative meaning. Is it a phrase to describe thousand year-old stalactites weeping from the ceiling of a limestone cave, symbolising the passing of time? Or is it mere word play to draw our attention to themes of contradiction and binaries? Regardless of the intended meaning of the title, Athena Thebus and Chloe Corkran's exhibition encourages complex and nonlinear reflection on our experiences of time and dualism.
TCB's new gallery space in Brunswick plays host to the collaborative exhibition by the two emerging artists. Displayed in their main room, the show consists of a resin swing hanging from the ceiling, and a large image mounted on wallpaper of the two artists embracing in a fantasy, forest-like scene. The intimate gallery space is starkly lit with LED panels that line the ceiling. This, in conjunction with the image mounted on the entrance-facing wall, creates a sense that one has walked into a time capsule that has frozen an intimate moment. The two artists have their eyes shut and their mouths just touching and the butterflies surrounding them have stopped mid-flutter. There is an undeniable awareness of the fleeting nature of time, and a yearning to hold it within the space.
The exhibition is accompanied by a short, poetic text written by the artists, which is almost as complex to determine as the artwork itself. Initially, the intense symbolism provided with little explanation in both the space and the writing is slightly intimidating and off-putting. However, after consolidating it for some time, it begins to open up and engage with ideas of binaries, time and continuance.
The poem refers to "Janus", the Roman god of dualities, gates, beginnings and ends. This idea of opposition is physically manifested through the swing, a mechanism reliant on two contending forces; push and pull. It is furthered by a layer of lubricant smeared on the seat. The overtly erotic symbolism also carries an air of innocence somehow, highlighting the uncomfortable intersection of sexuality and child-like curiosity.
Consequently, there is something disconcerting about the otherwise polished space. The softness of the forest and the artist's fawn-like ears are offset by its harsh white lighting, another obvious polarity in the show. In saying that, Thebus and Corkran have drawn the two together through digital manipulation and lighting. There is a soft quality that muffles the viewer's eye, making the highlights and shadows of the image coincide with the physical space of the room itself. It is almost as though the artists are only just through a doorway and if one were to step into their world, they would fall to the forest floor at their ankles, like a shrunken Alice falling through the rabbit hole on a journey of reflection and discovery.
Camille Orel is currently a student of the Bachelor or Arts, majoring in Art History at the University of Melbourne.
Image credit: Installation view, Thebus and Corkran, Drippy Rock 2019, TCB Art Inc., Melbourne. Photograph: Jordan Halsall.