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iNtRODuCtiON FRANCES WOODLEY

still liFe: amBiGuous practices is research in progress, an interruption in a continuing conversation between artists, artworks and a curator concerning the painting of still life. this curator has gone in search of evidence of interests amongst a community of artists who may only know of one another vaguely but who have this in common: that their paintings of objects, depicted in space in relation to a surface, exist at the boundaries of a tradition that binds them together. the tradition is still life, which started life as symbol and sign, the word made image, and image as world. its conventions, over time, became ubiquitous and trite. Cracks appeared, and the edifice began to fall apart from over-use and under-stimulation. the destruction, deconstruction and denial of the still life ensued. But its conventions and reproductions are now being put to new uses, and its frameworks and procedures tested and experimented with in the spaces in-between other ways of seeing, doing, thinking and making. Having previously made the case for the coherence of the still life tradition across time, the curator here goes in search of its ambiguation. Ambiguity—the liminal, the indeterminate, the in-between, the back and forth, aporia, deception and much more—can only exist in relation to boundaries, and a boundary’s only reason for existence is the threat of what is ambiguous, unclear, ungraspable and unsettling. they are bound together. this exhibition and the correspondence that accompanies it uncover tradition’s nemesis, ambiguity; convention is tested and teased by the practices of contemporary art—of still life.

AmBiguOuS PRACtiCES 13

Still Life: Ambiguous Practices Exhibition Catalogue  

Catalogue by Frances Woodley

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