Pat Brassington "Quill"

Page 1


Blink (cover) Port Out (opposite page)

The Permissions # 1 Alias

QUILL Pat Brassington’s new work, Quill invokes a Past half lived, half imagined and half received. She conjures a world where formulae curdle, where sciences are confounded, disturbed. But these strangely fragile and attenuated digital images show that über-rational disciplines are not entirely disregarded. Memory, its functions and manifestation is the mother lode for Brassington, the heartland. With a certain amount of hauteur she traverses this terrain with contemporary neuroscience (and its avatar/alter-ego psychiatry). This is one of the glamour areas of academic research. Me-ism and Oprahfication have popularised the discipline’s data sweep of the rigorously monitored living subject/ patient. Indeed, since WWII, neuroscientists have made many intriguing claims about brain

function. From birth the brain constantly encodes ever more complex data. Formally, memory is described by science as the reactivation of electrical signals from previously encoded data across networks of nerve cells that reside in specific areas of the brain; the hippocampus for long term memories, while in the prefrontal cortex are active or more immediate memories and tasks, before being filtered for storage. Is memory the machine for meaning? Well…perhaps. Scientist-philosopher Antonio Damasio claims it is the human ability to experience emotion/ empathy that is the beginning of intelligence. Moved by his mother enduring Alzheimers disease, Luis Buñuel wrote, “Life without memory is no life at all, just as intelligence without the possibility of expression is not really an intelligence. Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action. Without it we are nothing.”(1) Novelists, poets and artists have long recognised that humans are by nature incremental, accumulative creatures and that the act of remembering is key to identity. It is now argued our sense of our selves is solely dependent on the particular bundle of stories we choose tell to ourselves at any moment in time. Every act of memory is conjuring.


What Brassington wrestles with/ re-presents are like glass slivers of a shattered window from Home, the seedbed of personality. Emerging from the sometimes comforting sometimes stultifying routines of dailiness, audiences encounter vivid, slightly improper distillations of dreams, episodes, objects, people and atmospheres. This is the not so idyllic world of childhood and the pre-teen, a giddy place of hyperbole and distortion, bereft of vocabulary. There is an arch humour though, to cut through the weighty psychoanalytic and Surrealist heritage. For Andre Breton and his colleagues this process of imagining was dark and disturbing. Breton regarded humans as memory’s playthings. “Surrealism will usher you into death, which is a secret society. It will glove your hand, burying there the profound M with which the word Memory begins.”(2) However, Quill is a captivating exhibition. It contains what Breton enjoyed - the “mingling of... levels and realms”. (3) The photographs are all ideograms, presenting imminent but always thwarted narrative arcs. Audiences will encounter many Brassington leitmotifs – neophytes of all descriptions, that weird tremulous pink hue, an almost Mannerist doubling, folding, stretching, shrouding. There are works that deal with primal subject matter - authority figures, the

void, hair, spectres and mouths. There are surprising echoes of earlier series - the artist is returning to more cinematic fashion and pop culture references. But consider the title of the exhibition. “Quill” formally refers to the now archaic writing implement made from a feather. Jane Austen apparently wrote poems with a crows feather quill, but turkey and goose quill were the strongest. When this communication tool was being used to form letters and sentences it often made a slight rather uncanny squeaking and scratching noise as the nib deposited ink across the sized paper. However the world that Pat Brassington conjures for us is not animated but frigid, where communication is at an impasse. Here speech and memory are teetering on collapse, only imagination has primacy. Notes 1. Luis Buñuel,Abigail English, “Sounds” Grand Street, Vol. 2, No. 4 (Summer, 1983), p.64 2. Andre Breton 1st Surrealist Manifesto 1924 from Manifestoes of Surrealism (Ann Arbour University of Michigan Press 1972) p.32 3.ibid p.47

Craig Judd Curator Detached Cultural Organisation, Hobart

The Guest (opposite page) The Permissions # 4


Shadow Boxer


The Permissions # 6, The Permissions # 5

The Permissions # 2, The Permissions # 3


Starboard Home, Ciphon Masterclass (opposite page)

Image Details series: Quill, 2013 Blink

The Permissions # 6

72 x 50cm $6600

21 x 18cm $1500

Port Out

The Permissions # 5

90 x 65cm $6600

21 x 18cm $1500

The Permissions # 1

The Permissions # 2

21 x 18cm $1500

21 x 18cm $1500


The Permissions # 3

44 x 60cm $5500

Quicksilver 60 x 50cm $5500

The Guest 60 x 44cm $5500

The Permissions # 4 21 x 18cm $1500


72 x 50cm $6600

Shadow Boxer 72 x 50cm $6600


60 x 44cm $5500

21 x 18cm $1500


72 x 50cm $6600

Starboard Home 90 x 65cm $6600


90 x 65cm $6600

Masterclass 72 x 50cm $6600

Fathoms Deep 72 x 50cm $6600

Mind Game 60x 46cm $5500

pigment prints, editions of 8 All prices are for unframed prints and include GST.

Fathoms Deeps (opposite page) Mind Game (detail. back page)

STILLS 36 Gosbell Street, Paddington NSW 2021 Australia tel 61 2 9331 7775 fax 61 2 9331 1648 email web

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