Work

SIX SECOND GALLERY presents James Porter

2017

Trust BLISS 05 10 17 The elements of this body of work are diverse in language and material. James Porter uses ink, paint, typography, print and structures in a delicate conversation. Most offer the sense of something unobtainable, empty, trapped in time, obsolete or near eternal. Untitled (Viewing) (2011) uses a found image of the suspended carcass of a thylacine with its hunter. It shows an animal expired, apparently extinct since the 1930s – a photograph that can never be retaken. The thylacine was a top predator marsupial resembling a wolf or dog (commonly known as a Tasmanian tiger because of its stripes). A Martian sunset recorded by a robots eye seems to feign melancholia in its subject but is devoid of humanity. Taken by NASA’s Rover (2005) the image emphasises this doubly empty sunset but offers a strange light and an extended twilight where the extra high Martian dust clouds scatter light further into the darkness around the alien planet. Both of these lost moments are rendered as platinum prints, the most durable and subtle of photographic printing techniques, where the inert platinum is embedded in paper. When most carefully processed it is estimated that this kind of print can last for thousands of years before inevitable entropy takes hold. We are also never likely to encounter the creatures referred to in Porter’s Deep Sea Fish Heads (2012 ongoing), as these fish inhabit the deepest regions of the ocean at phenomenally high pressure near the seabed. We will never make physical contact with many of Porter’s creatures or the events he portrays because of their locations in outer space, at the equally inhospitable crushing depths of the sea, or following their extinction or death. Despite subjects being beyond reach, material appears and reappears in altered forms in this work, constantly returning them to a notional present. Statements are also repeated to examine their meaning. Porter rewrites ‘burnt out and lit up’ because of its ‘seemingly contradictory descriptiveness’. He attempts to locate a mental image of something that has always just expired in Burnt out and Lit up (Point of Entry) (2010 ongoing). The Script for Shadows (2010 ongoing) looms above the scattered components of this exhibition. The tripod supports a paper tube with ‘HEYOKA’ written on it in reverse. This literally mimics the behaviour of the Heyoka of the Lakota people from North America. The Heyoka are contrary-tricksters who reverse social norms in order to challenge complacent states. They can appear naked in winter and bizarrely overdressed in the heat of summer. With this philosophical telescope Porter is offering us a look at looking, it is viewed and viewing. Continuing SIX SECOND’s emphasis on work in process for this series of three solo exhibitions, it is not yet certain which elements will appear in Trust BLISS. © Galen Riley 2017

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