3 June 2006

'Corridor' by Daniel Dorall

Apologies for my absences lately. I've been extremely busy getting my head around the appalling industrial relations law that has now descended on this country, and reading and listening to first hand accounts of its effects on people. I'm helping to prepare a comprehensive report. Basically, if you're Australian and you're not disturbed by this stuff, you should be. If it hasn't affected you or your family yet, just wait a little longer. It will be coming over the hill presently.

I am often amazed when I read blogs by actual honest-to-goodness writers who chat and ramble about their latest book/screenplay/whatever as if they have infinite reserves of time and energy and just can't help themselves sitting at the keyboard for a few more hours. If I have spent a solid day at the desk, I'd rather stick sharpened pencils in my eyes than sit there for another minute once I get home. Which is why many many promising blog ideas slip sadly from my grasp and quietly sink below the waters before I have the energy to put them down here. I am a chronic procrastinator, and I think I recognize a fellow sufferer whenever I read a lengthy blog entry about something someone is writing or is going to write.

Still, the work of a dilettante is never done, and I did see a very interesting show last week and I'm determined to record my brief thoughts here.

It was called 'Corridor' and the artist was Daniel Dorall, at the energetic Red Gallery in North Fitzroy. Daniel makes small, elaborate architectural constructions out of cardboard and the kind of stuff that model making geeks use, like fake grass and little figurines. Imagine an architect's model where the little plastic people are up to no good.

They sit on plinths, like models in a real estate developer's showroom, and like the iconography of real estate they trade in dreams and aspirations, though these dreams are not the sort that most of us like to admit to having, at least in public.

The work called 'Eden' is a little maze of green walls within walls, with chambers connected to each other by tiny corridors too small for the figures to travel through. A little Adam and a little Eve relax langurously around a pool, appraising each other like starlets in a Beverly Hills hot tub, their plastic nakedness raising a smile. Meanwhile an immense snake curls itself menacingly in their direction, over and across the green hedges, breaking up the fun. It's like some virus slithering its malevolent way through the channels and chambers of a body.

I was also touched by an unfolding narrative of persecution, brutality and addiction taking place in a nightclub and a gay bathhouse called 'Babylon'.

The power of the metaphors carry the works over from potential kitsch into something much more affecting. Like the constructions themselves, the metaphor is multileveled. They are mazes, through space and maybe time, maybe the lives of the absurd figures that people them. They are cities, bodies, panels in a narrative, connected events in place and time. The walls imply separation, but with at least the possibility of connection through the narrow corridors. Our perspective is god-like, but the constructions reveal an attitude to us fallible humans that is always compassionate.

1 comment:

I am the Queen of F*%&ING EVERYTHNG...OK!! said...

You have all the fun, doncha? Why can I never get to these exhibitions? Oh yeah because if I took the kids the place would resemble a rubbish dump afterwards..............