Eloise Lindsay and Bruce McCalmont

Art—official—oasis

Art-Official-Oasis is the first project Eloise Lindsay and Bruce McCalmont have worked on together and the result was a cacophony of images and ideas which, whilst struggling against each other, managed to attain a remarkable coalescence.

The piece consisted of a wooden structure which read as a schematic house captured in the split second of its explosion. Wood, floorboards, door frames (or these item's formal referents) spun out to the walls away from an unoccupied children's chair lit by a naked light and an unwatched and untuned TV set. In front of this and acting like a barrier to the timid Sydney installation art public was a row of potted plastic flowers.

The 'exploding' house (and variants thereof) has been a recurring motif in McCalmont's work over the past year and a half. It is both an ironic and a tragic juxtaposition. The concerns inherent in such a structure are manifold. There is both a fear of and a desire for the irremediable breaking up of such an icon of stability as the house (or rather home). Yet the structure does not signify mere destruction so much as a process of explosion and this can be seen (with a certain optimism) as an exaggerated form of expansion or even evolution.

It is a very neat encapsulation of entropy considering how implausible it is that such a thing can be neatly encapsulated. Within this the blue chair acted as an anchor or life line, something which sustains an innocence and a recognition that our existence is as much bound up with the random association of childhood as with the conditioned responses of what is learnt. Lindsay developed this exploration within the catalogue quoting extracts from Gertrude Stein 's The World Is Round and Emmanuel Levinas' Totality and Infinity thereby suggesting our experiences, past, present and future, exist concurrently:

 

"True life is absent". But we are in the

 world. Metaphysics

arises and is maintained in this alibi. It is

turned toward

the "elsewhere" and the "otherwise" and

the "other".

Almost like a coda to the installation, the row of plastic flowers served a dual purpose; firstly, it actually did impede the audience and present a fixed vantage point from which the work could be viewed; secondly and more importantly, it showed our absurdly reflexed response to a barrier as ineffectual as its red cord counterpart. From this point the exhibition turned from the description and analysis of the macrocosmic and the microcosmic to being concerned with scrutinizing the way in which 'art' is officially presented in our present culture and its role within those confines as well as a development of its possibilities outside these boundaries.

The labyrinthian impact of Art-Official-Oasis was created by the differing approaches of the artists. Lindsay and McCalmont have orchestrated an installation which forces the viewer - and themselves - into tangential interpretations. It emphasised the inherent fragility of those things we take for granted as being immutable; that there is no such thing as an 'oasis' we can be sure of returning to. Yet in pointing out such a wide concern and comparing it - almost flippantly - to the 'official' received perception of what art should be they have - albeit chaotically - created a work of power and disruption.