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Maree Bracker's exhibition Time: Herstory was an installation made up of five corrugated cardboard sculptures suspended and arranged throughout the gallery. Bracker's works generated poetic metaphors of time and space. The installation was accompanied by text which described in personal terms the implications of these metaphors for imaginative experience.
The strongest of Bracker's works, Time Rings consisted of concentric coils of cardboard, braced and suspended from the gallery ceiling. The rings distorted under the force of their own weight, which awakened the viewer to the ever· present pull of gravity and the attractive forces of the cosmos, also evoked by another work, Pendulum. The rings visually echoed cross-sections of tree trunks, connecting the medium of cardboard to its source and alluding to the ecological crisis without recourse to didacticism.
In tilling her exhibition Time : Herstory, Bracker points to a feminised view of time and history. Such a wedding of time and space is also found in post·Cartesian mathematics and science, a connection developed by German author and theorist, Heide Gottner-Abendroth.
After Einstein, time becomes the fourth dimension of space (spacetime) and independent of speed. Here time is no absolute constant-time as such does not exist, only various times relative to a certain context. Thus 'simultaneity' exists not in itself, but only relative to a certain context...Just as the invention of the atomic clock indirectly eliminated traditional metrical time , which became inhuman machine time, and led to the reinvention of the 'biological clock', so the relativization of time turns the classic-patriarchal linear conception of time upside down.1
The linear, progressive view of time and history under modern patriarchy has been criticised as informing the relentless modernisations of capitalism; the competitive evolutionary model of Darwinian science; and a cultural obsession with the finite point of death. Such a linear concept of time and history excludes the co·existence and co-dependence of things in simultaneity and plurality. Thus, tor capitalism to modernise there must be an exploited and excluded third world which provides labour and raw materials tor the modernised first world. Similarly, Darwinian evolution gains plausibility by ignoring the co-dependence of animal and plant species and the importance of the fragile environmental balance.
The deconstruction of linear, patriarchal history opens a space tor those excluded, tor other histories and cultures. In this way a feminist view of time (and the feminist movement in general) aligns itself with the ideal of supporting the recovery of all those who inhabit the margins. Time: Herstory evoked a conception of feminized time as generative, focussing upon cyclical life experience, seasonal nature and birth. Gottner- Abendroth continues:
So, what the astrophysicists glimpse simultaneously through their telescopes are not various celestial objects, but various stages of time in space. They are literally seeing step by step into the past of the Universe, and can see its formational stages. Time becomes here what it is after Einstein: spacetime, the fourth dimension of space. it surrounds us in the centre with visible rings-and this is certainly no longer a linear conception. Here its relativity emerges: tor the present is with us, on our globe, in our star system, while the 'younger' past is to be found in the stars of the other galaxies.2
Bracker's statement, given on a printed sheet at the installation, can be seen as an imaginative response to this kind of thought.
WHAT HAPPENS IF
TIME: is flexible, not fixed?
: is unpredictable?
: is liberating, not limiting?
: is in relationship with consciousness?
TRULY WE ARE MAGICAL CREATURES."
Imaginatively speaking then, we are always a part of creation/creating and in this sense, never lost, or on the "wrong path". Bracker's theme links directly to her own artistic practice, serving as a positive metaphor tor creativity.
The Web was a temporary installation project in West End Shopping Centre, funded by the Visual Arts/Crafts Board of the Australia Council. The installation consisted of hundreds of lines of string from floor to ceiling, forming a forest of string fibres through which people were invited to navigate their way. Each piece of string was sewn to the floor and attached to the ceiling with elastic. Two plumb bobs weighted down the elastic. Bracker placed a metronome and a telephone in the space. These objects functioned as possible points of destination for the viewer travelling within the web. They also have echoes in relativistic theory, where physicists talk of "clock ticks" rather than time, and where the speed of information, not the speed of light, is the limiting factor. The Web continued Bracker's concerns in Time: Herstory-gravitational weight, time, space, distance and the interconnection of these forces.
The Web was intended as a metaphor for connectedness for the community of the West End shoppers and shopkeepers. As in Time: Herstory, Bracker attempted to counter patriarchal and capitalist models of community as competitive and isolationist. Her use of materials in this installation and in Time: Herstory is a literal attempt to recycle waste, and re-educate aesthetic sensibility.
More recently Bracker created a one-day ephemeral installation entitled Melting Moments to celebrate the winter solstice. A large disc of ice was placed vertically on the beach at Kangaroo Point, beneath the Story Bridge. Piles of debris had been deposited by the tide at intervals along the shoreline; they formed a semi-circle around the disc of ice which resembled ancient mythological sites such as Stonehenge or Aboriginal bora rings. The disc had been broken in transit. Throughout the day the melting process firstly fused these breaks and then caused them to reemerge as lines of fault. The melting of the ice by natural sunlight, the real time duration of the piece from sunrise to sunset, and the site before the changing tidal shoreline further evoked metaphors of time and space.
Maree Bracker's works inhabit the patriarchal divide between nature and culture. In this, her work contests patriarchal definitions of the primitive. "Primitive" has been a label applied to people who are viewed as living closer to nature such as children, women, or indigenous cultures. Bracker's dialogue between nature and culture creates a potential space of visibility for those marginalised. In our present time of ecological crisis such redefinitions are vital.
1. Heide Gottner-Abendroth (translated by Lise Weil) , "Urania-Time and Space of the Stars: The Matriarchal Cosmos through the Lens of Modern Physics ", Taking Our Time : Feminist Perspectives on Temporality, eds F. Forman and C. Sowton, Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1989, p.117.
2. Ibid, p. 118.