mira gojak: wax me to the vapour and the dusk, sometimes

Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, Melboume
25 October - I 6 November

With the almost familiarity of its sly reference to Wall Whitman's 'Song of Myself' , its almost melancholy suggestiveness, its modifying 'sometimes', the title of Mira Gojak's sculpture is as elusive and intriguing as the thing itself. The title's perfection as an entry point to the work lies in the fact that it never quite offers one, signalling instead the purposeful arrest of any singular trajectory of reading. Wax me to the vapour and the dusk, sometimes requisitions the familiar, the note of recognition, as a vehicle for transformation: switching the height of the ordinary, setting it afloat, pushing it to the point of mutation.

The generic plastic garden furniture used as a primary element of the piece could not be more commonplace; it is a model that must inhabitant thousands if not millions of suburban gardens the world over. But here the tables and chairs designed to keep us off the grass, to facilitate conversation, to play host to family dinners, have been cut to pieces, stripped of their primary function, rebuilt, dipped in wax. The viewer, who would, in a different realm, have had command of these objects and would have known exactly what to do with them, is now forced to negotiate a new relationship with them. The question is, what is it, exactly, that they have become? The exact nature of this transformation is elided as quickly as it is alluded to. Dismembered and reconfigured these ObJects have become uncannily organic, but retaining somehow both the conviviality of e ongin and the distress of their transformation.

A cluster of chair backs, suspended just at the height necessary o be vaguely physically threatening, is at moments reminiscent of a giant spider on e erge of erupting into some kind of predatory frenzy. In the next moment this cluster equally suggests an enormous orchid, hovering with a benign but sharply fioreate elegance. You get the feeling that something ordinary has gone astray; that what you are looking at is an extraordinary evolutionary leap made over winter when no one went into the yard. Move a few paces and experience a shift from those spiky and tensile organics to an invocation of the warm body. Rows of table legs inserted through the tabletops they once supported, their ends coated in layers of pink wax, comically recall the soft turgidity of either the teat or the phallus, or perhaps they are just oversized matches.

Look down at this point and the mirror, which forms the base of the construction, opens a new dimension by simultaneously isolating and inverting that single element of the structure. The potential readings of those same rows of table legs multiplies even further, the delicacy of the semi-transparent pink wax is suddenly foregrounded, demanding a fresh and isolated appraisal. Suddenly doubled, these appendages seem to refuse the reading you might have assigned to them a moment earlier. There is the sense too that the physical pause that is demanded by the discovery of this new space is perhaps as important as the conceptual shift that it brings about. This subtle implication of the body of the viewer in the experience of the piece is suggested by the latent identity of some of its components as furniture and at the same time indicative of its having ceased to be furniture. There is nowhere to sit, the table legs no longer support the table. The function of those elements has been frustrated, or more correctly exceeded. If they have a function now it is to no longer be what they were, it is to destabilise or short circuit the organising principles of their former lives and simultaneously their current manifestation as sculptural components.

Now step back and note that the entire object echoes the Arco lamp and that all of thisĀ  transformation is occurring in the context of a perfectly engineered, aesthetically austere and utterly functional arc. And then start again.