Manly Art Gallery & Museum
Benjamin Murphy, Valerie Savchits and Paul Weiner
In Praise of Darkness is a meeting of three diverse, disparate practices, by artists Paul Weiner (USA), Valerie Savchits (LV), and Benjamin Murphy (UK). In the juxtaposition of their individual approaches and aesthetics, what is created in In Praise of Darkness is not a selection of works from three separate collections, but a unified and coherent event that exists temporally, and in a specific location, never to exist again.
The temporality within which this artwork exists is one rife with unrest. The storm that is Covid 19 has gripped the globe, and what was once quotidian is now alien. In Praise of Darkness was initially planned for what later became the eye of that hurricane, and has had to morph and adapt to what is this new reality, presented almost a year later than anticipated.
Each artist contributes towards this unified whole, and in so doing, is collaborator in the creation of one coherent artwork that has been given the title In Praise of Darkness. The works by each artist are not artworks exhibited, but rather, are the raw material with which this immersive artwork has been created.
The ethereal nature of an ‘exhibition’ is one that alters irrevocably the works with which it is comprised. The history, context, and meaning present in the works is affected by the very acts of collecting and displaying, and with this, both the artwork included and the exhibition that unites them, are altered.
Due to the nature of collaborating across borders, much of this collaboration happened in private. Separate from but aware of one another. Each artist has the others in mind when creating the works, but none imposes their ideals upon the others. The three artists involved will not experience the show in person, instead relying upon photographic and written relics, transcribed and transmitted in retrospect. The show is in part a response to the time in which it exists, but even that is distant from those involved.
Despite the separate nature of these three artists working in isolation, their work speaks of similar themes, these being: politics, love, desolation, propaganda, beauty, innocence, transgression, and ultimately, through its negation: hope.
Written by guest-curator Benjamin Murphy
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