4 February To 24 February 2011
Nick Selenitsch: The idea to work together began around late 2007. I thought that we could make something of a collaborative comical kinetic artwork. No specific ideas materialised until late 2008, when I was playing around in my studio. I had bought a bunch of magnets and had yet to work out exactly how I was going to use them. At some point I was waving a magnet underneath a table and noticed how it pulled around a group of metal tacks. The tacks followed the magnet in a manner that seemed to echo group movements found in the biological world: such as with humans or ants. Whatever the specific allusion, the fact that a clump of tacks being pulled around by a magnet could hint at the most complex of crowd behaviors was curious and funny. I showed Arlo and we started from there.
Arlo Mountford: Once the exhibition space was confirmed we felt it was important to develop a work acknowledging the spatial context of the gallery itself. The viewer had become an important part of our thinking and the large street-front window of Project Space gave us the opportunity to consider an audience beyond the opening hours of the gallery. Having previously made a work that employed a series of ramps and steel balls, I imagined a ramp that extends from the public window of Project Space to the more-private Spare Room, which could act as a repository. After further discussion we decided that the time frame for the release of the balls—which could run 24 hours a day—could have a social implication, and we settled on eight hour intervals.
Nick Selenitsch: Our thinking about the concept of the 'public' fed into the ideas that were developing in the works. We were talking about the most trivial and banal events—a tack being moved about by a magnet or a steel ball going down a ramp— and simultaneously extrapolating these events out into the most complex and grandiose phenomena.
Arlo Mountford: The mimicking of social or public behaviors by an object relies on the audience's recognition of such systems. For me this is where the work becomes humorous. It is a resilient metaphor—hard to avoid once this association is recognised—which, despite the simple nature of the works execution, positions the viewer as a kind of anthropologist.
Nick Selenitsch and Arlo Mountford would like to thank Stephen Gallagher, Andrew Tetzlaff, Jeph Neale, Merron Selenitsch, Vesna Stanovic and Emily Schinzig for their help and support throughout the project.
Nick Selenitsch is represented by Sutton Gallery, Melbourne.
Arlo Mountford is represented by GRANTPIRRIE, Sydney.
The First Cut