CON­SUELO CAVANIGLIA

Artist Profile - - CONTENTS - by Louella Hayes

Con­suelo Cavaniglia’s works utilise in­dus­trial ma­te­ri­als to pro­duce sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ences that can be both beau­ti­ful and un­set­tling. The Perth-raised, Syd­ney­based artist spoke to ARTIST PRO­FILE about new in­sights formed on re­cent trav­els.

YOU’VE BEEN TRAV­EL­LING FOR A FEL­LOW­SHIP?

Yes, I was awarded the Cre­ate NSW Vis­ual Arts Fel­low­ship (Emerg­ing) in 2016, which took me to New York and Mi­lan to view spe­cific col­lec­tions and works, fol­lowed by time in Ber­lin to work with ex­per­i­men­tal mu­si­cian Robin Hay­ward on a col­lab­o­ra­tive project that ex­plores the re­la­tion­ship be­tween sound, ma­te­ri­als and colour. Be­ing able to see things first-hand is a re­minder of how lim­it­ing it is to only ex­pe­ri­ence works through re­pro­duc­tion, whether that be on­line or in print. See­ing the work, its con­nec­tion to space, lighting and an au­di­ence, gives you a dif­fer­ent un­der­stand­ing of the aims, tac­tics and im­pact. For ex­am­ple see­ing the work of Dan Flavin in the Flavin Art In­sti­tute, Dia Bea­con and the Panza Col­lec­tion al­lowed me to ex­pe­ri­ence how he or­ches­trates per­cep­tual shifts through the use of colour, light and the ge­om­e­try of ar­chi­tec­tural spa­ces.

Your works strive to un­set­tle and con­fuse our per­cep­tion of space; they have been called “psy­cho­log­i­cally charged”.

I’m in­ter­ested in un­set­tling our sense of space, of sug­gest­ing that the struc­tures that we in­habit and use ha­bit­u­ally are not as de­pend­able as we may think. I like to try to seem­ingly un­hinge walls or cre­ate gaps be­tween sur­faces and cuts within ar­chi­tec­tural skins, dis­solve walls, make things per­ceiv­ably un­sta­ble or present a dou­bled or split view of a space. I of­ten use ma­te­ri­als and colours that have a se­duc­tive qual­ity (in the sheen, smooth­ness or bright­ness) to try and find a point be­tween al­lure and un­ease. In the work, spa­ces sit some­where be­tween re­al­ity and dream, be­tween ac­tual struc­tures and il­lu­sions. I like to sug­gest that noth­ing is fixed and this state of flux in a space can be dis­ori­en­tat­ing – in this place of un­cer­tainty ques­tions can be raised about the def­i­ni­tion of a space, our po­si­tion within it and how per­cep­tion shapes this.

I shape in­stal­la­tions to not have a sin­gle view­ing point, but to en­cour­age peo­ple to move around and through the space.

You see the viewer as an in­te­gral part of this process?

The viewer is es­sen­tial to the work, in fact I don’t think the work is com­plete un­til a viewer steps into the space. I think this is a func­tion of mak­ing so much use of re­flec­tive ma­te­ri­als – the viewer is im­me­di­ately im­pli­cated in the work, as they step into the re­flec­tive field of a mir­ror they are vir­tu­ally in the work. The viewer an­i­mates the work and starts the ex­change of glances that the work re­lies on. For ex­am­ple you need to be able to stand in front of ‘Un­ti­tled’ (2017, from the Be­tween Time ex­hi­bi­tion at Turner Gal­leries) to un­der­stand that the mir­ror is cut and an­gled and that you are both split and dis­placed in its re­flec­tion. I shape in­stal­la­tions to not have a sin­gle view­ing point, but to en­cour­age peo­ple to move around and through the space in a kind of chore­ographed en­counter with their own re­flec­tion and the work. This move­ment of the viewer is an im­por­tant part of un­der­stand­ing the space as some­thing that is ac­tive – the space is un­fixed and the viewer is un­fixed. I’m in­ter­ested in de­vel­op­ing this fur­ther and have been think­ing about stages and stage sets in re­la­tion to my work, and how these be­have as mov­able struc­tures that ac­tions are hinged on.

What is your process to start a new project?

I gen­er­ally fol­low a train of thought that I de­velop through one ex­hi­bi­tion and extend into the next, like a se­ries of chap­ters that fol­low a gen­eral theme but in­di­vid­u­ally shift fo­cus to ex­plore a spe­cific as­pect in more depth. I find out all that I can about the space the work is to be ex­hib­ited in. I start draw­ing, I re­search, I read, and go through a process in the stu­dio of test­ing and ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. Some­times this in­volves build­ing mod­els at dif­fer­ent scales, other times it means go­ing through sheets and sheets of pa­per in a new se­ries of air­brushed draw­ings to un­der­stand shapes, spa­ces or colours.

Draw­ing is an im­por­tant part of your process?

Ev­ery­thing starts with draw­ing for me – I think through draw­ing. This can be a se­ries of quick sketches in the vis­ual diary, more in­volved draw­ings on pa­per, or tech­ni­cal draw­ings to plan the lo­gis­ti­cal re­quire­ments of a work. I re­fer to my air­brushed works as draw­ings and these for me are es­sen­tial to think­ing through spa­ces, ge­om­e­try, ar­chi­tec­ture and the ef­fect of colour.

Your works utilise in­dus­trial ma­te­ri­als to pro­duce a beau­ti­ful sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ence. What are the chal­lenges in this?

To un­der­stand a ma­te­rial’s po­ten­tial and lim­i­ta­tions, I need to get to know the ma­te­rial well. I find the test­ing and ex­plo­ration that is in­volved in this is very re­ward­ing. I work closely with man­u­fac­tur­ers, es­pe­cially in the pro­duc­tion of metal and acrylic works, and I re­ally en­joy the ex­change that es­tab­lishes a point of com­pro­mise be­tween cre­ative idea and achiev­able so­lu­tion. Travel to source new ma­te­ri­als is also im­por­tant be­cause there are things that we don’t even know of or can’t source in Aus­tralia. My re­cent travel has al­lowed me to dis­cover new ma­te­ri­als and ex­pand the reach of my work.

How have places im­pacted on your work?

Be­ing ex­posed to cer­tain sites has in­flu­enced my work. In 2016 I was in­vited by FORM to un­der­take a res­i­dency in the Pil­bara, in the north of West­ern Aus­tralia, to study its ex­tra­or­di­nary at­mos­phere. The light and colour con­di­tions I wit­nessed are unique to that re­gion, and they im­pacted my un­der­stand­ing of colour and how to de­velop in­stal­la­tions in a gallery con­text that af­fect a whole at­mos­phere. In early 2018 I will travel to Ice­land on a NES Artist Res­i­dency for a month of near dark­ness, as a con­trast­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to the bright­ness and high coloura­tion of the Pil­bara. I’m very ex­cited to see what im­pact this ex­pe­ri­ence will have on my work. Con­suelo Cavaniglia is rep­re­sented by Sta­tion Gallery, Mel­bourne, and Kro­nen­berg Wright Artists Projects, Syd­ney

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Cour­tesy the artist

02 In the dis­tance a pool of light was not what it seemed, 2015, in­stal­la­tion view, Perth In­sti­tute of Con­tem­po­rary Arts, pho­tog­ra­pher Alessan­dro Bianchetti 03 Un­ti­tled, 2016, pig­ment ink on archival pa­per, dip­tych, each 51.2 x 38.8cm 04 Un­ti­tled (at­mos­pheres), 2017, acrylic paint on gallery wall, 110 x 420cm, in­stal­la­tion view, FORM Gallery, Perth, pho­tog­ra­pher Bew­ley Shay­lor 05 Un­ti­tled (two works), 2014, pig­ment ink on archival pa­per, 83 x 63cm each, pho­tog­ra­pher Con­suelo Cavaniglia 05 55

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