Mercury (Hobart) - Magazine - - Up Front -

Emma Mag­nus­son-Reid is the win­ner of the inau­gu­ral Sala­manca Arts Cen­tre Emerg­ing Artist Schol­ar­ship and it’s easy to see why. Her work is strong and en­gaged, mul­ti­fac­eted and op­er­ates with con­fi­dence on a num­ber of lev­els.

Mag­nus­son-Reid makes sculp­tures, but she’s not bound by tra­di­tional no­tions of what sculp­ture is. Her work is mostly soft sculp­ture; ob­jects are made from var­i­ous types of cloth, of­ten sewn – ma­te­ri­als we as­so­ciate with cloth­ing or even with the world of fash­ion.

But as clothes cover the body, Mag­nus­son-Reid’s art ex­poses it. Per­haps this is her at­tempt to com­mu­ni­cate the stranger as­pects of hav­ing a body: some­times our bod­ies do things we have no con­trol over. We get sick, we feel tired, we ex­pe­ri­ence phys­i­cal change. Women ex­pe­ri­ence sen­sa­tions con­nected with fer­til­ity, preg­nancy and birth.

What we see here is a col­lec­tion of ob­jects that are recog­nis­ably associated with life – an or­gan, some­thing from the ocean or an­other ecol­ogy far re­moved from any­thing we un­der­stand: alien, but fa­mil­iar, and rolled to­gether with a sense of the grotesque and beau­ti­ful.

Ap­pear­ance is just one layer, though. Mag­nus­son-Reid is hand-mak­ing ob­jects out of a va­ri­ety of ma­te­ri­als, and there’s a strong sense of her work­ing with the ma­te­ri­al­ity of what­ever she is us­ing. She al­lows the tex­tiles to in­form the end prod­uct, giv­ing the work a feel­ing of rich evo­lu­tion. Hard ob­jects are in­cor­po­rated, too, mak­ing it all the more com­plex, strange and en­gross­ing. Ob­jects have hid­den se­crets and de­mand close in­spec­tion from dif­fer­ent an­gles.

As the works have evolved, so has Mag­nus­son-Reid’s out­put. There are also prints, which she has seem­ingly cre­ated by putting her forms on a scan­ner and col­lag­ing the re­sults. Th­ese works have a re­mark­able qual­ity and show how far Mag­nus­son-Reid has come in try­ing to in­ves­ti­gate what her art prac­tice is and what she can do with it.

Some­thing like this could re­lax into be­ing mere schtick quite quickly, but she is not ty­ing her work to one for­mat or ap­proach.

This show fea­tures sculp­ture and prints, but I would not be sur­prised to see her delve into video or per­for­mance. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion is the cen­tre here; the medi­ums are clearly at ser­vice to the pur­suit of ideas.

Prod­ucts of Con­cep­tion and The Hu­man Par­a­site In­stal­la­tion by Emma Mag­nus­son-Reid.

Emma Mag­nus­son-Reid’s Me­ta­phys­i­cal Pro­laps mono­print.

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