The (re)or­der of things: The Art of An­drew Hazewinkel.

Neue Luxury - - Front Page - By Jane Dev­ery

Sil­ver, cop­per and alu­minium leaf, sand­pa­per, wax, leather, gem­stones, mir­rors, car­bon, found pho­to­graphs and glass-plate neg­a­tives, elec­tro­lu­mi­nes­cent light pan­els, in­dus­trial ropes and re­cy­cled ship engine oil. These are some of the ma­te­ri­als and ob­jects that ap­pear in the work of An­drew Hazewinkel. The Melbourne artist, who has ex­hib­ited in Aus­tralia and Europe for more than a decade, has an un­canny abil­ity to in­tuit the po­ten­tial of things and draw out their hid­den mean­ings. Bor­row­ing from muse­o­log­i­cal, archival and ar­chae­o­log­i­cal prac­tices and fields as di­verse as ge­ol­ogy, an­thro­pol­ogy and Sur­re­al­ism, his largely pho­to­graphic and ob­ject-based works are strik­ing for their strange ar­range­ments of re­pur­posed ma­te­ri­als that un­earth un­ex­pected as­so­ci­a­tions.

Ob­jects caught in un­usual states of trans­for­ma­tion course through­out the artist’s work. In the sin­gle chan­nel video in­stal­la­tion Tur­bu­lence 2007, for ex­am­ple, plas­tic bot­tles and aban­doned foot­balls caught in an eddy of a river form a del­uge of un­ex­pected beauty. In the larger Aqua Alta project 2006-09 of which this video was a part - an am­bi­tious set of spa­tial in­ter­ven­tions staged across four ar­chi­tec­tural sites in Rome and Melbourne - found ob­jects es­tranged from their ev­ery­day con­texts formed part of a com­plex web of in­ter­con­nect­ing ropes. Some formed an­chor points while oth­ers were sus­pended mid-air like de­bris left by a high tide. Else­where in video pro­jec­tions, or­di­nary ob­jects seem to take on un­usual sig­nif­i­cance, whether a half-sub­merged tree branch in a swollen river, or lengths of bunt­ing flut­ter­ing in the wind. In a pho­to­graphic com­po­nent of the project, images of makeshift shel­ters found in present day Rome were com­bined with nine­teenth-cen­tury pho­to­graphs of the flood-dam­aged city, paired to­gether with the artist’s eye for ma­te­rial traces of de­struc­tion and sur­vival that span across time.

In more re­cent works, Hazewinkel draws on strate­gies of col­lage and the ready­made. Part-sculp­tural and part-pho­to­graphic, the on­go­ing project Head Re­place­ment Ther­apy 2010 con­sists of a se­ries of hy­brid ob­jects that ap­pear to be gov­erned by an un­canny logic. In its most re­cent pre­sen­ta­tion in 2012 at Melbourne’s Cen­tre for Con­tem­po­rary Pho­tog­ra­phy in the exhibition On the Na­ture of Things, Head Re­place­ment Ther­apy: (plun­dered #1 - #6) 2012 con­sisted of six ‘por­traits’ com­prised of images of Greek and Ro­man sculp­tures screen-printed onto sand­blasted glass plates, each ‘com­pleted’ with a slice of agate in the place of a miss­ing head. Su­per­im­posed onto elec­tro­lu­mi­nes­cent light pan­els and pre­sented in a dark­ened exhibition space, these softly glow­ing mys­te­ri­ous ag­gre­gates take on a spec­tral pres­ence, as if re­trieved from an­other time and place.

Hazewinkel’s un­usual arte­facts play with junc­tures be­tween ar­ti­fice and na­ture, the il­lu­sory and the real. They con­front us with our an­thro­po­mor­phis­ing im­pulses and our need to find mean­ings in images. Con­sid­ered in this way, the artist’s use of agates and other ge­o­log­i­cal mat­ter – one might call them ‘nat­u­ral ready­mades’ -- sug­gests an affin­ity with the work of Roger Cail­lois (1913-1978), a one-time friend and col­lab­o­ra­tor of An­dre Bre­ton, a lesser­known Sur­re­al­ist who for­mu­lated a the­ory on the vis­ual lan­guage of ge­o­log­i­cal for­ma­tions. In his book The Writ­ing of Stones, a po­etic in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the images found in stones, Cail­lois spec­u­lated that hid­den mean­ings lay hid­den within their structures and that with the aid of the hu­man imag­i­na­tion they could un­lock the se­crets of the cos­mos.

1 There’s a hu­mor­ous side to Hazewinkel’s mis­shapen forms but also a vi­o­lent beauty. They call to mind the dis­fig­ured im­agery in the col­lages of Dada artists Max Ernst and Han­nah Hoch, but equally ref­er­ence the game of chance ex­quis­ite corpse favoured by the Sur­re­al­ists. There is some­thing se­vere and al­most sur­gi­cal about see­ing dis­mem­bered forms of clas­si­cal sculp­tures lit up like med­i­cal X-rays, and the sub-ti­tle ‘plun­dered’ ac­com­pa­ny­ing these works cer­tainly sug­gests a vi­o­la­tion. The images of clas­si­cal sculp­tures that ap­pear in this work were drawn from the Mar­shall Col­lec­tion, a lit­tle known archive of nine­teenth and early twen­ti­eth cen­tury pho­to­graphic doc­u­men­ta­tion of an­tique sculp­tures that Hazewinkel dis­cov­ered in 2006 while he was artist in res­i­dence at the Aus­tralia Coun­cil’s stu­dio at the Bri­tish School in Rome. His re­peated use of ma­te­rial found in the col­lec­tion through­out his works opens a win­dow onto the role of early pho­tog­ra­phy in the bur­geon­ing in­ter­na­tional trade of an­tiq­ui­ties in the nine­teenth cen­tury, invit­ing a read­ing of ar­chae­o­log­i­cal and muse­o­log­i­cal prac­tices as forms of sys­temic cul­tural vi­o­lence.

Hazewinkel draws par­al­lels be­tween his own artis­tic pro­cesses and the ar­chae­o­log­i­cal and archival prac­tices his ma­te­ri­als have been sub­jected to. Re­flect­ing on the mul­ti­ple lay­ers of burial and re­trieval that are em­bed­ded in the ob­jects he works with, he has com­mented, “the doc­u­mented ob­jects that I am look­ing at have been ex­ca­vated at least twice. First the stone is cut, as raw ma­te­rial; then if cho­sen, worked, usu­ally fol­lowed by a slow process of for­get­ting and the slow re-burial by time, faded value or con­flict. Next comes the sec­ond ex­hum­ing, the mod­ern dis­cov­ery, and sub­se­quent ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties. I also par­tic­i­pate in this lay­ered cy­cle of burial and ex­huma­tion. I bring them back to the sur­face from the limbo of a for­got­ten archive and re­work them, with no in­ter­est in ‘restora­tion’ rather re­con­sid­er­ing them and al­low­ing them to … speak.”

2 The ghostly im­agery that de­vel­oped from the artist’s re­search in the Mar­shall Col­lec­tion resur­face in Por­traits of the Liv­ing and the Dead #1- #6 2010-12, a se­ries of mon­u­men­tal works on pa­per. Re­spond­ing to pho­to­graphic neg­a­tives he un­cov­ered of sculpted heads of Ro­man and Greek an­tiq­ui­ties, these del­i­cately ren­dered draw­ings built up in lay­ers of sil­ver and alu­minium leaf on fine black car­borun­dum sand­pa­per, ap­pear like ap­pari­tions emerg­ing from a dark sparkling ground. An im­por­tant fea­ture of Hazewinkel’s artis­tic project is a con­scious ref­er­enc­ing of ma­te­ri­als that link to the meth­ods of pro­duc­tion of his source ma­te­rial. Sand­pa­per, for ex­am­ple, is used by Hazewinkel to full il­lu­sory ef­fect, but also ref­er­ences the work of the sculp­tor. Sil­ver leaf cre­ates a mys­te­ri­ous shim­mer­ing pres­ence in these works, but are also em­blem­atic of pho­to­graphic pro­cesses, as cu­ra­tor Dr Kyla Mcfar­lane has noted: “Hazewinkel’s ma­te­rial ref­er­ence points are con­sciously el­e­men­tal here; his is a sculp­tural re­sponse to the raw el­e­ments of nine­teenth cen­tury pho­to­graphic doc­u­men­ta­tion – gelatin sil­ver, glass plate and, more broadly, its base el­e­ments of light against dark.”

3 The Ma­te­rial Col­li­sion project shown at the artist run space Westspace in late 2012 rep­re­sented a dis­til­la­tion of ideas and ma­te­rial as­so­ci­a­tions that run through­out the artist’s work. Pho­to­graphic, sculp­tural, ar­chae­o­log­i­cal, ge­o­log­i­cal, cos­mo­log­i­cal, art his­tor­i­cal and bod­ily ref­er­ences mul­ti­ply through a se­ries of two- and three-di­men­sional hy­brid ex­per­i­men­tal forms. In Ma­te­rial Col­li­sion #1 (we are all star stuff) Hazewinkel picks up on the vis­ual lan­guage of Min­i­mal­ist sculp­ture in the re­strained ges­ture of pin­ning a sin­gle piece of leather to the wall, how­ever the ti­tle in­flects this work with a height­ened at­mos­phere, al­lud­ing to the idea that every­thing in the uni­verse - whether flesh and blood or stone - is ul­ti­mately com­prised of the same mat­ter. Re­in­forc­ing this idea and in a po­etic in­vo­ca­tion of the night sky, sec­tions of the gallery space were cov­ered with the artist sig­na­ture ma­te­rial of car­borun­dum sand­pa­per, a ready­made sub­stance rich with al­lu­sive and il­lu­sory po­ten­tial. In the sculp­ture Ma­te­rial Col­li­sion #2 (man­tle plume) 2012, col­umns of molten wax and sliced agate al­lude to an­cient ge­o­log­i­cal trans­for­ma­tions but also hint at bod­ily as­so­ci­a­tions, a theme that also plays out in Ma­te­rial Col­li­sion #3 (star­ing to­gether into night) 2012. In this large pho­to­graphic screen-print printed onto the same sparkling sur­face that runs through­out the en­tire in­stal­la­tion, we see the sculpted head of a clas­si­cal Greek sculp­ture of a young man. In this intimate por­trait of a for­got­ten an­cient sculp­tural ob­ject, the skilled crafts­man­ship of the an­cient sculp­tor is ac­cen­tu­ated. Hazewinkel brings the fine styl­ized form into crisp fo­cus, en­larged and screen-printed from a digitized im­age taken from a nine­teenth cen­tury glass plate neg­a­tive. Yet in spite of the close en­counter with a frag­ment of an­tiq­uity that this work al­lows us, the over­all sense of con­tem­po­rane­ity is strik­ing. The re­la­tion­ship be­tween viewer and ob­ject is also in­ter­est­ing here: only the re­verse of the sub­ject’s head is re­vealed to us, im­ply­ing that we share the same gaze. Thou­sands of years might sep­a­rate our ex­pe­ri­ences yet to­gether we face the dark­ness be­yond. Sen­sual and vul­ner­a­ble, it is a work of con­sid­er­able po­etic force.

An­drew Hazewinkel is alert to the shift­ing val­ues and mean­ings of ma­te­ri­als over time, and their po­ten­tial to open win­dows to a range of as­so­ci­a­tions. His hy­brid structures and pho­to­graphic ob­jects con­sciously ref­er­ence the ma­te­rial culture and pro­cesses of ar­chae­ol­ogy, pho­tog­ra­phy, archival prac­tices, mu­seum dis­plays and mod­ernism, draw­ing at­ten­tion to his­to­ries and sto­ries that might other­wise be lost. His mag­i­cal trans­for­ma­tions of ma­te­ri­als and re-an­i­ma­tion of archival ob­jects stir up mul­ti­ple as­so­ci­a­tions that all seem to re­volve around the ques­tion of our re­la­tion­ships with things. How might ob­jects and ma­te­ri­als un­lock se­crets be­tween the liv­ing and the dead, the con­tem­po­rary and the an­cient, the fu­ture and the past? Hazewinkel’s art comes close to pro­vid­ing an an­swer, but leaves the ques­tion open for now.

Neue Lux­ury, A global Di­a­logue on lux­ury in the 21st cen­tury.

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