Warrnambool Base Hospital
9 - 30 September 2017
topias = utopia + dystopia + heterotopia
TOPIAS III was my third exhibition examining contemporary heterotopias. Displayed in an old unused ward at the Warrnambool Base Hospital, it featured a series of hand-painted photographs and videos I produced over two years working in the hospital as an artist-in-residence.
Each work captures a moment of beauty I found in the hospital, often highlighting hidden work processes that occur behind closed doors to make treatment and healing possible. I zoomed the lens in on fleeting intimate moments as I saw them. I focus on workers’ hands undertaking mundane daily tasks, almost ritualistically, as they sort, pack, move, clean and sterilise equipment. A series of workers’ portraits show them posing pensively, like in ancient paintings of royalty or oldenday family photos. Workers’ feet are depicted floating in midair as if they are ascending in a moment of spiritual freedom. Within the clinical hospital space, landscape imagery and flowers provide a moment of respite, reminding us of the beauty in the natural world around us.
By juxtaposing the work-cycle of the hospital with the cycle of life, I wanted to blur the boundary between what is openly visible and what is hidden in the hospital environment. I believe that by embracing some of the more uncomfortable aspects of hospital life, we may find a greater acceptance of every process within illness, treatment and death.
TOPIAS III was proudly supported by Creative Victoria through the VCA and MCM Mentorships program, the Yarra City Council, and NAVA through an Australian Artists’ Grant made possible through the generous sponsorship of Mrs Janet Holmes à Court and the support of the Visual Arts Board, Australia Council for the Arts.