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Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

ADVANCE NOTICE: Memory Collective Exhibition to open @ TRAG

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The Memory Collective Invite

The Memory Collective Invite

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The Team: Front Ashleigh Campbell, Julio Dunlop, Kirsty Lee, Victoria Cooper, Doug Spowart Back: David Usher, Jason Nash, Jesse Wright, Damien Kamholtz, Zac Rowling ( weakling). Not present: Craig Allen & Jake Hickey

The Team: Front Ashleigh Campbell, Julio Dunlop, Kirsty Lee, Victoria Cooper, Doug Spowart
Back: David Usher, Jason Nash, Jesse Wright, Damien Kamholtz, Zac Rowling (weakling).
Not present: Peta Chalmers, Craig Allen & Jake Hickey

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Photographer Victoria Cooper reflecting on the Memory Collective project

Vicky photographs Kirsty

Vicky photographs Kirsty

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Both Doug and I, familiar with collaborative projects, were excited to have the opportunity to connect with the multidisciplinary space that Damien Kamholtz was creating in the Memory Collective. So it was on one day in May, that each artist would bring to the chosen site their insights, instincts and life’s experience.

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There was a painting – a very large painting; a sculpture filled with water, a ‘pond’ to reflect and dissolve the evolving performance; a movement artist to reconfigure the idea or memory of painting; seven white ceramic bowls to containing pigments and a singular bowl left empty to float across the dark water of the pond.

The physical space did not easily present itself at first–but as the project unfolded and discussion flowed from the practical, logistical to the intellectual, conceptual–the site itself also became a collaborator in the project: the stage, the remnants of its warehouse history, the idiosyncratic control over the method of entering the space (all us had to crawl under a jammed roller door)

Was the space asserting its role?

This day was not just a visual experience–it was a total sensory and psychological immersion.

Although a part of the documentary team, including video and still photography, I was compelled to cross beyond the voyeuristic role of witness. I was motivated by the tension created from: anxiety for the loss of the original painting with the frisson of anticipation for the evolving transformation.

The movement artist’s touch with the painting was sensual and slow.

We moved like moths; entranced by the night-light . . . circling . . . unable to land nor escape . . .

This was not a performance rather it was about life, unrehearsed and ephemeral. Only through technology were small parts recorded to be later pieced, montaged and sewn together in a kind of rich layered memory tapestry. And, like memory, there are gaps, fuzzy distortions of scale and time lines, loud visually busy moments together with quiet, serene and ethereal meditations.

I began this project with an intuition that it would be both inspiring and exhilarating to work with this creative group of Toowoomba based artists. Damien has, with delicacy and grace, enabled and cultivated a fertile collaborative space, which continues to extend the potential for the creative work.

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Kirsty

Kirsty addresses the painting in performance

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A recollection of the MEMORY COLLECTIVE collaboration from Doug Spowart.

Doug-documents the space ...... Photo: Victoria Cooper

Doug photographs the performace

Working as a regional artist can be an isolating experience. Your networks are often big city based, coastal and a long way from your home on the range. I am familiar with collaborative art-making but it has usually been with my artist partner Victoria Cooper.

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The Memory Collective was quite a different collaborative affair. As an individual artist I could never have thought up let alone coordinated, as Damien has, all of the interdisciplinary artists and artforms into one time–one space–one purpose–one artpiece. Meetings, Facebook discussions and site inspections enabled a real feeling of connection with the creativity of these fellow regional artists and their ideas, aspects of each discipline’s needs and potential for contribution.

On the day of the performance I found myself in the collaborative ‘doing’ mode and things changed. Before, everything was about the team and contributing to the dialogue, now it came down to my personal response to the idea and the performance. I concentrated on observing moments, time and space, movement, gesture and recognition – looking to see, looking to feel, seeking the spark that emanates from a sweet synergy – a concurrence of elements in the viewfinder that, when recognised by me – demanded the shutter’s click . . . click . . . click. Freezing from the continuum of time a moment to become a silicon memory.
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At first I worked deliberately and methodically. Years of art practice [practise] smoothing the transition between observation and capture – perhaps unemotionally, but none-the-less, a participant in the progression of the grander art-making project.
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As the performances progressed this in-control feeling, the comfort and ease of working, were transformed. I sensed a shift in the mode of my observation and response. Each shutter release signified my recognition of the quintessential moment. And each of these ‘clicks’ was the affirmation of my being witness to the performance and my receiving a special communication that it revealed — the very reason I’m a photographer, a kind of self-actualisation where the act of making photographs is akin to a Zen calligraphy master’s ink-dripping brush, intuitively moving over a surface leaving a memory of its touch – indelibly on paper.
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I remember now – in those moments, I was no longer an individual collaborating with others: we were all ‘one’ in that space — and that we were making something special and far – far greater, that the sum of all our individual, contributions, energies and imaginings.
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SEE SOME OTHER ARTIST’S CONTRIBUTIONS and Videos on the Facebook site here:
https://www.facebook.com/memorycollectiveproject
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Kirsty Lee – the paint portrait

Kirsty Lee – the paint portrait

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.© 2013 Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart for The Memory Collective Project
.Creative Commons-by-nc-nd.euThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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