There is a MACK truck
in the Art Gallery of New South Wales
Saturday 7 August to Monday 4 October 2004
A new contemporary project by Sydney artist James Angus
Have you ever thought about a soccer ball dropped from 35,000 feet? Or a rhinoceros that's fluorescent yellow placed with its feet perpendicular to the floor? A cast and sculptured swimming manta ray with undulating wings? James Angus has. For his exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Angus has squeezed a MACK truck into the Level 2 Contemporary Project space, sandwiching it between the two doorways.
Whether animal, building or balloon, Angus' assorted discursions are factored around implausibility. Of course we’ll by no means witness in 'reality' a manta ray cast in plaster and we'll never really observe a yellow rhinoceros. But this isn't the point. The point is that Angus asks us to question what we do know, to look from a different vantage point or perspective. His objects provoke questions, are information to be sorted through, or perhaps even intuit or marvel at - the simulated flow of the wings and smoothness of the manta ray's surface are wondrous; so too is the improbability of positioning a truck in that small Contemporary Project space.
Yet why has Angus chosen a truck? The artist has been thinking about trucks for over a decade and this exhibition provides the impetus and the environment in which to realise his idea. Trucks are laden with metaphor and association, occupying a noteworthy place in the contemporary popular imagination, not to mention the notion of 'truck' culture in Australian society. The most distinguishing characteristic of a truck, though, is that it moves and transports vast amounts of produce or materials from one place to another.
Yet Angus' simulated truck can’t go anywhere. It's literally stuck between the space of two entrances, slotted in and therefore defunct, stripped of its purpose. The truck is sculpture; placed in a gallery context, it is an interventionist object that occupies real time and space. Yet in this manufactured environment and in our interaction with it, the truck becomes an object, an immoveable conglomeration of bright colours and shiny metal that is at once familiar but through shifts in time and space becomes uncanny and misplaced.
Angus' sculptures play around with the nebulous categories of fact and fiction, in the spaces between what we know to be true and what is really there. His practice is an illusionistic ploy, teasing possibilities from seemingly unlikely scenarios and playing tricks with the eyes by employing disorientating visual strategies to do with scale, space, form and colour.
Angus has been exhibiting his work since 1991. In 1998 he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, completing a Master of Fine Arts (sculpture) at Yale University School of Art in the United States. In addition to solo exhibitions at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne and Govett-Brewster Art Gallery New Plymouth, New Zealand, Angus' work has been included in numerous group exhibitions, including Face Up: Contemporary Art from Australia, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2003), Still Life: Inaugural Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Project, Art Gallery of New South Wales (2003), Biennale of Sydney (2003) and The Age of Influence, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2003).
This exhibition is the third in a series of projects to be supported by Clayton Utz. The first project resulted in the commissioning and purchase for the permanent contemporary collection of a major work by Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto. The second project facilitated an exhibition and acquisition of a video installation by Susan Norrie entitled Undertow.
Thanks to MACK for the truck. Exhibition supported by Clayton Utz.