Queen Size

Posted by anca in Articles, Blog

Kieran Butler

19 September – 7 October

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The strangest thing about ‘Queen Size’ is its ability to engender a feeling of being alone-together on the internet. When I entered (too early) on the opening night, I was immediately held still, almost trapped between two of the brightly coloured bedsheets that hung suspended with chains from a darken height. It was both isolating, and comforting. I could hear people murmuring and shuffling in the gallery somewhere but I couldn’t locate them, as the soft sculptural screens of densely layered imagery created these tight folds of space which kept me at an unperceivable distance.

I continued to shift around, uneasy and eager to make out the distinctly digital compositions. Still up-close, I could determine the source of some of the content: stock images snatched from the vapour-wave of commercial crap that litters cyberspace, streaming on the surface in repeated layers of the same, then, the symbols and the frame of someone’s Instagram, the rest distinctly homemade and candid. A glint of silver thread caught the light and weaved its way through the fabric, leading me across and out, off the edge of the image, back to the heavy-metal fixtures and the lack of space around me. Distracted and constrained I almost bumped into someone tracing their way back through the installation, suddenly awkward and intimate, together between the sheets. 

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Further on, encircling an open ceremonial-space are more single-size and queen-sized doona covers, this time printed with complicated portraits of the artist as various incarnations of themselves, staged always in their bedroom. An obvious inversion of boundaries occurs and is performed, if not dazzlingly exaggerated by a thick film of glitter that masks any possibly true inside, or real world outside – beyond that bedroom and that body. Despite the glamour, you can discern a tense straining of the self, a slight sense of desperation to hold that pose, to maintain the act (though, admittedly it could just be those platform-heels).

Doubtless, these coded and super-visible self-representations are effective in forming a supportive community and positively encourage continual shifts away from any static, already given ground. Of course, the trouble with gender is these limits, which the artist asserts, can always be traversed and unbounded on the internet. The IRL irony being, that it’s not always as fun as they make it out to be.

By Oscar Capezio

2018 ANCA CiR

Download a PDF version here

Images: Kieran Butler, Study for Castor (sugar), 2018, Digital image file, dimensions variable. Image Courtesy of the artist.

    Kieran Butler, Castor Sugar, 2017, Ink Jet print on cotton rag. Dimensions. Image courtesy of the artist.

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 Art Monthly Australasia is a project partner with the ANCA Critic-in-Residence program.