Roger Boyce and Marie Claire Brehaut: Nature Morte | Joseph Worley: Bewildering Scheme | Melissa Laing: a small metal pin, a piece of rubber, a section of metal pipe with securing nut
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The Blue Oyster is pleased to present Roger Boyce and Marie-Claire Brehaut: Nature Morte | Joe Worley: Bewildering Scheme | Melissa Laing: a small metal pin, a piece of rubber, a section of metal pipe with securing nut... exhibitions which spiral around our morbid fascination with death, depravity, disorientation, disaster, doubt, danger and destruction. The shows will open on Tuesday 10 August at 5:30pm and run until 4 September.
With their work Nature Morte Christchurch based artists Roger Boyce and Marie-Claire Brehaut draw a provocative equivalence between a bedroom methamphetamine lab and an artist's studio. It is a simile that expands beyond the formal mimicry of sprawling bottles and tubes, which characterise both set-ups; hinting at an overlapping alchemy of art, science and psychotropic substances. The artists describe their work as a tableau mort, referencing the stasis and opulence of Victorian tableau viviant, but with dead and deadly subject matter. The artifice of P-lab set-up is exposed through its mirroring on canvas as a peverse still life. In turn, the artists present us with a contemporary momento mori, which sparks our curiosity precisely because it reminds us of our mortality.
Joe Worley’s Bewildering Scheme covers the walls, floor and ceiling of an entire gallery space with hard edged andangled blocks of colour. This achromatic patterning is an exercise in spacial distortion: twisting, disrupting and expanding space and perspective to create a virtual space within the architecture. Worley’s design is inspired by a pattern developed by British Naval Lieutenant Norman Wilkinson during WW1. Painted on to battleships merchant vessels and aircraft, Wilkinson’s Dazzle pattern was intended to make it difficult to judge a vessel's speed and direction. This was a camouflage system designed not to conceal, but to confuse. The Dazzle pattern mimics not only the aesthetic of the British pre-war Vorticist movement but also its faith in modernity, and its proscribed role for art in the service of ‘progress’. Whilst the effectiveness of the pattern to reduce losses to shipping remained unproven, it did provide a thin veneer of courage for soldiers facing the machinery of war.
Melissa Laing takes the civil aviation industry as a topical example of modern society’s desperate persuit for safety assurance. Her installation explores the products of this industry, which harness the generative power of paranoia; proliferating safety checklists, procedures, policies, maintenance schedules, wildlife abatement and incidence reporting. The title Laing has used for her show lists the variety of foreign objects found and recorded through runway inspections in Australia: a small metal pin, a piece of rubber, a section of metal pipe with securing nut, two red engine plugs and red ribbon, a reverse thruster hatch stopper bush, some down strapping, a signal horn, a piece of brake lining, a screwdriver, a broken omni-directional threshold light, multiple bird, bat and turtle carcasses, a plastic water bottle, a block of wood, a beer can and a piece of paper. Laing’s attention has narrowed in on the industry’s Rossetta Stone - the black box, audio and flight data recorders, which act as focal points for our morbid curiosity with disasters and our belief that they can be avoided. In a lab-like setting she presents the physical repercussions of this belief: smashed up black boxes alongside the animal life that has fallen victim to these technologies and anxieties.