Cement Town: Placing Cementa13. Curators Jo Holder and Fiona MacDonald — 2 March to 13 April 2013

2 March to 13 April 2013

Cement Town: Placing Cementa13 at Kandos
A selected exhibition at The Cross Art Projects, Kings Cross

 

This sampler exhibition and round-table at The Cross Art Projects reviews the Cementa13 experiment — a wildly successful contemporary art festival with a serious theoretical substructure, held recently in Kandos in the NSW tablelands. Cementa13 showed that cutting-edge art can thrive outside the art world bubble. The name Kandos is itself concrete poetry, being an acronym of the names of the shareholders of Kandos Cement Works. And so, the experiment continues.

 

About forty artists collaborated with local artists and people about their art, culture and history, working to the brief of the town as material and inspiration. For four days in early February the town of Kandos filled with exhibition walks, talks and performances. Some by past artists-in-residence at Kandos Projects, were initiated by Ann Finegan as a main street shop-front; others were locally linked.

 

Experimenters Roundtable on Saturday 16 March at 3pm

 

Join the creators of Cementa13, arts writer and academic Ann Finegan and artists Alex Wisser and Georgie Pollard with Kandos Projects artists and participants as they lay out the issues explored in the festival and its relevance to local art production. As transparency and accountability are vital to build on the foundation of exchange and local partnership, the roundtable at Kings Cross follows a town meeting in Kandos. Your ideas for the next Cementa in 2015 will help the event's celebration of the town’s centenary.

 

 

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Fiona MacDonald, Kandos Sunset, 2013. Installation: 14 x oil  on canvas, video - duration 0:12:28. Video Production: Kim Scott. Dimensions variable Mudgee Guardian front cover,              14 December 2012
Cementa13, Kandos, exhibition flyer February 2013  

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Cementa13: Margaret Roberts, Polygon Landscape, installation view Kandos Scout Hall, 2013 Cmielewski & Starrs, Chapel of rubber, former convent of the Good Samaritan nuns, Kandos Cementa13: Installation view in Kandos Dollars and Cents Shop, showing Ian Milliss, Welcome to Kandos, double-sided pamphlet
 

 

When the globalised art world writes and talks about its recent past, the glamour of biennales, art fairs and artist hot-lists are favourite topics. The name Cementa13 neatly takes on this aspirational art speak and fly-in fly-out art events. As the name suggests, the allegiance is to the slower school of contemporary art projects such as Europe’s Manifesta, an itinerant biennial engagement by artists with local conditions—from post-industrial coal valleys to religious or ethnic conflict zones. Australia too has a long history of serious 'cut to the chase' place events from the environmentally conscious Mildura Sculpture Triennial (now Mildura Palimpsest) to the epic Gama Festival in Arnhem Land. Central to these projects is the desire to construct a forum in the hope of addressing cultural and economic possibilities. 

Cementa13 ambitiously reasserts artist-directed practice and ideas. This ‘change the art world’ backbeat is, perhaps, a stirring reply to arts funding cuts and the associated lack of leadership, commentary and analysis. The project should, at the very least, prompt a rethink of the role of art and artists beyond tidy gallery tropes of interventions, mediations and the like, or as cheap municipal ‘main street’ revitalisations and pop-ups.

 

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Background: Fiona MacDonald, Kandos Sunset, 2013. Installation: 14 x oil on canvas, video - duration 0:12:28. Video Production: Kim Scott. Foreground: Leon Cmielewski and Josephine Starrs Chapel of rubber detail light box and video Cementa13, Margaret Roberts (LHS) and Alex Wisser, Cementa Archive, installation view, The Cross Art Projects  

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Madeleine Preston, Counter Intuitive, reworked installation 2013. The logo is Kandos cement works c. 1924. Photo credit Joy Lai. Madeleine Preston, Counter Intuitive (detail)
Madeleine Preston, Counter Intuitive (detail)  

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Vienna Del Rosario Parreno, Resilience, 2013. Duratrans on light box, 59.6 x 39.6 cm
Fiona MacDonald, Kandos Sunset, 2013. video - duration 0:12:28. Video Production: Kim Scott. Dimensions variable
Bronia Iwanzcak, Sunset: The Inconsolable Object, 2013  

 


Cementa13’s overwhelming importance, however, is in claiming art’s relevance to social and political issues. There is inevitably politics in the locality of the exhibition; here the overwhelming regional background is extracting coal and gas versus sustainable energy, water and arable land. As might be expected, this issue is splitting communities. The forecast expansion of Australian coal mining and exports will make us, after China, the second largest contributor in the world to new carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.

The NSW Cement Lime and Coal Co produced the cement that built much of Sydney, including the Sydney Harbor Bridge, before closing last year. The town’s future is now ‘post-industrial’ or ‘turbulent’. Cementa13 emerged as a contemporary art initiative to help preserve the township and its industrial history and to build a more adaptive future.

 

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Experimenters Roundtable, 16 March 2013 Experimenters Roundtable, 16 March 2013
Experimenters Roundtable, 16 March 2013  

 

 

Cement Town: Placing Cementa13 at Kandos

A selected exhibition at The Cross Art Projects, Kings Cross — Artist List

 

Ben Denham

Line of Flow is a kind of concrete poetry, but connected to time and place rather than in relation to typographic elements. The video traces lines linking Kandos to its surrounds, including the road to the Wollomi National Park and Dunns Swamp, a town water supply. Ben Denham reflects on the different kinds of lines that run through the landscape: creeks, rivers, roads, walking tracks, strata, lines of flight, power lines, the conceptual, poetic and somewhat incongruous lines (coal-fired power crossing world heritage wilderness), lines of projected consciousness (linking the places we know in projected imaginings).

Bronia Iwanzcak


Sunset, 2013, comprises large format colour photographs of artefacts from Kandos Bicentennial Industrial Museum. Bronia Iwancak photographed in the museum after dark capturing this Wunderkammer on the cusp of change as the local council moves to expand the concept of the community-founded collection to encompass ‘professional’ displays and storage. A prismatic narrative is changing significantly into a linear story. This unique building was designed and funded by the cement works manager Floyd Richards, a Mormon, after the California Mission Style of the church in his hometown in America, opening in 1919 and is on the Register of the Australian National Estate.

Fiona MacDonald


Fiona MacDonald's Sunset Kandos sat in the Kanos Museum beside Iwanzcak's meditations. The installation of paintings and a split screen video is a homage to Ed Ruscha's Sunset Strip. MacDonald's version of 'stripping' a place, traces the original 'model town' design following the streets and lots depicted in the original 1915 subdivision map. The participants named their private village Kandos, using the first letter of each of their names. The paintings are a periodic table matching the locally mined ingredients that made Kandos Cement the largest plant in the southern hemisphere. Other abstracted plans include the layout of the streetlights and a shield representing a model town which the artist suggests could be a transferable universal template.

Christine McMillan


Response, as the name suggests, reflects on the local environment. Christine McMillan has had a studio in Kandos and taught in the region for over two decades and often her work and installations combine etching, charcoal and clay and sculptural techniques.

Ian Milliss


Could Kandos lead the world? Welcome to Kandos, a double-sided pamphlet, explores the question and proposes the tourist attractions in the other Kandos, with another past and another future as a centre for cultural adaptation and innovation. Much discussion and other ideas were inspired in Kandos, for and against these propositions.

Vienna Del Rosario Parreno

Resilience, a photographic transparency on a backlit light box, is an eloquent image of a light bulb made out of cement coloured in black and blue oxides. The light box materially manifests the switching off and the switching on of light.

Madeleine Preston


Counter Intuitive, a mixed media installation, was presented in Kandos in a cabinet representing a museum display on the town’s forgotten modernist art movement. Preston reworked the Kandos Cement logo into a manifesto for an ideal artists’ community, including a replica of the mirror from an art worker’s residence.

Margaret Roberts


Polygon Landscape was installed at the Scout Hall wherein, laid out on the floor like an identification parade, were forty cardboard cutouts representing street views of randomly selected Kandos houses. A reference book identified the dwellings, now transformed into polygon shapes, and many locals responded to the artist's invitation to identify and take home or foster a polygon. The Scout Hall is an ash brick construction but, with entry stairs, colonnade and pediment, aspires to classical Greek architecture.

The Stoked


The mural-sized photograph, Laying It On The Line, 2012, is itself a sampler of performances and actions by this nomadic local guerilla art collective focusing on Australia’s coal export trade.  It was installed at Kandos train station and cafe.

cmielewski & starrs

Leon Cmielewski and Josephine Starrs are long-term collaborators on art installations that often use play as a strategy for engaging with the social and political contradictions inherent in contemporary life. Chapel of rubber in Cementa13, was located in the former convent of the Good Samaritan nuns, as a shrine to the street machine burnouts that take place in Kandos on the Australia Day long weekend, just a week prior to the arts festival.

Alex Wisser

Cementa13 Archive, photographs of key installations and events at the inaugural Cementa. Alex Wisser and Georgina Pollard run INDEX art space in St Peters, Sydney and, with Ann Finegan, conceptualised and organised the festival. Georgina’s grandmother is buried in the Kandos cemetery.

The forty artists over four days: Artists in Transit (Ro Murray, Susie Williams) – Alison Clouston and Boyd – Lisa Andrew – Cigdem Aydemir – Connie Anthes – Liam Benson and the Motel Sisters – Peter Blamey – Diego Bonetto – Linden Braye – Sarah Breen Lovett – Darryl Brown – Dan Kojta – Kat Brown – Mark Brown – David Capra – SNO group (Billy Gruner, Sarah Keighery, Ian Andrew) – Fiona Davies – Ben Denham – John A. Douglas – Jacqueline Drinkall – Gilbert Grace – Paul Greedy – Sarah Goffman – David Haines & Joyce Hinterding  – Amanda Hills – Hobart Hughes – Robin Hungerford – Tom Isaacs – Bronia Iwanzcak – Fiona Kemp – Zio Ledeux – Francesca Mataraga – Fiona MacDonald – Kate Mackay – Christine McMillan – Ian Milliss – Sarah Nolan – Lena Obergfell – Vaughan O’Connor – Vienna Parreno – Sue Pedley and Virginia Hilyard – Georgina Pollard and Leanne Wicks – Madeleine Preston – Margaret Roberts – William Seeto – Phil Spark – The Spectral Committee, Josephine Starrs and Leon Cmielewski – Dan Stocks – The Stoked – George Tillianakis – Pia Van Gelder – Alex White – Leanne Wicks – Peter Williamson.

 

Links

 

Cementa  www.cementa13.com

 

The Running Stream Water Users Association - http://www.runningstream.org.au/

The (w)Hole Story - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMvCSvogO8k

Lock the Gate Alliance - http://www.lockthegate.org.au/

 Williams River Valley Artists' Project exhibitions at Kandos Projects after visits to Bylong Valley mid-2012. See http://williamsrivervalley.blogspot.com.au/

ABC TV, 7.30 Report, 31 January 2013: On the Obeid coal mining lease scandal in the nearby Bylong Valley - http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2013/s3680693.htm

 ABC TV, Four Corners, 1 April 2013: Gas Leak! On the impact of Coal Seam Gas on agriculture, environment and ground water - http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2013/04/01/3725150.htm