VCA ART 2020

Annika Kristensen

A show of hands

‘Art is made with the hands… they are the instrument of creation, but before that, the organ of knowledge’ – Henri Focillon, In Praise of Hands, 1948

Arguably the oldest form of art in human history, the pictorial representation of hands has long been a preoccupation of artists. Themselves a central tool of making, the depiction of hands may also suggest a capacity to comprehend and create, gesture and communicate, as well as to hold, caress and heal. In 2020, a year in which we simultaneously feared and craved human touch, a preoccupation with hands was acutely felt. Once so inquisitive, our hands became so cautious.

‘A show of hands’ of course has a double-meaning: literally, a bringing together of works united by an interest in the portrayal of the human hand, and metaphorically, as an expression of consensus, support or solidarity. In this difficult year, especially felt by graduating artists, for whom the ritual and reward of the end of year grad show was plagued by uncertainty, this selection of works is a small attempt at raising my own hand in support.

Across painting, video, photography and sculpture, the ten works assembled for this tour variously depict the human hand as a form of portraiture, performance, gesture, creation, learning, action and remembrance.

Seth Searle, Plaid Cloth, Fruit and Nanna's Glassware, oil on canvas, 2020. Documentation by Jonathon Griggs.
Jivan Simons Mistry, From slowness to stillness, Super 8, transferred to HD, 2020
Kachun Lay, 82 Rocks by the Hand (detail), Plaster, pigments, sand, rabbit skin glue, space, 2020
April Chandler, Love Letters (video still), 22min 25sec single channel video, 2020
L Hermosilla, We've Been Here Before/Before We've Been Here, video documentation, model of installation plan, magic(s), 2020. Videography by Andrew Johnson. Model courtesy of Amy May Stuart.
Anna McDermott, We cannot hold this up forever, single channel video, 6:14m, 2020
Celeste de Clario Davis, Portrait, Samsung HMX-R10 handy camcorder X HD video Projection, 2020
Christina May Carey, 321 (Click), HD video projection, 3 x sheer fabric panels with aluminium hanging bars, photographic colour gel, 2018
Fiona Martin, I'm Guessing You Can See This, video, 2020
Nisha Hunter, My Memories Are Yellow, single-channel digital video, 2020

Annika Kristensen

Annika Kristensen is Senior Curator at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne

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