The Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia (CACSA) is one of the only contemporary art spaces in Adelaide which offers an exhibition space for early career artists and also has a wider audience than just art school peer groups or winos (though they are there too)
Riley O'Keeffe has used this space to highlight absence and the void in his exhibition 'Nothing-object, forever', which opened 15 June in the CACSA Project Space. O'Keeffe presented an almost bare room with only an odd triangular support structure, amongst other things, in the centre of the room. Upon a second glance this structure becomes recognisable as a swing-set frame which in place of swings has microphones drooping down above amplifiers. The absence of the swings would almost be painful if it weren't for curiosity and excitement for what the piece threatened to do.
By the swing-set frame another rather precarious object protruded from an amplifier rather than towards it. This extended microphone stand reached up to a swinging fan, producing a humming noise that faded in and out with each swing of the fan. The exhibition promised a 7pm start for a sound/performance work on opening night. The performance started with the microphones being held and swung by O'Keeffe and his assisting friends. Three or four microphones swung to and fro above the amps, squealing and humming as they came into range of the speakers.
Gradually a rhythm started to 'form' as the swinging of the microphones started to plateau. I use the word 'form' carefully here as there wasn't really much tangibility to this piece. While the sound equipment and swing-set frame did demand your attention as you entered the gallery the piece seemed to be more about the sound rather than the material pieces that created it.
The life of the artwork ended when the power to the equipment was switched off. Perhaps I should be phrasing that sentence as a question rather than a statement. Does the life of the work end when the power is switched off? Is the temporality of the sound work the point of the work and if so why have other 2D pieces in the show? Is it to create a reason to attend the exhibition even if you missed 'the show'?
I think it could have fallen into that trap - perhaps this is the intended meaning behind the title? However it was when the larger sound work was switched off or had 'ended' that the other works in the show were able to hold their own. The grey geometric mural on the far wall of the gallery seemed to speak to the sound work with its vibration-like repetition of the lines. The sharp shapes also appears in the un-stretched canvases pinned to the north and south walls.
As you turn around to face the entrance again you see another geometric piece on a chair as your eye now starts searching for a theme. The white cubic shape placed on the chair is a thick stack of papers inviting you to contemplate your date of death. Another 'ending'. It is a cold show and deliberately so as the artist states the exhibition is a "result of chasing the forever, the immeasurable, the infinite and arriving at nothing". The artist seems to be playing on 'to-and-fro' elements in the exhibition: the pendulum microphones, the rotating fan, the permanent/ephemeral dichotomy, the swinging gaze of the viewer.
Time, tangibility, space and sound play off each other in 'Nothing-object, forever' and you get the sense that the artist is just touching the tip of a large iceberg in this presentation. The exhibition closed 15 July but just in case you missed the entire thing I have also included a video of the sound work in action. Do forgive the shakiness. Also apologies for the terrible quality of the photos, I really must use something more than just my phone.