Link back to Bevan Honey : plane ::: Monash University Gallery faculty of Art + Design ::: 31 August - 30 September 2006

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opening address for Bevan Honey’s exhibition : plane

opening address for Bevan Honey’s exhibition : plane
Monash University Gallery
Caulfield Campus
august 30 2006

i would firstly like to acknowledge the original owners of the land we stand on and their ancestors.
it’s always daunting to speak publicly about the work of a fellow artist, especially when they are standing right in front of you, but once you can overcome that particular anxiety it’s always rewarding.
i am not an historian or a critic; tonight i’m responding as an artist, and the stereotype is that artists are notoriously unintelligible, so that takes the pressure off me a bit.
i had to make some notes so please forgive me if i read them out; these are of course brief observations, and i hope you find them useful.
i should begin by saying that i don’t know bevan’s work very well, though we were both living in perth through my five years’ permanence there.
after i received lisa’s invitation to say a few words tonight, i spent some time in the space with the work as it was being installed, and i concluded that i might not be able to say much at all; not because i could not respond, but because i thought that the most eloquent way i might be able to comment on the work would be to make sounds on a keyboard.
that’s primarily because I’m interested in language, and in the impossibility of translation, and to ‘speak’ in a keyboard language about visual work would have for me ironically underlined the undeserved reverence with which the spoken word is regarded when critiquing any human endeavour; but also because the twin-spaces in there have for me become, through bevan’s installation, a kind of instrument for making sound.
that sound is composed of many ‘minor noises’; the sound of gemstones being crushed; the sound of the construction site around the yet-to-be-built uwa library in the early nineteen-fifties; the sound of water filling an enormous water tank; the sound of bevan’s handsaw late at night in his workshop; the sound of his children playing outside, once he shuts the large door in order to contain his world within himself; the sound of the cruciform house coming together and coming apart; the low rumbling sound of the indian ocean as it interminably rolls in all along that interminable western coast; the sound of the voice of his old neighbour, reeling in surprise as bevan explains his sculptural work to him; the sound of expected failure turning into mild success; the sound of boots crunching snow; the sound of wood speaking out as it’s coaxed into various shapes…
all these various manifestations are composted into a language, the language of invisible intention coming face to face with visible material, and this language tells a story, composes itself into a narrative.

that narrative attempts to explain the world by asking simple questions about the nature of paradox, which occurs when one thing can be both two at once as well as neither, and the sound such a paradox makes can be found inside those twin-spaces.
that’s the sound i wanted to make on the keyboard instead of speaking, but how irrelevant and superfluous would that have been, now that I consider the musicality of bevan’s installation?
paradox is of course is the most sublime of forms through which to comment on the phenomenological world and our ensuing relationship with all of its manifested and non-manifested forms.
we might consider that such forms and structures in bevan’s exhibition might be grouped together under some smart term like west coast minimalist abstraction; the paradox here is that whilst this description may not be incorrect it’s an infinite distance from the experiential truth of the installation itself.
instead of waiting for the sudden catharsis of paradox to illuminate our understanding we need to find the urge to constantly search beyond the form of the language of others, and penetrate it to its core, enter somehow underneath it into this very kind of silent sound, so that visible form can once again be unmasked as the simple precursor of experience, and though it’s inextricably interlinked with invisible content it can only ever take us to its threshold; then the substance of the thing takes over, and the real show begins: narrative comes alive.
i urge you to look very closely and attentively at everything in those two rooms, not so much to appreciate the forms, though they are admirable, but to get to this source underneath and inside them, the energy that animates both the relationship between all of the form’s component parts and the relationship with the space that contains it.
bevan has functioned in this space like a conductor, both musical and energetic; the symphony he orchestrates manifests both through the silent and invisible music of the narratives that unfold between the objects, and through the physicality of the objects themselves, all made by his own hand.
beyond the surface of those seemingly inanimate and abstract objects multiple possibilities for meaning may be located, and if we look hard enough and see, we might glimpse them appearing and then dissolving again; this deciphering process requires a considerable level of attentiveness, and ironically, and perhaps paradoxically, this indeed constitutes a translation.
one realises as one comes to understand that the entirety of the space including each of our movements is implicated in the weaving of this language, that one has finally been able to translate bevan’s symphonic macro-structure into a sound-made-for-one.
if you are attentive enough to this sound you may just hear your own footsteps sneaking up behind you.

domenico de clario