Stephen Birch’s (1961-2007) installations beguile, amuse and then interrupt the viewer’s sense of controlled calm by awakening a fearful foreboding. The power of the artist’s ability to evoke tense states of mind, even panic, after initially suggesting a pleasant temperament of observation, lingers long after viewing. Questions of self, culture and society are advanced, but left unanswered – or possibly the riddles to solutions are actually present, but individually different, depending on the viewer and the depth of fear ignited. Dismembered human forms and super heroes, artificial debris, books created as if out of stone and video talking heads, engulf the viewer into a surreal world that actually captures the everyday.
Five years after the artist’s untimely death, renowned installation artist Alex Gawronski, close friend and colleague of Birch, has been asked to respond to the questions left behind. Gawronski’s new work will be juxtapositioned against a selection of Birch’s that are part of the Macquarie University collection. The result is Enigmas.
Curated by Leonard Janiszewski
Image No Man's Land
No Man's Land, 2006
Macquarie University Art Collection
Courtesy of Andrew Birch