presences (After Exhausted Nature)

2008 - 2018

Selenium toned  Gelatin Silver Photographs

40 x 40 cm

ED 3 + 1 AP

please enlarge mages for detail

Captured during the de-installation of Exhausted Nature (Hazewinkel’s collaborative installation project with Susan Jacobs), these images record the unconsciously generated residual markings, left by the bodies of visitors to the exhibition, in the velvety black carbon that Hazewinkel and Jacobs coated the gallery interior with. Alongside these abrasions was another set of unintentional markings, generated by small explosive anomalies in the Oxy-Acetylene process used to blacken the space.

Pivotal to Exhausted Nature was Hazewinkel and Jacobs’ mutual desire to create a lens of ice and to use it to focus the sun’s energy to start a fire. That overall project can be thought of as a kind of apparatus for distilling a series of propositions - some quasi-scientific, some shamanistic - all connected with notions of the attempt and what it means to fail (or not). R. Coates describes this in her catalogue essay accompanying the exhibition ‘The proposition, in a sense, is bound to fail, is set up to fail, and is as much about what comes from that potential for failure both seen and unseen.

The issues of the attempt and of failing are connected with the concept of intentionality, in the philosophical sense, but these photographs focus on the unintentional and hint toward a secret language. There is something primal, or perhaps primeval, about these unconscious markings. They conjure the cosmological and open country. Electrical storms loom above darkened landscapes, burning tracks lead toward unfamiliar horizons, monstrous creatures inhabit and become the landscape, as solitary clouds ghost in weak moonlight. These marks are made with the body, unintentionally, yet they express something darkly psychological.

Coates refers to the presence of ‘something fundamentally transgressive’ in Exhausted Nature’s cosmos wherein the classical elements of earth, air, fire and water were transmogrified. Perhaps with Presences (after Exhausted Nature) we witness the recording of an unspoken language, written subliminally though the body in response to a destabilised world.


Exhausted Nature was commissioned in 2008 by the Melbourne based artist initiative Conical.