Megan Cope: Fractures & Frequencies
- When 16 Jan - 17 Apr 2021
Cnr Oxford St & Greens Rd Paddington NSW 2021
TUES TO SAT, 10AM-5PM
+61 2 8936 0888
This major exhibition brings together recent works by Quandamooka artist Megan Cope, investigating listening practices and extractive industries in Australia.
‘Untitled (Death Song)’ 2020 comprises sound sculptures constructed from discarded mining and industrial equipment accompanied by a soundtrack made in collaboration with musician and instrument builder Isha Ram Das. It takes its first note from the haunting cries of the yellow-eyed Bush Stone-curlew. An endangered species within New South Wales, the Bush Stone-curlew is known for its distinctive call, a ghost-like “weer-lo” sound. Heard in chorus and crescendo with other Bush Stone-curlews, the eerie call is often mistaken for a crying baby or wailing woman. ‘Untitled (Death Song)’ is a meditation on the sound of Country and Gurrell (Curlew), also known as a harbinger of death in Quandamooka culture. Megan Cope writes: “The threatened status of the bird not only registers significant ecological change and the impact of modern agricultural land management; it is a harbinger, a warning for the future.”
The exhibition also features several related projects, including the sound sculpture ‘Old Kahibah’ 2018, which maps the sound vibrations of Awabakal Country in the Lake Macquarie area which has experienced significant geological alteration from industrial coal extraction. Presented alongside are sculptural works from the ‘Extractions’ 2020-21 series that reimagines industrial materials such as concrete.
Presented in association with Sydney Festival
Performance: Untitled (Death Song)
3.00pm 10 & 17 April 2021
A quartet of musicians draws the call of the curlew out of the instruments using a range of extended musical techniques developed by instrument builder Isha Ram Das and Liquid Architecture curator Joel Stern. Isha Ram Das is a composer and sound artist concerned with ecologies of environment and culture. He works with experimental sound techniques to produce performances, installations and recordings. Liquid Architecture is Australia’s leading organisation for artists working with sound and listening.
Program presented with the support of Woollahra City Council
‘Unsettling Scores’ (2020, curated by Debris Facility and Joel Stern) presents collected material and notations for ‘Untitled (Death Song)’. A score and annotated notes for playing the instruments have been published on disclaimer.org.au in partnership with Monash University Museum of Art.
UNSW Galleries is proud to be working with Sydney Festival to reconnect and reinvigorate Australia’s visual arts with its Australian Made program. Visit www.sydneyfestival.org.au to explore the program. ‘Untitled (Death Song)’ was commissioned by The Art Gallery of South Australia, for the 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres.
Banner: Megan Cope, ‘Untitled (Death Song)’ (detail) 2020. Six instruments made of repurposed soil augers, oil drums, piano strings, and rocks from South Australia Drill Core Reference Library, Adelaide; sound. Installation view: 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres. Image courtesy: the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane. Photograph: Saul Steed