Absent Bodies

We are all beings in this world of objects, surrounded by a reality which questions the ongoing relationship between the body and the mind. We live in our heads but our bodies connect us to objects in the real world, invoking memories through daily experiences. Memories are all we have, memories are the root of our creation as a constant being. Chiharu Shiota expresses the connection between reality and imagination using just one material- thread, blood red in colour.

Shiota was born in Japan, but has been away for almost twenty years. The artist currently works in Germany. Her journey to becoming an internationally acclaimed artist was achieved through her love for art and the relationship between the mind and the body. Absent bodies is an artwork made beautifully through an intense, thought provoking web of dark red thread. The making of the masterpiece took three days and was formed by seven people. At the end of the thread sit two lonely chairs facing you.

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Absent Bodies by Chiharu Shiota

The chairs are quiet, but their body language invites you to utilize them. They’re so close yet too challenging to reach. The web of red thread to me represents noise- all the everyday noise every adult and child keeps in their head. This noise serves as a barrier between our thoughts and the real world. We know what’s right in front of us, what reality has to offer and it’s so close, but we are too busy mentally to connect with the world physically. If we remove all the noise- the red thread in our heads- then reality won’t seem so far away.

“I get inspiration from human life, that is the reason why I use everyday objects in my installations,” says Ms Shiota. “Human relationships and their connection to one another also inspire me, which is the reason why I use thread -aiming to represent those tangled, cut or stretched relationships.” The talented artist suggests that objects bring a sense of belonging to humans, and that traces are always left by the subjects who have lived in a house, worn a dress or a pair of shoes, or sat on a chair. People move and change their location but they can be seen through the things that they have touched. “I can see people through these objects and relate to their own personal stories and voyages. Human feelings such as fear, love, loss, happiness and gratefulness are conveyed through the objects and connected by the threads.”

Descartes once said “I think, therefore I am”. Meaning that all we really know is that we are existing things. Everything from the physical world including our body parts can be doubted of existence. Everything can be doubted except for the fact that we have to exist in order to doubt; this is the only thing we can be certain of. Hence, “I think, therefore I am”. Shiota brings the physical world to life through the use of objects in her art, and represents a relationship between the body and the mind that all of us can connect with. She conveys that even after an object is long gone, the traces that are left behind connect us through a simple memory. Even if you believe we are only thinking things and there is no physical world, Shiota demonstrates the existence and the beautiful relationship between both mental and physical things in a way which cannot be doubted.

Admirer of the art Shehmir Shaikh interprets the red thread as “arteries and veins” which are components of the soul. “To me this is thought behind an exterior. The chairs symbolize pondering, they are the core of your thought. They’re covered by this biological red exterior which is your body…it just kind of illustrates the coexistence of different aspects of your soul,” says Mr Shaikh. “The red arteries and veins come together to make up your mind.” The chairs are highlighted as the red thread does not cover them, leaving them in the spotlight almost representing a “lightbulb moment”.

Ms Shiota thinks of weaving the thread as classical music, and views this as an inspiration for her artwork. So the real question is, what is the artist’s understanding of the relationship between the mind and the body? “For me, the true connection between the mind and the body is the strong relationship existing between a mother and its child, especially in the mother’s womb,” says Ms Shiota. This is represented through different drawings that the artist has created.

At first they are haunting and dark to look at, made up of mostly black pencil. The drawings are not complex ones and would not have been very time-consuming. Although they do not focus on the little artistic details, they present a touching relationship between a mother and a child which provoke thought and emotion. The beauty of Ms Shiota’s art is that it attracts diversity. She leaves the meaning to the viewer’s imagination. Her work is open to interpretation and the viewer is invited to create the story that they want and relate to with the given prompts, rather than the story being set in stone.

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Drawings by Chiharu Shiota- Anna Schwartz Gallery

Curatorial director of the Anna Schwartz gallery Anais lellouche has worked with Ms Shiota, and describes the artist as “highly prolific”. “Think about it like a constellation. In your mind you have all of these elements that are part of your thinking. The motherhood and childhood are elements and ideas that she splashes out in her work,” says Miss Lellouche. “She travels the world a lot, and she thinks about identity through displacement. She’s very introspective and her work is contemplative of quietness, she’s a bit like that- quiet and in her mind. But the outburst is what you see in her art.”

Miss Lellouche suggests that Absent bodies represents the absence of lives and the traces that people leave when their lives pass. “It’s quite a theatrical insertion and suggests that you’re viewing a scene that will unfold in the future, or has unfolded,” says Miss Lellouche. “It’s a window into a moment in time and to people’s existence.” The chairs reflect on an idea of domesticity. “She’ll use elements such as chairs, a piano, beds and they represent the traces that evoke the notion of home in a very imaginative and disembodied way.” The artwork is about people’s lives and the memories of the objects that they inhabit. Objects such as suitcases in her artwork signify “transience”. “The belongings that we have that migrate and leave traces of us in our homes.” Despite the solemnity that the art may suggest of the Japanese artist, she has a lighter side. “She’s really wonderful, funny and witty,” says Miss Lellouche.

Ms Shiota is most proud of the artwork “The key in the Hand” from the Venice Biennale in 2015. “It was extremely difficult to build up and the space was also complicated to deal with because of its features and big dimensions,” says Ms Shiota. “The feedback from experts and the visitors was very positive so the effort was worthwhile and I was very satisfied with the result myself.” The artist hopes to leave her trace in the world through her magnificent art, even if it is just a memory in our minds that will stay with us forever.

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Point Cook Fiesta

It was a beautiful Thursday evening, the sun setting and the weather just right. The light drizzle from the sky was just one aspect of the excitement that this day would bring. The bright, colourful environment represented the mood of many eager and enthusiastic children. This was the last weekend for a delightful carnival brought to Point Cook by the one and only; ‘A & A Reardon Amusements’.

Owner of the attraction Mr Adam Reardon, describes how the enchanting business has evolved over time. “We run the family carnival. We normally do agricultural shows and all that, but because the shows have moved to New South Wales and that, we’ve moved on to carnivals.”

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Mr Reardon and his wife have been operating this exhilarating business for children for decades. “I’m in the fourth generation, my kids are in the fifth. We’ve been doing this a long time and we love it.”

The lively atmosphere of the carnival was created by the loud and exciting screams of children on rides such as the Kraken, the Sizzler and Dodgem cars. Along with the sweet taste of fairy floss and the energetic pop music. Not only did this event include young children, but it also brought out the child in every adult present.

Soon to be twenty-one, student Jacinta Evans was one of the many to enjoy and participate in the carnival rides. “This is the perfect place for a date, I think this is the best date ever. Our favourite ride so far has been the Kraken, it’s so bloody fast.” Said Miss Evans whilst jumping with joy and excitement. “We are definitely going into the jumping castle next. I think my boyfriend is embarrassed but I’m having too much fun to leave.”

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The carnival is open from four PM to nine PM on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Unfortunately, this was the last weekend for Point Cook. Ten year old Sally David, a beautiful bubbly child shares her experience with the dodgem cars. “It was scary but I won, I bumped into every car. I think I will be a good driver when I’m older.”

Although the drizzle started turning into rain, this did not stop the many enthusiastic ride lovers from continuing the fun. Twenty one year old Nikita Singh says she is upset that this is the last weekend for the A & A Reardon Amusement carnival in Point Cook. “I’m really sad, I discovered this carnival last weekend and just had to bring my friends here. It’s wonderful because my little brother loved this place, and now my grown-up adult friends love it just as much. If not, more.” Said Miss Singh whilst laughing and deciding which ride to go on next. “We will definitely be coming back if it happens again.”

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The Paper House- Anna Spargo-Ryan

It was all an idea, but it was never going to be reality.

Heather and Dave have an idea- an ideal house where they can be a family and start their new life in the Western side of the peninsula in Melbourne. In their eighth month of the pregnancy, they are informed that their baby girl has died.

Melbourne based writer Anna Spargo-Ryan writes about family, mental illness and relationships in her first novel ever, The Paper House. This book demonstrates how a beautiful idea can turn deadly. It is an explorative novel about the impact of a miscarriage on a woman, her relationships and her surroundings.

Set in Melbourne, it is a story that feels so close to home and intrigued me from the beginning. The unique writing style uses lyrical poetry and is so descriptive and observant from the start that it immediately painted a picture in my mind, connecting me to the characters Heather and Dave emotionally and evoking empathy.

However, at times the writing is too descriptive and jumps from scene to scene in a manner that can be confusing. At times the author describes the surroundings in so much detail that the main point of the chapter is lost or difficult to keep track of. In saying this, the story is told gorgeously and you feel a sense of beautiful melancholy throughout the entire novel.

We are taken on an emotional and emphatic journey about the past and present whereby Heather experiences loss, tragedy, misfortune, mental illness, grief and a surprising connection to her mother. Like her mother, Heather finds peace in art. Only after her loss does she comprehend what her own mother went through in the past.

We are revealed hints in certain chapters which are portrayed by Heather as a little girl, and we get a glimpse of her traumatic childhood due to the loss of her mother. The real truth about this tragedy is however not revealed until the book ends.

It is a heartfelt story about sadness, misfortune and heartbreak that you actually enjoy reading. Were it not for the author’s style of writing, I probably would not have read the book up until the end based on its themes alone. For this reason, I am very impressed and this book was one that left me pensive and considering the tragic after-effects of a miscarriage- something that I honestly had not thought about prior to reading this book.

I had challenged myself by picking a book that I knew I would not fall in love with but wanted to simply explore. The result has left me startled, excited and sad all at the same time. When an author can successfully achieve the objective of provoking thought and emotion within the reader, then no matter what the topic or themes of the book are I consider it a good read and recommend it. The Paper House is a novel that will resonate with you long after the last page.

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Frank & Lola

A haunting and dangerously compelling love thriller

Ever wondered how far you would go for vengeance in order to protect the one you love?

Director of Frank & Lola Matthew Ross achieves suspense and surprise start to finish leaving the viewer to wonder and question the practicality of the relationship between love and morality. The director beautifully demonstrates the fragility of human condition and how vulnerable we can all be when in love. “It was inspired by a sort of personal story… it was pretty complicated and dark,” the director tells in an interview.

It begins like your typical love story- man and woman go on a date, have butterflies in their stomach and have passionate sex. You cannot help but fall in love with Frank (Michael Shannon) and Lola (Imogen Poots). Magnificently played by Michael Shannon, Frank is mysteriously charming and unpredictable.

The beauty of this movie is that the connection between Frank and Lola is very real. The love between them is raw. The emotion and passion between them almost makes you disregard the rotten and dangerous nature of their relationship. Their love is a sick love, but they are love-sick. It turns out to be anything but your typical love story.

Infidelity, betrayal, vengeance and love all meet simultaneously in this spine-chilling psychosexual thriller. Despite the melancholy that surrounds them, Frank and Lola are drawn to each other like two very flawed magnets.

The structure of this movie is such that there are no unnecessary scenes. It is to the point and keeps the viewer on edge every minute of it. The unpredictability of Frank and Lola’s actions is captivating and thought provoking. What makes this love story different is that it is not a good love, it is not a healthy love, yet you still cannot decide if you want Frank and Lola to be together or not.

Despite the cruel nature of the relationship damaging Frank and Lola psychologically and physically, their love is genuine and passionate. Matthew Ross hooks the viewer and leaves the ending open to interpretation, letting you decide the ending you want for the two incompatible but oh so compatible lovers.

This is a chilling story that does not simply end when the credits roll up. It stays with you long after watching it. Frank and Lola’s story lives on, and what happens next is up to you.

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