BURCHILL, Janet, 1955
McCAMLEY, Jennifer, 1957
Wall unit (origin of the world), 2001
waferweld wood, cast bronze, perspex
37.0 cm x 177.0 cm x 27.0 cm
Courtesy of Yuill/Crowley, Sydney
Many of our collaborative works have been installations, or more precisely, have involved the creation of rooms. These works have frequently involved an arrangement of components. With Wall unit (Origin of the world), we wanted to investigate the containment of classic sculpture. In this piece, the components have been condensed and internalised, questions of scale refigured. Ideally, the work is to be exhibited in a room by itself.
Wall unit (Origin of the world) is loosely related to our earlier furniture sculptures. With this piece, we had two reference points (although the final work bears little physical resemblance to either of these): 1930s Bauhaus hanging sideboards and certain of Donald Judd's untitled wall works.
We had been collecting birds' nests for a couple of years, initially with the idea of utilising the real nests. We were attracted to the nests because they were exquisite, enchanting forms made from a bricolage of 'found' and 'natural' materials. Miniature forms of architecture, each nest evoked a mini-cosmos. We had initially wanted to fabricate housing-like structures to accommodate the nests.
But the real nests were too fragile and too 'real' to ever work with - unless one wanted to use them as support points for some play with classificatory schemas. (We absolutely did not want to neutralise the objects in this way and, hopefully, the wall-unit structure in which they sit avoids connotations of museum vitrines.) We then decided to cast the nests. Bronze is, in many ways, a perverse choice of materials for casting something as fragile and detailed as birds' nests. The nest is lost in the casting process and one is left with its double. The final objects were both uncanny and fetishistic.
The nests sit in the wall unit, which is made from a highly patterned compound wood which mimics the camouflage nature of the nests. The nests are viewable via a series of circles, successively decreasing in size. These portholes/peepholes are intended to activate an almost primal type of vision. Birds' nests are rich in art-historical and symbolic associations and the title of the piece jokingly alludes to one such set of associations. The sexual connotations of the title should not be taken too seriously - an alternative title we had considered for the piece was Wall unit (Bungalow). This title alluded to the architectural qualities of the piece, which are as important as any symbolic associations the work generates.
Janet Burchill and Jennifer McCamley, October 2001
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