Article: Bonnie Lane - 'Into the Dark'
Bonnie Lane - 'Into the Dark'
13 May - 28 May 2011
BUS Projects Gallery
Basement Level, Donkey Wheel House
673 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Open Wed - Sat, 12pm - 6pm
Inter-Review between Carl Scrase and Bonnie Lane: Notes from the underground.
Carl Scrase- I would firstly love to congratulate you on your solo show, Into the Dark at Bus Projects. I had just finished Dostoevsky's book Notes From Underground; the way your unhurried dreamlike video loops echoed with resonance in the subterranean raw architecture really resonated with me. I interpreted your exhibition as an existential monologue; do you think this is accurate? Or am I just getting swept away over slippery concepts like synchronicity and serendipity?
Bonnie Lane- Thanks Carl, to put it frankly, yes you're right! I don't think I ever set out to create 'existential art, exploring our questionably meaningless existence' but it just seems to be what comes out in the end. I do want to emphasise that I am only questioning these things though, not giving a definite answer or opinion. I aim for the audience to interpret the work differently according to their own personal experiences and beliefs. The show seems to have sparked a range of responses depending on the level of innocence of each individuals mind, or lack thereof.
CS- I know what you mean by questioning and not answering; I have a couple of friends that talk in questions, they have conversations that bounce back and forth for hours. That is something I am trying to do with my own practice, ask questions, sometimes in very obvious ways, like with question marks. I imagine some people are a bit nervous to delve too far into what seems to be a very personal subject manner; what have been some of the interesting questions people have asked you about the work? And is that challenging?
BL- It's funny because I think people often get too uncomfortable to say what they are actually thinking, or to ask questions about the subject matter. I get heaps of technical questions! (which can get a little boring) I don't like to give too much away about the process because I think it can detract from some of the mystery. Everyone is asking me details about the girl putting on makeup in video piece Maybe Tomorrow, people seem to be quite fascinated by her. I chose Mary because I know her personally and think she is an extremely interesting person. She is 5 years old but an old and serious soul, I knew she would be perfect for the piece because I wanted to capture this strange confusion and distinction between psychological, emotional and physical age. People ask me how much direction I gave her, if she had played with makeup before and so on.
This show has been interesting because there have been a lot of comments coming out rather than questions, people have been telling me all sorts of childhood memories that the work provokes which is what I aimed for. Quite a few people have been asking me if I "meant it to be spooky" which is kind of funny, but the more I think about it I don't really know. When creating some of the works such as the fluttering bedroom curtain projected onto the existing window, I set out with the intention of it being really nostalgic, quiet and beautiful yet so many people have told me how they were completely creeped out by it! And other pieces such as the little girl putting on makeup, I set out to be quite spooky yet people have looked at it and said "oh isn't that gorgeous" or "isn't she cute" which really freaks me out. The work I have been questioned about the most is the very last work in the show Somebody's Window it is quite different to the rest of the show and the last work I made. The work is a much more abstract interpretation of home and space so people have been asking me "what is it?" and then I tell them "its when you look through somebody's window at night and they are watching TV and all you can see is the flashing coloured lights as they move across the wall, and it creates some sort of nostalgia or feeling that you cant quite put your finger on". My favorite questions are from Mary herself (the little girl applying makeup), she was very excited about the show but trying to wrap her head around what the works were, she kept asking me "is this another one?" when we approached each work, then she would ask me if it was a "picture?", I really enjoyed this because she never once associated the works with TV or film the way that adults often need to in order to understand what I do. "Pictures" yeah I really like that, she also said she could tell they weren't photographs because they were moving.
CS- You keep bringing up this idea of “the level of innocence of each individuals mind”. I recently just went through my first really hard life test, I feel worldlier now, my eyes are more open, I am more prepared; but I am more guarded. Do you think innocence is bliss?
BL- Basically yes I think I do, I think my works often show a mourning for innocence whilst at the same time an acknowledgment of the acquired life experiences that mean you will never be able to get it back. Into the Dark especially focuses on the death of the childhood being and a longing for past moments, at the same time I am trying to figure out what 'innocence' is. This show has a lot to do with expectations too. The expectations of what a child believes their adult being will come into, and the distorted romanticisation of childhood from an adult perspective. I guess maybe I am saying nothing is what it seems, I was trying to get back into the headspace of childhood (which I don't find that difficult) and think about what was important to me then, and think about my fears then as opposed to now, they haven't changed all that much. Once was, Always is, Never will be is a vague reinterpretation of reoccurring moments from my childhood. The audience is invited to look through a set of curtains blowing gently in the breeze, out a window and into the street. It is night-time outside and cars can be seen passing continually back and forth, the projected image creates a warped sense of time and space as it is projected onto an existing window in an underground basement that usually leads to a blocked up brick wall, and hang on a minute isn't is daytime outside? A sleeping child hovers vertically on a titled wall, seemingly alone in the dark, I wanted to capture the moment of being a child in bed alone at night and feeling like the darkness was limitless and nighttime was endless, the feeling of being so small and everything else being so big, fear really. I think I expected that these kind of fears would disappear in adulthood but it turns out they just seem to manifest themselves in different ways. I often come back to the agonising experience of being alone in the dark with the complete inability to fall asleep, I think I am using this as a metaphor for meaninglessness.
CS- Cool, let’s leave it at that climatic point in the conversation. Can’t wait to see what the next questions you ask are.
Into the Dark is supported by the City of Melbourne through the Arts Grants Program.
Bonnie Lane is currently being mentored by Tina Gonsalves through JUMP, the Australia Council’s national mentoring program for young and emerging artists. In Victoria, JUMP is being delivered through Melbourne Fringe. www.jumpmentoring.com.au
Bonnie Lane is an emerging Video Installation artist from Melbourne, Australia.
Carl Scrase does a lot of things; most of them are based around the intersections between concepts such as empathy, parallel thinking, collaboration, perspective, systemic change, creativity and reality.