Museum of Contemporary Art, anonymous gift, 2011
single-channel digital video, colour, sound, 8min 1s
8 min 5s
Lauren Brincat is a Sydney-based artist who works across diverse media from video and performance to sculpture and installation. Influenced by her formal training in painting, the artist has noted that she considers herself to be ‘a painter despite not using a brush or paint’.
The artist’s video works take the form of documented and often repetitive actions performed by the artist – walking, eating, talking, rowing a canoe. Acknowledging performance art of the 1970s as an inspiration, Brincat describes her works as pushing ‘physical and cognitive limits’. Previous artworks have seen the artist hold onto the edge of a diving platform above a swimming pool for as long as possible, play a drum kit raised metres above the ground or walk for a distance in a field of fog.
Brincat’s video Hear This (2011) depicts the artist alone in her studio during a residency in Berlin, speaking on a telephone with her mother back in Australia. The telephone is made from watermelon wedges that the artist slices and consumes as she speaks, literally eating her own words in a both tragic and comical representation of homesickness. As the video progresses, the watermelon soaks Brincat’s clothes and dirties her hair and face, creating a disquieting and awkward performance.
The artist frequently uses inanimate objects as totems. Everyday items take on deeper significance to reference wider concepts including personal memories, particular sentiments or emotions and art historical events. In Hear This, the watermelon, an expensive luxury brought during a cold winter in Berlin, takes on wider connotations to home, childhood, summer and Australia.
Sound plays a significant role in Hear This, as in many of the artist’s works, the soundtrack acts as an emotive device drawing on both personal and cultural recollections. Unassuming noises such as the cutting of a slice of melon, or a seed falling onto the wooden floor take on greater importance in the video, emphasising both the solitude of the figure and the intimacy of the performance.
Hear This conveys not only the isolation of homesickness but also the absurdity that derives from being in an unfamiliar situation and not being able to share that experience.