9pm - “Creative Practice and Mental Health” panel featuring:
moderated by MacEwan
'The Wake' is a multi-disciplinary work spanning film, installation, painting and performance. It is a surreal allegory that reckons with the complex emotions of being human within the Holocene extinction. For her exhibition at Cooler Gallery, MacEwan will be presenting her debut film alongside a body of paintings and sculpture that expand the narrative beyond the film.
The word ‘wake’ has multiple meanings: to awaken from sleep; to hold vigil for the dead; a situation that arises as a consequence of an action; and the path left by a large body moving through water. ‘The Wake’ inhabits all of these meanings as it grapples with the emotional and spiritual strain of existing in the paradoxical roles of perpetrator and potential redeemer of a mass extinction that will even threaten the survival of the human species.
The project was prompted through contemplation of Vatnajökull in Iceland - Europe’s largest glacier - which is melting as a result of human driven climate change. Within the ice is contained a global record of the history of the air and, because a major feature of every mass extinction (including the present one) includes dramatic changes to the planet’s atmosphere, the history of extinction. The loss of this ice means the loss of a library of air. As no new ice is being retained, the Holocene extinction will no longer be recorded in this form.
The paintings shown in this exhibition surfaced as a way for MacEwan to remain creatively sustained whilst working on the film in the often difficult and isolating environment of Iceland. As MacEwan was filming in Iceland, Hawaii’s Kilauea was going through a massive volcanic eruption. MacEwan became consumed by the daily reports of this eruption and the two elementally transforming islands of Hawaii and Iceland became conflated in the artist's mind. The paintings shown here reveal the artists emotional response to these landmasses in flux, punctuated by her own motif of displaced wisdom teeth.
Jemila MacEwan, b. 1985 is an interdisciplinary artist living and working in New York. Jemila was born in Scotland before emigrating to Australia with her family, and this sense of displacement has informed her work as a comfortable outsider. In her recent works, MacEwan inhabits the role of various forms of destruction within the natural world, such as meteorites, volcanoes, fault-lines and glaciers as a way to reflect on what it means to be human in the age of the Holocene Extinction. MacEwan is a frequent collaborator with other artists, film-makers, performers and dancers. Her work has been exhibited at The Australian Consulate-General (NYC), Pioneer Works (NYC), Skaftfell Center for Visual Art (Iceland), Victori +MO (NYC), BRIC Media (NYC), The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts (NYC), Governor's Island Art Fair (NYC), The Melbourne International Arts Festival (Australia), Gertrude Street Projection Festival (Australia), and Arquetopia (Mexico).