SEPTEMBER QUICK FIX
Varsha Nair and Jerome Ming
Conference of Birds Gallery, Bangkok. 2009
Installation. Drawings. Animations
Although they enjoyed the casual dialog of two friends occupying a shared Bangkok studio, in September 2006, Varsha Nair and Jerome Ming found their separate art practices animated by an unsettling set of unspoken conversations. Jerome began to affix large drawings of tanks and colored panels to the workspace walls, while Varsha’s own sketches became transfixed with images of contorted puppets twisting in space. Both artists would later transform their respective works on paper into animations whose weightless movements and quiet adjustments would together resonate with the sobering gravity of the world just beyond the studio.
Three years later, much has changed, but hardly the “quick fixes” that anyone had anticipated. Indeed, mechanical puppetry and shifting colored sequences still intrude into the artists’ individual practices, as if the makeshift patchwork of images first stretched across their former studio’s walls had actually laid bare a far greater set of common concerns that would continue to preoccupy the two. In November 2008, while at a residency in Thailand’s Sisaket province, an unbridgeable distance from downtown Bangkok, Varsha filmed the unquiet lullaby of an Isan child swinging rhythmically from the threads of a hammock, falling in place. In early 2009, now working from Yaounde, Cameroon, Jerome created a methodical animation of red gears pivoting in circular motion, turning and returning to a theme he had explored in a similar work twenty years earlier, albeit by means of vastly different video technology. The two artists’ off-kilter perceptions of the common world they inhabited in 2006 have indeed not “fixed” and righted themselves, but have rather become a fixation of both artists’ work, resurfacing in their respective practices today, in September 2009.
The mute, involuntary motion of puppets and pinions, fixed in the pendular movements of loose arms, or in the clockwise rotation of regular spokes, yields a soothing, hypnotic effect. While humans must rest between pirouettes, the upward force that animates puppets is stronger than the gravity that drives them to a common ground. Puppets maintain their own centers of gravity, and do not require any sensitivity on the part of their operator, although he might dance along with them at times. The gyration of gears also seems to move in a delicate, masterful balance that cautions against any interference, remaining oriented towards the wheels’ own internal, circular courses.
“September Quick Fix,” a dual show by Varsha Nair and Jerome Ming, offers a common ground for a shift in orientation through a series of spontaneous renovations, incomplete outlines, and joint rethinkings. Each day, beginning on September 1st and leading up to an opening performance (an ongoing collaboration between Varsha Nair and Lena Eriksson) on September 19th, the artists will offer a “quick fix” of the day: Varsha by working in the gallery space, Jerome making his own adjustments by proxy from Cameroon. On the three floors of Conference of Birds, the two will give space to a dialog which has only intensified over the past three years by conversations that have become even more fixated and polarized since the artists first began working in proximity of each other starting a year earlier, in 2005.