The Twenty SS20 Issue

Tenuous Clans Amongst Artists

By Jo Phillips


Image: Susan Quinn, untitled (detail)
Biopsies: viscera, vesicles, & vacuoles,
Epoxy resin on board,
60 x 30cm, Feb. 2012
Sawtooth ARI, Launceston.

Is a clan simply a group? I do believe so! A group exists when two or more people define themselves as members of it and when its existence is recognised by at least one other person. Animals of specific species instinctively form groups…a school of fish, a troupe of baboons, etc. A collection of humans of a like-mind coming together, in a psychological sense, and because they identify something that makes them the same, is a group. Significant elements involved in group formation include cooperation and interdependence…the amassing of a network.

For a short time recently I could and, perhaps, should have been a part of a particular group. Six individuals, each a visual artist, all planned to exhibit work in the same gallery; a single yet significant element that might have brought us together…but didn’t. There was no interdependence, no cooperation, no networking. The group-that-wasn’t-a group did, however, form sub-groups. There were elements that seemed to bind and fracture; parochialism, for example. In effect, what developed were three separate groups, each containing two individuals, each of whom identified something that made them the same as the other.

Particulars aside, it would appear human individuals define personal existence at any given time through a process of identifying (often tenuous) similarities, and that the need to belong is strong.

Despite failed human communications, the exhibition was a success.