Untitled wall drawing, 2012

Pencil wall drawing, 1500 × 310 cm

Exh.: Marking time, curated by Rachel Kent, also including Edgar Arcenaux, Jim Campbell, Daniel Crooks, John Gerrard, Tatsuo Miyajima, Rivane Neuenschwander, Katie Paterson, Elisa Sighicelli, and Gulumbu Yunupingu, 29 March — 3 June 2012, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

Untitled wall drawing is a list of instances of the creation of national boundaries since 1901, drawn in pencil directly on to the gallery walls in chronological order.

Untitled wall drawing is now held in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. It was first realised as a wall drawing in the exhibition course at Ocular Lab in 2005. Its second iteration was in the exhibition Word at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Sydney, in 2009. Each artist participating in the exhibition Word was asked to write a short text on their work.



I have used words in a number of works. Sometimes this is pragmatic—it is a way to provide contextual or narrative information which I hope inflects or enriches another form. In other cases it is a more deep-seated choice—the art work privileges the word over the image, in a way that in part takes shape against the way a certain kind of image dominates our culture, and in part takes its cue from various antecedents in recent art-making (Ian Burn and Mel Ramsden, Jenny Holzer’s LEDs, the films of Claude Lanzmann, to name a few), and from many more antecedents beyond, in art history, politics and theology. Untitled wall drawing is a work which privileges the word in this way.

It is an attempt to address how words bear memory: the slowness of words (as they accumulate in us as we accumulate their meanings), their economy (the capacity of words to describe across vast stretches of time and space), and a kind of withdrawal (where words would describe a dispassionate even bureaucratic relation to the world they name).

Mostly, though, the words in this Untitled Wall Drawing were conceived through drawing, and more specifically through their shared constituent element, the line. The work evolved through drawing, the way drawings mark duration, and in the attempt to give a form to something that cannot be shown



The list of instances of the creation of national boundaries has been used in a variety of collaborative works with the composer Andrew Byrne, performed in Melbourne in 2006, in Bath in 2008, and in Venice in 2009, and in El Siglo, a 100-minute video broadcast on Señal 3 de la Victoria in Santiago on 5 and 6 October 2006.

Related work

Towards a monument to Batman's Treaty


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