“I like the idea that when people see something evolve like a drawing or musical performance, once they’re there live they become part of the collective family that’s experienced the work. ‘I was there when that song was sung, I was there when that line was made.’ I like to feel that people are related to the work then, they saw it evolve or grow up.”
Becoming Becoming, by Kellie O’Dempsey, is not your usual exhibition.
Showcasing in Umbrella Studio contemporary arts’ main space, the work features a number of video pieces as well as several walls of work produced live at the exhibition’s opening.
“Becoming Becoming is a progressive show – there’s a series of videos I’ve already completed that combine light, the body and sound – and looks at the idea that things and, in this case, drawing and movement and music, evolve as one work. But it works as a collaborative exchange,” Kellie said.
“The videos feature a Brisbane dancer called Melissa Georgiou and sound artist Michael Dick who performed with me as part of the opening. Part of the exhibition is installed with tape and paper and video, and the rest is created with two members of Dancenorth who move through the space, and I mimic their body movements listening to Michael’s sound to create drawings live in the space.
“I look at gesture and shape of the body, and also in Michael’s case how he responds to the movement with sound and then I respond to creating those sounds interpreted through lines. It becomes this cycle where we all end up forming the work together. It’s the idea of becoming becoming as the work continually evolves.”
While this is the first time Becoming Becoming has exhibited, it builds on concepts from Kellie’s previous work.
“This is a version of a work I did last year in Brisbane as part of my PhD examination called Away Untowards – so it’s a similar kind of notion that just as you get to where you’re going you’re either moving away or going somewhere else; Becoming Becoming is that place you can never quite grasp but is always here because you’re always here. It’s a bit of an idea that we’re always living in the now but thinking of the future or coming from the past.
“My style didn’t change as a result of my PhD studies, but the thinking behind my work. Now I’ve come through that kind of academic rigour in understanding where it fits in and what it can do, it will evolve to another level. It’s really quite nice to see and perform this work, which is the first big piece post-PhD which is cool.”
While the tape, ink and charcoal will stay in the gallery for the next month, Kellie says the live performance was an important part of the exhibition.
“It has that slight ephemerality where Michael’s sound is only heard here on the night – although it will be in the video as well – and you’ll see the dancers move but they won’t be here if you come and visit the piece.
“There’s a lot of risk involved because you could go really bad and the drawings could be terrible! But I think that’s why performance is so essential to this work: you don’t know what the work will be unless it’s performed. It’s that idea again of the evolution of making art.”
Catch Kellie O’Dempsey’s Becoming Becoming at Umbrella Studio contemporary arts until 30 May.