HA: no name no sides :TH
Ideas Platform, ARTSPACE, 2019
Los Angeles / New York based artist, Hayden Dunham, has created a new installation specifically for Artspace’s Ideas Platform. This immersive work is informed by Dunham’s background in environmental studies and interest in the conditioning systems of materials as they exchange energy from one state to another. Dunham is somewhat of alchemist, continuously transmutating matter, rupturing and reconfiguring liquid elements to transform them into something new. She often works with everyday or organic materials that are double-sided in meaning or imbued with a kind of dark edge - materials that can be healing in one form but toxic in another. It is through our relationship with these materials that we understand the world around us. From silicone to oil, volcanic ash to rubber, Dunham’s installations are made up of disparate objects and chemical compounds that when combined, produce new connections between ourselves and the things around us.
In HA: no name no sides :TH, slick oil like substance lies in a pool on the floor made from a liquid material invented by the artist called ‘DD’. The base of this material is activated charcoal, a form of carbon often used in the wellness industry for medicinal, purifying and detoxifying purposes. Dunham says, ‘activated charcoal is a material that when it enters the body, it attracts all toxic material and takes it out. It has a benevolent tendency but also is quite uncomfortable.’ The sculpture continuously transforms throughout the duration of the exhibition, mutating and contracting from liquid to solid. The work is in a constant state of transformation, of becoming.
We inhale, we exhale. We absorb, we produce. Our bodies are changed by the things around us and we are continuously altering our environment. Projected directly onto DD, we see a close-up image of a figure that resembles a lit matchstick cradling, caressing and occasionally kissing a black mineral. As she sways left to right she creates a soft hypnotic rhythm inviting us towards her. Dunham asks us to question how what is around us influences what is inside us and to consider the impacts of society’s obsession with ‘wellness’ at any cost. The darkened room hugs us within this imagined ecological environment. The result is an empathetic and calming sensation as we contemplate the ever-changing way we absorb and are absorbed by the world around us.
Hayden Dunham, HA: no name no sides :TH, 2019, Installation View, Artspace, Sydney. Courtesy the artist.