Jenny Brown

  • Tied, Mayday 2006 This work was made in response to the issue of the rising tides on the low-lying Pacific Islands. It was an event held on the Indigenous owned fishing vessel the Tribal Warrior, which culminated in a funerary performance at Farm Cove where frozen saltwater sculptures were melted into the ocean. Varying in opacity, spiral ring and circular shapes bobbed up and down in the waves, relating quite literally to our unstable frozen water reserves, and their gentle melting and washing away triggered notions of temporality, erasure, loss and memory.
  • Placing stones as they are found This work explores mining and globalism from the contradictory careful singular action of “undoing” the trajectory of a few small decorative Chinese stones. Gary Sangster writes: “In early 2005, an elegant gesture of product repatriation was conceived and produced by Jenny Brown as a way of both describing certain elements of a working global economy and tracing the efficiency of a path of distribution. It was a modest act of economic anthropology that engaged research, performance, and documentation, as well as articulating an imagined or real cultural narrative of a concept of homeland and the actual journey of anonymous artifacts to their site of origin. The somewhat poignant, yet deeply ironic, pursuit of a homecoming, for near valueless materials or objects, small stones, garden decor-purchased inexpensively from a down-market, transnational department store in Sydney-heightens the sense of disconnection and inauthenticity produced through a global economic marketplace. The project…suggests a sense of loss, or alienation, as objects of value, objects of use, objects of function, and objects of desire, large or small, voluble or mute, are interminably transferable, anonymously interchangeable, dislocated and redefined throughout the trade routes of mass-market capital. The work is an action of little consequence, a specific kind of elusive gesture of futility towards irreversible systems and processes, which makes sense only as a poetic or aesthetic form of art.”
  • Bayeux Capitalism: A portrait of Edward Bernays The tapestry draws on the interrogative research of British journalist and filmmaker, Adam Curtis, in his series The Century of the Self (2002). Images chronologically present specific negative influences that Bernays created on behalf of governments and corporations. Bernays invented public relations in America by applying his Uncle Sigmund Freud’s ideas for mass control, who he visited regularly. These influences were turning points in the use of control of the ways in which Americans related to commodification, modern consumerism and representative democracy. The predominantly European and American story presented in the tapestry is book-ended at the beginning by a specific event that has shaped the way that Australia has approached policy in relation to agriculture and the enclosure. The Irish Potato Famine Genocide of 1845 involved the death of over 10% of the population and the subsequent deportation to Australia showed how government prioritised its activity as an epiphenomenon of the economy. The story within the tapestry explains how the stage has been reached where a version of the Irish Potato Genocide is now being implemented on our general population with consent, which is illustrated as the end section of the tapestry. The Burson-Marsteller energy poverty campaign packaged in our prime minister's gloating that coal is good for humanity, sits alongside a proposed wide-scale food production plan and potential signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Burson quotes that their company has been implementing what Bernays identified for decades. To read the text with corresponding images use the following link and change view to actual size -
  • Temporary Refuge Two housing projects have explore issues relating to affordable housing, alongside environmental objectives of small scale and material re-use, potential fireproofing through the use of a solid steel structure, and my interest in building from a gleaner sculptural approach to contribute to the fact that women build the majority of houses in the world.
  • Tony Abbott Yule Logs Pine logs anointed with Clandulla wattle, wine and oil for pagan cleansing rituals.
  • Artnode sculpture trail A community collaboration to create five major carved sandstone sculptures, incorporating plant propagation and planting programs, and the creation of an access audio guide (1999-2003). I initiated and managed the project involving over two hundred people, five university departments, three TAFE departments, several community groups, five funding bodies and corporate sponsors. Cindi Hankinson, an Honours student from the School of Occupational Therapy, conducted research with the participants with disabilities, investigating the relationship between community creative activity and health. Three main themes emerged from the data: ‘being engaged in creating’; ‘creating a stronger sense of self’; and ‘developing connectedness with others’. These themes indicated that creative activities did provide a unique experience of absorption through creative engagement, and of choice through the creation and expression of identity. Additionally, they provided opportunities for connectedness with others. These experiences, in turn, enhanced participants’ sense of control, self-esteem, identity, enjoyment and motivation, as well as their capacity to cope with stress, pain and negative emotions.
  • Singleton Women’s Script This work explores a site of resistance devised by a group of women in Singleton, New South Wales. The work pays homage to the original creative resistance of the women in the Hunan Province in China, who used their women-only script to make a private linguistic space in reaction to a world dominated by men. This women’s script was a rare act of solidarity, and was largely unknown by outsiders until about forty years ago. The women formed small social groups that became crucial support networks, partly in response to the fact that most women in China were illiterate and denied identities apart from their menfolk. The work is an exemplar of how embedded interventions can become normalised within the fabric of society.
  • Wink Wink is a response to an event in 2009 announced in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. This related to a New South Wales Government inquiry report about opening up parklands for cultural tourism, which recommended an Indigenous Arts Festival on Cockatoo Island. Indigenous curator Djon Mundine was quoted in the newspaper article, and there was a suggestion that he direct the festival. In a conversation I had with Mundine at the time, he told me that, if it played out, it would more than likely involve him standing alone on a hill on the island, winking at everyone walking past. I made Wink later that year, after the conversation with Mundine. Wink was exhibited as part of ГОГОЛЬFEST2009 in Kiev, included in The Social at Verge Gallery Sydney in 2012, and formed the inaugural exhibition at Kandos Projects in 2011. It comprises individual photograph portrait snapshots of Mundine and other Indigenous people winking. Even without Mundine’s festival story, their gazes and winks can be read as a collective participation in another open secret. This one includes references to the first white invasion, my role as photographer standing in for the anthropologist’s gaze, and the possible stealing of spirit through photography. Australian curator, writer and director of Kandos Projects, Ann Finegan, takes this idea further in a positive direction in interpreting the work, by seeing Indigenous Australia standing strong and winking from their own ground. ‘In accepting the wink, as being directed at me, there’s a kind of implicit acceptance by me of the other, and of the other’s acceptance of me. Like Perkins’ Bran Nue Dae, it’s a healing and sustaining fantasy. Žižek, as a Lacanian theorist of politics, might read it as a fantasy of national healing [where Jenny] Brown’s reconciliation gesture resonates with Bindi Cole’s I Forgive You, recently spelled out in large emu feathers on the walls of Brisbane’s GOMA’.

Jenny stakes out claims for both functional ends and aesthetic forms with her sophisticated multimedia practice that combines video, film, photography and installation, often with simple means and modes of expression. She favours research, production and engagement that take place within existing frameworks of culture and society to provide a more concrete way to activate art within the contours of formal systems and institutions in the world. This includes engaging with protocols, regulations and bureaucracies to address community concerns, environmental threats, social issues and political institutions. In many cases this more generally involves power and authority or justice and equity.

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    • Katoomba,
    • 61 407677371

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