UK Artist Cornelia Parker creates art by blowing things up.

This summer the MCA presents the first major retrospective of Cornelia’s work in the Southern Hemisphere.

“Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View”, a room sized favourite from the Tate Modern, has been meticulously installed. In 1991 Cornelia assembled common domestic objects into a typical garden shed and had the British Army explode it with such vigour that they needed to systematically comb several surrounding fields to find all the pieces. Cornelia then reassembled the fragments, strung from thin wires, capturing an instant after impact.

So many of Cornelia’s works, like this, while spectacular could be dismissed as a well-balanced assemblage of found objects, so read the text  and learn about process and concept behind the work. It’s always intriguing.

“War Room”could be simply seen as an immense tent impractically made of red paper with evenly spaces holes.  Though the  work has greater resonance across the centuries,  as it’s modelled on Henry VIII tent for a peace summit with France’s Francis I on the Field of the Cloth a Gold. The paper is the offcuts from a London factory that makes poppies for Remembrance Day.

“Avoided Objects” takes Cornelia’s practice to smaller but no less fascinating scale. A dozen objects in vitrines on plinths necessitate reading their descriptions, such as the dice, shot from a gun into a dictionary and landing on page for “Lifeboat”

The creepiest work, apt for an exhibition beginning in Halloween week is “Thatcher’s Finger”.  It’s a video running on a screen, implanted the MCA’s wall cavity. It begins with the statue of Margaret Thatcher in the House of Commons, and then the shadow of her finger tracing around the contours of the room referencing Nosferatu the vampire in that early silent film.

Photography and Text by Mark Ferguson

Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
8 November 2019 – 16 February 2020

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