Sydney Contemporary

Justene Williams —

Leading contemporary artist Justene Williams to present a new headline performance exclusively for the Fair titled She predicted the weather (2022). 

Performing on Opening Night, presented by Glenfiddich.

About the artwork

Justene Williams will present She predicted the weather comprising of 3 performative boat sculptures – with which 3 performers will swing these boats with ropes swivelling in a yaw central motion pivoting and swinging them in sync, choreographing the sculptural forms. Then they will step up onto the 3 rocking boats with painting like costume sails and sculptural weather costumes which will have the performers tethered to the masts of the boats with snap hooks and elasticated sails made from Williams signature architectonic marine carpet, tarps and plastic and sequins. Rocking, rolling, swaying and pitching on these forms.

“Decommissioned objects such as mannequins which appear frequently in my work will form the mast and figurehead pole these performers will move around are surrogates to fill in gaps in performance, these bodies are blank slates, to be positioned, danced with, carried, breathed and planted into in the case of the boat rockers they bring an anthropomorphic quality to these forms.”

Williams believes that focused intention on an object or in a space at a particular time allows the performer to forgo the ego through repetitive action and ritual movement with objects, hopefully generating a physical charge in the liveness between the body of the audience and the body of the vulnerable performer.

Rocking boats keep moving but don’t make progress. What is the difference between motion and progress? Must we keep going as we are, as a race? Repetitive rocking movement is soothing, can be sleep inducing and a way to clear our minds for thought. Or are we like Sisyphus? Is there is hope in ceaseless action? We all need to be gently rocked or are we still see-sawing out in rocky seas. These are some of the questions this new work seeks to address in live movement sound and form. Williams will attempt to directly embed the audience in the construction of an image-environment that is at once surreal, beguiling and in persistent motion. Deploying trained and untrained performers who may be friends family and new recruits.

Performing on Opening Night, 6–7pm. Book Tickets Now!

Image credits: [Top] Justene Williams, The Joy of Life after Madonna and Matisse, 2014, video still. Courtesy the artist and Sarah Cottier Gallery, Sydney; [Left] Justene Williams, Fan Girl costumes for A Metal Cry (performance), 2017. Courtesy the artist and Sarah Cottier Gallery, Sydney.

ABOUT JUSTENE WILLIAMS: Justene Williams was born in Sydney and now lives and works Brisbane (Meanjin), exhibiting since 1991. Justene Williams is well-known for large performances involving volumetric costumes and elaborate sets, video installations, photographs and more recently figurative sculptures that are roughly hewn from foam and fibreglass constructed in combination with readymade objects. Drawing from personal narrative, religions, rituals and mythology, channelling spirits of art history, transforming the prosaic through action, energy and emotion. Williams attempts to conjure invisible forces between corporeal and intangible worlds. Celebrating the avant-garde dream of the ‘total artwork,’ while deconstructing and communicating with a 21st century body —domesticating and situating it in the reality and absurdity of now. Williams work offers an inquiry into the lifespan of found objects, histories, and beliefs. She participated in the 20th Sydney Biennale, 2010 & 2004 Adelaide Biennial of Art and represented Australia in The Performa 15 Biennale – Australian Pavilions Without Walls New York. Other highlights include Know My Name, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; The curtain breathed deeply Artspace. Her work is held in collections such as Tate UK/ MCA, Monash University Modern Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Auckland Art Gallery, National Gallery of Canberra, Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art. Justene Williams is a Senior Lecturer at Queensland College of Art Brisbane and represented by Sarah Cottier Gallery Sydney.

Justene Williams appears courtesy Sarah Cottier Gallery, Sydney. This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, and has been supported by the Griffith University’s Creative Arts Research Initiative grant.

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