Invisible Conversation

  • Debra Porch (Australia) in collaboration with Ian Were (Australia)

    site-specific installation, photo, video

    High School of Arts, Mekhitar Sebastatsi Educational Complex, Yerevan

As a visual artist Debra Porch has focused on memory and mortality and the relationship that presence and absence play for over 15 years. Memory can be a potent phenomenon – having the capacity to transform what may have appeared as the everyday or familiar into what can transpire into the extraordinary. Conceptual concerns that weave through the work include: memory and ‘second hand’ memory in association to a ‘sense of place’, the concepts of absence and presence operating simultaneously in dealing with transitions from present to past, the importance of time in relating to what remains visible or invisible within one’s history, and the use of everyday and domestic objects and images to provide links to the absent or presence of histories and stories.

Memory is revealed through the work as having the capacity to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary – acting as a powerful catalyst that connects a viewer’s awareness of a past experience to the visible objects experienced through the installations. Debra’s previous installation works have integrated visuals and objects within spaces to trigger in the viewer the visible (or presence) of memories, stories, or physical ties that are invisible (absent). The work has linked the importance that everyday objects have in representing images and ideas that through memory can be transformed into the extraordinary.

The large-scale installations ‘Invisible Conversation’ was accomplished by Debra Porch in collaboration with Ian Were in the frame of the ‘Art Commune’ International AIR Program. The project has also incorporated a range of materials, including constructed and knitted textiles, found, purchased and changed objects, and video of ‘invisible’ interviews to operate as visual metaphors for the ideas. The series of photographs and a video work display the entire documentation of the whole processes of meetings with and interviewing local people and artists.

This is the second visit of the both artists to Armenia to continue their researches on ‘memory and mortality’ where the series of works question whether the visual installation or the art object can translate the ‘ordinary’ into the ‘extraordinary’, linking the past to the present, and how the potential of the objects, used in visual installation practice have to evoke that which is invisible or absent from a viewer’s sight.

Debra Porch held a public talk during the initial stage of her residency at the ‘Art Commune’ in September, 2012.

Debra Porch is an Associated Professor and Senior Lecturer at the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University. She has been the recipient of various awards and grants that include an ‘Asialink’ artist residency in Vietnam, the Art Gallery of New South Wales artist residency in Paris, France and “Art Commune” (ACSL) International Artist-in-Residence program in Yerevan, Armenia. She completed her PhD in 2006.

Ian Were is arts editor and writer. Since 1997 Were has edited more than 20 art books and publications, including six recent books as a freelance editor and writer. He edited 26 issues of Object magazine for the Australian Centre for Craft and Design (1996?2003) and 23 issues of Artlines magazine for the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art (2005?2011). He was Senior Editor at the Queensland Art Gallery from 2002 to 2009 where he edited or co-edited 12 major exhibition publications.