'Of Objects or Sound’ is currently on at Anna Schwartz Gallery in Sydney. The exhibition consists of new video works documenting object and sound-based performances by Gabriella Mangano & Silvana Mangano created during a residency in New York.
Lucy Rees: What did the residency entail?
Silvana Mangano: The first three months of the residency was organised through the Australia Arts Council. That was purely for research and to attend Performa 13.
Gabriella Mangano: We then did a residency from December 2013 – February 2014 at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) funded through Dame Joan Sutherland.
LR: The videos depict you performing with forgotten and thrown away sheets, rods, wheels and balls that you found scouring the streets of New York. Tell me about this process and the notion of the readymade.
GM: Our ISCP studio was based in a very industrial zone in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn and we started collecting these beautiful objects being dumped on rubbish night. It was winter in New York and the ground was covered in white snow, it was as though these discarded objects were already on plinths.
SM: Once the pieces were inside our studio we felt like we truly existed in the city, and we had a valid connection. We owned the time and place of the objects. We could then direct them, or they could direct us. When you’re travelling you are always looking at things from a distance that you can never really touch.
We took their previous histories and re-invented their energies. Interestingly, the objects also mostly came from something that was moving prior, like a car or a machine. The red tube inPerformance Compositions for Sculpture (8) actually smelt a lot like petrol as it came from inside a car. It was originally a long piece of tubing, but we connected it to make it more sculptural. We felt that it encapsulated the movement of a car that is constantly going from A to B.
LR: You took part in the Fifth Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art in 2013. How did this experience inform your practice?
GM: Russian Constructivism has always really inspired us. To have the opportunity to be in Russia and see works by these artists in the flesh made our art practice suddenly make sense.Performance Compositions for Sculpture (5) is a gold metal rod that reminded us of the sculptures we saw in Russia.
SM: The architecture was so sculptural and had such strong forms. There was a sensibility in the city that really spoke to us.
LR: The sound element of the videos is very melodic and there is a sense of timelessness. Are we supposed to be aware of the time passing, or lost in it?
SM: The soundtrack is recorded at 60 beats per minute. We wanted to create performances within that tempo because we found that while we were collecting objects there was a real slowing down. The videos are about 5 minutes long and are cyclic so you're not sure if you're in the past, present or future.
LR: How much work goes into editing and stripping back your performances afterwards?
SM: It’s a really long textural process. To even get to the actual editing process takes time. We want to get the very essence by isolating and abstracting time and movement.
LR: When the performances end do the objects hold any meaning? Did you bring them back to Sydney?
SM: After every performance it's a habit of ours to house all the objects. We are interested to preserve the traces of what has been done to them.
GM: We did some huge paper sculptures for the Biennale of Sydney and once they were used, they were all torn and so beautiful. We have always thought we’d like to have an exhibition of all the leftovers.
This interview was first published on ARTAND Australia's website.
Gabriella Mangano and Silvana Mangano studied drawing separately at the Victorian College of the Arts, only later did they come together to collaborate on the videos Gabriella Mangano and Silvana Mangano studied drawing separately at the Victorian College of the Arts, only later did they come together to collaborate on the videos for which they are now well-known.
Selected solo shows inciude: Gabriella and Silvana Mangano’, Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne, 2009; ‘Between Near and Far’, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Sydney, 2009; ‘If…so…then…’, Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, Perth, 2008; Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, 2007.
Selected group exhibitions include: ‘2010 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Before & After Science’, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 2010; ‘I Walk the Line: New Australian Drawing’, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2009; ‘The New Fresh Cut’, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2008; ‘The Wandering Line: Thinking Through Drawing’, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 2008.
The artists are represented by Anna Schwartz Gallery, Sydney and Melbourne. Read more about their works here.