A FASCINATING new art experience in Ballarat is exploring the “mysterious gaps” between words, language, and how we use them.
(min cost $8)
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Melbourne artist Michelle Hamer has been working with a range of Ballarat community groups with “flashcards” of stitched blocks of textile words.
Participants have been invited to use the words and create photo-booth film strips narratives.
The result is “concrete poetry” – an art form where meaning is reformed with existing or “found” words.
Hamer said stitching the words into tapestry flashcards turned a usually-fleeting experience into something that could last.
But that’s not where it ends – in fact, results from the group workshops will now form part of the exhibition.
While the community groups, including Ballarat Parkinson’s Support Group, Headspace and the Karden Disability Support Foundation – have been working with their poetry, Hamer has been taken photos overhead every five seconds.
She will then use this as a stop-motion projection as part of the There Are No Words exhibition, launched this week.
In that sense, the Ballarat community has literally been part of the art-making process.
The art uses fragments of text Hamer has found from her email subject lines, sticky notes and other random modern places where words are found.
During the exhibition, participants will walk between the sounds of “analogue” sounds of men and women speaking, to the “digital” sounds of the iPhone Siri voice.
The result is confusing, but also meditative, according to Hamer.
“Language can always be misinterpreted, reinterpreted,” she said.
“We all have personal connections to the way we use language, we all use it differently and this allows people to put it together in a way that is meaningful to them.
“You’re completely immersed in this kind of language and it’s a meditative thing.”
The exhibition was first held in Ararat. It is in Ballarat for its second iteration before moving to Swan Hill, and is a departure from Hamer’s usual work.
The visual artist usually creates intricate hand-stitched urban landscapes, such as street scenes, also focusing on language and words.
“It’s an opportunity for people to participate but also for me to explore my own language rather than language within the environment,” she said.
The exhibition runs at The Lost Ones gallery in Camp Street until March 13.
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