Review of My Doubtful Mind
The Age, 18 April 2008, p. 21
"Cool and creepy
"Phobias", note curators Jan Duffy and Alex Taylor, are inescapable, unrelenting , and require constant vigilance. But rather than Grand Guignol, this show is, well, cool. Saturated in existential film traditions, Dominic Redfern admits his terror of bananas. Natasha Johns-Messenger and Leslie Eastman's giant camera obscura with rotating mirrors siphons off the contents of one painfully lit room to decant it, inverted and poetically condensed, into a totally blackened other.
David Rosetzky creates a chic decor as mise en abyme with nice benches and compulsive-repetitive sound piece to match. A shiny black electro-fetish room by Soo-Joo Yoo cannibalises space. Dan Spielman's fragile serialistic drawings, suspended veil-like, are reminiscent of cemetery plans. Now that is scary! Ross Moore"
Article on My Doubtful Mind
The Age, 25-26 April 2008, p. 17 (excerpts)
"See, I told you I was phobic
...While artist David Rosetzky does not reveal a phobia of his own, he is certainly interested in exploring others' anxieties from a distance. He (with fellow artists Margaret Cameron and David Franzke) has created a soundscape dealing largely with anxious modes of thinking for an exhibition at Linden in St Kilda. Called My Doubtful Mind, curated by Jan Duffy and Alex Taylor, it opened last week, and is an immersive experience (one gallery, for instance, is a very small space.)
In Rozetsky's installation, visitors will sit about a hexagonal-shaped room and listen on headphones to Cameron reciting self-help cliches about analytical thinking, mixed with poetic bursts of more original insight. This is done in a smoothing "how-to-meditate" style voice to a background of New Age music. "Think about it", advises Cameron during the fascinating soundscape, which might provoke phronemophobia (the fear of thinking) in some listened.
At one level, such phobias may sound amuzing - as might paraskavedekatriaphobia (fear of Friday the 13th), uranophobia (the fear of heaven), scopophobia )the fear of being stared at) or proctophobia (the fear of rectal disease). But at another level they are not funny - and that is the tension that the curators and the exhibiting artists discovered when pitting My Doubtful Mind together: there is a knife-edge between hilarity and horror when phobias are scrutised...
Artist and visual arts lecturer Dominic Redfern has some inklings about the origins of his own unusual phobia (bananas) which began sometime in childhood, possibly during an advertising blitz for Cavendish bananas that he recalls with telling vividness. He knows it is a strange, irrational phobia - what is there to fear about bananas? - which is perhaps why he has trouble getting people to take the problem seriously. Often, he says, such jokers will try to sneak bananas into a cake or other food, but Redfern can smell it a mile off.
To make advertising material for the Linden exhibition, in which Redfern is showing a multi-channel video installation, he had to photograph bananas in a studio. He describes this challenging experience in graphic detail (the stink as they decomposed under the hot lights, and so on) he is aware of the possible Freudian implication of "nanaphobia" - but he is still little closer to overcoming his fear and loathing. He will not be eating bananas anytime soon.
Perhaps he ought to chat with anthropologist Chris Eipper, who has written a piece of fiction for the My Doubtful Mind catalogue. Eipper says that the body is often a source of symbols and classifications for anxiety, with bodily orifices in particular acting as "portals between self and society."
Eipper's academic work over the years has included a focus on "pollution behaviour" across different cultures = fears of disgust and shame, usually related to the body - and he cites the work of British anthropologist Mary Douglas as an influence. Douglas theorised that many phobias relate to anomalous states or objects, When things are in a grey area - between arrival and departure (a plane, a lift) between solid and liquid (blood, slime, bodily fluid) - we can struggle to deal with their ambiguity.
Of course, such things vary from culture to culture and Eipper thinks Western culture has psychological phobias to the point when people move too far away from acceptable notions of disgust, their reactions are seen as a problem. Hence Redfern's deep revulsion to bananas falls outside acceptable limits, as does curator Jan Duffy's hatred of small spaces (she hasn't been in a lift for 30 years). Not to mention the woman Duffy once sent into hysteria in a shop when she knocked over a container of buttons (the black and white buttons were the worst, the woman told Duffy.)
While acknowledgment is better than denial or repression, Redfern says he doesn't see his video artwork about his banana phobia as a form of psychotherapy. "I don't think therapy works necessarily in that way we see in the cinema - where someone has this insight and from that point forward, it's all unlocked and away we go." he says.
Understanding and accepting is a process, not an event. "Art is always working through what's inside," he observes. "whether we actually move on, whether it makes things simpler or easier, I'm not entirely sure."