Heavy Artillery

With a new exhibition opening every six months, White Rabbit Gallery undergoes dramatic transformations in preparation for the next show. The latest instalment, 'Heavy Artillery', saw areas of the space dismantled, new ones assembled and floors reinforced to cater for what was to come.

Curated by David Williams, ‘Heavy Artillery’ is a survey of 30 works. The titles for the exhibitions at White Rabbit Gallery often transpire from the works selected for the show. Williams describes the title as a play on heaviness and art, he says, “The majority of the works are either physically large or internally complex.” Areas of investigation include love, memory, time, freedom and the relationship between Eastern and Western culture. Ideas are drawn from childhood, commerce and spirituality. The overlap between the virtual and the real is also a prominent influence while other pieces are suggestive of the beauty witnessed in the natural world.

Selecting the works began by choosing the ‘must include’ pieces. Williams explains that other works were decided based on the ways they conversed with the first selection or, as he says, “play off them in some way.” Choosing where to place the selection on the four floors of the gallery then followed. In some cases it was clear that there was only one spot to send a particular work as the size determined its position.

Amongst the line up of artists, audiences can expect to see He Xiangyu’s Tank Project (2011-13), the gallery’s 20th Biennale of Sydney artist Shinji Ohmaki’s screen-printed transparent wall along with Xu Zhen’s European Thousand-Armed Sculpture (2013-14), which consists of 19 figures standing at roughly three-metres tall. Zhen selected the sculptures from a combination of Greek, Roman and Renaissance sources and the Statue of Liberty. With their piercing white appearance, they remain positioned in line, paused momentarily from their enigmatic routine. The first figure, Athena, the Greek Goddess of wisdom, civilisation, art and war leads the others who are respectfully positioned behind. The fabric adorning Athena mimics folds and ruptures precisely adding a gleam to her presence. The statues are representative of a Buddhist deity – the thousand armed Guanyin – an East Asian Spiritual figure of compassion and mercy who heard the cries of the people of the world.

Library (2008) formulated by Polit-Sheer-Form Office (PSFO) presents 25 bookshelves containing 8,000 books. Every book is the same, from the pages to the blue cover; the only difference between each is the series code. The books act as a reference to the Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s ‘Little Red Book’ which consisted of contemplations and quotations. Each of the PSFO artists had to carry this book with them to school every day and place it on their desks. The artists are asking viewers to reflect on knowledge and to question if we have the time to seek knowledge rather than merely just finding information.

Like all of White Rabbit’s exhibitions, the works involved expose the persistent and enduring efforts employed by each as they tell their story. ‘Heavy Artillery’ will motivate some to learn more about the artists, the points of reference and techniques. Williams says, “We hope that, as with previous exhibitions, viewers will find the show intriguing, beautiful, challenging, calming, touching, sometimes amusing, but always a stepping-off point for fresh ways of seeing the world. Everyone has their own experience. We are happy if that experience is a satisfying one.”

White Rabbit Gallery
Until 7 August, 2016
Sydney