Pip & Pop (aka Tanya Shultz) incorporates an eclectic range of materials such as sugar, sand, glitter, candy, paper origami, miniature plastic toys and structural foam, to create an immersive landscape that puts Willy Wonka to shame. Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Director Amy Barrett-Lennard describes the exhibition as series of “tantalising dreamscapes and seductive vistas populated with poetic, magical and absurd situations and moments.”
The audience is invited into this fantasy through a hallucinatory kaleidoscope of vivid pigments and topographical structures formed from hundreds of kilos of dyed sugar: mountain ranges, canyons, rock formations and open plains planted with magical forests of beaded trees and strange, plastic flowers.
A series of film clips will be screened displaying the ‘mod’ colours and a foam-sculpted landscape of the 1970s psychedelic TV series H.R. Pufnstuf, a surreal place populated by anthropomorphic objects including a talking flute and lollypop. Also on view will be extracts of Akira Kurosawa’s manipulation of vivid color from his cinematographic masterpieces. Pip & Pop’s site-specific installation transports the viewer into a whimsical paradise of fleeting bliss inspired by the ancient craft of storytelling. Often ephemeral, her meticulously constructed and highly detailed works draw wide inspiration from platform video games, Japanese mythologies and the edible make-believe worlds of European fairytales and folklore depicting utopian realms made entirely of food. In the French mythological Land of Cockaigne, houses are made of barley sugar and cakes, and the streets paved with cheese and pastries. Here consumption knows no material or conceptual bounds – an escape from our harsh realities.
Akin to the magical ‘wonderland’ that Alice found down the rabbit hole, or an Oompa-Loompa-run chocolate factory, Pip & Pop’s sugarscapes tap into our childhood sense of wonder, culture of curiosity, and caramalised cravings, along with the consequences of consumption and excess – a universal and recurring theme found in stories by the Brothers Grimm. Characters such as Hansel and Gretel, without caution, are licking windowsills and doorknobs on an illusionary Gingerbread house. Their euphoric state temporal as the ‘Grimm’ nature of this fairytale is later revealed – an outcome mirrored in the fragile and volatile qualities inherent in Pip & Pop’s primary, organic medium; a substance completely devoid of nutrition or lasting satisfaction.
‘When Happiness Ruled’, includes the artist’s first foray into kinetic sculpture, including robotic elements that animate – bewitch or enchant – the landscape. “This exhibition represents a shift from my usual work in that objects have grown bigger, taken on personas and started to spin”, says the artist. The exhibition includes her take on ancient narratives of spirits residing within objects and nature; of the ‘mountain spirit’ found in Asian mythology, rotating at the centre of the earth – spinning the viewer into a ‘world of pure imagination’ and self-exploration.
Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts
Until 24 December, 2016
When Happiness Ruled, 2016, installation view at Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts
Photograph: Jacqueline Ball. Courtesy the artist and Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts