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The Samstag Alumni

The 2006 Anne & Gordon Samstag
International Visual Arts Scholarships

Christine Aerfeldt | Andrew Best  | Pia Borg |
Claudia Chaseling |  Sean Cordeiro | Claire Healy


The previously-signalled audacious scale of Sean Cordeiro and Claire Healy's site-specific, collaborative installations/architectural interventions was confirmed by the Package Tour (2003) work for Sculpture by the Sea, in which an army tank (with an ocean view) was effectively neutered, or at least rendered homely, by an incongruously suburban array of household items that included potted plants, deck chairs, milk crates, a boogie board and a barbeque.

Cordeiro and Healy’s fundamental concern with complex notions of home (in both a material and cultural sense) and in particular its impermanency, has been powerfully expressed in three key works from the last two years. Recalling Gordon Matta-Clark's architectural interventions, The Cordial Home Project (2003) involved the 'preservation' of a house destined for demolition and its dismantling and onerous reconstruction as a precisely-stratified formalist oblong - from foundation rubble to roof tiles - within Artspace gallery at Woolloomooloo in Sydney. Since this chaotic mass of building material was the only 'house' the artists were in a position to purchase, Cordeiro and Healy represent a generation of Australian citizens, for whom an egalitarian dream of home-ownership has dissipated. The Cordial Home Project was therefore a powerfully symbolic work - a house in its most reductive form; distilled, fragmented and ultimately obsolete. 'Stacking the house and reconstituting the elemental compounds in this way' says Healy, 'created a layering of absences. In our finished work there was no space to reside.'

Bound with orange twine, the contents of an abandoned studio in Weil am Rhein in Germany were vertically reconfigured for the project Deceased Estate (2004), as the less than striking individual components became cumulatively transformed. Cordeiro and Healy's achievement in this massive, free-standing agglomeration of household items was the retention of a confounding quality of spontaneity - unlike the similarly domestic constructions of Adam Dade and Sonya Hanney or Damian Ortega, with which they might conceivably be compared.

In 2005 Cordeiro and Healy lived on-site for a month at Milaby farm at Ballidu in Western Australia - incidentally tending to a flock of sheep - during the construction of the Maintenance project. Suggesting multiple readings (as distress signals, warnings or alternatively as suture) transformative Buddhist-orange, geometric oblongs and circles were applied to the windows and doors - described by Cordeiro as a violation of the membrane, the link between nature and interior space - of a derelict farmhouse.

Physical, immersive, intrepid, but never polemical, Cordeiro and Healy's work nevertheless resonates with socio-political commentary. Preceded by a challenging three-week trek through the Annapurna Mountain Ranges, where dwellings were carved into the cliff-face, the site-specific work When the bulls fight the calves get crushed (2005) was constructed at Siddhartha Gallery, Kathmandu in politically unstable Nepal. Intended to evoke the 'vulnerability of existence in the midst of greater forces,' project assumed a more fraught aspect, when a state of emergency was declared during the period of installation and the gallery director placed under semi-house arrest.

Wendy Walker
from her Samstag catalogue essay;
The memorable: ephemeral

 

Sean Cordeiro
Born 1974, Sydney, New South Wales
2006 Anne & Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship
International Student, Berlin University of the Arts, Berlin, Germany
2004 Master of Fine Arts, College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales
1997 Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours), College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales

 

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