Yhonnie Scarce, Not Willing to Suffocate, 2012
Measured Response reflects upon the bodily and spiritual relationships between artists and the objects they make. The body has always provided a point of reference and measurement. We measure lengths of fibre with an outstretched arm; we take large strides to record space in approximate metres. Our relationship to the world is gauged in proportion to our physical dimensions. The artists here engage with materiality by activating their bodily knowledge and in doing so, leave traces of themselves within the objects they create. Whether the artist is breathing glass into form or impressing fingertips into earthly clay, each of these artworks are profoundly personal, representing a deeper knowing and an ancestral memory.
In Not Willing to Suffocate (2012), Yhonnie Scarce breathes her sculptural glass objects into the form of bush bananas, representative of her people, the Kokatha, Nukunu and Mirning peoples from the Nullarbour Plain and Great Australian Bight regions in the west of South Australia. In rendering this soft and delicate fruit in this more resilient of materials, Yhonnie conveys that despite suffering under the tight grip of European occupation and the colonialising of their land and culture, her people have resisted and survived, even when pressured to near breaking point. By incorporating the scientific apparatus, Yhonnie also reflects on the extensive and humiliating ethnological research Aboriginal people were subjected to throughout the 1920s and 1930s that formed part of this suffering.