The Pull of the Volcano
A simply lit trunk sits in a corner. It’s reminiscent of something you might find washed up on a beach, or pushed aside by a lava flow. Faded, but still intact, it has a history. It may well have been the thing you grabbed, stuffing it full of clothes as you tore out the door, just before the volcano erupted. Maybe you dropped it, and by a twist of fate, as you were incinerated, it survived, the slow moving lava taking a different path from where it was hastily flung.
While the experience of Volcano has a similar, touching appeal to wandering the ruins of Pompeii in Italy, there’s also something gently humorous about Maria Miranda and Norie Neumark’s new installation piece, on the island of Stromboli, at Sydney’s Artspace.
The debris spilling from the trunk is not the legs of stockings and arms of sweaters, but the substance of the volcano itself, remembered by the trunk and now transformed as memories often are. Through technological aids we are given a trunk’s memory of the volcano…And because the trunk has seen many lives, so the memories are from many different times.
trunk is lit by a spot of yellow. From it spews a mass of tangled
cables, a lava flow of plastic and wiring, which lead to a collection
of lava rocks—in the form
of computer monitors, out of which spill and shake various images. ‘What!’
I shouted. ‘Are we being taken up in an eruption? Our fate has flung
us here among burning lavas, molten rocks, boiling waters, and all kinds
of volcanic matter; we are going to be pitched out…vomited, spit
out high into the air…in the midst of a towering rush of smoke
and flames; and it is the best thing that could happen to us. Shot out
of a volcano at last!
you move in closer to the volcano, the images shift, and texts circle
around, shifting between screens/stones. The radioactive heat has
rendered them distorted, but the message is clear. We’re discovering the seductions of the notion
of ‘volcano’, as did Krafft and Krafft, the vulcanologists
who were famously consumed by Unzen in Japan, erupting in June 1991 just
as they were taking photographs. The images could be, like the trunk,
what remains, the camera thrown clear…