During a residency at Artist Residencies Enschede (ARE) the duo of Luke Conroy (Australia) and Anne Fehres (The Netherlands) created a project around the explorer Abel Tasman. This figure is historically and culturally linked to each artist’s country of origin, a result of the 1642 voyage where Tasman accidentally 'discovered' the island now called Tasmania, the place where one half of the artist duo grew up.
In their research, the image of Tasman that grew was one of a heroic seafarer from a small village. Upon leaving on his expedition to explore the unknown southern lands, the instruction of Tasman was that "all continents and islands, which you shall discover, touch at, and set foot on, you will take possession of…”. Tasman’s voyage was captured in great detail in his journal and through this the artists have been able to build an image of Tasman’s brief stop in Tasmania, where he planted a Dutch flag and proclaimed ownership. While Tasman’s methodical and businesslike journals provide an important record of white European’s first contact with this island, the artists were instead inspired by what such accounts leave out. Not only do these journals lack a record of any emotion of Tasman and his crew but, more importantly, they are entirely from the perspective of the outsider looking in.
In their exhibition therefore, the artists aim to expand the imagination around the journey of Abel Tasman. In doing so, the artists were inspired by the culture of the internet and 'fake news', where disinformation and fluidity around truth and authenticity has become the status quo. In a time where the truth has multiple perspectives, the artists want to give this mass of conflicting information a physical form. The works produced during the residency are regarded by the artists as 'mind maps' of contemporary existence that visualize the enormous flow of information and ideas.
In their works, the transient and fragmentary elements of the digital world are given a space to be considered in a new way. The works are created out of a variety of eclectic resources from 90s pop culture, internet iconography, stock photography, historical archives and personal images. Each piece in the exhibition consists of hundreds of individual images that have been digitally brought together and later added to with a variety of manual techniques. What emerges from this approach, is a mythology that is full of contradictions and new interpretations, where Abel Tasman remains just as unknowable as ever.
This exhibition is supported by: