INERTIA / FORCE / CHANGE / INERTIA
CRITERION GALLERY, Hobart
7 August – 6 September 2008
Political personas come and go in a ceaseless procession; their time spent in office marked by contributions made towards solving or exacerbating political problems, for better or for worse. These personas are like a veneer, a thin patina that covers the substrate beneath. This substrate is constructed from the political parties to which these identities pledge allegiance, the economic and business interests of the day and the deals cut by predecessors, forming a complex web of relationships that span an array of bodies, institutions and entities. Enmeshed within the patina of these personas are their words, actions and beliefs as presented to the public, offset by the perceptions of others, whether it is a commentator’s opinion, a private conversation between friends or a boardroom discussion. This substrate and its patina sit upon the ground of history, of wars, feuds and alliances, of environmental catastrophes, of past misdeeds and valour.
Our relationship to these personas is mediated. Through daily occurrences in newspapers, television and the Internet these personas become like old friends (or enemies) in much the same way as do pop stars and newsreaders. A bond develops whether of affection or disapproval and these personas become ‘known’ to us through their image, their gestures, their manner of speech and their professed sentiments. In some cases these personas can become as familiar to us as those of family members. However, this is only the visible patina, the surface skin, that conceals an underbelly of staged press releases, choreographed photo shoots, scripted speeches, spin doctors and image makeovers. Somewhere amongst this contrivance is the real identity behind the persona.
In Jamin’s new works the only physical marks made by his hand are via the knife-cut lines that dissect the work, a process of ‘reading between the lines’. The rest of the painted surface is applied from a distance, ejected from a spray can, through a voluminous haze of solvents and paint particles. Real and definitive gesture exists in the work, though hidden within the process. These deliberate slippages create a tension between form and content, between the process of painting and the nature of persona. Sourcing imagery from the mass media and quotes from historical texts, Jamin collapses these elements into a homogenous array of muted tones and speckled surfaces, representing a shift away from the bold and saturated colours of assertion and protest. These works are an exploration of mottled and diffused surfaces, of possibility and uncertainty, locked into the rigid lines and angles of stencils. They are a comment on the hopes and concerns that we, the voting public, place in changes of government; the hopes we place in the patina of persona.