Tom Borgas wins NEWART Commission

Adelaide visual artist Tom Borgas will represent Adelaide with ‘Postdigital Ruins’ – a mixed work of sculpture and performance – at Splendour In The Grass.

Adelaide-based visual artist Tom Borgas will bring his contemporary work Postdigital Ruins to music festival Splendour In The Grass later this year. Borgas was awarded the NEWART Commission, a $10,000 prize from Lismore Regional Gallery and Byron’s Splendour, to bring bold new art to the festival. Borgas, whose work has appeared at exhibitions around Adelaide for many years, has a geometric sculptural practice. Past works will tie into the Splendour project, titled Postdigital Ruins. For Adelaideans unable to jet off to Byron, this means we may get a chance to see the work in progress. “I’m looking to exhibit some of the documentation and some of the artefacts, as well, after Splendour,” Borgas tells The Adelaide Review. “I’m even thinking of exhibiting stuff in the lead-up to it; there’ll be elements that point towards it. It’s what I think about all the time; it’s what I’ve been working towards.” Borgas explains that, after working as a production assistant at last year’s Splendour, he has been completely consumed by thoughts of the work. “I’ve actually been working on it almost since last year, even though it wasn’t confirmed or anything. I just got really excited by all the possibilities and got into it. “It got to the point where it just had to happen,” he says, laughing. “I find it a really helpful way to work, being speculative about where things could head. I push really hard towards it, and things start to fall into place. Work carries itself when there’s a confidence about it.” Previously, Adelaide artist James Dodd presented work as part of Splendour in the Grass’s visual arts program. Dodd and Borgas recently exhibited together at the Adelaide Town Hall for Built constructs, a collection curated by Adelaide City Council Emerging Curator Polly Dance. tom-borgas-riparian-artefacts- Riparian Artefacts (2014) double-wall polypropylene, synthetic turf, rope, concrete, dental plaster, spray paint, adhesive vinyl, shelves, total floor area 6x12m. Installation at Project Space CACSA. Image courtesy of the artist and Hill Smith Gallery.


“It’s pretty huge and it’s a pretty big step for me,” says Borgas. “It extends my work in a pretty full-on way, which is really exciting and scary.” So what will Postdigital Ruins entail? The work will be part performance and part sculpture, with an ‘excavation’ of the work onside at Splendour. In the words of the man himself: Postdigital Ruins is “an archaeological excavation exposing the remnants of a vast, subterranean, low-res virtual landscape. Referencing the triangulated structures used by software to describe three-dimensional space, the fluorescent pink tessellated topography is constructed from several hundred interlocking plaster tiles and exists as a physical articulation of the wireless, invisible digital network that services our deep seated desire to connect with others”. Similar to a past project (Riparian Artefacts, pictured above) and echoing elements of his Postdigital ArtefactsPostdigital Ruins will draw on this previous practice, but extend it on a mammoth scale. Fluorescent pink tessellated triangular tiled sculptures will be unearthed by his team of art-aeologists, who will become living scuptures in their own right. The team of diggers will be in uniform, and, when wandering the Splendour site, become extensions of the artwork, bringing the piece to the people. Borgas is hoping to engage a theatre director for more instruction on how to bring this side of the project to life. Simply, this isn’t a work that Borgas can construct here and simply move to Byron. “I’ve come to realise that most of the stuff that I make, installing it is actually a really integral part of the work. This is kind of an extension of that: it’ll only come into being when it’s on site, a bit before the festival,” says Borgas. “Once the festival starts and the punters arrive, that’s when we’ll dig it up and reveal the extent of the structure.” Before he heads interstate, Borgas has a few exhibitions in Adelaide. At these, you may be able to get a taste of Postdigital Ruins in its development stages.


Provisional Objects Jam Factory, Gallery 2 Opens Thursday, April 30 Abstract | Narrative Adelaide Central School of Art Opens Tuesday, June 16 Group Exhibition: New works from Tony Lloyd, Simon Finn and Tom Borgas Hill Smith Gallery Opens September 5   Tom Borgas profile

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