Talented multi-media local artist Zoe Brooks discusses her new exhibition Show Pony, currently on show at Urban Cow.
What are the themes you wanted to explore with this exhibition? I think the seed for Show Pony began when I was 17. I was ice-skating competitively and stage-performing ice-skating pantomimes in both Adelaide and Singapore.
The phrase ‘show pony’ was thrown around quite a bit. Thinking about this, I made a large LED light animal hide sign. I thought further about performing in everyday situations and the connections between ‘practicing and performing’ with ‘art making and exhibiting’ and within the context of a commercial gallery space, I began to further explore these themes.
The work behind Show Pony was created during a residency at a horse property in South Australia. Can you tell us about this residency and how the place influenced the work? As a language-based artist I found myself interested in the language surrounding the idea of performance and how some phrases referenced a horse. I spent a period of time at S&J Whittle Racing in Milang, South Australia, where I had access to race horses, show ponies and a Shetland pony named Snoopy.
I began to study their behaviour to further my thoughts on ideas of performing. I watched, as their behaviour would change as they interacted with each other when placed in different yards, but also when they knew they were being watched. The video Performing vs Instinct began as a documentation of this. You have used different mediums for this exhibition. Can you explain how your work has evolved over the last few years? When I first went to art school I graduated as a painting and drawing major.
In 2013 I went back to study Honours and I was guided into the sculpture and installation department. Looking back, I guess this was one of the most valuable and crucial decisions I have made. Sculpture in the expanded field is always a challenge and working with different mediums has allowed me to be challenged as an artist as I am really guided by my concept. This exhibition is a combination of the two mediums and is a good example of how my arts practice has been evolving.
Can you explain how Show Pony “explores ideas of performative instinctual behaviour”? When I speak of performative instinctual behaviour, I am looking at the ideas that stemmed from the video Performing vs Instinct.
Through the filming process the two horses naturally took on individual personas, as they ‘performed’ they battled it out to the music by Bach. It became clear that their behaviour was deeply instinctual but also performative as their actions, behaviours and gestures were quite suggestive and communicative.
For me, this idea also comes back to the studio. Performativity is somewhat evident in art making processes, which is as equally instinctual as it is communicative and I found the two behaviours to resonate the same idea. What is coming up next for you artistically?
Over the next couple of months I will be heading back into the studio to spend some time developing more work. I will be a part of the Adelaide Fringe exhibition Sublimation with other Adelaide artists from 69 Prospect Studios.
I am also working on a public art collaboration with a Melbourne-based artist.
Images: Soft Paddles (detail) Timber paddles, paint and flannelette sheet Series of 6 2015/2016 Performing vs Instinct Single channel video, loop 2:11 Sound – Johann Sebastian Bach: Predule by Jenő Jandó 2015/2016 Show Pony (detail) Led light, animal hide, cable ties and steel support 2015