March 2016: Claire Conroy

Caravan Obscura

An exhibition by Claire Conroy

Saturday & Sunday 19th & 20th March 2016, 11-5pm

Garden party: Sunday 20th March from 1pm
With cocktails, snacks, preserves and regular drinks.
Marrickville Garage kicks off our 2016 program with a travelling curio of wonderment and light. Claire Conroy’s Caravan Obscura is a retro caravan from the late 50’s which Conroy has converted into a pinhole camera, mobile darkroom, studio and camera obscura. Sitting on the street outside the Garage, the Caravan Obscura reflected Marrickville Garage’s suburban location.
Claire Conroy, 2015

Claire Conroy, 2015

Outside: On the street the van seemed tiny, but not tiny enough to fit inside the even tinier Marrickville Garage! Sitting under a large lemon-scented gum tree and just down from the Garage driveway, Caravan Obscura was at home alongside the colourbond fence. With it’s door open the caravan invited passersby inside suggesting little of its intriguing interior. The cuteness of the 1950s caravan, its laminex table and nicely restored seats suggested nostalgia. But once the door shut and the eyes adjusted something far more compelling was revealed.

Inside Caravan Obscura: The van sat on the street between the roller door and Marrickville Garage’s back gate. A pinhole and a lens in the rear window cast the street onto the laminex table. Sitting and gazing into the table, into the image, was mesmerising, captivating in the way that all moving image is. However, rather than the television mounted on the pub wall transfixing with its bringing-the-world-to-us-ness, the Caravan Obscura makes us reconsider the loveliness, and the specialness of the everyday world that is just outside the van. Another pinhole in the Caravan’s door, without the reflecting device in the rear window, throws the outside all over the interior. Immersed in the reflected world, our bodies too become another surface much like the laminex table we are gazing at.

Meanwhile,  inside the Garage, with 2 pinholes Conroy transformed the intimate space into a light filled immersive panorama of the backyard, the sky and the street. The everyday-ness of the streetscape inverted inside the Garage–upside down cars drove by, clouds moved across the concrete floor, and the dog, chickens and people wandered in the backyard, cast into and onto the Garage’s surfaces. The more time spent inside, the strangely more bewitching the images became as the eyes adjusted, gradually seeing and understanding more and more of the phenomena.

Inside Garage Obscura:

Visitors, our neighbours, and ourselves stayed inside the Garage for lengthy periods. Some thought they were looking at a painting or drawing. Suddenly when a car drove by, or someone walked down the street perceptions would shift and the incredibleness of this natural phenomena would become apparent.

Delightful and mesmerising, the Garage Obscura was a fascinating use of the intimate scale of the space, and a compelling reflection on the relationships between inside and outside, vision and image, documentation and art, photography and science, site, situation and suburbia.

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