Susan Norrie Undertow
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art
The thing that struck me most seeing this exhibition at the new ACCA was how Susan Norrie seems to deal with intent. Not her own but the intent we as an audience are invited to attach to the subjects depicted in her video work. People are predators and protectors simultaneously, mud is made thinking, emotional, determined to escape its origin. A balloon flexes its rippling torso impatiently. A cloud of dust ominous not in its effect, but in it’s considered, measured movement.
The largest of the video works was completely fantastic, a brooding piece made up of bits and pieces of footage Norrie has selected from film and television archives and processed to give us grainy, black and white imagery that looked more like a scene from Ring than the Channel Nine News. When slowed down to within an inch of disrupting the persistence of vision, there is all the time necessary to deliberate on the individual scenes, and their resonance as a whole, and imbue them with a sense of dread; apocalyptic scenes of nature turning on a city, the populous escaping, a military involvement. The proximity of Flinders Street, disrecognised /unrecognised/in the footage by that deliberate, noxious looking cloud (Terrorists? War? Nature?!), certainly energises the experience. Certainly it’s the soundtrack that accompanied the piece that infuses the world of Norrie with portent. A globulus composition, its synth chords welled up and filled the space as a dense shifting mass (in part due to ACCA’s idiosyncratic acoustics).