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Petherick, Joshua - 2018.60.1_2

Joshua Petherick

Condolence (iii) and (iv) 2017
patinated, urethane hard-coated foam, paint, pigment, metal hardware
dimensions variable
Purchased 2018

Joshua Petherick is an artist known for his speculative sculptural work. He makes objects that allude to things we know in the real world, but which appear unstable or not quite of this time and place. This is certainly true of Condolence (iii) and (iv), two oversized rusty screws that appear to have burst through the wall’s crumbly plasterboard, infiltrating and occupying space.

Petherick is highly attuned to the materiality of the sculptures and videos he makes, his practice producing surfaces and patinas that look organic and worn. This includes the oxidation that covers Condolence (iii) and (iv), but also extends to his Glass Tables series – abstract moving images that unearth the internal workings of a flatbed scanner. Petherick’s studio process involves sleight of hand and is analogous to special-effects makeup, in which cosmetics and prosthetics are used to give humans the appearance of bruises, cuts, old age, deformities, mutations and more. Another metaphor for Petherick’s approach to art-making is the practice of the war-gaming hobbyist, for example, Warhammer 40,000, in which players meticulously assemble and paint their own miniature models of soldiers and artillery to enact battles in a future dystopia.

Indeed, while the beginning of a narrative concerning a bank heist first comes to mind when encountering Condolence (iii) and (iv) – think of the 1971 Baker Street robbery in London, when burglars tunnelled fifteen metres to reach a bank’s safe deposit boxes – it is, rather, fantasy, surrealism and science fiction that serve as touchstones across Petherick’s work. What each of these genres has in common is their exploration of other worlds and timescapes: fantasy focuses on magical universes; surrealism unlocks unconscious realms of sexuality, desire and violence; and science fiction speaks to futuristic concepts, such as advanced science and technology, space exploration and extra-terrestrial life.

Petherick makes what can be termed ‘future relics’ – that is, familiar and common objects that are intuited as the stuff of archaeological digs years from now, obsolete and left to decay until discovered by new civilisations. Here it is possible to link into the twenty-first century idea of ‘new materialism’, which is concerned with the life of material and matter beyond human-orientated dimensions. Contextually, this has arisen under the growing weight of the technical and economic basis of contemporary society; the focus of labour has moved from production to consumption, with commodities becoming historical subjects in their own right.

The sculptural language imbued in Petherick’s work is poetic and evocative, never illustrative. He brings forth questions of the implicit value given to the things that surround our daily lives. As their titles suggest, Condolence (iii) and Condolence (iv) carry a sense of sorrow or lament; these enormous screws may have once performed an aggressive, penetrative act, but it happened long ago.

Patrice Sharkey is Artistic Director at ACE open, Adelaide.

From the series
Petherick, Joshua - 2018.60.1
Joshua Petherick

Condolence (iii) 2017
patinated, urethane hard-coated foam, paint, pigment, metal hardware
85 x 16.5 cm
Purchased 2018

Petherick, Joshua - 2018.60.2
Joshua Petherick

Condolence (iv) 2017
patinated, urethane hard-coated foam, paint, pigment, metal hardware
85 x 16 cm
Purchased 2018