Dani Marti | Black Sun

Dani Marti’s latest exhibition Black Sun has hit Western Australian shores with a jolt that will leave you in mixed emotions, and that is exactly the artist’s intention.

Both confronting and seductive, Marti has drawn audiences in with his incredibly engaging and intimate works that explore encounters with family, lovers and strangers. The first time the Barcelona-born artist has held a solo exhibition in WA, Black Sun opened as part of Perth International Festival (PIAF) at Fremantle Arts Centre.

Practicing in a range of mediums, Marti has successfully united video and textiles to construct unconventional portraits of his subjects. Highly metaphorical, the woven “paintings” and performative video works hold a commonality in their vulnerable, yet highly sensual natures.

Leaving little in the artisanal tank, the exhibition is a product of Marti’s prolific nature. Media works are placed alongside monumental creations of stainless steel scourers, rubber, leather, barbwire, necklaces and plastic. Tactile and magnetic in nature, the encompassing size of the works draw the viewers in. Prelude, a 3.4m in diameter, imposing large disc was commissioned for PIAF. Painstakingly constructed from distorted corner cube reflectors and glass beads, it pushes out into the viewer’s personal space, exuding a visceral bodily presence.

Black Sun, the title of the exhibition, draws reference to the darkened world inhabited by the blind male subject of Marti’s work Notes for Bob. Combining video, sound and textiles Marti delves into the life of Bob, a middle-aged man living along in Brooklyn, New York who derives sexual pleasure from the male voice.

“Bob’s been blind since he was born. His concept of beauty, sexuality and intimacy is totally different to ours. For him it’s not about genitalia, it’s not about sex, it’s about the voice,” Marti said.

Marti created a rich soundscape made up of recordings of 21 male volunteers who sang for Bob. The layered recording is bordered by six intricately woven textile canvases whose tactile and textural undulations visually echo the vibrational compilation.

The accompanying video work films the encounter between the artist and Bob. The intimacy reveals the importance of touch for Bob, depicting an act that is not as prefabricated or self-conscious.

Both the video works and textile works act as forms of portraits, whether at first glance seemingly abstract, each acts a physical distillation of his encounters with each subject.

“Creating these abstractions and woven surfaces is like dealing with an unknown language. Perhaps my experience of someone and the abstracted woven surface that conveys this encounter, gives a better sense of the person than some video footage. I use portraiture and its act of impossibility in true portrayal as an entry card to approach abstraction. But whether working in the medium of weaving or video, my relation to my subject and artwork is consistently fixed: an obsessive, laborious, and often desire-driven attempt to represent something,” Marti said.

For all its monumental works, you are not blown away, instead Marti has skilfully articulated highly intimate moments and observations between the artist and his subjects. An incredibly intense and thoughtful exhibition, Black Sun is one not to be missed at PIAF.

EXHIBITION
Black Sun
Fremantle Arts Centre
Until 28 March
2016 Perth International Arts Fair

Courtesy the artist, Fremantle Arts Centre and Perth International Art Fair.