Anna Carey

For the Los Angeles-based Australian artist Anna Carey, architecture and photography serve as partial means to an end; to create an imaginative realm for the viewer to drift between memory and daydreams and reflect on space and place.

My art making process involves constructing miniature fictive spaces based on familiar architecture that I photograph and film. The camera lens magnifies the model and reveals that the photograph has been constructed with a handmade materialised object. At first glance this disorientates the viewer, however dwelling longer the miniature encourages a moment of stillness for one to be with the space.

The spaces I create stem from my childhood memories of my hometown, the Gold Coast. When I encounter familiar spaces, fragmented memories and imaginations flood my new experience. The work mines this fleeting moment in my mind from which the models are then built. In turn, I create a space of the imagination where I inhabit my daydreams and the viewer can inhabit theirs.

The style of architecture from the Gold Coast that is embedded in my memory includes a vernacular mix of holiday shacks, high-rises, roadside motels and suburban homes. The city and its architecture were built on notions of leisure, fantasy, escape and change, looking to places in America for architectural inspiration. This style of architecture emerged and developed rapidly in the United States, especially in the automotive orientated cities of Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Miami. Early in my practice I was depicting the architecture of the Gold Coast to represent the fluid city and gain a sense of place. Though, for my recent work, I expanded my research to the cities it copied and travelled to America, where I later relocated to reflect on this style of strip city from a global perspective.

Since traveling to America my work has developed to represent a more global generic architectural style. This can be seen in the series Stardust (2015), which consists of a suite of ten images of Stardust motels in different parts of America and Australia. To create the works, I sourced images on the internet through vintage postcards and then revisited them through Google Maps. The works exist in both ‘then’ and ‘now’ versions to show how the buildings have changed over time. The series uses international examples of Stardust motels to exemplify the world-wide homogeneity of a style of architecture in distant yet connected contemporary cultures. In addition, presenting a set of similar motels also provides an opportunity to identify minute details and idiosyncrasies particular to place.

This notion of place that emerges through generic architecture is further explored in the series In Search of Rainbows (2017), which consists of interior spaces dominated by a single colour – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and pink – similar to the rainbow spectrum. Employing Google Maps, I used the online data for colour-mapping and geo-tagged colour clusters to identify dominant colour across the world. The work explores the connection between place, space, memory and colour, and its ability to evoke a sensory rush. I merge research, lived experience and global dream memory
to form a place that could be anywhere.

Global memory and architecture is brought together in my recent work Lost in Paradise (2019). The work is based on familiar streets in world-wide cities and shows an eclectic culture clash of styles, designs and signage. This international generic style is also the foundation for my upcoming show ‘Faraway’ in March at Artereal Gallery in Sydney, after I undertook the NG Creative Residency in Provence, France. The new series mixes vernacular and international styles to create a blurred state of fantasy one can experience when transiting between omnipresent places in the world.

By drawing from international generic spaces, I aim for others to inhabit the daydreams ‘housed’ within them. Accessing this dream realm allows people to have their own authentic experience with a space that is mass produced and typically understood as ‘inauthentic.’ Transcending the homogeneity of the everyday into a dream state of dislocation invites people
to identify difference and indifference and therefore reconnect with themselves and place themselves in the world.

This article was was originally published in Artist Profile, Issue 50, 2020

September – October 2020
Andrew Baker Art Dealer, Brisbane

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