When a Magic Object unleashes a hidden power

‘A blank canvas’ we mused, but what was the intention of Garry Stewart’s installation at the Magic Object exhibition at the 2016 Adelaide Biennale of Australian Art?

Curious, we walked into a bare room and with each step a kaleidoscope of animations, elongations and configurations extended, dwarfed or duplicated our bodies.

Realising our power we started to move as if possessed. The lights haloed, shimmied or enveloped us in an electric-like web. The three of us sometimes co-joined or separated with body parts disappearing and reappearing.

It was as if Stewart was behind the scenes as a conjuror manipulating us as his puppets in movement and dance.

We had no recollection of time, though I was definitely beginning to wane when a mature age woman wandered past and paused.

‘We’re hooked and can’t stop,’ said Anita laughing. ‘Come and join us’ I urged.

But no, she was content to remain at the door and gaze somewhat bewildered as three girlfriends from Melbourne danced as if obsessed.

Energised and exhilarated we continued until exhausted, oblivious of the creator’s intention of ‘encouraging the viewer into a choreographic state of mind’ when he created this installation, his Wunderkammen* titled ‘Proximity Interactive’, for the Anne Gordon Samstag Museum.  

For four days we had taken photographs of art that had moved us, listened to writer’s who inspired us and watched as dancers pushed new boundaries. And surprisingly, here for one short moment in time, we had reacted spontaneously and immersed ourselves in movement.

Magic Object Exhibition is on at various galleries and museums in Adelaide until May 2016

*Wunderkammen: A place where a collection of curiosities and rarities is exhibited

Postscript: Garry Stewart and Australian Dance Theatre’s production is being adapted for clinical use as part of a research program with the University of Adelaide and Proximity Clinical will be used to help in the rehabilitation of people with neurological damage.