Cover image of the review
Frances Barrett, Meatus 2020. Courtesy the artist. Ear worms: Debris Facility. Photo: Charles Dennington

Frances Barrett: Meatus

23 Apr 2022
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) 2 Apr - 19 Jun 2022

Back in the trauma-bonding year of 2020, a promotional image for the long-postponed Meatus fell into my inbox. Pictured in a cropped photograph was the profile of writer and performance artist Brian Fuata—his ear adorned with a thick, silver earring dangling out of the frame. I assumed it was performance documentation but now realise, two years on at the finally launched exhibition at ACCA, the promotional image actually documents an earring by Debris Facility, one of six contributors to Meatus. The curly appendage was an apt incursion into the exhibition’s marketing as it turns out to be in the exhibition itself, where Facility’s silver worm-like symbols are discreetly hung outside ACCA’s many vermiculated passageways, including pink glittery iterations stuck to its bathroom mirrors.

Installation view of Debris Facility Pty Ltd, EarWorm 2020-22, Frances Barrett: Meatus, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, 2022. Photo: Andrew Curtis

Meatus, pronounced mee-ay-tus, refers to an opening or passage leading to the interior of the body. Ear canals, nasal passages, urethras, all fit the bill. For the exhibition’s curator, Frances Barrett, meatus is also “a metaphor for a listening practice that de-centres the ear, that relies on a nexus of our senses”. As such, sound and light take centre stage in the exhibition, as the visual representations of the body are propelled to the back of the line and the threshold between the inside/outside of the body is unravelled in a myriad of ways by Barrett with her fellow collaborators.

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