Cover image of the review
Jarrod Van der Ryken, the buds on the trees and the night were still. Installation detail (video still), Carpark Gallery, Brisbane 2024.

Jarrod van der Ryken, the buds on the trees and the night were still

16 Mar 2024
Carpark 3 Feb - 30 Mar 2024

Jarrod van der Ryken’s solo show, the buds on the trees and the night were still at Carpark Gallery, is very dark. Not just subtropical goth dark, but literally dark. The notice at the door advises that I “spend at least four minutes in the first space to let your eyes adjust,” but I’m pretty sure I needed at least ten before I could see anything at all. The opening night was a weird experience, navigating the blackness of the basement around bodies stumbling in space, people clutching at the walls, hands out to protect themselves. “This is freaky as,” one guy mutters, and I grin unseen as he scrambles for the exit.

In most of the gallery the only light comes from the large, lusciously glossy screens installed in each room. Slow, crisp, neo-baroque images fade in and fade out, accompanied by a soundtrack of construction sounds, bird song, and electronics. The physical objects in the space are dingy, minimal, and give off a forensic feel, functioning like crime scene clues for actions that need deciphering. Details of these objects appear on the screens, showing us what we might not otherwise see. Used towels on the floor. A milk crate filled with empty glass bottles. A large, ikebana style floral arrangement that fills the air with the scent of decay (ikebana = beauty in imperfection: who determines perfection?). An old wooden chair, bound tightly by extension cords and a long garden hose that snakes upwards and loops between objects like something out of a cybergoth tentacle hentai, except a suburban garage. A mirror propped against one wall partially draped with cloth, the remaining slit reflecting the footage of plants and leaves screening above. In many cultures, mirrors are covered during processes of mourning cloth has something to say about the potential barriers to self-realisation or perhaps the masturbatory quality of art itself (more on this later).

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