27 October 2022

Marina deBris, an ocean of motion

Photo credit JANIE BARRETT

I am rarely convinced by many outdoor public sculpture events so it was a nice surprise to see this piece by Marina DeBris entitled, A Drop in the Ocean, in Sydney's Sculpture by the Sea 2022. Her large piece is weird, for sure in an uncompromising way, almost strange enough for me to really appreciate. I like weird work, it means there is something there. It is a statement, or rendering, if you will, of the human imprint upon our planet, and in a beguiling sort of way, it possesses that "je ne sais quoi"... as les Francais say, (or en Anglais, just, W.T.F)


I think the best way to visit an outdoor Sculpture Festival, (or maybe any Contemporary Art Exhibit) would be to accompany a child, up to say about 15 years old. Anything older, and they would be watching their phones or looking at the opposite sex, but under that age is perfect,... curious perfect. Kids ask all the right questions without worry, or complication, which around Contemporary Art can indeed be complicated. The pragmatic side of a young, inquisitive child is a remarkable thing, often poetic too. But I really like kids (who doesn't?) kids usually get me, because I'm a kid too. Adults are mostly the problem in this world, not the kids. But hey! Let's not stray too far off track! 


Back to the piece, it is rather curious-looking and not so unpleasant possibly because of its contextual relationship to the sea just meters away. How would it look sitting in the Simpson desert for instance? Does it really represent a drop, (as inferred in the title of the proverbial drop of water in the ocean?) or, does it also mimic the form of fishing nets full of all that is scarfed up from the deep sea and lifted with cranes onto the oversized fishing trawlers? But I like both metaphors around this work, and do we not also accept all the plastic wreckage in it because we are so inured to it from our many walks on the beach?


Australians are beachcombers, surfers and swimmers, sunset walkers, fishermen and fisherwomen who revere the sea and the sanctity of water. They respect it, fear it, and they are polite to it. One almost never sees a cigarette butt on its beaches. Almost never have I have seen a plastic bottle floating in the sea though this might be just foolishly anecdotal on my part as I tend to see the glass half-full. Australians take all this ecology business very seriously but saying that, plastic trash is still the ubiquitous enemy in all seas both here and abroad.  


Finally I wonder if one might imagine this sculpture as a uniquely Australian art work as it might reference an idea of European immigration, which until but six or seven decades ago, was facilitated principally over the seas to settle this extraordinary continent. And, how might it reference The Indigenous First People here since time immemorial? These are very questions for seeing Art in the 21st century.


Thankfully this piece has universal appeal and will likely speak not only to the dry world out yonder but to the interior of this beautiful land and its First People too.


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