Searching for Meaning Amid the Mess
The work of Sydney artist Clare Milledge basks in the rotting and regeneration of thought, process and application.
We live in a world that reserves a special affection for clear-cut borders and shiny surfaces, but Clare Milledge is rekindling suspicions that mess is the stuff of life. When the Sydney artist – whose process-based installations knit together everything from paintings on glass, textiles and sculpture, to costumes, video and performance in a way that’s both wilfully chaotic and carefully calibrated – returned from a trip to Europe in the mid 2000s, an encounter that would see some wrinkle their nose in distaste proved to be the call-to-arms she needed.
“In 2006, I spent some time in Oslo and my friends Kristian and Steinar from the D.O.R. group, a collective of Norwegian artists that I work with, took me to the Berlin Biennale, where we walked into this installation by Kai Althoff and Lutz Braun,” smiles Milledge, who’s preparing for a series of exhibitions including shows in Istanbul and Vienna, a group exhibition at her Sydney gallery The Commercial as well as a much-anticipated new project with long-time collaborator, Norwegian contemporary artist Tori Wrånes.
“They had basically just lived and worked in this apartment for a month and everything was painted,” she continues. “There were food scraps on the ground; it was disgusting and it smelled. People were like, ‘Why do you connect with this work so much, what do these German dudes have to do with you?’ But it surprised me that it wasn’t a more celebrated work. For me, it was like the ecology of the forest I grew up in, where things feed into each other, rot and then ... Subscribe to read this article in full