Pure moods, the aesthetics of wonder, bliss, radical nature.
Welcome to Love. Let me show you around.
For her new work, Jodie Whalen presents a cosmic concert. Cloud formations swirl and marble. Circles of light bounce, wordless emotions pulse, portals and windows layer on top of one another as we cycle through horizonless skies.
Ann Veronica Jansenn, James Turrell and Olafur Elliason do similar things — forming bliss out of light and space, perfectly slicing and framing the sky, digging into craters, bringing celestial objects a little closer to us. Turrell has described his role as to “apprehend light.” Before moving into video art, Whalen made installations of nature photography, scents and fluorescent bars to the same objectives.
Whether in nature, in art, in religion or spiritual experience, the sublime gives a sense of our vanishing puniness in something massive and alluring. We find it in sunset swims, mountain walks, boat trips past the breakers. A space movie, a beam refracting through a window, a Rachmaninov concerto. A glimpse out a plane window before the pandemic of the abstracted land far below. We find the sublime in that which can be taken in without too much theorisation or discussion, because art has value simply because it exists.
We often go to galleries, now, for sublime experiences of art. But galleries and museums haven’t always been considered the natural place for art. Over the millenia, the sites and surfaces where culture has reverberated — cave walls, rock formations, tombs, temples, streetside walls, dynastic palaces, royal museums, churches — have felt natural to those eras. The screen on which you’re reading this serves as a site for big tech, cheap and ubiquitous advertising, government surveillance, endless email correspondence, and hopefully, a moment of grace with Jodie Whalen’s new work.
About Jodie Whalen
Jodie Whalen is a multidisciplinary artist living and working in Sydney, Darug country.