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collaborative works: Marc Alperstein and Amélie Scalercio

© Marc Alperstein & Amélie Scalercio.

drawing dangerously - Kit Wise
Catalogue essay 'Driver Passenger' Gallery Wren, Sydney, 2003

Drawing seems now, as ever, unavoidable. Its value as a primary tool for the artist, although with fluctuating emphasis and to varying degree, has endured since Man first blew paint against his hand in a dingy cave. Or, as James Trainor points out: ' drawing and human culture are synonymous, and since at least the last Ice Age both have been restive, mutable and mobile'. What, then, are we to make of the haptic, manic marks set down by Marc Alperstein and Amelie Scalercio on the paper-covered walls of their current collaborative show?

Drawing as process gained greater currency in the seventies, with artists such as Richard Serra famously proclaiming that drawing was a verb, and not a noun. It was a time of happenings, performances and actions - all of which drawing seemed curiously able to record. Marina Abramovich drew upon herself in her solo performances, most famously with a razor or knife; or asked the audience to decide on the choice of media, with near-fatal consequences.

Her later collaborations with Ulay were perhaps safer - or, more accurately, were sublimated. The risk, the dialogue is still apparent in works such as the drawn bow and arrow, but is internalised as potential rather than result. Alperstein and Scalercio similarly focus on possibilities rather than product. Upon consideration of how to begin, sustain and end a drawing, they decided to "see what happened" when they tied their wrists together and set out, independently, to 'do' a drawing.

Again, Abramovich seems significant in reading this work. Her story of the legendary 'King-rat' created in her homeland to deal with rat infestations, by tying together the tails of live rats and letting them fight it out until only one survived, suggests something of the altercation that appears to be played out on the page. Colours jostle, marks attack and something that might begin as a parlour game ascends to the level of a battle field. However, the real focus of the work is in the infestation that they are attempting to deal with.

Drawing most usually deals with the identification of information - visual, conceptual or imaginary. With Alperstein and Scalercio, two bodies of data not necessarily compatible are brought together; stereo vision made quadroscopic, thoughts and observations interacting at a hyperbolic rate until the visual field is swarming with the handwriting of schizophrenia. This process of becoming - the contingency of drawing activity, each additional mark altering the meaning and value of those that came before it - is of course always already at work; but something that is rarely recognised.

Alperstein and Scalercio are braver, in this, than most.

Kit Wise
May 2003