The MAMA building is designed to host a number of art experiences outside the interior exhibition spaces, including the exterior walls, screens, and roller door. These spaces can be used to create unexpected art encounters for passers-by on Dean St or in QEII square.
Art by Accident is Kate Mitchell’s takeover of MAMA’s accidental art sites. Mitchell brings a series of works to MAMA that challenge the process and purpose of making art.
The centrepiece to this project is Mitchell’s In Time, a 24-hr real-time video of a performance in which the artist clings to the hands of a human-sized clock. The completed work is a fully functional timepiece that will act as a ‘live’ clock on MAMA’s exterior. In Time will be QEII Square’s official timekeeper through to Sunday 1 October 2017, counting down the minutes until daylight savings begins (or standard time ends). In Time is Mitchell telling time with her body and marking its inevitable passing. She describes it as ‘the biggest and hardest thing I’ve ever done – physically, mentally and emotionally it required everything of me’. Mitchell spent a full 24 hours ‘on the clock’, referencing physical-based labour workers in her choice of overalls, claiming that being an artist is no more or less important than any other job.
Mitchell often presents as the archetypal fool– a character whose exaggerated or comedic behaviour perhaps highlights more complex issues. This comedic impulse is present across the works in Art by Accident that at first appear to poke fun at the job of making of art. In Hypnotised into Being, Mitchell attempts to separate conscious art thinking from subconscious belief. Initially sceptical that she could be hypnotised, the artist finds herself induced into a semi-conscious state, and on the film begins to enact ‘art’ prompts that she had earlier prepared. The result is both entertaining and enlightening as we see the artist attempt to personify both simple and complex artist ideas.
On MAMA’s Dean St exterior two neon artworks replicate Mitchell’s brainwaves, showing the activity of her brain when she is thinking about art. These two artworks, What Thinking About Art Looks Like (2015) and What The Realisation That This Thought Is An Artwork Looks Like (2015), present as bright simple neon squiggles. These replications of neural oscillation demonstrate that art stimulates significant activity in the brain.
Mitchell takes this demonstration further with This Art Exists in Your Mind, a text work on MAMA’s roller door and a series of announcements made over MAMA’s sound system. The text was generated by an artificial intelligence program input with texts from artists and theorists. Here Mitchell challenges us to embrace the absurdity of the text and imagine our own version of the artwork it describes.
Kate Mitchell’s works in Art by Accident seem to say that if the artwork makes us wonder, or if it simply reminds us that we exist, then it was worth the effort in making it.
The artist is represented by Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne and Chalk Horse, Sydney.