Curated by Leigh Robb and Nadia Johnson, PICA Salon 2015: Epic Narratives looks at how we seek out and create experiences laden with meaning and authenticity as a reaction against our information-saturated culture. Perth artist Jacobus Capone’s video installation, Dark Learning, is just one of many works to explore the theme this year.
Although he initially studied painting at Edith Cown University, Jacobus Capone soon found himself drawn to explore other modes of expression while he refined his artistic sensibilities. “Originally I went there because the head of the school was Domenico de Clario,” he recalls. “Who was one of my favourite artists at the time. But it was during my first year that I kind of stopped painting and started doing more performative-based work and installations. I mainly just hung out in the painting department because I got my own studio, to be honest, and that was a real benefit.
“I came straight from high school and it was mainly to do with one of my first lecturers, Andrew Frost, who kept making you question why you were doing everything – like, if you were going to paint something, why were you painting it? Why were you using the medium of paint? Just really stripping back the process to make you more thoughtful in terms of every action that you carry through to make your work. It has resonance to it and that should mean something to the audience. Pulling away from painting made sense, because it wasn’t a medium that was expressing what I wanted to in practice.”
Thus Capone began creating more esoteric works, often involving some kind of performance. Most famously, for to love, he crossed Australia by foot to put a measure of Indian Ocean water into the Pacific Ocean. Dark Learning, his latest work, is the result of multiple journeys to Iceland over the course of two years, where Capone would venture into the stark fastness of the island to photograph himself against the hostile landscape.
“It’s a really personal project that I don’t necessarily want the audience to know about,” Capone says. “I’ve left it ambiguous enough for everyone to find their own entry point into the work. I’ve been going back and forth to Iceland about seven times while I was still studying and it wrapped cup the connection I had with the place. I kind of initially went there for this random sense of nostalgia because felt like home, and after being there so many years I came up with this methodology of going out to really remote areas and just staying in places for extended amounts of time. The project kind of morphed into an attempt to re-experience the landscape that was devoid of any language, theory, and attempting to find a new way of engagement that had nothing to do with preconceptions – it was based around responsive gestures of empathy, I guess.
“In the endpoint, the work kind of manifested as a seven channel video installation that was shown a couple weeks ago at PSAS (Pakenham Street Art Space), which was the outcome I really wanted for the project. I wanted to create an amphitheatre-like environment to create some kind of overwhelming atmosphere for the audience to exist within.”
PICA Salon 2015: Epic Narratives runs at the Perth Institute For Contemporary Arts from Sunday, July 5 until Sunday, August 16. For more info, go to pica.org.au.