Exploring the ever-present taboo topic of grief and mourning, West Australian artist Marijke Loosjes exhibits a brand new body of work commenting on the often hidden presence of these experiences. Creating a space in which grief is explored through various stages, Loosjes allows for reflection on one’s own mortality and the contemporary relationship we have with death and dying.
Various interdisciplinary practices of photography, textiles, sculpture, live performance and interactive installation are presented in this exhibition. ‘NONE OF US ARE GETTING OUT OF HERE ALIVE’ is an honest, emotive and cathartic experience, presenting grief and mourning as universal experiences that we all share and feel.
'Drowning' Performance & Artist Talk - Saturday 13 April, 1.00pm & 2.15pm
'Drowning' Performance - Saturday 27 April, 1.00pm
Behind drawn curtains and closed doors.
Everything tends to make us believe that there exists a certain point of the mind at which life and death, the real and the imagined, past and future, the communicable and the incommunicable, high and low, cease to be perceived as contradictions.
None of us are getting out of here alive by Marijke Loosjes takes up an uncomfortable space. It thrusts an untangling of grief and mourning from our most hidden spaces into the everyday. What was private is now shared. Death, mourning and experiencing grief often occurs behind closed doors. Loosjes questions not only our relationship with death, life and grief but also uncovers our taboos surrounding discussions of death within the contemporary.
Looking at Loosjes’ work for this exhibition made me think about my personal relationship to death, loss and grief. For myself, the loss of each loved one is accumulative, meaning each loss accompanies the previous loss. Old wounds are torn open and grief resurfaces. Experiencing loss is not the same for everyone, however there are shared experiences in the discomfort of facing mortality and experiencing grief.
My first major loss was my Mother when I was 15. The thing I remember most is how no one knew how to act when in my presence. Having to acknowledge death, grief and loss in the every day was like peeling back a sticky Band-Aid - painful, bloody and raw. The cocked heads and soft mouths fumbling with well intentioned condolences were attempts to pacify my grief. Instead these actions revealed a strained relationship with experiencing and expressing grief and loss.
Loosjes created this work in a response to her own loss, her sister. Through this experience with grief she realised the discourse around death and grief is hidden, seldom discussed and occurs mostly behind drawn curtains and closed doors. The work in this exhibition prompts a conversation. It beckons for a shared experience.
The dialogue through the work occurs across installation, performance, photography, sculptures and textiles. The diversity of the work means your body is present, it’s impossible to be passive in experiencing the work.
The performances are a reproduction of an earlier work entitled Drowning. The title gives way to the overarching premise of the gestures, presence and weight. The performances in this exhibition are live, they require your presence in body, and in mind. A conversation begins with the uncovering of the uncomfortable, avoided spaces. Loosjes’ performances take you through four stages of mourning, principles established by William Worden, a grief counsellor and therapist. These start with accepting the loss to establishing a life beyond grief. Loosjes unveils herself and her personal grief for you physically and emotionally. The proximity of the performer’s body to the viewer is potent. The private unfurls before your eyes. There is a shared weight.
Audience participation is pivotal for the exhibition and the viewer becomes active in the interactive exhibition elements and the photographic and textiles work. The photographic work furthers the discussion from her personal experiences and creates a wider dialogue to a collective of personal nuances when experiencing grief and loss. The images are a contribution from volunteers who enacted one of the four stages of mourning that resonated with them. Symbolic gestures and objects within these images provide access to a space normally concealed. Yet, at the same time, veiling restricts and protects participants enabling vulnerability.
Contributed statements of grief in the works What remains from anonymous individuals appear in the form of hand stitched textiles works. These works give insight into the variances of experiencing loss. The textiles work borrow from the domestic, which situates the experiences in what we know and handle in the everyday. The familiarity in the textile works carries weight, not just in the content and subject matter but in the time spent in making. Hand stitches pull us together in the slow process of wading through time. The work is intimate. The stitches are raw. You get a sense of a journey to healing through this work. Our relationships with mortality, loss, grief, and death are extrapolated and revealed.
Across the exhibition elements of the traditional merge with the contemporary. Loosjes borrows from Victorian era mourning practices. This is evident in the veiled sculptural works which reference death masks. The impact of the historically formed and established practices of western grieving within the contemporary occur in the merging of these works with the rest of the exhibition.
Every element of this exhibition is personal and intimate. It’s not enough to just start the dialogue but the works extend an invitation to heal. The location of the exhibition at Heathcote is also site specific as a place of healing as it existed previously as a treatment ward as The Point Heathcote Reception Centre.
None of us are getting out of here alive lets us sit in the uncomfortable and finds value in creating a dialogue with death alongside life.
- Kimberley Pace
Breton, A, 1930, Second Manifesto of Surrealism, p. 123.
Goolugatup Heathcote is located on the shores of the Derbal Yerrigan, in the suburb of Applecross, just south of the centre of Boorloo Perth, WA. It is 10 minute drive from the CBD, the closest train station is Canning Bridge, and the closest bus route the 148.58 Duncraig Rd, Applecross, Boorloo (Perth), Western AustraliaAccessibility and amenities
The Gallery is open 10-4 daily, and closed public holidays. The grounds are open 24/7.