Domestic Duties Chp.2  “A Burden Halved Is A Burden Shared”

Studio 4 Gallery, Marcoola 31 May 2012 to 24 June 2012


‘The Stream flows but hits an eddy where the water inverts and turns back in on itself,
it is good to know one’s own patterning’ – 
Kim Schoenberger.


In collecting the cast offs of others, mixed media artist Kim Schoenberger transforms the perceived ‘nothingness’ of found objects imbuing them with a preciousness most folk would overlook. Through this process, her art practice becomes a ritualized offering where a sense of abundance is delivered back to her audience. A ‘rags to riches’ narrative is presented in Schoenberger’s works and can be found in the tiniest of details, a small piece of perforated metal undergoes transmutation, becoming a fluffy cloud wafting against the backdrop of a rust stained sky. Her process is meticulous, her attention to detail revealing an underlying obsession with the tactility of her subject.

Schoenberger’s interactive installation and sculptures, Domestic Duties, is the second of three chapters, the first taking an investigative approach where she tested her ideas online and in situ resulting in strong public response. In her current chapter the artist uses humour as a means to engage her audience, embodying the artist as ‘trickster’ she delights in teasing out the mundanity of domestic life. It is no accident her chosen materials feature old or retro pieces; ‘it is a way of connecting with you Grandmother or an Aunt perhaps…’ For Schoenberger the peg and the praise are synonymous suggesting a humble thanksgiving to the joys of a simpler way of life and time. The subtlety in texture and tone of found objects carefully selected by Schoenberger, tell of long hours spent holding and feeling the treasures in her store. Taking the time to touch and feel the very materiality of the objects informs her understanding of the possibilities of their substance and the semiotics belied by their ordinariness. The artist acknowledges her understanding of the materials is initially intuitive, as though the materials themselves tell her what they want to be.

The everyday is Schoenberger’s cause celebre and the mundane of domestic duties undergoes an inversion from which arises a new meaning, a renewed significance. It is apparent the genesis of this artist’s practice is in her philosophy of recycling; her modus operandi spreads ripples way beyond the terrain of the microcosm, the constant toil on the home front becomes a kind of adventure where the sheer dedication and undertaking of the artist’s inward process resonates at a global level. Keeping one’s own backyard in order raises the vibration of all who come into its sphere. ‘A woman’s work is never done’, the home as metaphor for the self…to these chains we are all wed. Schoenberger presents us with her case, as an artist, she has no choice but to take her calling as janitor to the universal unconscious. The cleaning away of the dirt and grime these objects have collected in their time of refuse finds a certain translation by way of a home brewed spirituality threaded throughout her work. By virtue of process she draws on ethereal notions and her practice becomes a means by which to manifest the ungraspable into the physical.

To contextualize Schoenberger’s art practice within Colonial Australia is to liberate her works from the shackles of art history and allows a more direct engagement in the evolution of women in this country. Her endeavour is to uncover something lost by investigating the gaps where womens’ stories cannot be found. By turning inward to investigate her matrilineage she attempts to capture moments past and analyse what comes with time past. Schoenberger elaborates ‘it is the stories of our ancestry that enable us to stand firmly on our own two feet’.

Meaghan Shelton
Artist, Arts Writer & Educator


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