Adam Geczy

‘In the so-called age of post-democracy, of the fizzle-out of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, of corporate megalopolises, the failed ‘hope’ of Obama and now the astonishing rise of Trump, the clown is needed more than ever as a symbol and a cipher of defiance in despair. He embodies an age when idiocy is rewarded, when platitudes are lauded, and the world disordered. At the same time, he is the figure of resistance, as one who fails to crumble through the force of his own whimsy and hysteria, who creates his own world that holds a mirror to absurdity and ignorance.’ – Adam Geczy

Sydney artist Adam Geczy’s new series, ‘Just Clownin’ Around’, engages with the traditional image of the clown as a universal trope for our contemporary Zeitgeist. In this installation of limited action videos and related objects or ‘artefacts’, Geczy siphons inspiration from some of the early performance pieces of the sixties and seventies, live and filmed, as he documents his six-year-old son in different forms of Clownface performing for the camera. Rendered with a freakshow/vaudeville aesthetic, some actions suggest a narrative while others are simple – such as a close-up of the boy scowling for as long as he can maintain the expression. The specially fabricated costumes in the films are exhibited as ‘ghosts’ in the exhibition; revenant traces of repressed desires and fugitive fantasies.

Both celebratory and sinister, the clown trope taps into the fear and fascination that shrouds this ubiquitous figure. Geczy approaches the concept of ‘clown’ in the metonymic sense as a vehicle for expression, where masks are used to disclose rather than to cover up. Wearing his clown guise, the little boy represents the expressions, nuances and vulnerabilities of children as distinct from the forced universality of adult life. There is the suggestion that the clowning of children reflects the clowning all around us in society that masquerades as normalcy.

For Geczy, the masking of the child—filmed by the father—is a metaphor for private phantasy and resistance. ‘While historically adult masquerade has had a long relationship with the expression of covert desire, it can be seen to play a commensurate role for children’, explains the artist. Role-play, particularly when children mimic adults, reveals much about the difference between children and adults, but also the perceptions of children with regard to their own power and agency. ‘Masquerade becomes what might be called a form of surrogate navigation’, continues Geczy, ‘Having the child staging adulthood, or playing at being both child and adult, engenders an unease, an uncanny that is only detected by adults as result of socially ingrained prohibition and forced silence. As a result the child, albeit unwittingly, has the last laugh’.

Adam Geczy | Just Clownin’ Around
16 February – 9 March, 2019
Kronenberg Wright Artist Projects, Sydney


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