Sugar Mountain's Visual Art

25 January 2016 | 3:00 pm | Stephanie Liew

"It's provocative for sure — there's a clit and nipples, rolls of flesh and beads of sweat."

All Sugar Mountain's components complement each other, and its aesthetic certainly wouldn't be as strong if it weren't for its visual art.

Greeting us at the Dodds St Stage was the work of SIBLING; what looked like floppy foam rollers (wilted giant fads lollies?), some with shiny cellophane wrapped around the ends, lined the stage the whole way around. A real eye-catcher to begin the festival, and its simplistic, fun and wacky vibe captured Sugar Mountain's essence perfectly.

"Its simplistic, fun and wacky vibe captured Sugar Mountain's essence perfectly."

Angie Pai's piece, a backdrop of reflective golden squares under one of her distinctive line motifs in bold black, decorated the back of the Car Park Stage; its glint and glamour complemented performances by Empress Of, Le1f, Kelela and others. Ash Keating once again painted the car park wall, the candy-coloured splashes of bright pink, purple, magenta, yellow and white producing an endorphin-boosting effect. Nic Hamilton's LED light animations danced in sync with the punters at the BACARDI x Boiler Room Stage — suitably trippy and tech-forward. Near the galleries, SM Art Prize winner Carla Milentis' sculpture could be found: a pink mosaic fountain statue that provided intrigue, visual appeal and an object to hang around in the outdoor space. 

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In Gallery 1, Nonotak's mirror sculpture entranced — numerous small mirror tiles were programmed to tilt in patterns, like some kind of robotic tic dance (mechanical motion sounds and all), causing reflections of light to bounce all around the ceiling in various ways. Unfortunately Nonotak's warehouse installation (the highlight of last year's fest) was closed all day due to unforeseen circumstance. Daniel Askill's slow-motion videos of nude (well, beige underwear-clad) men and women being showered with or running through a curtain of water also proved to be mesmerising, the chiaroscuro of bare bodies against darkness and the spreading droplets creating almost a glitter globe/lava lamp effect. And Yahna Fookes x Martha Zakarya's work — two adjacent screens, one showing a contemporary dancer moving against a white backdrop, and the other showing close-ups of the same dancer's body and clothing in various poses — was a captivating experiment in movement, space and texture.  

Gallery 2 featured the photographic collaboration between Prue Stent, Honey Long and Clare Longley — all pale pink and extreme close-ups of women's bodies and body parts, complete with a pale pink waterbed in the middle of the room. A comment about the female body, censorship and feminism, it is simultaneously pretty and soft, yet discomfiting, which one would think was the artists' intention. It's provocative for sure — there's a clit and nipples, rolls of flesh and beads of sweat — but whether the photos are seen as portraying a sexualised or natural state depends on the individual eye.