Janis Lejins has completed his second year of a combined arts and visual arts degree.
Janis majors in Art History and Photomedia. Increasingly Janis’s work explores the multivalent relationships that art objects can posses relative to their world.
Influenced by his study of art history, Janis’s work often represents allegory in an effort to reconnect the audience with the past in a way that helps them to better make sense their present. For Janis, the reconstitution of iconography creates a nexus between reality, fiction, history and individual experience.
Artist work: How the West Was Won – A Land Dispute
Medium: Installation. Images printed onto silk, micro-controller computer, distance sensor, LED lights, custom fabricated frames, wirers and nails.
Dimensions: 297 mm x 210 mm in custom made frames (approximately 450 mm x 350 mm). Hang size variable.
Date: November 2012
Artist work: Icons of Industry – An Iconostasis from the Temple of Hope
Medium: Installation. Found objects, nails, acrylic paint, oil paint, watercolours, gouache, crayola crayon, spray-paint, gold, dirt, micro-controller computer, LED light strips, wiring, fibre-based silver gelatin prints, inkjet prints, silk, wood panel and frames.
Dimensions: Approximately 3 m high x 2.5 m wide x 1.5 m deep. Actual size variable.
Date: November 2012
The Landmarks gallery constructs a history by the comfortable sum of favourable parts rather than telling the politically fraught narrative of the linear whole. In asking art students to respond to Landmarks, the National Museum enables each landmark to become a more culturally lubricated form of nationalistic currency. To some extent making art, creating culture around the object, is seen to help validate them.
Here at the National Museum something small signifies an ideal much larger than itself. In the case of the Mount Tom Price mine there is a denotation of the localisation and colonisation of space for economic and political gain. This colonial act – the taking of land, the claiming of space and the resulting ramifications – is an issue that forever seems to permeate Australian post-colonial history. On further investigation Mount Tom Price, as reflexive of Australia’s mining boom, seems indicative of a very pertinent power struggle between individual, national and transnational interests.
The rhetoric associated with mining leads us to believe that its national influence is greater than it is. According to one study (Richardson, D, and Denniss, R, ‘Mining the truth: The rhetoric and reality of the commodities boom’, The Australia Institute Paper Number 7, 2011, page 21), 83 per cent of mining is foreign owned. The macro ideal which this landmark, this localised history, unearths is actually one that at once underpins and challenges our sense of nationhood, sovereignty and economic autonomy.
Using Louis Aleno de St Aloüarn’s claim on Dirk Hartog Island in West Australia for France in the year 1772 as a point of departure, this simulacra of mining uses the compositional synecdoche of French allegorical and portrait paintings across the eighteenth to twentieth centuries to construct a potentially renewed sense of visual ethnicity for this historical locality. It uses computer-controlled lights to enable an individual relationship between the audience and the work and propagate the sense of the ritualised nature of historical actions.
I seek to reconstruct and recolonise the audience’s perception of this facet of Australian historic and cultural space by reactivating and asserting a possibly illegitimate, or at least liminal, visual relationship between the French Art historical cannon and Australia. This disruptive act is designed to force the audience to question the entitlement and phrasing that authors have to the way in which they construct history and our resultant cultural determination. At its heart this work must to some extent be seen to undermine the premise of constructing a ‘national identity’. Instead it seems that visually ethnicity is a transnational construct.
Both these works respond to the Expanding the Economy – Mount Tom Price and rock shovel bucket display at the National Museum.