Justas Pipinis

Entry #4

21.12.2020

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The time has come to roll up the Bogong Chronicle and archive it in the local library. The latter has two colour-coded rooms. A yellow one for recyclable knowledge and red for texts whose meanings are already exhausted. The head librarian Madelynne is very strict, she won’t tolerate any misclassifications. Thus, I carefully deposit the Chronicle into the yellow archive, anticipating its upcoming digest edition. In the meanwhile, its last ordinary issue #20 is available for your enjoyment. Recorded around the breakfast time on the day of departure, it captures a different intensity of Bogong light and soundscape, while also carrying some marks of extra frivolity on behalf of the resigning editor.

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As avid readers of the Chronicle may have guessed, I’ve always been curious about the complex and contradictory relationship between the human concepts of beauty and nature. Throughout the times, nature has often served as our reference point for beauty, inspiring artists to copy it. Nevertheless, at some point, maybe in a moment of hybris, we find it no longer sufficient, and start to landscape or otherwise ‘beautify’ the nature itself. We cannot even decide anymore whether we as humans are part of that nature. We pride ourselves in our civilizations and cultures – the very definition of something ‘human made’ – at the very same time as we try to assess and mitigate the dangers of ‘Anthropocene’ that leaves very little on the planet unaffected by human activity. The power of human creativity reveals itself both as a blessing and a curse. That is one of the trains of thought that my work on The Bogong Chronicle has been fuelling, but far from the only one - at the end any chronicle, any history writing, is multilayered and open to interpretation.

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Luke came by another day to mow the lawn. Yet another mundane intervention to make our nature prettier and more liveable. As per my request, he carefully avoided the Chronicle, leaving a bit of grassy margin around and artistic integrity of the work intact. It would seem, art saved a bit of the nature that day. But ok, I will stop juggling those words before I dig myself into too deep a hole. Anyway, Luke kindly stayed for a portrait. I like the tension between the human stillness and vibrancy of nature here, and I would like to push these explorations further in the future. But in the meanwhile, I made a portrait of another kind of visitor that dropped in for afternoon tea.

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In the rear-view mirror, my four weeks in Bogong appear unexpectedly intense and productive. To my surprise, I ended up mainly exploring my surroundings and myself through a video lens. And still, to say that I was just doing video art does not feel right. I was engaging quite a lot with conceptual art, painting, sculpture, photography, sound and performance as well. Video was primarily a means to establish certain artistic distance to my subject matter – just as the geographical distance between Melbourne and Bogong enabled me to see some overlooked habits of my own practice. Distance, remoteness – they are important. You may need to take a step back to take something in. But then you may need to step back into it again to actually feel it…

  • Art, it’s a strange dance…
  • And then you film it.