Soaked

Hany Armanious
Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane

The stains of flaked soap and plumbing debris, dislodged dirt and grime from old pipes, incidentally arranged by flowing water, remain on the sloping gallery floor, evidence of the process of installing Soaked, at the Institute of Modern Art. Step off the grimy streets of Fortitude Valley and enter Armanious's world of 'grunge' art, where a collection of useless, disused, unsavoury and banal objects, selected from the building and its environs, are dispersed throughout the gallery space.

Lengths of PVC piping, and roughly sawn offcuts, and the scum of fibres, grease, decayed food and accumulated detergents, that fell to the floor at the plumbers hands, have come to rest as the waters of the installation ceased to flow around styrofoam boxes of congealed soap flakes, buckets and debris-gallery gutters, dried and caked to the concrete floor, barely distinguishable from the surface to which they have become attached. On wire hangers above this floor piece, seven plastic shopping bags in soft pastel colours hang innocuously against the chipped layers of thick paint on brick.

In a corner of the room, a rectangle of filthy, once beige, loop pile carpet sits abandoned by the previous occupants. In a more central position, atop a battered and stained styrofoam pedestal, Armanious has placed the inevitable dog turd. As in so many streets and alleyways, this abundance of waste adheres to, overwhelms and, eventually, becomes the surface. These by-products of consumerism permeate every aspect of life, eventually re-forming the structures and inhabitants of the space/place.

Such biological and cultural excrement, acknowledged yet considered peripheral, could, in the gallery context, be confronting were it not for the objectivity of the selection and placement/dispersal. Rather than restore meaning, or assign any new meaning or aesthetic significance to the objects, Armanious reinforces our perceptions of their insignificance and alerts us to their overwhelming abundance. it is not the objects themselves, but the process of lixiviation, characteristic of consumption, which is the grist/text of this work. Soaked percolates from the infrastructure insoluble, minute particles, borne in the flux of consumption washing over every surface and through everything. These particles accumulate and cake forming a new infrastructure, the slag of superfluity.