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Disused and discarded materials that have been consigned to the scrap heap can often find their way to unusual settings. Alicia Frankovich provides such discarded materials with a new lease on life in her recent exhibition at the newly opened BLOCKPROJECTS in Block Place, Melbourne. Using wooden slats salvaged from her local Northcote surrounds, Frankovich constructs an intricate, slender and ladder-like structure resembling a precarious tennis umpire’s chair. Titled Un-standardised form and held together by strategically placed screws and staples, this uncanny construction reveals strong geometric visual forms on its upward trajectory in the confined gallery space.
Critiquing our continual need for conformity, Frankovich’s haphazard wooden construction acts as a deliberate subversion of the individual’s need to fit in to the wider social body. It is as if the structure’s implied instability actively goes against the pseudo-scientific assembly instructions that accompany Ikea’s mass-produced furniture. For Frankovich, functionality and the object’s use value are less of a consideration, rather she is interested in exploring the object’s form and structure.
This critique on the systems of control often associated with contemporary consumer society, is also evident in Frankovich’s banner works. Large in scale and with edges unfinished, the canvas’s materiality and inherent lack of functionality are pertinent reminders of times past when banners were associated with subversion, civil unrest and protest.
In a work titled La Spezia, Frankovich’s use of vibrant block colours and repetitive motifs—in this case the bright orange plastic barriers often erected for crowd control purposes—act as a visual metaphor for the constraints that are often placed on the individual. The barriers are situated front and centre, directly in the spectator’s field of vision, and hence become a direct assault on imposed limitations, societal control and conformity—a symbolic challenge to the symbolic order.1
Echoing the work of Russian Constructivists, La Spezia in particular, becomes a rumination on the individual’s place in society—a society where anxiety and powerlessness are ever present in an increasingly hyperreal world. Can we indeed find profound moments in the mundane when our daily-lived experiences are framed by feelings of tension and unease?
1. Hebdige, Dick. Subculture: The meaning of style, Routledge, London, 1979, p.92.