21 April -
20 May 2023
Gertrude Glasshouse44 Glasshouse Road, Collingwood
Thursday 20 April, 5 - 7pm
Catherine Bell and Cathy Staughton, aka The Two Cathies, have worked together on projects since The Portrait Exchange (2009), their first collaborative venture for Arts Project Australia. The creative partnership’s current project involves working exclusively with the infamous Boston Dynamics Robot ‘Spot’ during a six-month residency at RMIT Health Transformation Lab.
In the collaboration each artist performs as a muse for the other and their individual practices are strengthened. Broader contexts of intersectional feminism and social activism inform this method. Staughton paints portraits of Bell, and Bell produces video portraits to document their collaborative interaction. From this process, The Two Cathies produce separate artworks. For this collaboration, Staughton’s paintings and Bell’s videos are exhibited alongside each other and shown as one body of work.
The methodology challenges stereotypes about disability and works within a framework of feminist principles to demonstrate how lived experiences influence and align with identity politics in contemporary art. Bell’s silent films acknowledge that Staughton is hearing impaired and, for a brief time in history, the genre provided an inclusive experience for the deaf community to fully participate in the popular cultural form.
Dog Robot Space Star fuses art, film and technology. Bell’s Dadaist-inspired film explores the impact of COVID lockdowns on the creative psyche and the effect of prolonged, enforced, social isolation on marginalised and vulnerable communities. Staughton’s series of two-dimensional artworks investigate the artist’s passion for technology, and empathic relationship with ‘Spot’ the Boston Dynamics Robot. Situated together, the exhibition raises ethical questions about our duty of care to the technology that companions and serves us. Do we owe a debt of gratitude to the technological devices we bond with over extended periods of time? How should we respond when the technology we rely on malfunctions, becomes old and outdated, ceases and desists?