Transforming Light into Gold

By Ted Snell

The AustralianFriday, April 13, 2007

When moving through Marion Borgelt’s exhibition at the newly renovated Turner Galleries in Perth, it’s impossible not to imagine an alchemist transforming base materials into precious objects. There is enough reference to the arcane, the mysterious and the transformative to attach the alchemist tag to her numerous projects.

First there is her fascination with showing the process. She turns the canvas inside out as she slices through the painted surface, twisting and turning the strips she creates and pinning them down to reveal shimmering new images of incandescent light. The Liquid Light series uses the optic shift of colour and the moire effect of the superimposed patterning of strips of canvas to suggest an ethereal encounter with something beyond our experience. In all Borgelt’s work there is this sense that we are glimpsing a world beyond our own, whether it be the arcane community of ancient scholars working at manuscripts or the remnants of a collapsing solar system.

The extraordinary volumes presented in her Cryptologist’s Memoir are spread out in long glass-covered cases resembling those found in a scholastic library. In each she has carved into the surface of the opened pages to inset a wax letter derived from archaic languages or a symbol from some previously unknown culture. In the finished objects, the knowledge they contain is forever beyond our reach, the one symbol available to us is indecipherable, yet there is a sense that we might be able to understand them if only we were given the key.

The hypnotic grouping of blue-black pulsating orbs and oblongs in Nothing is Invisible also evokes another world: one on the verge of extinction. The idea of a constellation of black holes is the starting point for a group of objects that try to make nothingness visible and, as a result, pose all sorts of intriguing questions about art and the process of representation.

Borgelt brings together a number of different projects in this exhibition, from her exquisitely unfolding Bloodlight works to the crisp Lunar Arc and the mesmerising Lune Lumina series. Together they sharpen into a focused exploration of the big questions about existence, our place in the cosmos and our future.

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