(Singapore, Malaysia, Australia 1959 – )
a-i; 25 x 53.8 cm; image
a-i; 28.1 x 57 cm; frame
j - type C photograph; 24.9 x 25.7 cm; image
j - type C photograph; 28.2 x 29 cm; frame
k-n; 24.9 x 25.2 cm; image
k-n; 28.5 x 28.5 cm; frame
Simryn Gill was born in Singapore in 1959 and currently lives and works in Sydney, Australia and Port Dickson, Malaysia. Since 1991 her work has been exhibited extensively and included in numerous Australian and international publications such as ‘documenta 12’ exhibition catalogue (2007) and ‘Vitamin Ph: new perspectives in photography’ (2006). Solo shows include the MCA Sydney touring exhibition ‘Simryn Gill: gathering’ (2008-), and in 2006 ‘Perspectives: Simryn Gill’ at the Smithsonian Institute, Washington and Run at Tracy Williams Ltd Gallery, New York. Since the 1990s Gill has participated in major biennales worldwide, such as the Biennale of Sydney (2002 and 2008), Singapore Biennale and Biennial of Contemporary Art, Seville (both 2006). Gill is a two time recipient of the Australia Council Fellowship grant and has undertaken several residencies including those at Queensland Art Gallery (2005), CCA Kitakyushu (2000) and ArtPace, San Antonio (1999).
Run, also known as Pulau Run, is one of the Banda (Spice) Islands in the Maluku Province of Indonesia. Gill travelled there in 2006 and recorded the journey with her panoramic camera. The reason for the journey was to explore a place which, in the 17th century, was one of the chief sources of nutmeg, then a highly prized commodity in Europe. Run was a key outpost of the British East India Company but following the Anglo-Dutch wars in 1667 the two countries exchanged various territories: the English gave up Run and gained New Amsterdam, now known as Manhattan. Run still produces nutmeg though in the 21st century the spice is virtually worthless. Manhattan however is one of the major centres of global power.
Gill has described her approach as ‘a deploying of the specifics of personal history as a way to engage or speak the complexity of the politics of place in the world now’ (‘News from islands’, exhibition catalogue, 2008 p30). In ‘Run’ she addresses the shifting of fortunes, changing values and ironies of change. The classically composed panoramic views record her journey to and from the island and survey it’s interior in a manner suggesting the distanced appraising gaze of the visitor (from past and present). Run still produces nutmeg though in the 21st century the spice is virtually worthless. Manhattan however is one of the major centres of global power. The additional square format, four-part image of the once so highly prized nutmeg tree links passer-by and the passed-by. The lived experience of those bound to the island by circumstances of history, is suggested by the interior view of a humble bedroom positioned at far left.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Simryn Gill, AUT, 2008, (illus.). illustration is of of the nutmeg tree
Simryn Gill: gathering, Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia, 20 Nov 2008–22 Mar 2009