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Australian art

Contemporary art

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Residual paroxysm of unspoken and extended closures interrogated by a malady of necrogenic subterfuge with a nice exit



Adam Cullen


09 Oct 1965 - 28 Jul 2012


“As an object ‘Residual paroxysm…’ recalls bodgie hospital apparatus, some sort of amateur scientific experiment, or even a home-made distillery. The components, resembling an injecting apparatus and its circulatory tubes and elements, suggest a narcotics culture made manifest. The TV is the broken animus of the circuitry/circulation system, a key to the implied exchange of fluids through the plastic tubing and matter oozing around the work. Curator and academic Edward Colless described this sculpture as both ‘criminal and aberrant’ and went on to discuss it in highly sexualized terms as a failed reproductive drive, seeing the equipment as engaged in a potential exchange of bodily fluids, but one that merged the suggestion of human genitals and technology, co-joining television and human reproduction. Colless finished with ‘If this is an emblem of maternity, then it is one convulsed in abortion. If an emblem of paternity, then it is accomplished in a dry and vain copulation’. These dysfunctional medical and anatomical analogies are not inappropriate as Cullen has often been quoted as described his work as a form of palliative care, a way of making incurable problems bearable.”

From Wayne Tunnicliffe, ‘Let’s get lost’ in Wayne Tunniliffe (ed.) Let’s get lost, Art Gallery of New South Wales, (exh. cat.), Sydney, 2000, p 11




Media category


Materials used

television, air-conditioning filters, rubber, fiberglass bath, disposable nappies, various adhesives, glass-filament adhesive tape, pharmaceutical apparatus, wood, plastic/paper, sheeting, timber, varnish, mucus, ink


75.0 x 600.0 x 700.0 cm

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Gift of the artist 2008


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Adam Cullen

Works in the collection


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 7 publications


Edward Colless, Australian Perspecta 1993, 'Adam Cullen', pg.24-25, Sydney, 1993, 25 (colour illus.).

Felicity Fenner, The Sydney Morning Herald, ‘A genre beyond grunge’, pg.19, Sydney, 27 May 1994, 19.

Benjamin Genocchio, Eyeline 29, ‘Miserabilism: The art of Adam Cullen’, pg.13-15, Brisbane, Summer 1995, 14 (illus.).

Bruce James, The Sydney Morning Herald, ‘A good clean punch’, Sydney, pg.16, Sydney, 09 Oct 1993-10 Oct 1993, 16 (illus.).

Catherine Lumby, World art: the magazine of contemporary visual arts, ‘Adam Cullen: The readymade saboteur’, pg.34-37, Melbourne, Nov 1993, 36 (colour illus.).

Ingrid Periz, Adam Cullen: scars last longer, 2004, 17 (colour illus.).

Wayne Tunnicliffe, Adam Cullen: let's get lost, Sydney, 2008, 11, 24-25 (colour illus.).