Ray Harris: Ritual Nature
The Guildhouse Collections Project with Flinders University Museum of Art (FUMA)
Curated by Nic Brown
22 February – 16 April 2021
Exhibition launch: Thursday 11 March 2021, 3pm – 5pm
Ritual Nature features a new series of evocative performative videos by South Australian artist Ray Harris, that explores the unsettling edges of physical and emotional existence in connection to ritual acts and the natural world. Her meditative time-based actions that situate the body in dialogue with the environment, allude to death and its associations with grief and loss, decay and dirtiness, and the possibilities of cleansing and transformation. In this intimate relationship rests a delicate tension between the female body and the environment, where Harris’ seemingly passive acts of surrender to her surroundings can also be considered acts of gendered resistance.
Informed by a research-based residency investigating the mid-1960s and 1970s Australian and international Post-object and Documentation collection held at the Flinders University Museum of Art, Harris’ work is a nod to the international conceptual art movement. Presented in juxtaposition with works by Jill Orr, Mike Parr, Ken Unsworth, David Thorp and Mary Fish, among others from the Museum’s collection, Ritual Nature also highlights the resonance of conceptual and performance art with contemporary makers today.
The Collections Project is a collaboration between Guildhouse and Flinders University Museum of Art that provides artists with the opportunity to engage with the Museum’s collections and staff to create new work for exhibition.
Being able to work on the Guildhouse collections project at FUMA during covid was an invaluable enriching experience. Undertaking my research and iteration of The Collections Project, came at a very turbulent time globally with the pandemic, and personally with the death of my mother. I feel incredibly grateful to have been able to transform this difficult time into a fulfilling meaningful project, especially when many arts organisations and institutions were on hold.
Ray Harris (born 1970) holds a Master of Visual Art (2014) and a Bachelor of Visual Art (Honours) (2009) from the University of South Australia. She is founder and director of Holy Rollers Studios and its former Gallery and was co-director of FELTspace (2010-2015). Harris has exhibited and performed in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally with significant exhibitions including Video Contemporary (2018) curated by Kelly Gellatly for Sydney Contemporary, Carriageworks, Sydney; PP/VT: performance presence, video time (2015), curated by Professor Anne Marsh for the Australian Experimental Art Foundation AEAF, Adelaide; do it (adelaide) (2015), Samstag, Adelaide; and Subject to ruin (2014), Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Sydney. Her work has been presented in contemporary art fairs and festivals in Sweden, South Korea, Turkey and the United States, and featured in publications such as Artlink, Art Collector, Broadsheet, RealTime, fine print and ETC. Harris’ work is held in the Turkish collections of Proj-4L Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art and Borusan Contemporary, and private collections nationally.
Ray Harris: The Mud Below
Performed at the Central Lake, Flinders University, Bedford Park, South Australia
Thursday 11 March 2021
Image: Michael Kutschbach, fuliguline, HD digital video still, 2021. Photograph courtesy the artist.