SAMSTAG ALUMNI 2006

Andrew Best
Born 1975, Adelaide, South Australia

 Exemplifying urban, deadpan cool, Andrew Best's multidisciplinary practice encompasses sculpture, installation, photomedia and painting. Excavating contemporary culture  fashion, video games, film, nature documentaries and pop  as well as the urban landscape, he displaces 'everyday elements into fantastical scenarios or into "atoms" of new stories...' These vaguely sinister reconfigurations of the physical and cultural environment contain elements of the fantastic, the occult and the merely strange (Zombie Gang Member 3, Akira Tamura, 2004).

The imposingly large and critically well-received Pauline (2004)  selected for the survey exhibition 2004: Australian Culture Now at the National Gallery of Victoria  was a threedimensional realisation of the 1980s video game Donkey Kong, from which Best had removed any identifying figures. Given that he cites as a point of reference the writer/filmmaker Alain Robbe-Grillet – whose nouveaux romans challenged conventional narrative structures, dispensing with plot, character, setting, linear time etc  it is not at all surprising that Best's enigmatic narratives are invariably open–ended.

Alluding to the flawed paradise of Adelaide  a city memorably described by Salman Rushdie as a perfect setting for a Stephen King novel or horror film – in Paradise (2003) he constructed a cryptic crimescene like tableau from an illuminated drink container, a pair of photocopy machines, pot plants, a macabre face mask, a scattering of capsules of nitrous oxide and realistic latex weeds that sprouted from cracks in the floor.

'Within my work' says Best, 'I draw specific influence from the narrative strategies of video games, news/fashion photography and film.' Accordingly, the unnamed automatonlike protagonists, temporal discontinuity, and ambiguity of identity and setting of Last Year at Marienbad (1961)  written by RobbeGrillet and directed by Alan Resnais  may well have supplied Best with a strategic model, wherein the viewer is obliged to complete the narrative. Death too, takes on the surreal quality of a video game in the photographic series Knox Element (Fall Series) 2004, as innercity youths, apparently falling 'happily, languidly to their death' are captured in the penultimate frozen moment of the photographic image  another kind of death  efore they touch the ground.

Wendy Walker from her Samstag catalogue essay, The memorable: ephemeral 
 
2006 Anne & Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship
2006 MA in Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art & Design, London, UK 
2004 Master of Visual Art, University of South Australia, Adelaide 
2001 Bachelor of Visual Arts  Honours 1st Class, University of South Australia, Adelaide 

Artist's website    
andybest.org