SAMSTAG SCHOLARS 2014

Madison Bycroft
Born 1987, Adelaide Hills, South Australia

Madison Bycroft evinces an optimistic and unified approach to art and life. A recent graduate of the University of South Australia, she pursues a philosophical and a personal liminality through her video installation and sculptural practice. Largely inspired by Deleuze and Guattari’s influential notion of ‘becoming–animal’, she is seeking to live in more mystical and empathetic ways in defiance of what she has described as ‘categorical and colonial’ thinking.

From the beginning Bycroft has used whatever is at hand. In Five Ways to Peel a Potato (2011), she responds to Joseph Beuys’ exhortation that, ‘even the act of peeling a potato can be a work of art if it is a conscious act.’ The serendipitous nature of the experiments and interventions that she conducts also brings to mind the ideal of the ‘happening’, the term coined by the venerable Allan Kaprow.

Her videos capture these ‘experiments’ as playful unfolding encounters with the ‘self’. Whether slithering naked across the floor towards a tuba or mopping the streets of Beijing, there is a vitalism at work, opening the self to unseen forces. This move away from individual subjectivity is also evident in the even treatment of her videos and sculptures. Frequently displayed alongside each other, the figures in her videos and the objects and fragments in her assemblages flow across the audience’s field of vision more readily than holding the gaze.

In her most recent video work, Becoming Still (2013), Bycroft muses on the push and pull of planetary relations. She is seen cradling a large rock on the ocean floor until breathlessness returns her to the surface of the water. For Bycroft, these exertions in the watery reaches of the earth have some bearing on her aspirations for reconciliation. Here, through her intimacy with the rock and the necessity of her re–entry for air she reminds us that these connections cannot be forced and that they entail navigating a multiplicity of material and symbolic positions.

 

Text by Jasmin Stephens, Curator and Writer, Sydney.

 

2014 Visiting Student, Masters of Fine Art at the Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam
2013 Anne & Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship
2012 Bachelor of Visual Arts Honours (First Class), UniSA City West Campus
2009–2011 Bachelor of Visual Arts with distinction, Sculpture, UniSA City West Campus
2006–2008 Bachelor of Visual Arts, Coker College, Hartsville, South Carolina, USA

 

Artist's website: www.madisonbycroft.com