In this world, when an emotion is taken and compressed, it doesn’t disappear. All the excesses are sloughed off, and what remains is a small nugget, approximately the size and shape of a walnut, that gets embedded: hidden, deep somewhere within the body. An emotional implosion.
Onion Chamber imbues accessorising products and retail interiors with the rich inner turmoils of human beings. In a high end store purveying products beautifully displayed, the wares hold one’s feelings flat across their surfaces neither morphing nor splattering them. The receptacles of our fantasies and desires, they insistently whisper, “Nothing will hurt you here. Our existence is one of stasis”. Your emotions are ever so slightly magnified, like fingers through a water glass. Nothing different, just slightly bigger and more clear. It’s soothing.
Anne Fellner and Carla Milentis’ paintings and sculptures are unlike these static receptacles. They try – with the natural rigidity of objects – to contain some potent feeling of their own (not yours), and yet cannot. They ooze into their surroundings unnaturally, and through the peculiarity of their liveliness, reflect back the chaos and drama of our human processing. In their inanimateness we are afforded just enough distance to be able to catch a glimpse of ourselves, through the porthole of the rugged emotional lives of these non-living things.
Their materiality mirrors that of an emotional implosion. Milentis’ ceramic shoes shift, tilt, and crack, growing now stubby, now monstrously long depending on one’s perspective. Adorned with pearls, gems, and stiletto heels, they have the trappings of delicate fae-ish femininity, and yet the anxiety contained within them brings forth a weighty clumsiness, like one’s fleeing legs in a nightmare.
The remnants of an implosion stay inside, like an anti-bezoar, covered in black-red blood, deep in the depths. It leaches its contents therein. The body knows this, although the mind doesn’t quite. It creates barriers to the outside, air-locks in the form of ventricles, ringing this dark and potent seed. Like air sacs at a frog’s throat or the lining of a chrysalis. Meaty layers, fragrant with the smell of the body, shock-absorbing and organic.
The soft fabric texture of Fellner’s paintings refuses to quite stay on the wall. Through enfolding layers of brushstrokes, the image reaches out, blurring the line between it and the air of the space (that you are in too). A mirage of undulating lines provides a portal to another person’s desire and intention, that came forth as matter, from their fingers, tenderly. An original image refracted through the glass screen of a phone, that captured the image behind the shop window – a retail worker’s careful display – is offered the reverent treatment of the colourful aperture of a cathedral.
Nonetheless, the nugget continues to ooze its contents. The feeling comes out taking strange and circuitous paths, pouring out of cavities (ear, nose, throat), like spit pooling in a paralysed mouth. It is also beautiful, for its winding and indirect nature. If allowed loose, it wends away through the air like the ribbon of a rhythmic gymnast.