Be immersed in sublime, severe and serene Icelandic landscapes at UQ Art Museum

Dark Learning 2015 (detail)

Dark Learning 2015 (detail)

A mesmerising, seven-channel video installation by Western Australian artist Jacobus Capone will have its Queensland premiere at The University of Queensland Art Museum from 26 July.

Dark Learning 2015 explores the sublime natural environment in one of the world’s most formidable locations - Iceland.

UQ Art Museum curator Anna Briers said Capone filmed the scenes over two years, in response to seven remote Icelandic landscapes.

Dark Learning sees Capone respond in a bodily way to the sublime - his figure dwarfed by nature’s dominion through scenes of pounding waterfalls, raging bonfires and snowy glaciers that reinforce the scale of his encounters,” Anna Briers said.

“Through these means he explores the Chinese philosophical concept of Xuanxue, a kind of bodily knowing that privileges sensation over intellectual enquiry.

“Meditative and ritualistic, Dark Learning transports the viewer into mysterious worlds that reinforce the present moment.”

Capone first travelled to Iceland at age 18 and felt an immediate affinity with the country. He subsequently returned many times and developed a deep reverence for the weather and landscape while spending long periods outdoors during the winter months.

“I wanted to pursue a project that attempted to decipher and embrace the indescribable inclination that first made me journey to Iceland,” Capone said.

“Words seemed inadequate to honour and explore whatever was at play, so instead it made sense to spend prolonged periods of time outside, in severe and serene locations, being still and surrendering the body to the environment.

“Working mostly independently, I’d set up the camera on a tripod framing the setting I felt drawn to - my aim was to make the location the protagonist in the work, so it was important to capture a sense of its presence,” Capone said.

“Within an hour of filming what I considered to be the final chapter of Dark Learning, I knew that it concluded the project and quelled my initial desire to search and question the intricate nature of my relationship to Iceland.”

Capone describes Dark Learning as a breakthrough in refining the performative side of his practice, opening it up to a larger audience, and tuning into how the audience can approach and experience it.

“I can only hope that anyone who spends time with the work at UQ Art Museum is suspended in the particular moment they have with it, not thinking but rather being with it.”

Dark Learning will show from 26 July until 21 December at UQ Art Museum.

Image: Jacobus Capone, Dark Learning 2015 (detail), 7-channel video, high definition, colour, audio duration 0:22:21 mins
Collection of The University of Queensland, purchased 2017.
Reproduced courtesy of the artist.

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