Under soil & skin
The Mission to Seafarers, 2023
Five channel projection with five channel sound installation

DoP & film editor: Gene Alberts
Composer: Matthijs van Dijk
Sound Design: Simon Ratcliffe
Documentation: Sean Healy

Under Soil & Skin is a multi-channel immersive moving image installation mapped to the Mission to Seafarers iconic Norla Dome. Working with the premise of a broken chord, a fractured composition is performed with a disfigured cello for the fire-damaged forests of the Blue Mountains. This engagement with the landscape positions art as a regenerative navigational tool to uproot dissonance and to find the points at which harmony sits, strikes or sings.

On Friday 3 February the exhibition was activated by an event score. The sonic composition travelled around the dome at the command of theremin performers Vijay Thillaimuthu and Chloë Sobek.

Supported by the City of Melbourne Arts Grants and the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body. Produced in partnership with the Centre for Projection Art and the Mission to Seafarers.

“Under Soil & Skin presents the work of art as a constructed, conceptual undertaking, and raises questions about its subsequent relationship to the natural world. It poses the problem of how a thing so seemingly out of kilter with the realities and rhythms of nature might establish harmony between or within them. In its exploration of this problem, Valender’s work does not seek to accuse or eschew human fallibility or creativity, as many works engaged in argument about the Anthropocene have done. Instead it invites the viewer to consider how the art object, in its intentionality, might be well placed to communicate both the conditions of its own making and those of the world it exists within. This framework shifts the work away from the position of a mirror apart from the world. Instead, the schism of contrast that Valender stokes between the artwork and its wider context subverts this formulation of artistic aloofness, placing the fraughtness of the art-environment relationship at the centre of the frame.” - Elyssia Bugg

Link to Exhibition Catalogue & Review