CACSa Contemporary 2015 - August 2015

ARTIST - Louise Haselton / Christine Collins

AUTHOR - Petra Mosman

Louise Haselton’s work in the front gallery weaves and threads materials together. Cast bronze is painted a muddy brown tone, then wrapped in different coloured and textured wool; hunks of slightly dirty Styrofoam are woven between felt (the Styrofoam is the weft and the felt is the warp); wire is threaded with rubber cord and then wrapped in a variety of wools and strings. The focus is on contact between different materials, on the way they animate one another, but also the appeal of making impractical things out of practical materials.

Christine Collins’ work in the back gallery is a 62 minute, looped, multidirectional sound installation, employing dialogue from 20 different war films. In the reverse process of film production, Collins separated the sound and reorganised the dialogue into her own unique system based on the military address (Captain, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Trooper etc.). Although part of the pleasure of the work is to listen for familiar exchanges, the focus is on different sounds and ways of speaking, on the different accents, volumes and tones used by men in war films to address one another.

instructions, a conversation and 4 thoughts


The light in the back gallery is a little too bright - turn it off. Sit on the floor in the middle of the room so you can concentrate on the dialogue.

You may want to touch the work in the front gallery to understand the different materials used in each pieces construction. You’re supposed to resist this urge.

1. hair

In the front gallery there are five necklace shaped forms hanging on the wall. Each one is made from a thin piece of wire covered in rubber cord and includes a newspaper bundle, wrapped in wool and string.

A strand of human hair appears to protrude from one of the wool and string bundles. Was a hair caught during the process of wrapping the wool around the wire? The hair can’t be brushed away; it’s part of the paintwork on the gallery wall. The hair is not supposed to be part of the work.

Louise Haselton,      untitled    (2015) wire, wool, rubber cord

Louise Haselton, untitled (2015) wire, wool, rubber cord

Weaving or crafting with human hair has a long history. Rather than relating to histories of hairwork, this stray hair is closer to something else, to the moment when hair is found in food. Finding hair out of place disrupts the perceived proper boundaries between things. Perhaps we can read Haselton’s work as being about such moments, taking “cast-off” items and resuscitating them by “giving them new company”.[1] This single strand of hair, accidentally painted into the plaster, is part of the new company that the wire, wool and rubber cord can keep.

Haselton is interested in the animacy of non-human things.[2] Thinking about this, I asked her at the gallery opening “Does the idea of live and dead matter? Is there some part of the work that is livelier or deader, or is the idea to disrupt the binary?” She replied that she doesn’t see it as a binary, rather, “they are quite connected, very intertwined. The materials that I choose are quite static but I do think that there’s kind of a liveliness within them...”[3]

2. this is an archive

Christine Collins,   Why call to the colours when you can signal the hornet, Captain Browning?   (2015), audio track, 62 mins, played as a loop.

Christine Collins, Why call to the colours when you can signal the hornet, Captain Browning? (2015), audio track, 62 mins, played as a loop.

When sitting in the middle of the room in the backspace, (with a couple of exceptions) men’s voices speak to you using various military forms of address.

Dialogue is ordered systematically by Collins, who places sounds in idiosyncratic, sometime traceable “linguistic categories” according to the type of military address in the statement.[4] The dialogue does not produce a narrative. It is not ordered by military rank or by anything grounded in the film. The intention behind making categories is to prevent the creation of a movie style narrative from the fragments. The intention is to “re-present” rather than “comment” on the representation of masculinity and war.[5] Such painstaking work is archival, but also creates an archive.

Archive/s and archiving are often on my mind. I tend to see them everywhere. To get confirmation, I ask Collins: “Does the term archive resonate?” She looks slightly surprised and comments that it is a “collection”; she hadn’t had the term “archive” in mind, but she agreed it seemed relevant to the process.[6]


Petra: So you said it took over two years to produce, do you want to talk about that? [Christine and Pria laugh]

Christine: It was partly that the exhibition was delayed. But it [long pause] doesn’t speak of labour, like textiles.

Petra: That’s what I was thinking of, the repetition of something like needlework, of textile production.

Pria: I disagree, I think it really speaks of labour, I think you must have made a lot of decisions not only in the editing but in the placement of where the sound comes...

Petra Interrupts: Is there a relationship between textiles production and this work?

Christine: It’s funny that you ask, I’ve actually done textile work in the past. [long pause] Maybe... I guess there’s a similarity in that [sound and textile production are] about pattern, variation, repetition and recognition... there’s a connection between language and textiles... perhaps in the process? It’s about ordering and patterning and categorising and processing.

3. threads, weaving, textiles

Both artists evoke textile practices. Haselton’s work in the front gallery focuses attention on the weight, texture and act of threading, and brings thread and threading in relation to other materials.

Collins’ work deliberately avoids including any visual elements. You’re not supposed to consider the “threads”. You aren’t supposed to think about the electrical cables connecting the speakers to a power source, or about the reels used in pre-digital film production and distribution.  Nor are you supposed to consider, while listening, the editing process, which is comparable to textile practices.[8]

4. this is not an archive

Because I see archives everywhere, I also ask Haselton, “Do you archive and does the term ‘archive’ resonate?” She replies: “Not particularly, I’m pretty chaotic, some stuff I will hang onto, if that’s archiving [she laughs]...”[9]

Things gather and are gathered together in the front gallery.  The work does not employ order and affect, it is not “archival” in structure and cannot be called an archive.

I don’t see archives everywhere.



[1] Louise Haselton, Artist Statement, CACSA Contemporary at FELTspace.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Louise Haselton, Conversation with Petra Mosmann and Pria Mitra, unpublished, 29 July 2015.

[4] Christine Collins, Artist Statement, CACSA Contemporary at FELTspace.

[5] Christine Collins, Conversation with Petra Mosmann and Pria Mitra, unpublished, 29 July 2015.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Louise Haselton, Conversation with Petra Mosmann and Pria Mitra, unpublished, 29 July 2015.