Dämmerschlaf at Artspace

Mikala Dwyer, ‘The hanging garden of moonman marigolds’, 2016, installation view, ‘Dämmerschlaf’, Artspace, Sydney. Courtesy the artist, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery and Anna Schwartz Gallery. Photo: Artspace.
Accessed on 23 January 2016:  http://www.artspace.org.au/program/exhibitions/2016/daemmerschlaf/


Right now and throughout mid January to mid February, above the Australian sky, there is a planetary alignment that is happening.  If you look up to the predawn sky, all five of the visible (to the human eye) planets, being Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn, can be seen all together, hanging out in the universe above us like a gang of celestial buddies.  The planets are brought together by invisible forces, and during this same period of celestial connection, three artists are also brought together to explore the connection of the physical and conceptual thresholds between the studio and the gallery.

Nick Dorey, Mikala Dwyer, Clare Milledge are exhibiting in Dämmerschlaf, the first exhibition of the Artspace 2016 program.  All three artists were 2015 One Year Studio Artists at Artspace, and this is their resulting body of work.  Dämmerschlaf is the German word for ‘twilight sleep’, a form of calming pain relief.  Dämmerschlaf is an evolving experience taking place throughout the month of January, slowly growing and moving and aligning throughout the course of the exhibition.  All artists have relocated their working environments from the upstairs studio to the downstairs gallery, creating together and aligning their ideas in the exhibition space. The artist is actively present throughout the exhibition, creating and designing the space where you can watch them in-situ, much like the planets in our night time sky.

Why the link between Dämmerschlaf and the planets? Well, the works are of a spiritual and supernatural perspective.  The artists explore the occult, the moon, perceptions of realities and physical and conceptual thresholds.

Stage 6
This would be a good experience for Stage 6 students to go and visit an artists studio in preparation for creating a major body of work.  Artistic collaboration and different art making practices can be viewed in-situ and compared between the artists.

The Conceptual Framework can explore the notions of space, the studio space vs exhibition space. The physical and spiritual space.  The artist and the audience in the same space.  The performance of the creation of the work can also be explored.  There is a public program from GreenUps, which indicate concepts of sustainability will be at play throughout the exhibition.  Another concept to explore is the title: What does Dämmerschlaf mean? (The German word Dämmerschlaf is translated into English as ‘twilight sleep’, which describes a state induced by a combination of analgesia (pain relief) and amnesia to combat the pain — or the memory of pain). Why is this title significant? How does twilight sleep, amnesia and an induced state of calm and relief feature in the exhibition?

Dämmerschlaf at Artspace


Artspace is an exciting organisation.  It deals with cutting edge experimental and emerging art.  It is more established, aka has more paid staff and funding, than an ARI, but it isn’t as established as a state run museum and gallery, such as the AGNSW.  It exists in between the two, and existing in this in-between space, allows Artspace to have the best of both – the freedom of an ARI, with the infrastructure of a museum.

Artspace has been in operation for many years, being established in 1983, and is housed in The Gunnery in Woolloomooloo.  The Gunnery is also home to the Biennale of Sydney offices, National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA), Museums and Galleries, and studio spaces.  It is an art complex housing some of the key arts administration organisations for Sydney, and I read once somewhere in the N.S.W. State Library that in the 1980s it was an artists’ community and squat.

Artspace is a key arts venue for audiences and visitors, through exhibiting Australian and international art, producing key texts on ideas and providing public programs filled with discussion and experiences.  Artspace offers just as much for artists, it is an organisation that is involved with the creation of art, it is not just a venue to exhibit the end result.  A major part of Artspace are the residential studios.  Open to Australian and international artists, the studio program is competitive, free and also an amazing opportunity for seven artists every year.  The studio program provides art making space, space for critical dialogue with peers and audiences and exhibition space.  During the program audiences are able to engage with the artists in a multitude of ways, through open studios, artist talks and the exhibition of the work made.

For more information on the Artspace public programs, visit the website: http://www.artspace.org.au/program/public-programs/