The Summation Of Force - Michael Reid

The Summation of Force

Narelle Autio + Trent Parke

Michael Reid Sydney

December 9, 2021 – January 29, 2022

The Summation of Force is a staggering work of genius by two of Australia’s most important practicing artists, Trent Parke and Narelle Autio. It is a profoundly ambitious & complex presentation, aspiring to that German term; Gesamtkunstwerk – the complete art work. In its totality; a cosmic 8-channel immersive video installation. First presented to acclaim at the Ann and Gordon Samstag Museum in South Australia, The Summation of Force initial premiere was followed by a virtual reality iteration which celebrated its launch  on the opening night of the Adelaide Film Festival. This was followed by an international release at Sundance Film Festival. The darkly beautiful Summation of Force is about life, and the universe. But mostly it is about cricket.

It is fitting that The Summation of Force opens this week at Michael Reid Sydney alongside the first Ashes test for the summer. The Ashes – a small Urn containing the figurative remains of English cricket after a home-soil loss to Australia in 1882  – shows cricket’s propensity for symbolism, grand narrative and deep obsession. On this last point, both art and sport hold equal claim and it is at this juncture where Park and Autio’s work takes root. Through the removal of colour and context, the artists extrapolate the minutia from cricket, distancing us from our understanding of the sport, instead calling on a subconscious engagement with its elements. Unpacking symbols, detail, memory and movement understood intimately from a lifelong obsession with the game, the artists then explode these elements into a comprehensive artwork of rare brilliance.

The film and accompanying stills adopt a dreamlike language, as they chart the artists’ two sons in their pursuit of perfection.  There are hints of Lynch, and suburban noir in the scenes that appear. Smashed windows. Cricket balls on the roof. A hills hoist in the rain. Insects pulsating in the grass. Human movement is studied in the vein of Muybridge, a nod to photographic histories, abstracted into graceful arcs of light. The pull shot becomes a samurai in motion. The fast bowler; a dancer. A troop of batters silhouetted and seen from above, recalls Olive Cotton’s Tea-cup ballet (circa. 1935), re-enforcing the collapsed boundary between photography and cricket.

For the most part, art and sport have become diametrically opposed in modern conversation. In politics they compete for funding, arguing at the expense of the other. In social settings they have well defined boundaries. There is increasingly rare slippage between the two; the folds of their respective newspaper sections ensure they never meet. And yet there is a shared DNA. Both are built on a bed rock of tradition. Of rules, cannon, and structure. Both are pursued by the masses, with only a select few individuals with the capacity for brilliance ever able to make a mark. We, the public, are in awe of those – in both art and sport – who through moments of pure instinct, energy and obsession, are able to find grace. The greats in both fields can captivate generations and re-define the way we understand the game, and how it is played. Summation of Force in this sense, is game changing.

It is fitting that The Summation of Force opens this week at Michael Reid Sydney alongside the first Ashes test for the summer. The Ashes – a small Urn containing the figurative remains of English cricket after a home-soil loss to Australia in 1882  – shows cricket’s propensity for symbolism, grand narrative and deep obsession. On this last point, both art and sport hold equal claim and it is at this juncture where Park and Autio’s work takes root. Through the removal of colour and context, the artists extrapolate the minutia from cricket, distancing us from our understanding of the sport, instead calling on a subconscious engagement with its elements. Unpacking symbols, detail, memory and movement understood intimately from a lifelong obsession with the game, the artists then explode these elements into a comprehensive artwork of rare brilliance.

The film and accompanying stills adopt a dreamlike language, as they chart the artists’ two sons in their pursuit of perfection.  There are hints of Lynch, and suburban noir in the scenes that appear. Smashed windows. Cricket balls on the roof. A hills hoist in the rain. Insects pulsating in the grass. Human movement is studied in the vein of Muybridge, a nod to photographic histories, abstracted into graceful arcs of light. The pull shot becomes a samurai in motion. The fast bowler; a dancer. A troop of batters silhouetted and seen from above, recalls Olive Cotton’s Tea-cup ballet (circa. 1935), re-enforcing the collapsed boundary between photography and cricket.

For the most part, art and sport have become diametrically opposed in modern conversation. In politics they compete for funding, arguing at the expense of the other. In social settings they have well defined boundaries. There is increasingly rare slippage between the two; the folds of their respective newspaper sections ensure they never meet. And yet there is a shared DNA. Both are built on a bed rock of tradition. Of rules, cannon, and structure. Both are pursued by the masses, with only a select few individuals with the capacity for brilliance ever able to make a mark. We, the public, are in awe of those – in both art and sport – who through moments of pure instinct, energy and obsession, are able to find grace. The greats in both fields can captivate generations and re-define the way we understand the game, and how it is played. Summation of Force in this sense, is game changing.

Narelle Autio

Narelle Autio is multi award winning photographer whose artistic career spans over 30 years. In 2002 she became the first Australian to have won the venerable international Leica Oskar Barnack Award for her visceral photo series ‘The Coastal Dwellers’. Her complex compositions represent a great homage to the beauty of Australian life.

Autio’s photographs are best known for saturated colour, intense light, and blue waters enveloping swimmers which capture Australia’s relationship with the environment. She has won two World Press awards, an American Picture of the Year award and two Walkley awards, as well as twice being a finalist in the Basil Sellers Art Prize. Narelle Autio has twice been a finalist in the Fleurieu Art Prize and the Olive Cotton Award. Her work has featured in national and international exhibitions, including solo presentations of The Summer of Us at the Australia Embassy in Paris (2014-2016) and the Bibliotheque Departementale des Bouches-du-Rhone, France (2014).

Autio’s work is held in the collections of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, The National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, Parliament House Collection, Artbank, National Gallery of Victoria, Samstag Museum of Art, Australian National Maritime Museum, as well as many private and corporate collections.

Trent Parke

Trent Parke is one of Australia’s most renowned photographers and his long-standing career has received international critical acclaim. In 2007 Parke became the first Australian to be admitted as a member of the appraised Magnum Photo Agency. Parke’s work captures an emotional and psychological portrait of a raw Australia - his home country- which he records from the isolated outback, through to the cities and busy coastal beaches.

Parke began his career as a press photojournalist. With roots in documentary, his work sits between fiction and reality, exploring themes of identity, place, and family life. Parke has been awarded four World Press Photo Awards, five Gold Lenses by the International Olympic Committee, and was awarded the W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography in 2003.

Trent Parke has published eight books and has been the subject of four ABC documentaries, including The Spirit of Cricket, 2020, The Art of the Game, 2018, The Black Rose, 2015 and Dream Lives, 2002.

Parke’s work is held in numerous public collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Artbank, Sydney. His books Minutes to Midnight and The Christmas Tree Bucket were published by Steidl in 2013.

The Summation Of Force

Narelle Autio + Trent Parke

December 9, 2021 - January 27, 2022

The Summation of Force film and VR is directed by Autio and Parke, in association with Matthew Bate of Closer Productions and Anton Andreacchio of Jumpgate VR

Michael Reid Sydney

109-111 Shepherd Street Chippendale NSW 2008

+61 2 8353 3500