The Cross Art Projects. Artist Exhibition, Debra Phillips, A talker’s echo. 2023

Gary Carsley: ‘Skirting the Issue’ — 22 April to 14 May 2005

Skirting The Issue: The 235th Anniversary Of Cook’s Landing At Botany Bay

Exhibition 22 April to 14 May 2005

Cross Conversation with Gary Carsley, Keith Vincent Smith and Ace Bourke — 15 May 2005 at 2pm

Skirting the Issue comprises grand images of parkscapes in Europe and Sydney. Carsley’s perfected nature takes on narrative qualities to portray significant cultural and historical strategies. Images are oddly inverted. A picturesque view of Botany Bay National Park sits beside an image of a stand of gum trees planted in London’s Kew Gardens by Sir Joseph Banks from seeds collected in 1770.

Carsley names his works Draguerreotypes after the first photographic technique, Daguerreotypes. Just as drag takes on a different gender that is presented and performed, upon closer inspection these works dissolve into complex wooden veneer inlay (intarsia). Each colour, every form is made from composites of wooden veneer floor pieces. Carsley’s Draguerreotypes are ‘Lichtbilder’ that take on the material characteristics of photographs and playfully engage in questioning physical and cultural appearances.

Parks are specific forms of place making; they are curated nature. Plants are organised in a spatial context to present combinations of species not found in nature. Similarly, in Carsley’s works, the park motif and the elaborate intarsia coincide as visual incidents of equal importance.

The Cross Art Projects, Artist Exhibition. Gary Carsley: 'Skirting the Issue' — 22 April to 14 May 2005
The Cross Art Projects, Artist Exhibition. Gary Carsley: 'Skirting the Issue' — 22 April to 14 May 2005
The Cross Art Projects, Artist Exhibition. Gary Carsley: 'Skirting the Issue' — 22 April to 14 May 2005

With such eloquent irony Carsley reflects upon continuing cultural transfers between the Old and New World. The wood laminates themselves, purchased at D.I.Y stores around the world, are a vivid reminder that while we watch, Eden, like Botany Bay and old growth native forests, is besieged by commercial and political opportunism. Skirting the Issue is a timely reminder that the most important issues are still local.

Sydney viewers are familiar with Carsley’s long-term art and curatorial investigation of drag’s contribution to performance, visual culture and politics through his curatorial projects such as the acclaimed The Art and (larger than) Life of Leigh Bowery for the Museum of Contemporary Art (2003–04), Parthogenesis (Ivan Dougherty Gallery, UNSW, 2003) and Cerebellum (Performance Space, 2002).

Draguerreotypes from Carsley’s ‘Second Nature’ project have been recently exhibited at Sabine Schmidt Gallery (Cologne) and Torch Gallery (Amsterdam). They feature in a major international survey show of post-camera photography, Surfaces Paradise, now at the Museum for Modern Art in Arnhem (featuring works by Thomas Ruff, Vik Muniz, Gary Carsley and Carrie Yamaoka). Carsley’s Draguerreotypes are already in collections such as the Stedelijk Museum for Modern Art in Amsterdam and the Peter Stuyvesant Foundation in New York. He lives and works in Sydney and Amsterdam.

Downloads & Links
Skirting the Issue: Gary Carsley exhibition catalogue with essay by Rafael von Uslar and Tony Clarke, The Cross Art Projects, 2005 (colour, A1 folded to 8pp). Available at Cross Books:

Torch Gallery, Amsterdam:
Sabine Schmidt, Koln: