A Basic Guide to Crystal & Colour Healing, CACSA, 2011
A Basic Guide to Crystal & Colour Healing
Celeste Juliet Aldahn
Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia, Project Space
22 July – 28 August 2011
This exhibition showcased developing honours work, investigating girl culture and invoking a charged femininity through play with materials and installation.
“The CACSA project space is treated as one unified space and within it Aldahn creates a reassuringly controlled circuit for the visitor. Given the operative aesthetic that accompanies this magicky and spiritual world, Aldahn necessarily works with a great deal of pink and pale blue and turquoise, and white. And a lot of beads, a lot of tinyness; a lot of mock-primordial/mock- timeless arrangements. Shrine-like circles arc around centrepieces, there are pyramidal or altar-like arrangements. Such arrangements are shared by many dressing tables and vanities etc. So the manner is familiar enough and legible. It is a difficult style to work with successfully in making art. It courts cliché for one thing. (Usually it is somehow about cliché or signalling, foregrounding, the kitsch.) The palette is a little tired and shrilly sweet. But Aldahn circumvents or sails over these difficulties. The environment that the artist presents as an installation hangs together coherently, has a simple visual order as a whole and leads one unhurriedly, by stages, past the whole. Each stage is a kind of deposit of visual interest and is curious enough to hold the attention.
Aldahn works with what is a sub-cultural style. Which puts criticism (and the viewer) in a funny position: the viewing endeavour is challenged before it begins, partly because the function of a sub-cultural style is to challenge the viewer, to exclude the outsider and to frame the outsider as such. A badge of identity, and exclusionary, the mode is not simple communication, not conventional decoration. It is not offered straight—as art is thought by aestheticians to be. That is, it’s not simply there for appraisal. Punk—to consider another sub-cultural style—might be thought aggressive in its assertion of itself as —what?— all there is that’s real? There’s no point disagreeing or asking for a broader perspective. It is going to do what it does— and that is why we like it. Its wrong-headedness is what we want from it. Similarly with Girl-power, with magical, Druidy, emo vocabularies. (Not that I am of a generation to even name them with confidence.) Subcultural styles reject the ordinary viewer (for being ordinary) together with the viewer’s ability to judge—or they say that they don’t care about those judgements.”