Curator's radar: Susan Jacobs - Art Collector

Issue 59, January - March 2012

This profile appeared in the Curator's radar feature, part of the annual special issue 50 Things Collectors Need to Know 2012.

Experimental artist Susan Jacobs has the uncanny knack of using physical materials and spaces as a means to express conceptual concerns in her complex, multi-layered art practice. She works in drawing, sculpture, performance and video as well as architectural site-specific work. Often employing readily available prosaic materials, she investigates broad ideas like time, history, physics, psychology and philosophy.

Selected as one of the 21 participants in the forthcoming 2012 Adelaide Biennial by curators Natasha Bullock and Alexie Glass-Kantor, Jacobs will place her commissioned work in the historic Elder Wing of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia. Alongside 19th century sculptures such as Bertrand McKennel’s Circe, an imposing bronze figure of a serpentine goddess, Jacobs will install a plasma TV screen featuring a video of a live snake making tracks through a bed of sand. The markings will then be cast into a bronze relief work. The unpredictable nature of creating an artwork out of such an arbitrary action, along with the historical, mythological and psychological associations of snake iconography, is typical of the process driven approach of Jacob’s practice. Working with random gestures and mark-making, drawing metaphoric associations from actions and interactions that are often out of her control is a key element in her work. Her interest is in the act of enquiry rather than in a set outcome or conclusion.

The Melbourne-based artist trained in drawing at the University of Newcastle in the 1990s before completing postgraduate studies in sculpture at the Victorian College of the Arts in 1999. Her continually evolving practice earned her the ANZ Visual Arts Fellowship and the VCA Postgraduate Prize, selected by French philosopher Jacques Derrida, both in 1999, and she has also received grants from the Australia Council and Arts Victoria.

Speaking on behalf of both curators Bullock comments: “Although in terms of national recognition she is an emerging artist, she is dedicated to ongoing research in the field of expanded drawing and in the past few years she has gained real momentum and much deserved critical recognition.”

Jacobs will follow her involvement in the 2012 Adelaide Biennial with an overseas residency in the United States, investigating land art of the 1960s, before embarking on a three-month studio residency at Artspace in Sydney. With an audience now expanding beyond her peers to include collectors, institutions and the broader public and with future public projects already in the works for 2013, this young artist appears to be one to watch in the near future.

Victoria Hynes

Parallel Collisions, the 2012 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, runs from 2 March to 29 April 2012 at the Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide.

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