Concrete Unknows | 2021
The art practice of Gabrielle Bates has evolved over 30 years into an immersive investigation of how we occupy, understand and enchant place. In 2007 she undertook a year-long residency in Kuala Lumpur, which led to subsequent residencies in Penang, Manila and Australia. These experiences introduced her to community-inclusive approaches to cultural production, as well as prompting her masters research into Witchcraft, ritual and creative site activation. In Australia, Gabrielle’s art works have been selected for highly-regarded award exhibitions, she has received numerous commissions, and produced 13 solo exhibitions. She works between Gadigal and Wiradjuri lands, and pays respects to elders past, present and emerging.
During the Covid lockdown, I developed an interest in photographing ritual one-to-one performances in the empty back streets and parks of Sydney. The core principles of Witchcraft lie at the foundation of these images, which combines animist thinking with ritual practices to explore how magic can be used for both emotional expression and political action in troubled times. My explorations rely heavily on the use of ephemera such as found, borrowed and recycled materials as I attempt to advocate for things that are forgotten, unloved and unseen. Often, I turn to places of folkloric significance, like crossroads, the base of bridges, caves, trees, docks and transport shelters, as they possess the energetic potentials of confluence or stasis, all of which are alternative descriptions for hauntings.