Tarryn Gill + Pilar Mata Dupont at Yebisu International Festival, Tokyo, 2014Together and Apart

Tarryn Gill & Pilar Mata Dupont by Leigh Robb

It all started with a flash mob. Gathering 30 amateur dancers together in Perth’s Central Park was the lively start to Tarryn Gill and Pilar Mata Dupont’s artistic collaboration in 2001. More than ten years on, the duo has produced a compelling body of work that has been presented locally, around Australia and abroad, in exhibitions and festivals. In February this year their films Gymnasium and Ever Higher showed in True Colors – Yebisu International Festival for Art and Alternative Visions at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.

Theirs is a story of tenacity, inventiveness and a shared, technicolor vision of an expanded, international practice run from Perth.

Working together and also apart, Pilar and Tarryn are entering another turn in their practice, undertaking solo residencies around the world, and making work independently. In the past 18 months Tarryn has been invited to collaborate with the brilliant, maverick Perth theatre collective The Last Great Hunt as well as the uncompromising Sam Fox, aka Hydra Poesis, and is now involved in Wikileaks The Ballet, working as a designer. The designing, building and artistic articulation of physical space that has come from these experiences are feeding into her epic and eerie installation for a solo show at MOANA in October 2014, whilst she continues to develop other psychotheatrical sculptural projects in response to the 2013 residency shared with Pilar at the Freud Museum in London.

Tarryn Gill + Pilar Mata Dupont, Ever Higher, 2011 (performance still). Image: Paula Carpio, courtesy the artists and PICAPilar’s solo adventures have seen her return to Finland, Korea and Argentina to make work for her upcoming solo show at the Pori Art Museum of Finland in September this year. Closer to home, Pilar will be working with newly arrived immigrants to collect stories to make a musical based video work for a commissioned work for The List, a group show at Campbelltown Arts Centre in NSW.

“We have always felt supported in Perth by many extraordinarily talented individuals, as well as by ARI’s, galleries, institutions, curators, and collectors. We have been very lucky to have had two of our collaborative works purchased by the Art Gallery of Western Australia over the past five years, and have enjoyed being included in excellent curated collection exhibitions such as Remix: WA Contemporary Art,” comment Pilar and Tarryn.

However, little of the success of these two artists can be reduced to luck. They have relentlessly found ways to make new work, writing endless grant applications, producing, directing and performing in the all singing, all dancing extravaganza which is their life. They have pulled this off whilst still working in art galleries on install or in theatres as ushers. They have found a way to make it work, by always being at work.

Tarryn and Pilar are now taking these experiences and sharing them in Tokyo, Rejkavik, London, Seoul and Banff, casting their net wide in their sustained treatment of historical re-enactment and re-presentation of the female self in relation to history and culture. Their ability to constantly find ways to create unnerving narratives that speak both of and from this part of the world, but in a way that has universal reach is what makes what comes next from both of them, together and apart, so riveting. 

Leigh Robb is the Curator at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA). She previously worked at Thomas Dane Gallery, London and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice. Leigh holds a BA in Art History from the University of Queensland and a Masters in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London.

This article featured in the Artsource Newsletter, Autumn 2014.