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New work at Cementa_17


John A Douglas has been commissioned to present his latest work Screen Test (Revived) – Devils Tower at the third Cementa_17 festival held every second year in the Central West town of Kandos in NSW.

For Cementa_17 Douglas will revisit or revive his Screen Test body of work from the mid 2000s where he re created scenes from iconic American and Australian cinema.  However, Douglas often references cinematic moments in all of his work.  Screen Test( Revived) is based on the scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind where the character of Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfus) becomes obsessed with a mountain where, later in the film, the aliens land. In his crazed obsession he builds a large model of the mountain on the living room table in the house where he lives. Another character in the film, Jillian Guiller played by Melinda Dillon, shares the same obsession with Roy but instead obsessively draws the mountain on paper and hangs the drawings around her house.

On the road to Kandos, in the Bylong Valley, there are many sandstone mountain formations that evoke the mountain in the film – The Devils Tower in Wyoming. For this live performance installation Douglas will build a model  Mt Fitzgerald, located few kilometres out of Kandos, in a large shed in the town. he will also scribble drawings of the mountain and hang them around the space. The site will also be set up like a small film set with lights and a camera documenting the performance.  A video screen will be positioned in the space with a video of various shots of the mountain including a time lapse of the night sky.

Audience members are invited to share in the social imaginary of the film and take on the roles of Roy and Jillian’s obsession. Participants can join in the performance and will be offered and charcoal for drawing and invited to draw or add  to the model. Ideally the audience will become performers in the space. They can draw either the model that is being constructed, the video of the mountain on the video screen or if they are familiar with film to draw from memory the mountain in the film. Audience participants are also invited to join in the model making and all materials will be available for all activities.

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Image: Night Sky time lapse still of Fitzgerald Mountain, 2017


The Australian Artists’ Grant is a NAVA initiative, made possible through the generous sponsorship of Mrs Janet Holmes à Court and the support of the Visual Arts Board, Australia Council for the Arts.