The Nine Circles
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Catalogue essay excerpt by Bec Dean
The Nine Circles by John A. Douglas is epic theatre, distilled to video and photomedia. Its canonical tropes are all there: a maligned protagonist; a journey across time and space; encounters with advocates and tormentors; contests and challenges; an internal battle of the psyche, all intermingle with the accumulated experience of an individual living an extraordinary life in a literally extra-ordinary body.
The title of the exhibition is lifted from Inferno, the first part of Dante Aligiheriʼs epic poem The Divine Comedy (c. 1308-1320), in which the author is guided by the Roman poet, Virgil, through the nine circles of hell. The Nine Circles and its main video component, Circles of Fire (variations) has been the creative focus of artist, John A. Douglas since his successful kidney transplant operation in 2014. The work forms part of a trilogy of video, photomedia and performance in which Douglas engages directly with his experience of chronic long-term illness, and treatment and interventions upon the medical patient body. The trilogy includes Body Fluid (2012), The Visceral Garden: Landscape and Specimen (2014) and Circles of Fire (2016- ongoing).
For the complete essay please download the gallery catalogue here
Principal Artist: John A Douglas
Associate Producer: Bec Dean
Performers: John A Douglas with Celeste Aldahn, Stella Topaz, Yiorgos Zafariou
Performance Director: Sue Healey
Videography: John A Douglas, Dara Gill
Ariel Videography: Rubicon Cinema (BC, Canada)
Studio Lighting: John A Douglas, Martin Fox, Mark Mitchell, Yiorgos Zafiriou
Editing, Compositing and Colour Grading: John A Douglas
Digital Stills Collage: John A Douglas
Soundtrack: Justin Ashworth
Additional Sounds:Glam Cyborg (Celeste Aldahn, Freya Adele), John A Douglas
Arrangements, Sound Design and Mixing: Justin Ashworth and John A Douglas
Costume Design and Production: Michele Elliot, Yiorgos Zafiriou, John A Douglas
LED Costume Design, Production and Rigging: Alejandro Rolandi
Object Design and Production: John A Douglas, Nadege Desgenetez (glass objects) and Yiorgos Zafiriou (surgery sequence costumes)
On Location Production Management and Camera Operator: Melanie J Ryan
Digital Print Colour Consultant: Warren Macris
Analogue Lab Colour Consultant: Sandy Prints
Exhibition Documentation: Docqment
Gallery Installation: James Kerr
Special Thanks to:
First Nation Okanagan custodian of Spotted Lake(Kliluk), Alex Louis (Senklip Skalwx) for permission to perform and shoot at Spotted Lake, BC, Canada.
Artik Gubaev and Batyr Nitazov for clearance and transport in Turkmenistan.
Dr Stuart Hodgetts, Assoc Prof Silvana Gaudieri, Guy Ben-Ary and Celeste Wale for assistance with the artist’s T-cell experiments and microscopy and Symbiotica Lab, UWA.
Museo Palazzo Poggi, Bologna, Italy for permission to photograph in situ Clemente Susini’s anatomical wax venus, Venerina, 1782
Ingrid Bachmann, Concordia University Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Andrew Carnie, Winchester School of Art, Southhampton University, UK
Helen Pynor, University of London, United Kingdom
Kate Scardifield, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
The artist gratefully acknowledges the support of The School of Art, ANU Canberrra, ACT, School of Media Arts, UNSW, Symbiotica Lab, UWA. and The Bundanon Trust.
The artist would also like to acknowledge the First Nations people of the Osoyoos Indian Band (BC, Canada), the Yuat of the Nyoongar Nation (WA), the Gadigal of the Coastal Dharug (NSW) and the Turkmeni of the Karakum Desert (Ahal) on whose land this work was made.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. This project is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW.
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