“Held in suspense”: Amarie Bergman reviews Christopher Gulick’s residency and exhibition at Factory 49

Christopher Gulick’s residency-workshop-performance-exhibition. Factory 49, Main Showroom. Monday 16 October – Saturday 11 November 2017.


View 1, in-process, residency-workshop-performance-exhibition by Christopher Gulick, Factory 49, Sydney. image courtesy of the artist (2017).

Christopher Gulick, an American artist renowned for building kinetic, mobile sculptures, transformed Factory 49 during his three-week residency-workshop-performance-exhibition from Monday, 16 October to Saturday, 11 November. Visitors were encouraged to engage with the project as Gulick responded to the space around him and invited to attend the finissage on Friday, 10 November.

The universe is in a constant state of change. Christopher Gulick presented us with concrete evidence of space-time’s temporal poignancy by energising the Main Showroom at Factory 49 with an informal suite of angular and curvilinear projection-relief sculptures. Such a construct could have been kindled in the 20th century in two-dimensions by Matisse while making his most edited cut-outs. It also recalls Arshile Gorky’s ‘Child’s Companions’ (1945), Mondrian’s balanced black and coloured subdivisions in the last grid paintings with a generosity of white galaxies, and Kandinsky and Joan Miro’s ability to seemingly levitate flat forms.


View 2, in-process, residency-workshop-performance-exhibition by Christopher Gulick, Factory 49, Sydney. image courtesy of the artist (2017).

Gulick prototypes his own unique three-dimensional work with visible graphite drawings that combine repetitive, intertwined geometric patterning and straight lines. While he may think of this ‘wallpaper’ as scribbled designs, the drawings are clearly impressive. Gulick has an extensive history of constructing kinetic, mobile sculptures, including large-scale permanent installations, and fabrications in the automotive and aeronautic fields. In the process, he appears to have inadvertently tapped into the five definitive observations about gravitational waves.

The latest observation by the U.S. based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and the European based Virgo detector was confirmed on 17 October 2017 in Washington D.C., coincidentally the day Gulick began ‘the build’ in Sydney. According to LIGO, scientists detected gravitational waves, ‘ripples in spacetime’, in addition to light from the collision of two neutron stars. The findings verify we’re being stretched and squeezed because everything is being warped all the time, black holes exist and can orbit one another, short-duration gamma ray bursts are neutron star mergers, and the lightest elements were created in the Big Bang. Those of medium weight are made either by stars or supernova, while the heaviest elements materialise through neutron star collisions. With its most recent detection, LIGO has been able to measure the expansion of the universe.


View 3, in-process, residency-workshop-performance-exhibition by Christopher Gulick, Factory 49, Sydney. image courtesy of the artist (2017).

So, how do these astrophysical discoveries relate to Gulick and his site-specific project at Factory 49? To begin with, Gulick knows two-dimensional/ symmetrical/ geometric shapes have an inherent purity. When they are modified, even by a slight stretch or squeeze, their simplicity metamorphically changes into three-dimensional/ asymmetrical/ near-geometric ones. Particularly, if surfaces of the shaped sculptures are not overly textured, they read as ‘uncrafted’ or uncontrived, that is, as minimalist, non-objective forms.

Black Holes can be described as areas of darkness in space where no light is let out, rather it is captured as particles or waves by gravity. Likewise, Gulick incorporates black and other monochromatic individual solids for the same effect. He also fashions smoothly edged oval or circular openings for some of the sculptures as White Holes. Light is generated in and out of these ‘windows’ so it literally lightens physical mass and, by association, the entire gallery.

Interestingly, perceptions about the density of lightweight and heavier materials are transmitted to the viewer as differing weights without having to hold or weigh them. The variety of locally-sourced materials: lustrous aluminium and recycled plastic and especially, the fabric-covered foam brassiere inserts, elicit a frisson of excitement by their newly repurposed elemental contrasts.

2.1 GULICK post-process 2017 IMG_2759

View 4, post-process, residency-workshop-performance-exhibition by Christopher Gulick, Factory 49, Sydney. image courtesy of the artist (2017).

Arcs and rods of steel, supplemented by vintage knitting needles, and fastened to the gyprock, echo the prototypal designs. Held in suspense, with or without an attached sculpture, each piece of steel has poise. Now and then, almost imperceptibly, some of them twizzle in the air currents. Additions, unifications and a few subtractions took place daily. While not really melding into overt gamma ray bursts, repeat motifs have a way of amalgamating together by their similarities. When looked at sideways from non-frontal angles, various sculptures either completely or partially merge. Doubtless, they would appear to fuse in a speed-quickened dioramic video.

Gulick exposes us to his personal level of intuitive response when interacting with the unpredictability of the unknown. Moreover, with organic naturalness of the marrow of form, his expansive universe at Factory 49 has an inevitable quality. Every decision, at each stage of the project, seems right. On the evening of 10 November during the finissage, long after the tool box and sturdy, jury-rigged work desk were packed up and the drawings removed, the sculptures revealed themselves as precisely measured objects, co-mingling in the delights of tactile visuality.

-Amarie Bergman

2.2 GULICK post-process 2017 IMG_2769

View 5, post-process, residency-workshop-performance-exhibition by Christopher Gulick, Factory 49, Sydney. image courtesy of the artist (2017).


Christopher Gulick’s residency-workshop-performance-exhibition

Factory 49, Main Showroom
Monday, 16 October to Saturday, 11 November 2017
49 Shepherd Street,
Sydney, NSW, 2204
(02) 9572 9863

Christopher Gulick at Factory 49

Christopher Gulick’s website

Amarie Bergman formulates and makes reductive art, showing her work at non-objective art galleries located in Melbourne, Sydney and Paris. Amarie’s reviews have been published in artUS and Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art.
website: http://www.amariebergman.com


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About Zalehah Turner

Zalehah Turner is a Sydney based poet, photographer, cultural journalist, and Associate Editor of Rochford Street Review (RSR). Zalehah regularly contributes articles and interviews on poetry, art, film, and new media for RSR and the UTS magazine, Vertigo. Zalehah’s poetry was projected onto the Federation Square Wall in Melbourne as part of the Overload Poetry Festivals, 2008 and 2009; exhibited at Mark and Remark ,107 Projects, Redfern in 2013; and displayed in Alice Springs and Moruya thanks to Australian Poetry Café poets, Laurie May and Janette Dadd respectively. Her poems have been published in Writing Laboratory (2013), Sotto (2013), Social Alternatives (2016), Vertigo (2016, 2017), UTS’s The Empathy Poems Project (2017) and Rochford Street Review (2017). She co-judged the New Shoots Poetry Prizes 2016 alongside, Tamryn Bennett, Artistic Director of The Red Room Company, and published the winning and highly commended poems. Zalehah is currently working on an intermedia poetry collection entitled, 'Critical condition', focused on the interstitial threshold between life and death in medical crises based on personal experience. Zalehah holds a BA in Communication with a major in writing and cultural studies from the University of Technology, Sydney where she continues to pursue pushing the boundaries of multimedia poetry in Honours (Communication- Creative Writing).