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AGORA: shields, maps & transparencies
3 July to 27 July 2013

notes from the artist

In 1975, I photographed the Stoa of Attilos in Athens, looking at it across the Agora, with the floor of the Tholos in the right-hand foreground. A friend made a 10x8 print in early 1976, and ever since, it has been pinned up around my main workplace. In the late 1990s I began some drawings and models to explore three kinds of exterior space: the street, the field and the court. These were concerned with their architectural effects, but the framing of different kinds of assembly began to interest me. So the agora models and drawings began. My photograph re-emerged as a precursor image. Am I making these new works because the photograph seeped into my imagination over those three decades? Do I tend to be comfortable only when, say, three separate frames of reference occupy the same space? Is it relevant that English is my third language, after Russian and German?

The agora photograph shows the Stoa hard up against the top edge, with modern Athens in profile behind it. The Stoa is flat and measurable, like a ruler. The Tholos floor is actually round, but in perspective has become a flattish oval, cut off by the frame. The fragments between them are scattered by the flatness of the photograph, but in reality are organized around the traces of the ancient Agora’s streets. There are three kinds of assembly in the forms: the straight line, the centralizing plane, and the scatter. Applying these socially, the line relates to rules or agreements, the plane defines a central authority with a boundary, and the scatter implies partial, casual or incomplete, perhaps potential, connections. The three kinds of assembly do not share assumptions, protocols or even histories, but co-exist. This co-existence is the subject that informs my agora works.

Co-existence is there in another guise in Beau Monde. In 1968, I was one of five architectural students jammed into a Morris 1100, in which we drove around Tasmania. In Battery Point, Hobart, we found Arthur Circus, a little urban ‘square’. Being trainee modernists, we were charmed by the size, scale and urbanity of it – at least I was. I revisited it in December 2012 and was amused (!) to find that the circus is an oval (possible an ellipse), has two narrow straight lines across it (as paths) and contains a scatter of planting. It is an existing, or rather, prior version of my Folding Maps, so I felt obliged to turn it into some agora-like images.

Arthur Circus is an antipodean attempt at reproducing the crescents and circles of Bath and Edinburgh. In the antipodes, the Circus is the English gentry camping out, while making some money through land development. This small place in Battery Point reinforces the antipodean myth of ideas, things and habits being simplified, reduced, perhaps essentialized, by being taken south.


Thanks are due to Matthew Nickson for the initial black&white print, Jas Johnstone and Ross Berryman for fabrication assistance, to James Rafferty for the video work, MU ABP Marketing and Events for the TV screen, and to the person who left behind the big box of coloured chalk in my new room.


Alex Selenitsch 2004 Exhibition
Alex Selenitsch 2006 Exhibition
Alex Selenitsch 2008 Exhibition
Alex Selenitsch 2010 Exhibition
Alex Selenitsch 2011 Exhibition
Alex Selenitsch 2012 Exhibition