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There There | Rebecca Ross

The words ‘there there’ were the topic of a conversation I had with writer Sarah Moor, which took place in Fortitude Valley on 040309. We were talking about maps, mapping, memory, walking, place, location, trace, site and situation—concepts that I explore in my art making and Sarah in her writing. I left the meeting having realised a summary of the words; specific and non-specific, all encompassing, two places, poly-places and two words tied together by time and space. Inside out/outside in. There and there, there. Being in two places at once, going to one place twice.

The notion of THERE THERE examines connections between places—there and there—movements between sites and situations, and the transition from there (the studio) to there (the gallery). THERE THERE explores intervention and installation as modes for mapping real and imaginary locations. It is a translation from one place to another; travelling through the space between spaces, questioning what is there and what really exists, what is on the map and what is actually in the site, and what is in the site and what you/I remember of a situation.

There is not confined to here, there is also a virtual reality (as I sit here writing this my avatar (1) is at a party socialising and my GPS (global positioning system) is connecting with a satellite somewhere out there). In this context the notion of ‘there’ seems ever more elusive…where is there? Upon returning to her childhood home to find it wasn’t there Gertude Stein commented “There is no there there.” (2)

THERE THERE is an exercise in mapping, one that has no real beginning or end. There is no there; there is what is here, and here is a hybrid of place and placement, a synthesis of site, situation and sensation. As I prepare to make the work, cut each circle, trim lengths of vinyl, walk home from the studio and trace thoughts back in time, I am forming trajectories which all join, collide and overlap in my art practice. All of my processes are maps, some leave visible residue, while others leave only memories. To quote Kurt Ralske “Any map, even the tiniest one alters the landscape.” (3)

While the work is situated in this place, I am referring to other places. THERE THERE adopts its palette from the pom-poms used for another work Multi-coloured Drop (061008), a site intervention carried out in an undisclosed location. Similarly, part of the process for making THERE THERE involved dropping some of the elements and placing them where they landed. The work in this exhibition is made entirely from adhesive vinyl, which moulds and bends with the surfaces of the site; the material qualities allow an immediacy of process. The use of clear vinyl is somewhat a response to the quote: “The work is not put in a place, it is that place.”(4) It is there, you can see it— it is part of the overall composition but its purpose is to highlight the place itself. The use of new and recycled materials also touches on the fusion of place. I liken the use of the recycled materials to working directly in an outdoor environment as I am challenged to work with what I have. It is also an awareness of production, of the materials themselves and of the work. My practice is a process of questioning the site of a work and its relationship to the world/my world. My relationship to the site is defined by what I bring to it: materials and concepts.

“In pitch dark I go walking in your landscape, broken branches trip me as I speak, just ‘cause you feel it doesn’t mean it’s there, just ‘cause you feel it doesn’t mean it’s there.”(5) For me listening to music whilst working heightens the there/there experience, it is an intervention in memory; it makes me ask myself “Where are you?” I know my physical location is here but the music (6) transports me to another place.

Are we there yet?

Rebecca Ross 240309

2. Gertrude Stein, ‘Tenderbuttons: Gertrude Stein Online’ Retrieved March 5, 2009 from
3. Kurt Ralske, ‘How to Make Art/How Not to Make Art (A Compendium of Indefensible positions)’ Retrieved November 20, 2008 from
4. Michael Heizer, ‘Conversations with Heizer, Oppenheim, Smithson’ (1970), in Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings, ed. Jack Flam, University of California Press, Berkeley,
1996, p. 242.
5. Radiohead, ‘There There (The Boney King Of Nowhere)’ Hail to the Thief (Capitol, 2003)
6. Installation Listening List: Nirvana Bleach, Tupac All Eyez On Me, HOLE Ask For It, New Order Substance 1987, Radio National 792AM

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