Darren Sylvester at Sullivan & Strumpf / Sydney, Australia

Darren Sylvester
Out of Life
29 June–4 August 2018
799 Elizabeth St Zetland

Sydney, Australia

Last year Sylvester purchased a 1970s-style
science fiction space suit from an auction house sale of old costumes from
Hollywood films and TV shows. Catalogued with no known provenance, the costume
was rendered relatively worthless. The only clue to its history was the name,
Stacey, hand-written on a tag on the inside. Was Stacey the actor’s name or a
TV character?
In Out of Life, Sylvester uses her
long-forgotten costume to resurrect Stacey in two large-format film
photographs; trapped in character forever inside a B-Grade film set. Bored and
melancholy, Stacey waits for her scene to be called, a battle to begin, for
love to arrive – or somehow, to go home. Left all alone in this make-believe
universe, Stacey holds a feeling relatable to everyone –being all out of life.
The End is a double-panelled photograph which
mimics the end-titles of Universal Pictures films. Sylvester produced a
custom-made balloon to represent the Earth and appropriated the text from the
end screen of the 1980s arcade game ‘Missile Command’. ‘The End’ replaces the
ubiquitous ‘Game Over’ creating a sense of finality and reinforcing that there
is no home to which to return.
Presented on a bed of red sand, a pair of
mirrored-steel Ouija boards imply a mystic connection to the past. Perhaps best
known via the Parker Bros board game or as a horror film trope, here, the mirrored
surfaces of the Ouija suggest power generated through material make-up.
Reflecting on the distance between space and
time, Sylvester designed each board with Stacey in mind. Dingbat Ouija, is made
entirely using the pre-emoji graphics of selected Dingbat fonts introduced by
Microsoft in all versions of Windows, making it one of the most universal
languages on Earth. The second is based on the packaging design of Lucky Charms
an American breakfast cereal. Each box of Lucky Charms contains a number of
marshmallow ‘charms’ – half-moons, shooting stars, four leaf clovers,
horseshoes and diamonds – that are said to bring good luck.
Suggesting that all new beginnings can be bought
in this hyper-consumer culture, Sylvester probes the contemporary context in
IKEA Sunrise, an image of a studio-built ocean illuminated by dry ice and an
IKEA ‘Fado’ lamp.
Darren Sylvester’s multi-disciplinary practice
involves photography, sculpture, video, music and performance. Often
incorporating a complex matrix of pop-culture elements and executed with the
production quality associated with high-end fashion publishing, Sylvester’s
work explores notions of contemporary ennui, pathos and mortality through
narratives that are direct, yet inherently complex.