Patrick Ronald and Shannon McDonell - performance space










According to 2006 Australian Bureau of Statistics data, 91% of Australia's population lives in urban areas*, yet the bush has always held an iconic status as part of the Australian Identity.

'Habits and Habitat' will be a life-size photographic diorama of an archetypical Australian farm house. This project will give the audience a chance to interact with a constructed scene and to take a voyeuristic look into another person’s habitat, assessing their own similarities and differences.

'Habits and Habitat' investigates cultural transfer, the perception of rural lifestyle and ideals and the connection between the country and the city, questioning the role that the bush plays within today’s Australian society to people living in an urban setting.

The 1:1 elements will be constructed using our developed photogrammetry techniques to create precise and detailed representations of the farm house. The scene will be documentary in style, scrutinising a real environment, commenting on human nature and the unexceptional.

The bush holds a significant place within the Australian identity, and'Habits and Habitat' will allow us to transport a slice of the country into the city.

*3101.0 - Australian Demographic Statistics, Mar 2007 http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/mf/3101.0?OpenDocument

























































Performance Space is delighted to present this new photomedia installation by NSW-based artist duo Patrick Ronald and Shannon McDonell.

Since moving to the CarriageWorks in 2007, we have commissioned works for the foyer area that have resonated with the site and its histories, or in this case, have juxtaposed a different kind of place and scale against its industrial architectures.

As a multidisciplinary organisation with a national focus, we are pleased to be working with contemporary artists who choose to work outside of the normative centres for cultural activity, bringing different perspectives into our program.

Ronald & McDonell’s Habits and Habitat offers visitors the opportunity to become part of a constructed scene and to take a voyeuristic look into another person’s home.

Through painstaking detail, the project investigates cultural transfer, the connection (and disconnections) between country and city, and the ways that the ‘bush’ continues to inform Australian culture and identity.

Daniel Brine, Director, Performance Space

Habits and Habitat

Jean Baudrillard began Simulacra and Simulation by referring to Jorge Luis Borges’ tiny paragraph-length fable about an unnamed empire that sought to represent its territory with a 1:1 scaled map as a “second-order simulacra”.1 No longer even useful as an inversion, Baudrillard used the fable as a spring-board to leap into notions of the Hyperreal: of simulation without territory and origin, without doubling and mirroring.2 But is Borges’ fable entirely useless if it is applied to place and temporality? The representation of empires on the cusp of change and disappearance? While the exact map could never stand for place itself, it could certainly show us a semblance of what once was. The drive to represent, however, would be borne of different motivations perhaps, more akin to certain obsessions in photography: to stop a place/ location in time, to “rescue time from its proper corruption”.3

I became drawn to the almost forensic photographic practice of Patrick Ronald and Shannon McDonell not only from an uncomplicated enjoyment of their very complicated representational methodology and its results, but by the fact of their emotional connection to places: specifically to Australian country towns, which form a large part of their shared experience as young artists who have chosen to work outside of city-centres and hubs of contemporary practice. Their first attempts at a kind of measured exactitude in photography, called MICROCOSM in 2005 were further developed as part of a series of responses within a longer-term project called Disappearing Tasmania: An Image of the West which commenced in 2006. This year-long project took an interactive approach to documenting towns that had been transformed by shifting agricultural practices and economies, through both photographs of abandoned buildings and abodes, photographic portraits and in-depth interviews with each location’s remaining inhabitants.

The artists’ photographic representations of buildings in country towns shared something of the objective and aesthetically unfettered practice of German photographic duo Bernd and Hilla Becher, who began working together in the late 1950s on a typological project documenting disappearing German industrial architectures and engineered structures. Their famous series of black and white images of water towers stood out among examples of formal modernist photography, for the palpable sense of distance they achieved and attention to difference within a seemingly mundane range of subjects. Where the Becher’s approach relied on calculated distance, Ronald and McDonell’s process relied on a calculated proximity, with each photograph of buildings from the artist’s various series being constructed from hundreds of closerange images digitally stitched back together. The effect of this process was a kind of uncanny flattening, which represented the building as floating free of its surroundings, without the sense of perspective and depth that one can usually distinguish in photographic images taken from a single vantage point. Shown together, and often to scale, the range of buildings, from small houses, to local shops, to post offices to large warehouses, revealed the scale and scope of economic change and its impact on basic services and the ability of a town to function as a community.

Habits and Habitat is a micro-to-exact photographic extension of the artists’ deepening concerns with change in communities and places that have previously been defined by their relative stability. The project re-presents selected elevations of rooms in a working farmhouse in NSW, in two-dimensional 1:1 scale, like a small corner of the map of Borges’ unnamed empire. As a house that has remained largely unchanged for many years (save the necessary upgrades in entertainment and other technologies), it stands in opposition to the nature and appearance of city-based properties, as markets revolve increasingly around temporary occupation, cosmetic and structural renovation, and speculation. Viewing the kitchen image, with its original fittings and the texta-drawn graph accumulating the standing heights of loved-ones and visitors, it seems like we are being shown a projection from the past; a fragment from a time when people remained in one place, and followed a path firmly established by the generation that preceded them.

In this domestically reflective series, juxtaposed within the CarriageWorks’ post-industrial ambience, we are able to peer across (and almost into) a flattened scene, wherein walls, objects and the dust that occasionally settles on them, are given equal visual weight. Resisting the qualities that one could associate with ‘good’ photography, Ronald has taken thousands of evenly-spaced, evenly lit and equidistant photographs of each room, leaving the digital piecing-back together of the elevations to McDonell (amusingly reflected by the jigsaw image of the Mona Lisa shown hanging on the wall of the house’s living room). Through this apportioned methodology, the artists seek to undermine both visual hierarchies and the illusory qualities of photomedia. We see the image as a whole, from a distance, but its flatness and non-compliance with linear perspective forces us to look closer, to take in the details and to read the images with the same proximity and level of intimacy as they were originally taken. Though pseudo-scientific in nature, borrowing from archaeological photography I view Habits and Habitat as an attempt to take a measure and a resonance of domestic spaces that have held the lifetimes of their occupants, but are yet fragile and will, in time, disappear.

Ronald and McDonell’s work is processual in ways that are both epic in terms of scale and quantity of visual data, and also minute and painstaking in detail. From a small country town in NSW, the artists work in a micro-realist modality that is rooted to an emotional connection to the places from which they collect their images. Rather than tourists or day-trippers in their commitment to exactitude in representation, the duo is rather firmly entrenched in rural Australian habits and habitats.

Bec Dean, Associate Director, Performance Space

1 This single paragraph, On Exactitude in Science was written by Borges in 1946 and attributed falsely by the author to Suarez Miranda, 1658. Various sources.
2 Baudrillard, Jean, trans. By Sheila Faria Glaser, Simulacra and Simulation, The University of Michigan Press, 2003, pp. 1
3 Bazin, André, trans. By Hugh Gray “The Ontology of the Photographic Image,” Film Quarterly, 13, 4, 1960, pp. 8

Habits & Habitat

Patrick Ronald & Shannon McDonell

Patrick Ronald was born 13th November, 1980, in Sydney, NSW, Australia. He studied photography at Charles Sturt University, Albury NSW, from 1999 to 2003. Shannon McDonell was born 7th October, 1981, in West Wyalong, NSW, Australia. She studied photography at Charles Sturt University, Albury from 2001 to 2004 where she met Patrick Ronald. The two artists first collaborated in 2005, and have worked together since then.

From their first series of photographs MICROCOSM- Launceston Heritage Study, 2005, the artists have not veered from architectural and portrait works that employ intricate digital manipulation to create highly detailed images. Their first major documentary undertaking was Disappearing Tasmania: An Image of the West in 2006 where they were given their first grant to live on the West Coast of Tasmania and conduct an intensive survey project to try an illustrate what it is that creates and sustains a community and what visible evidence there is of a towns decline. Since then they have moved towards more manipulated works such as the m2 series which was designed to investigate visual perception. This work was a clinical representation of 50 spaces, both interior and exterior, within the artists’ personal habitats that they had occupied throughout their lives. Learning from the m2 project and the experiences they had gained, the couple has now embarked on their most ambitious project to date Habits and Habitat, two years in the making, where they will reconstruct sections of a house in 1:1 scale and immerse viewers within the image.

Artists’ Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the Payne family for enduring weeks of interruption and for giving us all a chance to visit their home. Thanks also to Performance Space, particularly Bec Dean, for giving us the platform to attempt such an ambitious project, and to our supporters VFX, Nikon Australia and Kayell Australia who made this production achievable.

Performance Space is supported by The Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body and the New South Wales Government through Arts NSW. Performance Space is supported by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian, State and Territory Governments









Art Monthly Australia, #227 March 2010, Pg 55



in place inner place

A RealTime-Performance Space Forum, In Place, Inner Place, will address the subject of place in an engrossing, informal discussion, drawing on but going beyond the works in Performance Space's You Are Here: Place program. The forum will discuss shifting notions of place in urban development, digital media and imaginal psychology.

The forum will be an 'in the round’ open conversation facilitated by Tony MacGregor [Head of Arts, Radio National]. Artists from You Are Here: Place [Alex Kershaw, Nigel Helyer, Martin del Amo, Gail Priest and Rosie Dennis] will be joined by Zanny Begg [co-curator, There Goes the Neighbourhood, an exhibition and book about Redfern; Performance Space, 2009] and Julie-Anne Long [a dancer-choreographer investigating the relationship between the city and its dance culture].

Our special guest is Peter Bishop who writes and teaches about media, transportation and new meanings of 'place'; the western relationship to Tibet; western Buddhism; orientalism & postcolonialism; Depth Psychology and post-Jungian studies; reconciliation; and utopian imagining and hope. Peter is Associate Professor in Communication & Cultural Studies at the University of South Australia. His excellent book, Bridge, about the functions and meanings of bridges around the world was published by Reaktion Books in 2009.

All welcome to participate or listen in. Wine and snacks provided. Please RSVP to georgiem@performancespace.com.au
RealTime-Performance Space Open Forum, Performance Space Clubhouse, CarriageWorks, Sydney, TRACK 12, Wednesday 3 March, 6.30pm; FREE.

RealTime issue #95 Feb-March 2010


You Are Here is the title of Performance Space’s first two season for 2010. The seasons of performance, dance and installation explore our place in the world, the landscapes in which we live and the times of our lives.You Are Here is our first concept-led season in which we have brought together works across artforms which share common themes. We’re interested in what it means to ‘curate’ a season of performance and visual art and we have asked ourselves: how do we make sense of and provide a frame for the work we present?The works in You Are Here respond to questions about where we are located in place and time. The title refers to both physical location but also how the world around us changes over time.Location and place are strong threads running through You Are Here and are the main focus of our first season. The interests of artists span from Nigel Helyer’s investigation of our immediate location at CarriageWorks, through explorations of Rosie Dennis, Martin del Amo, Mike Mullins and William Yang of the cities in which many of us live, to the installations of Patrick Ronald and Shannon McDonell, and Alex Kershaw which consider rural environments and their ever-present place in the Australian psyche.The first season of You Are Here coincides with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival and we’re pleased to have programmed performances by four queer artists. The works of Martin del Amo, Rosie Dennis, Alexandra Harrison and William Yang draw out threads of queer lives and showcase a diversity of queer voices.You Are Here is also an opportunity for us to present the work of a new generation of performance makers. New works by Alexandra Harrison, Alisdair Macindoe and Mogo Zoo reward us with fresh perspectives on relationships between family and friends.These works sit alongside four key works which frame the journeys of life by examining the marking and passing of time as defined by generations of people. The works of William Yang, Mike Mullins, Nigel Helyer and Urban Theatre Projects are central to You Are Here because they contribute to our understanding of our location not only in place but in time.Performance Space’s You Are Here season is distinguished from the Sydney based art collective which is incidentally also called You Are Here. We love their work, find out more at youarehere.me.Performace Space Website - http://performancespace.com.au/


Performance Space launches program of eventsSaturday, 09 January 2010 11:19
Written by Performance Space Publicity
Performance Space in Sydney has launched You Are Here, an exciting and diverse season of performance, dance and installation which explores our place in the world, the landscapes in which we live and the times of our lives.

You Are Here kicks off with the season launch on Thursday, February 11 (6-10pm), which will feature the opening of the visual arts program plus surprise performances and guests. Over the following six weeks Performance Space offers an array of creative talent in the theatre, the gallery and the foyer of CarriageWorks.

In the theatre award winning dancer and choreographer Martin del Amo exposes his encounters with the city in It’s A Jungle Out There; Mike Mullins, the founder of Performance Space, presents The Politics of Change, a performative lecture on Sydney’s evolving performance culture; Sydney dancer Alexandra Harrison presents her captivating solo work Dark, Not Too Dark; Rosie Dennis draws on stories about the city in her performance Downtown; and William Yang shares his story of Sydney’s creative scene in the 70s and 80s in My Generation.

In the gallery Sydney based artist Alex Kershaw presents One of Several Centres his video installation of performative interactions with the people of Alice Springs; in the foyer renowned sound artist and sculptor Nigel Helyer’s installation, GhosTrain reintroduces the sounds of the railways to CarriageWorks; and Patrick Ronald and Shannon McDonell (re)create a rural building in a life-size photographic installation and locate it in the foyer of CarriageWorks in Habits and Habitat.

During You Are Here Performance Space launches ClubHouse – an experiment to host an ever-changing roster of discussion about and around art.

You Are Here takes place between February 10 and March 17, 2010 at CarriageWorks, Sydney’s home for contemporary arts.

More details: www.performancespace.com.au

Aussie Theatre.com



21 January 2010

Habits and Habitat
Patrick Ronald and Shannon McDonell

Performance Space’s visual arts commission for the foyer of the CarriageWorks space creates an uncanny opposition of interior spaces. Collaborative duo Patrick Ronald and Shannon McDonell have taken thousands of close-up photographs and spent hundreds of hours digitally knitting and reconstructing a life-sized photographic diorama of an archetypical Australian farmhouse.

As artists who live and work in country Australia, Habits and Habitat resonates strongly with ideas of the stability and longevity of the Australian family home, which is increasingly less a feature of city life, as property speculation fuels the acquisition of personal wealth. Photographing rooms that have remained largely unchanged for several decades, the artists reveal the minutia of family history and human presence in a much-loved space.

Living in Ganmain, an hour from Wagga Wagga and equidistant from each of their parent’s farmhouses, these artists have a committed practice related to the representation of life in the country. Their previous works in social documentary style include Disappearing Tasmania (2006), which aimed to provide a photographic and interview-based account of the serious decline in population, services and infrastructures within Tasmanian country towns.

Their recent work in 1:1 scaled photography constitutes a more forensic approach to the documentation of spaces. This process flattens conventional photographic perspective, and lends equal weight to rooms, the objects that are housed within them, and the dust and ephemera collected on their surfaces. Like the work of German photographic duo, Bernd and Hiller Becher who documented rapidly disappearing industrial architectures in the 1950s in as neutral way as possible, Ronald and McDonell reconstruct spaces through photography in order to evidence the ways in which we used to live.

Habits and Habitat offers visitors to the CarriageWorks venue the opportunity to interact with a constructed scene and to take a voyeuristic look into another person’s home. Through painstaking detail, the projectinvestigates cultural transfer, the connection (and disconnections)between country and city, and the ways thatthe ‘bush’ continues to inform Australianculture and identity.

The exhibition opens at 6pm, Thursday 11 March as part of Performance Space’s season launch, You Are Here.

Thur 11 Feb 6pm

Gallery Hours
Fri 12 Feb –Wed 17 Mar
9–5pm (Tue–Sat)

Artist Talk
Sat 13 March at 2pm
Performance Space
245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh

Di Smith 8571 9112



Performance Space