Christo Crocker Photography
19 May 2022
Re: How to fold a fitted sheet (2013), Both at Once (2014)
To Whom it May Concern:
I am writing this letter of support for Jessie Bullivant, in my capacity as the photographer for the documentation of their past exhibitions: How to Fold a Fitted Sheet – TCB Art Inc (2013) and Both at Once – Linden Contemporary (2014).
After Jessie’s website was redesigned to no longer show photographic documentation in favour of written testimonies (from supporters invited by Jessie), I am happily back to represent the work again. Instead of photos, this time I offer descriptions of these works – how I encountered them, and remember them – for you, whom it may concern.
Leading up to their exhibition, How to Fold a Fitted Sheet at TCB, Jessie had placed a series of prepared canvases at the entrance to TCB’s then location in Waratah Lane in Melbourne’s CBD. Left there overnight, the canvases were subject to anonymous and unsolicited public urination. When the canvases came into contact with urine, the copper pigment would discolour from oxidation.
The eight canvases, titled Waratah Oxidation Painting (in 8 parts), were then installed in the rear gallery in a two-by-four grid, with Borrowed Barcelona Bench, a typical chrome and black leather gallery bench (which had been borrowed from West Space gallery, located a block away) conveniently placed in front.
I remember the process of photographing the work to be fairly straightforward as there were essentially two components to the installation, both of which were immediately visible. There were no sculptures obstructing works on the wall, and there was lots of room for me and my tripod to be able to get back and include all of the show in one shot. There was minimal light from outside interfering with the gallery light which can be a pain to edit. I had no trouble creating a photographic representation that portrayed what someone in the space would experience.
This was in strong contrast to Both at once which was more of a challenge to accurately document. Jessie had installed a plaque in the gravel path between the two established trees in front of the entrance to Linden Contemporary, in St Kilda, that read ‘Earthwork to swap the two existing pine trees communicated with a bronze plaque 2014 Jessie Bullivant’. The work alleged that Jessie had swapped the two trees around, and for the record, I believed them. At the time I didn’t have a lens that was able to capture the tall trees in one frame, so I had to take multiple shots, panning the camera around, recording the entirety of two trees in sections, and then stitch those separate photos together in Photoshop. Looking at the image now, it seems a bit strange. Especially since it features a figure posing between the trees, looking down at the plaque, who had become warped from the process of faking a wide-angle lens.
The camera only records what is in front of it and can leave out aspects of rumour or storytelling that are often part of Jessie’s work. But I am not a camera (if you didn’t know), and I remember details that are not present in the photos. For example, I remember first encountering How to Fold a Fitted Sheet at TCB while it was in the process of being made, as I unlocked the metal gates to the gallery one evening, or maybe it was the morning. I think I was a TCB committee member at the time, so I might have had a key. Leaning snugly, yet at an awkward angle, in the small landing between the metal gates and door leading to the gallery stairway, sat a roughly 1-metre square, stretched canvas, monochromatically painted in a solid copper pigment. Some splatter and dribbles had discoloured its surface.
However as I’m thinking back, I am not sure if this really happened, or is a false memory based on conversations with Jessie and others. Either way, please accept this written statement as a testimony of the works as I remember them, (with the assistance of photographic documentation I have access to/on file).