Rose Nolan, Tiny White Constructed Work, 1997, paper, glue, and matchbox, 5×4x3 inches. Courtesy of the artist.
Rose Nolan makes two things, both of which recall Constructivism: banners bearing Cyrillic initials, underscoring their art historical provenance but replacing a collective referent with a personal one; and constructions, made out of cardboard and tape, which have a distinctly Tatlinish look. The banners, which imply lightness, are made of an especially thick and cumbersome hessian, while the constructions, which imply steel and the architectonic, are extremely flimsy. This poetic exchange of properties between these two types of work seems to me a sign of an interesting practice. I saw her work during a visit to Australia, and wondered whether being there, because of its considerable distance from more or less everywhere except Indonesia, didn’t permit a young artist to start almost anywhere she liked. At the same time (perhaps for related reasons) Nolan’s work has the virtue of being essentially placeless which our culture requires at this time, in the sense that we don’t actually care about identity as much as about ubiquity, of which the former is merely a recurrent aspect. Nolan has been to Russia, and lived in Melbourne’s Russian neighborhood, but what struck me was her work’s roughness and immediacy and the ease with which she adopted historically encumbered forms. Nolan’s practice is an example of the infinite proliferation of convergences possible nowadays, and the importance of placelessness in a global culture.