Blackout clean, 2020, Digital video collage, 1min 40 sec
Jen Valender is a Naarm/Melbourne-based multidisciplinary artist working across sculptural, performative and digital mediums. Her research interests include monomorphic structures, neo-Fluxus strategies and absurdist aberrations.
A reflection on acts of repetitive labour, the digital video collage Blackout clean presents the silhouette of a window cleaner encased within an inner-city streetlight. The action consists of a single figure trapped in a continuous cycle of cleaning upon an urban landscape resting in a state of inertia. As the streetlight mimics the monocular lens of a film camera, attention is directed towards the cleaner in motion. The background image, newly wrapped in plastic, captures blackout preparations in Melbourne c.1938/1944 (courtesy of State Library Victoria archives). Only a thin cross marks the coloured intersection lights in the city; a discrete symbol, reflective of contemporary history. Time becomes concertinaed between two centuries through a slow motion study of wiping away the unseen. As a digital memorial, Blackout clean aims to put labour that often goes overlooked on display, while stretching and solidifying the representation of two historical events folded into a single image.