Figuring is a solo exhibition of work by Naarm/Melbourne-based mid-career artist, Louisa Bufardeci. The exhibition features over one hundred string figures made of face-mask elastic, pinned across the walls of three galleries. Figuring will open to the public Saturday 11 June to Sunday 4 September 2022 at Linden New Art.
Bufardeci’s project is inspired by the game of string figures, or “cat’s cradles”, which used to be a popular game in primary school playgrounds. Children would make Jacob’s Ladder, Cat’s Whiskers, A Broom, A Teacup or many other figures. While these figures were handed down in the playground through the generations, many arrived there through the process of colonisation, when anthropologists recorded and collected them from communities all around the world. In these communities, string figures were used to illustrate stories that helped to make the world more understandable.
Bufardeci has reflected on the layered practice of string figuring to question how it might be useful to us today in reconfiguring our post-covid world. How can string figuring make the post covid world intelligible? Can it encourage different ways of being in the world?
Bufardeci has said of the early covid months, “it showed how things needed to be figured differently, different images or models or figures were necessary. The figures in the exhibition are propositions for this refiguring. The figures are never settled and are always in a necessary state of open incompleteness and potential. They could be anything.”
Formed with mask elastic—a material of these times—and presented in grids across all the walls of the galleries, Bufardeci’s string figures are not complete. They come from attempts to make something fully formed but they are tense, slack and entangled. Like abstract Rorschach ink blots, the figures offer hints and suggestions of things that already exist in the world such as animals, objects or scenes. However, they also suggest other things or ideas that don’t already exist. In her attempts to create the string figures, taken from those documented in anthropologist Caroline Furness Jayne’s book, String Figures: A study of cat’s cradle in many lands from 1906, Bufardeci will create an extensive series of new shapes and forms.
Bufardeci’s practice has focused on the collection of data representing human experience. She has translated it into visual imagery to create provocative conversations with audiences. Bufardeci works across various media including needlepoint, drawing, digital mapping and installation. Often using visual coding systems and patterns to represent statistical information differently, Bufardeci’s abstract compositions are grounded in real systems and facts about the world around us.
Louisa Bufardeci has participated in major international exhibitions including the NGV Triennial in 2018, the Asia-Pacific Triennial in 2012, and the Asian Art Biennial in 2009. Her work has been included in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Melbourne and other cities in Australia and overseas. Bufardeci also contributes to her art community by teaching, volunteering as a guide to contemporary art at her local community centre and by mentoring young artists.
Louisa Bufardeci, a possible figure, from the series figuring, 2022,
elastic, 23 x 45cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery.
Linden New Art
26 Acland Street, St Kilda 3182
Louisa Bufardeci > figuring
Exhibition dates: 11 June – 4 September 2022
Opening night: Friday 10 June 2022