Point Lonsdale: A Shrine, a Theatre and a Living Room
Written by Rachel Ciesla and Jaxon Waterhouse
Presence can be conferred by movement or by the intention of the artist.
Created and photographed by Marina Breit over the course of a day, Point Lonsdale is a series of three floor assemblages, in which Breit has intuitively arranged a selection of everyday objects within the drab interior of this mid-century coastal home. Sensitive to the minutiae of each object; their relations to contour, shape, surface and balance; the painstaking process by which Breit meticulously lays out her compositions is evinced by the palpable, performative tension present within the image.
The living room – the hearth of the home – the locus around which movement and sensation occurs, is conspicuously devoid of human presence. Point Lonsdale depicts a home that is not lived in: a non-place. Except, Point Lonsdale is not such a place. While the lack of any physical, corporeal presence is notable, through Breit’s ritualistic arrangement of objects, she has imbued this space with her own presence and intention. The three large-scale photographs that comprise Point Lonsdale have captured Breit’s movement. Or rather, the moment after her movement – the point just before the space broken by the body reforms into a whole.
The physical location of a beach house in a Victorian coastal town constitutes a liminal context. The beach house is a non-place.
Point Lonsdale refers to the geographic location which provides the setting for Breit’s work. Located on the Bellarine Peninsula, near Queenscliff, Victoria, we understand this township to itself constitute a space of movement; the local population dwarfed by transient holiday-makers. The more immediate setting of these works, a beach house that has since been demolished, also constitutes a space of movement; rarely occupied, it eschews the notion of the home as a space of circulation, consumption and communication. Dimly lit and veiled from the surrounding environment, the installation is closer to that of a stage or sacrificial altar, both objects and site are imbued with a spiritual significance. A shrine, a theatre, a living room; Point Lonsdale at once constitutes and symbolises all three sites.
Point Lonsdale cannot exist in another context, in part because the work is geographically determined, a beach house in Point Lonsdale, and temporally specific, now the house has been demolished. Neither can the viewer exist in the same space as the work.
In a previous installation, Object Dialogues, presented at c3 Gallery in 2017, Breit arranged a number of everyday objects within the gallery setting. For Breit, “the presentation was not successful, I was happier with the exhibition documentation.” The inherent fragility of her assemblages, each object meticulously positioned and carefully balanced, is too easily disrupted for these works to exist within the gallery; vibrations caused by sound and footfalls would cause the elements to topple, drift and be altered in form. To reproduce these assemblages within the gallery would necessitate fixing the work to the walls or the floor, an act that would amount to an undoing of Breit’s intention. Breit’s work negates the viewer’s field of vision. Positing that the objects – two steel rings, symmetrically positioned within a domestic interior – are a function of their constant, known shape within a situation – one that excludes the viewer.
While the idea of the medium has long been dissolved, it is the indeterminacy of Breit’s “technical support” that makes it so engaging – where does it fit? Simultaneously photographic, sculptural and performative, these works occupy the space above and below ‘the expanded field’ – a liminal space, where nothing is fixed or certain.
The objects present within each assemblages are themselves under tension; the strain of remaining upright, of staying in place. But, we might also understand this tension in another sense – that of liminality, the state of being ‘in-between’, when the barrier is stretched (almost) to breaking point, before it ruptures and there is movement. This is where Point Lonsdale is situated – in between, where Michael Fried deems to be ‘theater’, what lies between the arts. However, there is no movement captured in Point Lonsdale; the subjects inhuman, and whilst comprised of organic matter, they are inert.
Inertia is one of the hallmarks of photography – the freezing of a moment in time. Indeed, as Vered Maimon argues, contemporary photography is itself characterised by the manner in which it emphasises ‘the deliberate construction and labour that are involved in the making.’ Breit’s labour is apparent, three images selected from a series of 80 - 100 compositions painstakingly constructed over the course of one day. For Breit, these assemblages are just that – objects. Unresolved to present her assemblages within the stasis of the gallery environment, Breit records these sculptural studies or spatial interventions photographically, rendering visible the fragility and tension between viewer, object and site.
This ‘capturing’ of something fleeting, evinced by the site-specific nature of her works, might position Point Lonsdale as photographic ‘documentation’. This is how Fried characterises Bustamante’s work – because they act as documents, they exist as tableau. However, Breit evades such a categorisation through the employment of non-human actors, and further undermines Fried’s theories regarding contemporary photography, in his ‘absorption vs. theatricality’ dichotomy. In Point Lonsdale, it is the lack of human presence which absorbs the viewer. But simultaneously, it is the setting, dimly lit and spectral, that imposes theatricality upon the work. Like Robert Smithson, Breit has adopted the medium of photography as a means of recording the relations and interrelations of object and site. Created as a means of ordering or restructuring our surrounding environment through the performance of ritual, from the moment of completion Breit’s assemblages like crumbling architectures have already begun a process of deterioration. Breit’s floor assemblages are works which evade categorisation, they are that which is the room that is not the room, but through the act of photography, they are at once the room and that which it holds.
 Rosalind Krauss (1979) Sculpture in the Expanded Field, October, 8, 30-44.
 Michael Fried (1998) Art and Objecthood: essays and reviews,Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 142.
 Vered Maimon (2010) Michael Fried's Modernist Theory of Photography, History of Photography, 34:4,
Works On Paper, 2018
Gyclée Print onto Hahnemühle Bamboo
Dimensions: 74.5 x 48.5cm
Edition of 5 +AP
Exhibition: Longdivision Gallery, Melbourne
Works on Paper is a series of photographic works shot in medium format, working with natural light. An opportunity to explore and learn photography. The sculptural studies challenge the precarious state of tension when delicate objects come together in a series of carefully balanced arrangements.
The Japanese vessels and kenzan have familial history with personal significance. They were traditionally used for the practice of Ikebana, but for this work they were utilized in a way that they themselves became the raw material for the arrangement, rather than just the vessel containing the arranged matter and the kenzan concealed.
Found objects and everyday materials were introduced to destabalise and re-contextualise the inherent significance of the sourced elements by giving them each a level of equal aesthetic value within the work.