dust room 2023
Catalogue text by John Fisher The works for this exhibition were created in a Marrickville dust room, a site of creative fabrication in a former industrial building. Domergue feels an affinity for industrial places. From after-hours exploring the factories of Cromer, the industrial fringe of the Northern Beaches where he grew up, to warehouse parties of Alexandria, the lines between work and play blur in his experience. His processes are industrial too, mixing catalyst and resin, pigment and fibreglass. “I had a conversation with the fibreglass guys,” he says. “They're like, you can't do what you're doing. It's not how you do it.” I know, he told them, “That's if you're making a canoe or a boat. I'm not making those things, I’m making artworks”. Earlier works were made on the floors of factories. They take nearly a day to set, so Domergue would mix the chemicals like an alchemist choosing the colour pallet in advance then use his invented technique to apply the mixtures and leave the works overnight. One can imagine coming across these puddles of fibreglass and resin in the disused industrial spaces where they were left to set and reading them as the abandoned results of some manufacturing experiment. Now he has gone into production in his own space. All the works for this show were created on the floor of the dust room in his Marrickville studio. Each work poured and peeled transforms the floor, pulls something up and alters the ground as a printing plate for the next pass. He has cut into the floor as well, and the grid lines he has emerged from the works – like the network of lines on a map, like warehouse girders. The accidents of process playoff against the rigid framework of the grid. Domergue studied photography and painting 30 years earlier at TAFE and there are elements of both media in his process. He paints with pigment and resin, creating fields of colour layered into the works. He calls them paintings. But like photographs, the dust room peelings are direct impressions of physical phenomena. Photography captures light, and casting captures space. And so there is something inherently commemorative about his resin peelings. But these works commemorate sites that formal processes of heritage recognition ignore. Jorge Otero-Pailos, an artist Domergue admires, has spoken about the role of what he calls the “preservation artist,” in bringing life and acknowledgment to these structures which fall through the cracks: “forgotten, uninteresting, cultural residue.” The factories and warehouses that so attract Domergue are sites of living culture, former and current, and the artist brings his attention to their structures and collaborates with their built fabric. But while Otero-Pailos’s work is tied to conserving historic sites, Domergue’s work takes a looser approach to preservation; each work reclaims something from the site, lifting flakes of paint concrete and other debris. There is give and take. There is play. In the early days of archaeology, the researchers were quick and greedy. They extracted everything in a hurry. But archaeology has become a much slower and more careful process. Archaeologists now understand how much information is embodied in the spatial relations of their finds. Upper layers are newer, lower layers are older. The dust room where Domergue works has seen layers of history: some of its history is known but much is forgotten. Domergue’s peelings are maps of this real site: indexical maps at a 1:1 scale. Every pit and pockmark is captured as the resin pulls up the dust and the flakes of paint, it preserves them in space and marks out forever where they once la
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