gary deirmendjian selected works

fallen temple 2005 - 06



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:::: 6.5m (height) x 3m x 2.5m
:::: 20ft shipping container; wooden pallet; steel & concrete under-structure
:::: 2.5 tonnes (container only)
:::: winner, Highly Commended Prize, The Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award, 2006
:::: private collection, Medland property, Hunter Region, NSW


artist statement

A 20ft long shipping container is presented as monolithic architecture in steel. It stands dynamically poised in the landscape. The structure is supported underground in its skewed stance, with one foundation corner pressed into the earth, while the other three remain raised.

A narrow passage cut through its shell allows entry into a dark inner space, lit naturally from above due to one container door held partially open. The space is intimate, and in the darkness the eye is immediately drawn upwards towards the light. Juxtaposed against this light and the increasingly apparent network of inner lines, lies a wooden pallet horizontally suspended - out of reach. There is a strong sense of vertigo...

The container and pallet are both actual and used readymades, that are strategically combined and poised to activate the work conceptually.

Having functioned as one, and for some time, the container now rests in a state of stable decay with a unique patina imbued with an arrived at character. Its scars and failings are a testament to this.

fallen temple postulates an abandonment scenario. This regarding the evermore intense and broad efforts aimed at creating appetite for the consumption of stuff. Stuff produced in quantities well beyond any real need and at a cost far beyond the accountable. Some question the sustainability of the widespread and increasingly blatant attitude in distilling any central justification down to purely economic factors.

The work suggests an abandoned house of worship that appears to have long ceased to deliver the very faith that brought it into being. Its shell is dilapidated and its altar hangs bare.


critical response

“Gary Deirmendjian’s extraordinary fallen temple is a tribute to a compromised culture – our own.  Did this monolith fall from the sky?  Off the back of the proverbial truck? An industrial container punctures the luxurious green lawns in front of the Mansion at Werribee Park, a startling counterpoint to the neo-classical monumentality of the 19th century house.  The sculpture is a spectacular indictment of consumer culture, a reminder that all societies, no matter how elaborate, are destined to eventually fall from grace.”

public statement by Deborah Edwards, Curator of Australian Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales – on behalf of fellow judges Julie Ewington, Head of Australian Art, Queensland Art Gallery and Professor Geoffrey Parr, University of Tasmania.