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Airing the Absence

Article by:

Christian Capurro, Compress 41, 2007, magazine erasure with addition of correction fluid, The Rotary Collection of Australian Art, 2011, National Gallery of Australia

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For more than a decade Christian Capurro devoted his hand to the arduous task of compressing images from glossy lifestyle, fashion and pornography magazines.

He started with two sheets. One sheet, almost imageless, the other, buried in imagery.

He spent time looking at these images, time that would likely have come as a surprise to the images themselves – images familiar with the cursory gaze of the page–flipping public.

He married the sheets, one image on top the other.

He armed himself with his ‘drawing’ tool, a standard office eraser.

And he would begin compressing.

Up and down, side to side, back and forth, repeat. He erased and compressed.

He retained the sheet he manipulated most, from almost imageless to a scene of faint dancing silhouettes that had been rubbed into existence.

He armed himself with correction fluid, masking any remnants of the original image and its accompanying intentions.

What remained?

A compress: an image created through the erasure of the reverse of another.

He preserved an original strip (protected by the binding) adjacent to the imprint of his labour: impressions from his determined exertion of pressure. An exertion that reveals what is hidden at the heart of the magazine – nearly nothing.

The remaining absence defines the relationship formed over an extended period between human and source material – a publication encouraging of consumption and self–indulgence.

The absence airs the emptiness of content at the core of the magazine or, more broadly, at the core of society’s means of mass communication.

To finish, he aired the image dry, and, with a clear mind, began work on his next compress.