``We invite people to find a moment of stillness and approach the rest of their day with a heightened sense of attention to the people they encounter``
Rachel Peachey and Paul Mosig are visual artists who live and work in a small town in the Blue Mountains area of Australia often in collaboration with their two sons Sascha and Jack Mosig. Together they use the process of field studies and play to look at human / environment relationships from a range of perspectives. They have a particular interest in the idea of geological time and solitary expressions of humanness in the context of these time scales that are hard to comprehend. This has lead to a fascination in the way humans project emotions and ideas onto particular landscapes and nonhuman entities.
They use photography, video, sound, sculpture, textiles and found objects to document and convey their ideas.
Numeroventi: We guess you are still in Europe working on other projects, what are your days like?
Rachel & Paul: We have just finished a project with Nature, Art & Habitat Residency, in Sottochiesa, a tiny village in the Taleggio Valley north of Milano. The focus of this years residency was water and we shared our time there with performance artists, mixed media artists, and a landscape architect. The village is very close to San Pellegrino Terme, which lead us to focus on how people project particular ideas onto natural systems. Over hundreds of years, the water of this area has been endowed with almost magical properties. This has made it a valuable commodity and as a consequence, there is an increasing ecological burden both locally and internationally. We were interested in how and why people attribute special properties and what kind of stories help this to occur.
Our residency apartment was at the top of an old building, looking out onto trees with mountains in the background. Each morning we would wake with the birds and to the sound of old ladies gossiping in the sun. The local fruit and vegetable truck would make its rounds every day and we would listen out for its horn and run down to get some apricots or berries. Most days we spent at the river, taking photos and playing with the rocks. We spent the nights researching the local ecology and the chemical properties of mineral water while the kids slept.
N: Speaking generally, how would you define your practice in a few words?
Rachel: Paul and I work together and often with our children [Sascha and Jack] using the process of field studies – returning to specific landscapes over time and the process of play- interaction with each other and the environment with no particular outcome in mind. We use photography, video, sound, sculpture, textiles and found objects to document these processes and to develop the ideas that come up through these processes. We work like this in a variety of landscapes and contexts. The physical and cultural characteristics of the environment we are in informs the ideas we work through. This can range from working in local playgrounds to examine risk-taking to concentrating on theories about geological time in the Icelandic wilderness.
N: What does it mean for you to work as a whole family?
Rachel: At it’s best it means we travel and play together, sharing ideas and experiences. Everyone is heard and contributes something that makes the outcome unexpected and more interesting.
At it’s worst it’s a long ongoing argument full of frustration and the battle of egos. As with many things it works best when we try not to force things. We aren’t bound by the art-making process and don’t inflict it on each other as some kind of ideological necessity.
Each time we make something there is a slightly different pattern and shape to the collaboration and like all collaborations, there are ups and downs. It does feel like is getting more interesting as time goes on. As well as dealing with issues that come up in the context of different environments more an more we are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of what collaboration and family are.
On a purely logistic level having these experiences as a family means Paul and I can continue our practice without having to negotiate solitary time away.
N: How do (your sons) Sascha and Jack inform this process?
Rachel: When they were younger they occasionally made their way into a photograph if Paul and I had an idea that included them. As they are getting older they have become more interested in what Paul and I are doing and have stronger ideas of their own as to how they might be involved. As with all of us they find it challenging when someone says no they don’t like that idea. Kids are quite used to praise and it has been interesting watching Sascha who is older, start to understand that disagreement is not the end of the world.
They definitely have different approaches and ways of being involved. Sascha (11) likes movement through balance, strength, stillness, and climbing. He likes to create human interventions in the landscape and his ideas are often about form and structure.
Jack (6) likes movement through dance, humour, and clowning. Numeroventi was actually one of the first times he was happy to do something of a more serious nature.
In general, they like to play and even though they find the things we do interesting, they have less endurance than us and often want to finish earlier than we do. They are less concerned with any type of outcome and they don’t care if we have ‘got’ anything. Often this is a good reminder for Paul and I to relax.
N: You spent two weeks at Numeroventi, what would have been different with 6 weeks available instead? Would you tell us a bit how the amount of time available affects and influence the results?
Rachel: The two weeks at Numeroventi was our first project during the three months we are spending in Europe this summer. It was a great place to start our adventure as it is a very inspiring place, both architecturally and in regards to the other artists we were lucky enough to spend our time with. That said two weeks is a very short amount of time. As soon as we arrived we had to adjust on a very basic level to where we were and make work based on very initial reactions. It was only during the last few days of our residency that we began to see interesting possibilities of collaboration with other artists and began to have a better understanding of the context of the environment that we were in. There is nothing inherently wrong with this though. Sometimes the first sketches and ideas that you have can be really powerful. Even though we might not realise the full potential of our ideas physically at Numeroventi the time we spent there definitely started processes that will find an outcome somewhere along the track.
There is also great value in making work quickly that you aren’t too precious about in an environment where no one knows you. Any feedback you get isn’t bound up with any ongoing personal relationships or community histories. We do love the idea of coming back to Florence to deal with the potential of things left unfinished but I guess that could be said of so many parts of life and it is best not to obsess on it too much if life doesn’t present the opportunity again. I think if we had spent more time there this time around we would have made stronger connections and would have felt the desire to return even more keenly.
N: What is your next destination?
Rachel: In a few days, we are off to Sofia, Bulgaria. We will spend 3 weeks there preparing work for an exhibition at Sturctura Gallery about play as a subversive act in different cultural contexts. In 2016 we spent time at Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik in Berlin and while we were there we met Daniela Kostova, a Bulgarian artist who is now based in New York with her family. She also works with her daughter and with ideas around play and risk-taking. She curated this show with Izabel Galliera bringing together a group of international artists who are all using play, play environments and play objects to look at various power dynamics.
We have never been to Bulgaria and are really looking forward to being there and meeting everyone else involved. We are all missing home a bit though. We have been away for over two months so far on this trip and are about ready for the gentle rhythms of home.