When All Else Fails (2017)

Shown at the Counihan Gallery, Brunswick, VIC in the exhibition FLOW, curated by Heather Hesterman.

When All Else Fails, 2017, pencil crayon on black paper, 2.5 x 2.7m (Photos: Garth Henderson)


Jen Rae uses drawing as a mnemonic device* to visually synthesise complex data related to long-emergency of anthropogenic climate change and uncertain futures. For Rae, the act of drawing is a form of perpetual responsiveness, creating a tangible bridge between the unknown and the everyday, and making visible what may be latent in memory and the realm of the imagination. It is a process-based approach to drawing that moves between observation and synthesising data, studying the visible realm of the present, referencing the past, and projecting representations of imagined futures.

When All Else Fails is the third large scale drawing of the Anthropocene Trilogy, a series of drawings that explore the plight of the human condition in a time of climate change. It follows The Myth of Progress (2015), a drawing that investigates the paradox of progress through an anthropocentric lens, by juxtaposing human ‘achievements’ resting precariously on the backs of non-human species; and The Bad Smell of Extinction (2015), a drawing that explores mortality in the aftermath of societal collapse, with only the vestiges of our civilisation remaining.

When All Else Fails finishes the trilogy by exploring the plight of a lone refugee facing an uncertain future in darkness.  The fight is lost.  Movement on water is the refugee’s only hope for survival as the weight of the past hangs precariously above.

*A mnemonic device is simply a learning technique or means of visually organising, combining and storing information in the memory for retention.

When All Else Fails