Jacobus Capone: Arctic Field Notes (Act 3) (2017)

A grim reverie. An unspecified climate of concern. Jacobus Capone trawls a stick through indifferent Arctic snow. He’s a slight figure. Crossing from left to right, he leaves little evidence of a trail. This gruelling labour has an outcome, but it’s only implicit. The subtitle is Fathoming a Circle with a Line, but we never see the giant circle resulting from Capone’s ostensibly straight lines. It’s a visual trick: all circles are made of straight lines, if you zoom in closely enough. I imagine a hidden scene in which we see a birds-eyeview of a giant, spindly circle traced into the bleached-white snow. Another shot might show it being covered by the next gale, the cycle complete.

This isn’t the first time Capone has made a portrait of a wild place, centred on its relationship with his body. Rather than summoning scenes of natural destruction, the artist tends to create images in which humans are made redundant by the hugeness of the wilderness. He generally appears dwarfed by the scale of the landscape, repeating a gesture or staying completely still while a waterfall cascades before him or wind rustles around. They’re humble works, in which people are small and sometimes effortful. This is the first of Capone’s videos I’ve seen in which he is engaging in a form of drawing, performed in slow movements of endurance, in the snow rather than on the page. But the formal sparseness and visual language remains the same as before—a monochromatic palette, an ineffectual silhouetted figure against a vast and careless natural backdrop, adding up to a study of futility or contemplation. Lauren Carroll Harris.


Jacobus Capone is a Perth-based visual artist whose video installation Forgiving Night for Day, in which Fado singers in Lisbon greet the dawn with song, was a featured work in the 2017 Perth International Arts Festival. You can see an excerpt here.

22 May 2017