View of “Steaphan Paton.” 2019.

View of “Steaphan Paton.” 2019.

Steaphan Paton

STATION | Melbourne

Walking into Steaphan Paton’s exhibition “Nullius in Verba,” one was confronted by a triangular formation of twelve leaf-shaped shields mounted on poles—and it was practically impossible not to anthropomorphize them. Indeed, that the shields confront you, that they address you, is, one suspects, the point. Each is about six feet tall, and cumulatively each shield, pole, and base unit matches the artist’s height and weight. For those trained in canonical Western modernism, the installation might bring to mind Michael Fried’s famous summation of Minimalist art as registering the “silent presence of another person.”

Yet where, to take one of Fried’s examples, Tony Smith’s cube Die, 1962, merely connotes a human body—any fully grown, normative adult body—Paton’s conjures a very particular body. His shields are incised with the distinctive concentric diamond patterning of the Gunai nation of

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