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Darlinghurst, NSW, Australia
Born in 1981 in Darlinghurst, New South Wales, Australia. Babet is the youngest of three brothers. His father, John, is of Sudeten-Deutsch, Czech and Austrian descent and was born in Vienna at the conclusion of WWII. His mother, Jennifer, is second generation Australian, of Italian and English descent. Babet grew up in the Sydney suburb of Castlecrag during the 1980s. Once inhabited by the Cameraigal people, this secluded bohemian enclave was settled in 1925 by Walter Burley and Marion Mahony Griffin. Both practising architects originally from Chicago, Marion worked alongside Frank Lloyd Wright, Walter was a respected 'Prairie School’ architect. They created an unprecedented built environment, as Burley Griffin put it “so that each individual can feel the whole landscape is his”. Babet attended Sydney Grammar School from 1986-99 where he developed a passion for the arts. From high school he went on to study Architecture at the University of Sydney, where he gained an understanding of the relationships between the framing of the human figure and space. After completing a Bachelor of Science (Architecture) degree in 2002, he decided to explore more openly creative fields. Noticing that a postgraduate degree in Film and Digital Media was available to him within the Faculty of Architecture, he decided to pursue this in 2003. This provided his first insight into the world of film and sound theory, where he found parallels between time and space which had begun to develop through his architectural studies. Upon completion of this course, Babet decided to take up full-time employment within film production to gain an understanding of the industry beyond the confines of the institutional environment. After a period of working in a film production company, he was uninspired by the formulaic nature of traditional film making in Australia. He felt that if he were to produce film, he would need to facilitate a unique perspective in his own right. He began to explore a conceptually driven path which could lend itself towards film, yet was more engaged with the medium and cultural, political and social commentary, rather than just the traditional aesthetics and values that he was seeing in the mainstream film industry. During 2004 Babet became associated with artistic collectives and individuals that proved influential in his creative exploration – emerging artists from spaces such as the Imperial Slacks, First Draft Gallery, Phat Space, Gallery Wren and Space 3 in Sydney. These establishments’ representation of emerging artists and freedom of expression was something particularly inspiring to Babet. In 2004 Babet enrolled at the College of Fine Arts Sydney (COFA), majoring in Photomedia, whilst also studying time-based-art. During this time he exhibited at Kudos Gallery and COFA Exhibition and Performance Space. In mid-2006, feeling somewhat constricted by the structural framework of fine arts education in Australia, and its method of defining a student’s work by 'medium’ rather than by the concepts and ideas, Babet went on exchange to Berlin. He studied at Universität der Künste (UDK). During this period he majored in Bildende Künst (conceptual art), studying under the guidance of such practising artists as Katharina Sieverding, David Lamelas and Laura Horelli. He also frequented classes within the faculty of Experimentelle Film Gestaultung (Experimental Film) where he studied under film directors Heinz Emigolz and Michael Busch. He found Berlin refreshing; firstly, this had to do with the notion presented by Berlin Universität der Künste that, as a student at this institution, one was already a practising artist. There was an abundance of freedom to experiment and, further, Babet found the chance to study under artists such as Prof. Katharina Sieverding, once a student of Joseph Beuys, an invaluable opportunity. Initially, Babet travelled to Berlin with a body of work dealing with notions of male identity and issues within this of a specifically Australian nature. Upon exhibiting at UDK Quergalerie in early 2007 he felt that these issues and cultural facets he was dealing with did not necessarily translate within a specifically European context. As a consequence, he began to explore other tangents and began thinking across a wider spectrum. At this point Babet sought to distance himself from Queer Theory as such, and from being identified in that respect. He wanted to take a direction that associated and dealt with queer issues but was not trapped within Queer Theory. Babet began to look at identity as a universal construct – drawing upon notions of truth, psyche and the subjective nature of memory, whilst also being concerned with society, politics, history and the natural environment, his work often finding a subject matter that played upon the dislocation between two opposing 'realities’. Whilst in the midst of his studies (mid-2007) Babet travelled through Europe, particularly Bosnia and Croatia, where he shot one video work that would be the beginnings of a new direction. In 2007 he furthered this direction, travelling to Heiligendamm to take part in, and shoot work associated with, the G8 Summit. During this time, Babet was further informing his art practice to speak in a more universal manner with a political undertone by frequenting theory based art establishments in Berlin – such as Kunst Werke (KW) and United Nations Plaza. These establishments provided him with insight into the critical theory of artists and writers who had emerged through the political climate at time of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In mid-2007 Babet participated in three exhibitions as part of the Universität der Künste 'Rundgang 07’. Within these three exhibitions, which featured in 'UDK Fakultät Bildende Kusnt’, 'UDK Fakultät Gestaultung’ and 'Volksbühne’, he exhibited various video installations. At the conclusion of this period he participated in an exhibition as part of KFZ Gelände , a self-initiated artists collective that occupied an empty warehouse space for a period of two days. At the end of the one year of official exchange, Babet continued to visit Universität der Künste as a guest student, attending critical theory lectures of Hito Steyrel, a postcolonial theorist from Goldsmith’s University in London. It was within Hito Steyrel’s own conceptual art practice, which steps outside the traditional framework of documentary film, that Babet found affiliation with the direction of a new work. With this impetus to further develop a major research based project in the Czech Republic, he decided to spend an extra year in Berlin, during which time he worked for a film production company for a period of six months. In early 2008 Babet began to undertake preliminary research for his project in the Czech Republic, whereby he made numerous visits to specific locations and began investigating the history of his ancestors. By mid-2008 he had enlisted the help of a Czech translator and begun the initial stages of shooting photographic and video footage. Upon exhausting all available resources in the Czech Republic he decided to return to Australia with the intention to undertake honours at COFA and source funding for further research and shooting in the Czech Republic. In late 2008 Babet screened work at the Chauvel Cinema in association with the COFA Annual Show. In 2009, as well as exhibiting at Horus & Deloris Contemporary Art Space, he contiued to further develop the first stages of the Czech Republic Project. Writers: Linn, Kathleen amyk Date written: 2009 Last updated: 2011
b. 1981
Nathan Babet is an emerging artist working in the field of New Media. He studied at the University of Sydney, College of Fine Arts, and in Berlin at Universitat der Kunste. He works primarily with video installation as a medium, exploring ideas around identity, heritage and the individual in the environment.
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