Presented as a four part curatorial programme initiated by Kings ARI in 2005, Half Life was Robert Mangion's contribution dealing with the transient nature of time and collective history contemplated through a media saturated reality. The concept of Half Life alludes to the pivotal moments in time when things reach a half way point, the present turning into the past, or the past reoccuring to influencing the present. The artwork produced for Half Life is located between authenticity and fiction. Oscillating between documentary form and narrative the artworks raise awareness of our position within collective memory. The works produced for Half Life evolved from the conviction that narration is always subjective. History when perceived outside chronological frameworks, can be understood as a process that problematises the present.
A cross media approach was taken that incorporates text, painting and corner sculpture. The corner sculpture engages with time as an arbitrary convention. It appears a solemn artefact that evokes the relativity of time. It bisects the wall and floor of the gallery. The two dates on the adjoining surfaces, thirty one years apart are forced to confront each other as a kind of dissection or dialectical protagonist. The dialectic in turn makes us think about both the past and in the present and the way this tension is negotiated, both in the work and in our lives. The years 1974 - 2005 are retrieved not as a memorial to the fact that they had taken place, they are recovered here as a dialectical process that reoccurs in the present. As if to imply we live our life as though it has already occurred, as though we were somehow living after our end.
Mangion considers images that were accessories to the main event of a particular time. These images are found in parallel worlds of news headlines related to urban conflict of the mid ninteen seventies. The first, lead by the occurrences of kidnapped newspaper heiress Patty Hearst. The second, by the phenomenon of Melbourne’s “Sharpie” street culture. Entangled events whose properties confluence each other. The perspective between the two narratives share a commonality in which no synthesis or mediation is possible. No apparent affinity between the two histories exist, they are nevertheless closely connected, even identical in the way they propose a radicalised social position. Both narratives are posited on the opposite sides of the same mobius strip. Supporting the idea of time as looped, reoccurring, psychological and transitional, where the distinction between private and cultural narrative becomes increasingly blurred.