Exhibition News

A festival of indi art in downtown Melbourne (May 2007)

Published Sunday, May 13, 2007

Those in Melbourne’s CBD can take a walk downtown and visit some fresh often humorous art to lift you up for the day. These are a few of the exhibitions I’ve been able to visit early this May.

Eamonn Verberne is showing @ TCB (1/12 Waratah Place, Melbourne, http://www.tcbartinc.org.au) the photographic exhibition titled Who did that?. It's an exhibition that brings the artist’s dry wit to the fore, as he has captured some cool off beat moments in some otherwise very ordinary situations – at fun fairs, Agricultural Shows, on sidewalks or the verge of the Hume Highway, Eamonn has found and captured those little things that are out of place. The photographs are generally highly keyed and composed with the subject front and centre – but the subject isn’t the focus of the photograph, instead there is a cognitive process required to appreciate why the artist chose to take this photograph.

West Space (1st Floor, 15-19 Anthony St Melbourne) is showing Sam Jinks and Michael Brennan.

I enjoy the work of Sam Jinks – not just for the eerie detail in his figures, or even for the more interesting compositional aspect of his works – no, the best thing is to listen to people’s startled responses to his works. There are interesting comparisons to be made with fellow Australian artists Ron Mueck with his weird facsimiles of individuals or in the case of Swallow, with his technology based objects. Jinks has made models for filmsets and also for Patricia Piccinini’s sculptural pieces.

The public is still fascinated by these super real sculptures, perhaps in the same way as we were in the early 70’s with photorealism. In any case, Jinks' works on display at West Space were just three masks, whereas the publicity for the exhibition showed a far more ambitious work which unfortunately went to his exhibition in Sydney. Nevertheless, the three masks provide a taste of his work.

Michael Brennan’s installation One Ring To Rule Them All – a large suspended mandala created by stacking miniature shopping trolleys in the usual manner, except instead of forming a column Brennan has managed to form them into a circle. While the symbolism is hardly veiled it is a witty piece and given it’s own small room generates an air of self-importance, perfectly in keeping with any mandala.

At Blindside there is a quirky exhibition with a slant toward masochism titled Pain in the Artists. The participating artists include Simon Pericich, Anastasia Klose, Danielle Freakley, Timothy Kendall Edser.

This is not a visual spectacle – when at first you walk into the small room it seems there isn’t anything to look at. And then you might notice the small domestic sized screen playing videos by Anita Klose.

To quote from the catalogue Anastasia Klose's performances and videos have an air of amateur therapy, and exhibit the desire to publicly share and work through private pain and neuroses. In a previous work, the video In the toilets with Ben (2005), the artist filmed herself having sex in the toilets of the Victorian College of the Arts. Klose expresses a desire to delve into those things she finds most humiliating or repugnant, exploring the process of humiliation and embarrassment.. I can almost hear Austin Powers saying oh behave!

In the adjacent corner was a funny little exhibition with the vicious sounding title Sad little prick. The exhibition consisted of a video camera and playing on the camera’s little screen was the artist (Simon Pericich) dunking himself in and out of an ice bath – the resulting shrunken penis was cast and sits sadly in the corner, like a grey little mouse.

Timothy Edser plunged through a number of layered plasterboard sheets – these had been mounted into a 2 metre timber frame. The artwork is the shattered plasterboards with odd pieces of displaced plaster lying on the floor. The event was recorded.

Daniella Freakley is the same artist who runs Artist Running Space which provides a space for a fee, for exhibiting art works on a box covering her head – and she then attends functions at public spaces. Her work is brilliant for reaching the media – few artists her age or even older would have been subject to as many curious calls from media outlets. Visit her site at http://www.artistrunningspace.com/. As part of the Pain in the artist exhibition Freakley presents her ongoing project The Quote Generator, where the artist only communicates in quotes from popular media. For a sample you can refer to her own web site at http://www.thequotegenerator.com/ or hear an interview with her talking (in quotes) to a very amused Robbie Buck on JJJ at http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/topshelf/listen/mp3s/20070227_quotegenerator.mp3. As a work of art it is very much a labour of love for being able to recall so many snippets of text and contextualise them - it is also very funny.

The quote generator project is planned to run for 3 years consisting of:

  • Phase 1 – running for one and a half years using quotes from commercials and popular media.
  • Phase 2 – one year. Quotes from people that the artist has met.
  • Phase 3 - original quotes from the generator itself.

The work at Blindside is part of an energetic dialogue that these four artists are putting into the public space. Perhaps it is a swing away from the notions of excess and selfishness that has driven these artists to seek and present a self abasing theme. But, for all the voyeurs come and see for yourself. The exhibition continues until 19th May.

Martin Shub, May 2007.

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