Around the galleries – November 2009

November 7, 2009 § Leave a comment

Published: The Age, A2, November 7, 2009.

Around the galleries Dan Rule

Gladwell_2009_Interceptor_Surf_Sequence-storm

WHAT Shaun Gladwell: Recent Photographs
WHERE Anna Schwartz Gallery, 185 Flinders Lane, city, 9654 6131, annaschwartzgallery.com

As you would expect, or at least hope, there’s been plenty of heated chatter about Shaun Gladwell’s recent showing as Australia’s representative at this year’s Venice Biennale. His
MADDESTMAXIMVS series continues at the upstairs gallery at Anna Schwartz, with a collection of large-scale production stills taken from his now famed Interceptor Surf Sequence and Apology to Roadkill video works among others. In Interceptor… a helmeted protagonist surf’s the roof of a replica of Mel Gibson’s famed Mad Max car speeding through red desert plains west of Broken Hill, while in Apology… the same protagonist tenderly lifts a felled kangaroo from an outback highway. In Colour Test, meanwhile, an outstretched arm holding a spray paint colour chart interrupts an otherwise empty desert vista, effectively imposing an urban timbre on an outback setting. Indeed, Gladwell’s use of Australian landscape and film clichés is far more sophisticated and personal than some might have given him credit. Like many of us, Gladwell is a city dweller whole experience of Australia’s interior is limited to film and cultural reference. In this striking series, he explores the interface. Tues to Fri noon–6pm, Sat 1pm–5pm, until November 14.

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WHAT Rogerio Duarte
WHERE The Narrows, Level 2, 141 Flinders Lane, city, 9654 1534, thenarrows.org

Only a month after legendary, recently reformed Brazilian Tropicalia group Os Mutantes released their first album in almost four decades – Haih or Amortecedor – The Narrows presents this compact survey of one of the movement’s chief visual and intellectual protagonists, Rogerio Duarte. Taking in the graphic designer, songwriter and academic’s striking film posters, book designs, magazine pagination and of course record covers for the likes of Gilberto Gil, Jorge Ben and countless others, the show not only captures Duarte’s boldly colouristic, motif-driven aesthetic, but the radicalism of the spirit. Tropicalia, a freethinking, politically divisive musical and cultural movement that emerged in the late 60s following Brazil’s military coup of 1964, was about untethered expression as much as it was unbinding officially sanctioned notions of what it was to be Brazilian. Most importantly though, this collection of Duarte’s work – concisely curated by Warren Taylor and James Hibberd – shows its resonance today. His record covers have been re-appropriated 10 times over, and you’ll swear you’ve seen four-decade-old photo-collages in contemporary design-savvy magazines. Wed to Fri noon–6pm, Sat noon–5pm, until November 14.

Ferran_Lost to Worlds 2_ 2009

WHAT Anne Ferran: Lost to Worlds 2
WHERE Sutton Gallery, 254 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, 9416 0727, suttongallery.com.au

In what might seem something of a gentle affront to the landscape photography archetype, long-serving Australian photo-artist Anne Ferran directs our gaze downward in her new show at Sutton Gallery. Scarcely any of the 30 large-scale, monochrome, ink-on-aluminium works that comprise Lost to Worlds 2 even feature the hint of horizon or sky. But Ferran’s focus has little to do with formal concerns. Taken near the town of Ross in central Tasmania – at a site where a 19th Century female convict prison once stood – these solemn, contemplative works seem suggestive of the complications of history. There is no evidence of the structures that occupied this now rural land; no ruins scar the mown paddocks and gently sloping terrain. The sheer absence is enveloping. We are left to study the texture and hue of the grasses and earth, the sinew of a fence-line, the shadow of a poplar – to conjure what once was. It is unclear as to what relationship Ferran holds with this particular site, though it appears unimportant. Lost to Worlds 2 is a wider commentary on the erasure of the past. History isn’t just present in monument and text; it is beneath every step we tread. Tues to Sat 11am–5pm, until November 21.

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WHAT Katie Jacobs, Rohani Osman, Brittany Veitch: Veni Vidi Vici
WHERE C3 Contemporary Art Space, Abbotsford Convent, 1 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford, 9416 4300, abbotsfordconvent.com.au

Veni Vidi Vici – the playfully loaded new show from ceramicist Katie Jacobs and maker/artists Rohani Osman and Brittany Veitch – invokes a tension on cultural, domestic and ecological grounds. While the trio take the classic banquet as their setting, they have something very different on the menu. Endangered Australian species take the place of inherited European fare on this dining table of slimy, furry and feathered friends. Jacobs’ ceramic Gummy Shark and chips, Blue Spotted Stingray, Witjuti Grub appetisers and Leadbeater’s Possums on skewers are complimented by Osman’s crocheted Frilled Neck Lizard table runner and knitted Melbourne Bitter tinnies. Veitch, meanwhile, offers up felted wallaby and magpie pies, not to mention a delectable moth cake. It’s delightful and disturbing all at once. While the show harbour’s an obvious postcolonial critique of European culture’s annihilation of native environments and species, just as interestingly, it also works to destabilise the role the “domestic arts”. Indeed, each of these artists use techniques traditionally passed down from mothers, aunts and grandmothers to create very different, rather subversive outcomes. Wed to Sun 10am–5pm, until November 15.

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