Critic's Guide - 31 Jul 2018

Critic’s Guide to Melbourne Art Week

With Art Week in town, a guide to the best exhibitions to see, from sonic surveillance to Ronnie van Hout’s showdown with himself

By Sophie Knezic


Critic’s Guide to Melbourne Art Week - 评论家墨尔本艺术周指南

Susan Schuppli, The Missing 18 1/2 Minutes ( Listening to Tapes), 2012, archival photograph. Courtesy: Susan Schuppli

Ian Potter Museum of Art
24 July – 28 October

The ubiquity of surveillance is a reality of which we are implicitly aware, but mostly think of in visual terms: CCTV cameras in the public sphere and corporate spaces or data-tracking of our every digital move by smart phones and connected devices. Sonic surveillance, however, is just as prevalent yet less acknowledged. Listening without consent – eavesdropping – even more so. As the curators of ‘Eavesdropping’ Joel Stern and James Parker remind us, unauthorized listening used to be a criminal offence but is now embroiled with politico-legal complexity.

A carefully selected suite of works probe this reality. Sean Dockray’s short video Learning from YouTube (2018) uncovers the sinister fact of audio capture constantly occurring online; from Google’s ‘audio ontology’ – a taxonomy of 632 types of sound and digital archive of 200 million sounds – to private audio analytics companies capable of capturing and interpreting troves of sounds through advanced algorithmic processes in order to dispatch police personnel to scenes of potential crimes before they take place. Susan Schuppli’s Listening to Answering Machines (2018) turns the audience into eavesdroppers. Purchasing second hand answering machines from thrift shops, the artist retrieved old voice messages that had never been deleted, collating these into sound files accessible via wall-mounted speakers. The intimacy of these defunct messages makes for surprisingly seductive overhearing, revealing the latent urges in us all to listen by stealth.


Critic’s Guide to Melbourne Art Week - 评论家墨尔本艺术周指南

Sonia Leber & David Chesworth, Myriad Falls, 2017, HD video still. Courtesy: the artists

‘Architecture Makes Us: Cinematic Visions of Sonia Leber and David Chesworth’
Centre for Contemporary Photography
27 July – 9 September

Sound artists who have been collaborating since 1996, David Chesworth and Sonia Leber, present a seamless and suave body of work in this mid-career survey exhibition hosted by CCP. An abiding interest in sonic experiences – spanning the dulcet to the discordant, surveillance systems, obsolete technologies and remote landscapes – make for overlapping correspondences that tether the discrete works into a consonant whole. An attunement to relics and ruins is particularly evident.

Myriad Falls (2017) is an enthralling rumination on chronometric time through the filming of a cluster of outmoded analogue wristwatches installed on a calibrating machine in a horologist’s workshop. The watches’ intricate internal circular mechanisms find accord in the machine’s calculated rotations; the dual modalities of time and motion, the durational and superannuated, forming a mesmerizingly dynamic interplay. The thematic of obsolescence recurs in Earthwork (2016) with its aerial filming of a discarded and decaying architect’s model.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is a newly commissioned work, Geography Becomes Territory Becomes (2018); an 8-channel HD video installation featuring footage of the 18th century island fortress Suomenlinna in Finland. The cinematography is predatory, the camera stalking the abandoned structure and shooting through its apertures as if filmed by a sniper. With a soundtrack that thrums with portent, the matrix of screens produces a bracing experience of sonic and visual disorientation.


Critic’s Guide to Melbourne Art Week - 评论家墨尔本艺术周指南

Irene Hanenbergh, All systems in a pretty life; Calm Time, 1651, 2018, oil on canvas, 15 x 20 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Neon Parc, Melbourne

Irene Hanenbergh, ‘Mild Fantasy’ / Naomi Eller, ‘Dead Weights’
Neon Parc
6 July – 25 August

In Irene Hanenbergh’s painterly universe, iconic sites in the European and North American landscape, such as the Matterhorn and Niagara Falls – locales that entered the popular imaginary in the 19th century – become leitmotifs in a suite of works that take the historical genre of the Romantic sublime as their touchstone. Unlike the expansive canvases of J.M.W. Turner or Caspar David Friedrich, Hanenbergh’s images contract into a diminutive scale. Yet her palm-sized paintings – such as Lawless parties with pilots (2017–18) and Apparition in Limassol (1985), (2018) – unexpectedly capture the fire and brimstone of storms at sea and ice-clad mountains, abstracted into tiny coloured whirlpools of motion whose stippled, blotted surfaces summon an elemental aspect of these vaporous climes.

Interspersed with these jewel-like mist-scapes, Naomi Eller’s sculptures resemble artefacts excavated from an archaeological dig or a shipwreck. Forged from wax and various clays, the misshapen forms, Dead Weights I (2018) or Portent (2016), could be ancient figurines or fossilized marine life; fragments dredged from another epoch and suspended from fishing line or rusted railway sleeper nails. Their rounded shapes and abraded textures suggest the patina of old objects yet attest to a gestural process whose vivacity belies such possible archaism. Conjuring old worlds with fleshy materials, both artists beguile as faux-antiquarians.


Critic’s Guide to Melbourne Art Week - 评论家墨尔本艺术周指南

Kate Ellis, Untitled (Poodle/Human), 2018, beeswax, damar resin, silk thread, velvet cushion, birch wood. Courtesy: the artist and Caves Gallery, Melbourne

Kate Ellis
Caves Gallery
20 July –11 August

Early on in her career sculptor Kate Ellis honed an interest in the life of poodles, developing a refined aesthetic and dexterous technique in the wax casting of these longstandingly beloved animal companions. Arranged in reclining postures Ellis’s canine forms, however, had the slender arms of a young woman, making them compellingly macabre yet tender hybrid creatures. Her trademark style was to embellish the pale wax surfaces with milky-coloured silk thread, tracing circular patterns that concurrently appeared as decorative coverings like crocheted dog coats or stylized symbols of lesions and disease. This unsettling oscillation between the exquisite and the infirm continues in her work Untitled, Poodle/Human (2018).

In Caves’ tiny gallery space, a procumbent cast dog nestles on a small velvet cushion, most of its angular body resting on a rectangular plinth: the hard surface evoking a vet’s examination table. The animal’s front legs are not canine but svelte female arms, bent over the mongrel’s chest in an aspect of self-protection. The wax beast emanates a tranquility that is both unnerving and poignant. In its suggestion of a liminal state between the animate and inanimate, vitality and expiration, the creature connotes an entropic spectrum of beings at once cherished and mourned.


Critic’s Guide to Melbourne Art Week - 评论家墨尔本艺术周指南

Sangeeta Sandrasegar, Quite Contrary (XVII), 2018, watercolour and paper cut-out, 35 x 47 cm. Courtesy: Murray White Room, Melbourne

Sangeeta Sandrasegar, ‘Quite Contrary’
Murray White Room
20 July – 25 August

Known for her brightly coloured paper cut-outs of goddesses from Hindu mythology that excise strapping figures from delicately perforated paper, Sangeeta Sandrasegar now turns her attention to Christian myth. As a child Sandrasegar recalls her Catholic father sermonizing on two Biblical figures – Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary – avowing that his daughters had a moral choice as to which type of woman they could aspire to being in adulthood. Decades after this solemn warning, Sandrasegar has built a body of work around the equivocal figure of Mary Magdalene. A suite of paper cut-outs offer depictions of this iconic saint that contest stereotypical portrayals. Focusing on the period of Magdalene’s life when she wanders in the desert for more than 20 years, Sandrasegar’s renditions show the figure resplendent with long tresses and an assertive sensuality that firmly situates her in a feminist pantheon, contesting her status as a figure of disrepute. Sandresegar’s cutting technique shears the paper into intricate lattices and verdant garlands, but mostly voluptuous swirls of hair that become synecdoches for the mythical figure’s vitalism and agency. German Gothic sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider’s Münnerstadt Alterpiece (1492) is a referential touchstone; and his organicist wood carved rendering of Magdalene with whorls of hair covering her body finds an analogue in Sandrasegar’s parallel obsession with the hirsute.


Critic’s Guide to Melbourne Art Week - 评论家墨尔本艺术周指南

John Nixon, Untitled (Black Colour Rhythm), 2016, enamel on masonite with wooden blocks, 92 x 61 cm. Courtesy: Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

John Nixon, ‘EPW: Selected Paintings’
Anna Schwartz Gallery
5 July – 18 August

In 1978 John Nixon commenced his Experimental Painting Workshop (EPW) dedicated to the continued investigation of non-objective, constructivist and minimalist vernaculars. While these antecedents are firmly historically situated, Nixon’s ceaseless attraction to rectilinear and abstract forms imbue with them with renewed vitality. After 40 years, one might conceivably expect a sense of jaded repetition but Nixon’s painted constructions hum with an irrepressible liveliness. His sustained explorations are adroit configurations of raw and painted found materials; plywood, aluminium piping, ceramic bathroom tiles and even fluffy, coloured paint rollers. These household materials are set into shallow sculptures with tightly abutting edges, throwing their alternate curved or planar forms into relief. Serendipitous formal correspondences emerge.

Gold Konstruction II (2017) is a checkerboard of two gold and two white rectangles, the latter topped with empty tin cans whose brassy surfaces echo the muted gold lustre of their adjacent panels. It’s as if the colour has jumped ship, leaping from metal to canvas and back again. This type of sprightliness recurs across the works, but is especially alluring in the Briar Hill I and II (2015), named after Nixon’s country locale, where disparate painted woods hold vibrant hues in resonant tension. In Nixon’s experimental laboratory Constructivism morphs into ‘Konstructivism’ – a 20th century avant-garde turbo-charged with a rural-suburban inflection.


Critic’s Guide to Melbourne Art Week - 评论家墨尔本艺术周指南

‘No One is Watching You: Ronnie van Hout’, 2018, installation view, Buxton Contemporary, Melbourne. Courtesy: Buxton Contemporary, Melbourne; photograph: Christian Capurro

‘No One is Watching You: Ronnie van Hout’
Buxton Contemporary
12 July – 21 October

In 1972 Robert Morris presented a reconstruction of an interrogation room replete with an aluminium table, a bed made from lead and a copper chair in an installation titled Hearing. In 2008, Ronnie van Hout replicated and doubled this austere arrangement in BED/SIT, adding two robot-like figures topped with scowling faces resembling Van Hout’s own, each perched on each table in a cartoonishly bizarre showdown. Such an impish interpellation of the artist into conceptual art and popular culture is typical of Van Hout’s practice.

Curated by Melissa Keys, ‘No One is Watching You: Ronnie van Hout’ features almost 80 works made by the artist over the past 30 years. Characters gleaned from sci-fi films jostle with small sculptures of bananas, sausages and hammers, perversely sprouting human heads and limbs. Life-size figures of children, often dressed in pyjamas, hold sleepy, supplicating postures. A medicine cabinet emblazoned with the words ‘Ha Ha’ sits alongside a shrink’s couch with simultaneous instructions to ‘Stand Up’ and ‘Sit’. These motley characters and objects are perversely transmogrified by the fact that they often feature a cast of the artist’s middle-aged, jowly visage. In Van Hout’s bad infinity Aphex Twin meets Being John Malkovich and the unholy offspring is a mise en abyme of devilish fun.

Melbourne Art Week runs in various venues from 30 July – 5 August.

Main image: ‘No One is Watching You: Ronnie van Hout’, 2018, installation view, Buxton Contemporary, Melbourne. Courtesy: Buxton Contemporary, Melbourne; photograph: Christian Capurro

Sophie Knezic

Sophie Knezic is a writer, artist and lecturer based in Melbourne.

Critic's Guide
Melbourne Art Week
Sophie Knezic
Ian Potter Museum of Art
Centre for Contemporary Photography
Neon Parc
Caves Gallery
Murray White Room
Anna Schwartz Gallery
Buxton Contemporary

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Sonia Leber和David Chesworth,Myriad Falls,2017,HD视频静止。礼貌:艺术家的建筑使我们:电影的愿景Sonia Leber和David Chesworth的WPAP60300 3BR当代摄影中心WPAP60300 3BR 7月27日- 9月9日自1996以来合作的声音艺术家,David Chesworth和Sonia Leber在中共举办的中档职业调查展上,Enter是一个无缝、细腻的工作。对音质体验的持久兴趣——跨越音符与不和谐、监视系统、陈旧的技术和遥远的风景——使得重叠的对应关系将离散的作品束缚成辅音整体。对遗迹和遗迹的调整尤为明显。MyRad瀑布(2017)是一个迷人的反刍计时计时通过拍摄一组过时的模拟手表安装在校准机器在钟表的车间。手表复杂的内部循环机制在机器的计算旋转中找到一致性;时间和运动的双重模式,持续性和超常性,形成迷人的动态相互作用。废弃的主题在土工(2016)中重现,其空中拍摄的是一个废弃和腐朽的建筑师模型。展览的中心是一个新的委托工作,地理成为领土成为(2018);一个8频道高清视频设备的特点是十八世纪在芬兰岛堡垒Suomenlinna。电影是掠夺性的,摄影机跟踪废弃的结构,并通过它的光圈拍摄,就像被狙击手拍摄的一样。有一个声带,带着先兆的光幕,屏幕的矩阵产生一种支撑音色和视觉迷失的体验。全系统的生命周期为1651年MGY7240O900900JPG WPAP6023 602IMG Irene Hanenbergh,所有系统在一个美丽的生活;平静的时间,1651, 2018,油在帆布上,15×20厘米。礼貌:艺术家和霓虹灯PARC,Melbourne Irene Hanenbergh,“温和幻想”/ Naomi Eller,“失重”WPAP60300 3BR霓虹灯PARC WPA60300 3BR 7月6日- 8月25日在Irene Hanenbergh的绘画宇宙,在欧洲和北美景观的标志性网站,这样的随着马特洪角和尼亚加拉大瀑布——十九世纪进入大众想象的场所——成为一组以浪漫崇高的历史流派为试金石的作品中的主题。不同于J.M.W. Turner或Caspar David Friedrich的膨胀画布,Hanenbergh的形象缩小成小规模。然而,她的手掌大小的画——比如没有飞行员的聚会(2017—18)和利马索尔的幻影(1985),(2018)——意外地捕捉了海上和冰山覆盖的风暴和硫磺,将它们抽象成色彩鲜艳的运动漩涡,点画、污点和表面。这是这些蒸发性气候的基本特征。穿插着这些宝石般的雾霭,Naomi Eller的雕塑像是从考古发掘或沉船中挖掘出来的艺术品。由蜡和各种粘土锻造而成的残骸I(2018)或先兆(2016),可能是古代雕像或化石海洋生物;从另一个时代挖出的碎片,悬挂在钓鱼线或生锈的铁路轨枕钉子上。他们圆圆的形状和磨损的纹理表明旧物体的铜绿已经证明是一种手势过程,其活泼性掩盖了这种可能的古语。用丰富的物质召唤古老的世界,两个艺术家都是假冒的古董。KATE-ELIS-UNTIDLID1.JPG WPA6024602IMG Kate Ellis,无题(贵宾犬/人),2018,蜂蜡,达玛树脂,丝线,天鹅绒垫,桦木。礼貌:艺术家和洞穴画廊,墨尔本凯特埃利斯WPAP60300 3BR洞穴画廊WPAP60300 3BR 7月20日-8月11日早期在她的职业雕塑家Kate Ellis磨砺对贵宾犬的生活兴趣,在蜡石中发展出精致的美学和灵巧的技术。这些长期以来深受爱戴的动物伴侣。然而,在埃利斯的犬齿形式中,有着一个年轻女人的纤细的手臂,使它们成为令人讨厌的娇柔而娇嫩的杂种动物。她的商标风格是用乳白色的丝线来修饰淡蜡质表面,描出圆形图案,同时作为装饰覆盖物出现,如钩编的狗外套或病斑和疾病的程式化符号。这种令人不安的微妙和弱者之间的震荡在她的作品中继续着,Poodle /人类(2018)。在洞穴的小画廊空间里,一只匍匐着的狗蹲在一个小天鹅绒垫子上,它的大部分角身体躺在一个长方形的底座上:坚硬的表面唤起了兽医的检查台。动物的前腿不是犬齿,而是纤细的雌性手臂,从自我保护的角度俯瞰杂种的胸部。蜡兽散发出一种既令人沮丧又痛苦的宁静。在它暗示着有生命和无生命、活力和期满之间的一种阈限状态,这个生物暗示着一个曾经被珍视和哀悼的生命的熵光谱。J.PG Critic’s Guide to Melbourne Art Week - 评论家墨尔本艺术周指南 Sangeeta Sandrasegar,相当相反(XVII),2018,水彩画和剪纸,35×47厘米。礼貌:Murray White房间,墨尔本桑格塔桑德拉格尔,“相当相反”WPAP60300 3BR Murray White室WPAP60300 3BR 7月20日-8月25日以她的色彩鲜艳的剪纸女神女神从印度教神话,摘录数字从微妙的perfor。Sangeeta Sandrasegar的论文现在把她的注意力转向了基督教神话。作为一个孩子,Sandrasegar回忆起她的天主教神父对两个圣经人物——Mary Magdalene和处女玛丽的追求——宣称他的女儿们有一个道德上的选择,那就是他们在成年时渴望什么样的女人。在这一庄严警告之后的几十年,Sandrasegar围绕Mary Magdalene的模棱两可的人物建立了一个工作机构。一组剪纸提供了这一标志性圣人的肖像,它描绘了刻板的刻画。着眼于玛格达莱妮在沙漠中徘徊超过20年的生活,Sandrasegar的作品展示了这位身披长袍和自信的性感形象的女性形象,坚定地将她置身于一个女权主义的万神殿中,以此来证明她是一个名声不好的人物。桑德雷斯格尔的切割技术将纸剪裁成复杂的格子和郁郁葱葱的花环,但大多是华丽的卷发,成为神话人物的活力和代言人。德国哥特式雕塑家Tilman Riemenschneider的米涅尔斯塔特变奏曲(1492)是一个参照试金石,他的有机主义木雕雕刻马格达琳,她的头发覆盖着她身上的轮回,在Sandrasegar与毛绒的平行痴迷中找到了类似的东西。DSC0300,1.JPG Critic’s Guide to Melbourne Art Week - 评论家墨尔本艺术周指南
John Nixon,无标题(黑色节奏),2016,珐琅在泥灰岩与木块,92×61厘米。礼貌:安娜施瓦兹画廊,Melbourne John Nixon,“EPW:选定的绘画”WPA60603BR安娜施瓦兹画廊WPAP60300 3BR 7月5日-8月18日在1978约翰尼克松开始他的实验绘画工作室(EPW)致力于对非目标的持续调查建构主义和极简主义的白话文。虽然这些先例在历史上是稳固的,但尼克松对直线和抽象形式的不断吸引使他们重新焕发出勃勃生机。40年后,人们可能会想到一种厌倦的重复感,但尼克松的绘画结构。

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