Level 7, Room 14, Nicholas Building,
37 Swanston Street,
Dates: 5 - 21 Nov 2009
This year's exhibition looked at 15-21 year olds, where the offspring are coming of age, gaining independence and acquiring excessive amounts of wealth. The exhibition also looked at the parallel's associated with the pressures placed on artist's to "make it". Artist's are, of course, not alone on this journey - the pressure to 'be someone' is a major Western narrative and Progress is probably the single most influential idea to be fostered in the West 1. In many ways the journey of the artist is not dissimilar to any other career within a capitalistic context, parallel's the growth of a human from cradle to grave with the cultural initiations that are interspersed at various times throughout life.
Kristen Phillips used the history and significance of objects to form a commentary on familial and social pressures imposed on the young. Her small sculptures are three dimensional collages. Moulds were taken from family antiques as well as everyday objects such as balls and soft furnishings with the resultant wax impressions rearranged, melded and cast in bronze. The mysterious intent that is embedded in the raw physicality of these artful conglomerates is, therefore, not distinguished from that which inheres to the everyday objects we feel compelled to consume. Sitting on plinths like a teenager’s collection of sporting trophies, these pop-rococo works nod to the shifting value of an object and its associated memories over time.
Federico Joni describes his work, Easy Target, as collage installation yet not much gluing takes place and the installation factor is of a provisional kind. The work comprises of cut-outs of heads of celebrities sourced from magazines loosely placed on a shelf. Peppering the glossy surface of the cut-outs are droppings from his budgerigar. The images spent some time accruing their markings whilst in the form of cage litter tray lining, further bird shit embellishments were gleefully orchestrated by the artist. Easy Target can be seen as a meditation on the removed yet often passionate relationships that we form with celebrities and pets alike. Having undergone only slight alteration from being bird cage lining Joni’s work resonates with Massimillano Gioni’s insight that “Collage is a dirty medium, infected as it is by waste” and that it “appropriates residues and leftovers, trafficking with what is deemed to be valueless”2.
Jamie Boys is fascinated with the potential eccentric socialization of people who have inherited masses of wealth and luxurious lifestyles. Boys presented a large, seven sided, cut gem-like structure lined with fake-fur serving as an elaborate mounting device for seven manipulated photos of young people surrounded by a world of wealth in his installation Heir, Heir! The young heirs are depicted with their faces obscured by absurd mask-like compositional elements that allude to the fantasies of haute couture design. What are these fictional rich-kids hiding? Perhaps, their anxieties about being written out of the will or the pressure to remain anonymous in a world perpetually interested in the minutiae of their private lives. Maybe the masks are just blatant displays of excess. Above the main body of the installation a rotating spoon of the proverbial silver variety hangs and directs visual traffic around the contraption lending a low level hum of anxiety to Heir, Heir!
1 Nisbet, Robert. History of the Idea of Progress, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick NJ,1994. p.4.
2 Gioni Massimiliano, "It's Not the Glue That Makes the Collage," in Collage: The Unmonumental Picture, ed. New Museum, Merrell, NY, 2007. p.11.
* Information extracted from Jonas Ropponen's catalogue essay 2009.
THE AGE / 6th NOVEMBER 2009 / EG / THE WEEKEND STARTS HERE / ROHAN TROLLOPE / Pg.3