Log Illustrated - a publication from the Physics RoomLog 10 - The New Age
Log 10 - The New Age

Melbourne Wrap


As there's never much happening in Melbourne over summer, I took off North in search of sunshine, beaches and divine wisdom. Unfortunately I didn't manage to avoid art completely and caught the end of the Asia Pacific Triennial in Brisbane. Having not seen a Triennial before, it struck me as a kind of International Food Court, the kind you typically find at the bottom of large shopping malls where lunch consists of a couple of spring rolls, a couple of samosas, some (Japanese via California) sushi, some (Vietnamese/Thai/Singapore) noodles, and chips. This is not necessarily a criticism (I enjoy such a lunch sometimes) but the ATP seemed to be bits and pieces from all over the region wrenched from their local context and inserted into a multicultural mosaic of international contemporary art.

While the curators had made an effort to get out there into uncharted territory, there were plenty of artists who, according to their wall plaques, lived in "India/New York" or "China/Paris/New York" which suggests that despite the globalisation rhetoric an Asia-Pacific artist still has to "make it" in the centres of the West to really get any attention. But having said that there were many artists that simply don't get exposure in Australia and to get a brief taste is better than to starve. Among my favourites were the Pakistani miniatures - delicate little paintings in traditional style featuring contemporary figures - and Masato Nakamura's installation - a small room filled with giant illuminated McDonald's logo sculptures with a McDonald's logo decorative frieze running around the room. While many of the exhibitors explored the tensions between local and international issues and aesthetics, in Nakamura's work, global homogenization was pushed so far it became frighteningly beautiful.

Back in Melbourne, the art scene has been slowly warming up as the weather cools. West Space have reopened in a great new space in the city. Their first exhibition, Decor, featuring Annette Douglass, Amanda Florence, Simone Le Amon, Damon Moon, Brett Jones and Sarah Stubbs, traced a line between art and interior design. Damon Moon's installation comprised coffee mugs printed with conceptual artists' texts and a stack of mugs with the word "mouth" printed on each one just below the lip. Both Brett Jones and Sarah Stubbs' (most un-feng shui) mirrors were inscribed with short historical narratives and Annette Douglass' spooky installation of a desk surrounded by overgrown plastic potplants activated a playful challenge to an easy familiarity with domestic environments.

This year has also brought another new space on the city fringe, Penthouse and Pavement, a converted shopfront with a window looking onto the street. In the most recent show, Masato Takasaka created a cityscape on the floor composed of Japanese consumer ephemera - noodle packets, boxes, tins, plastic containers, lolly wrappers, a soft drink can tower etc. He also scattered a series of bright monochrome canvasboards throughout the "city" and blue spot stickers which spread onto the window overlooking the street. In stacking, grouping and connecting ephemeral pieces of Japanese-flavoured junk, Takasaka recreating a model city-scape reminiscent of the high-tech cyberpunk cities of manga or comic books.

Authors holiday snap of Apollo Lyndal Walker, Satisfaction or Your Money Back, Horroscopes

[left] Author's holiday snap of Apollo at the Australia Centre, Surfer's Paradise
[right] Lyndal Walker, Satisfaction or Your Money Back, Horroscopes (detail)
projected photographs, dimensions variable
1st Foor, March 2000

Lyndal Walker's recent installation at 1st Floor comprised two slide projectors featuring snapshots of retail and crass commercial signage, all to a repetitive soundtrack of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction". Her "buy now pay later interest free" art documents contemporary taste and the forces that coerce and sustain our hunger for material goods, in this installation emphasising the repetitive and boring nature of consumerism.

ACCA have featured some excellent exhibitions this year and highlights include Lisa E. Young's installation, Norwegian Wood, one of those interactive shows where it's actually fun to participate. Redesigning the interior into a narrow room with dark (Norwegian?) wood walls, Young created a series of cupboard/wardrobe doors which, when opened, revealed little wooden cupboards of various sizes. In one, a coat rack and sound of train; another opened to a view of the gardens outside with the music of the Beatles' song "Norwegian Wood"; while opening another revealed a small space with a disturbing animal sound, as if a cat or puppy was trying to escape. Reminiscent of children's fantasy tales such as The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe where magical lands open up behind closed doors, Young's installation played on nostalgia for childhood curiosity as well as memories of when the commonplace could reveal something unexpected and take us away from predictable everyday experiences.


D.J. Huppatz was born on the 8th of September in the Year of the Dog. Yes that makes me a Virgo and I HATE star signs (which is a typical uptight Virgo characteristic). Woof.



Log Illustrated - a publication from the Physics Room