A 5 minute tram ride from Melbourne’s CBD, tucked in amongst industrial estates and universities, lives the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art – a reasonably modest gallery which, unlike most of its ‘peers’ doesn’t cram every space with as much artwork as possible.
The featured exhibition at the moment is the New 08 show, in which “Seven Australian artists [created] their new work for NEW08, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art’s annual commissions exhibition for emerging artists”. Works ranged from innovative takes on still life to commentaries on elements of past cultures. Two pieces jumped out at me – both visually similar, but one much more satisfying than the other.
Opposite a performance piece by Gabrielle de Vietri stands what looks like a film booth. You know, a thin corridor with a flickering light at the end that apparently is compulsory for 90% of exhibitions these days. This wasn’t a film piece, but a bulb stuck to a wall in front of 6 or so sheets of clear plastic suspended from the ceiling. Apparently this was Sandra Selig’s “installation in which the viewer will move through a darkened environment enlivened by reflections created by an elusive source of light”. In practice, that didn’t really happen. The light was glaring, and being among the “reflections” just reminded me of GCSE Physics. I didn’t get much from that.
Right at the end of the exhibition, in another curtained-off darkened room, was Paul Knight‘s photography and sculpture on human intimacy. The images were softly back-lit, and the sculptures were left to manifest themselves in the shadows of those lights. It’s a powerful sensory experience, and really compelling. You forget where you are and how to get out.