Lots of galleries open and close each year in Melbourne but the opening of two new galleries in Melbourne this year is worthy of note: Screen Space and Rtist. They are worth noting because of the type of art that each gallery is focused on and how they mark the establishment of these art forms. Screen Space specializes in video art. Rtist specializes in street art.
Screen Space on the ground level of 30 Guildford Lane, specializing in video art. It is not that other galleries aren’t showing video art but a gallery focused on presenting video art is notable step. On the floor above Screen Space there is another new gallery Beam Contemporary, a pleasant converted warehouse space typical of many of Melbourne’s galleries. I was not surprised to find that there are more galleries now on Guildford Lane, clustering along this small inner city lane, as Melbourne galleries tend to develop in clusters. First there was Guildford Lane Gallery then Utopian Stumps joined them, moving into the city from Collingwood at the end of 2009.
Screen Space has two rooms, a lit reception gallery with a large screen tv and a unlit second gallery with a video projector, all presented with an elegant uncompromised minimalist design. The difference between video art and art movies is that you can sit down and watch an art movie in a conventional cinema whereas you see video art standing up in a gallery – so in keeping with many contemporary galleries there are no chairs.
On Friday night, April 1st, I went to the “unofficial opening” at Rtist gallery in Parhran. Another cluster of galleries developing in Parhran with Helen Gory Gallery a few doors further along St. Edmonds Road from Rtist. Although Rtist is not the first gallery to specialize in street art in Melbourne it is a further indication that street art has become part of the establishment. The gallery space with its polished cement floor and attractive entrance area is beautifully designed. There is even space for some live spray painting on an outside wall along the side of the gallery.
The “unofficial opening” was a packaged spectacle like the exhibition of street artists. There were plenty of the usual suspects drinking at the opening and hanging on the walls – piece by Jason Jacenko, Soﬂes, Slicer, Shida, Numskull, Beastman, Amelia Lackman, Gimiks Born, Adnate & Ojae, Deams, Itch, Vans the Omega, Johnny Duel, Urban Cake Lady, Rone, Stabs, Phibske, Lucy Lucy, Roachy and Marko Maglaic. Like the gallery, the art on exhibition are equally well presented on quality mounts and framed, well-crafted versions of the pieces on the street – repeatable, recognizable, high quality souvenirs of the spectacle of Melbourne street art.