Law Week could have been marked with an art exhibition in a gallery with a theme like ‘justice’ and a tortured selection of art trying to fit this Procrustean bed. Instead there is ‘Passion’ a group exhibition, curated by Catherine Connolly, with a simple but effective concept. The exhibition matches seven artists with seven notable legal professionals. And instead of a gallery the exhibition is located in foyer of Bourke Place, the work place of many lawyers.
The contact between artists from a range of cultures (the exhibition is produced by Multicultural Arts Victoria) and legal professionals and the results of their interaction with the artists is at the heart of this exhibition. Legal professionals are frequently frustrated artists; most that I’ve met are artistic in some way. This should not be surprising as both legal professionals and artists are skilled communicators; one is skilled in English and the other in visual images.
The matching of legal professionals and artists for the exhibition was well managed. Naeem Rana wanted to work with Julian Burnside because of shared interests. One the artists, Mitra Malekzadeh, was originally represented by lawyer, David Allen, when she first came to Australia and so choose to work with him and photograph him. In the exhibition the art reflects the ‘passions’ of the artists and the legal professionals. Many of the artists produced portraits of the legal professional and their passions, like Andrea Draper’s cool portrait of Justice Lex Lasry playing the drums. Sutueal Bekele Althe painted a more traditional, although still informal, portrait of Judge Felicity Hampel. Other artists had common interests with the legal professional like Naeem Rana and Julian Burnside’s shared interest in human rights, especially the plight of the Bakhtyari family. Rana quoted Burnside’s book From Nothing to Zero with the title of his work “We Love To Hate”. Yorta Yorta artist, Lyn Thorpe and lawyer, Clint Lingard’s share interest in aboriginal rights. Thorpe expresses this with a banner celebrating the Aboriginal dance troupe, Koori Youth Will Shake Spears.
Kings A.R.I. has three video artists, part of the Next Wave Festival. Alec Doherty’s ‘Text’ that looked impressive and functional, a tower of technology, wires, cables, circuit boards, suspended from the ceiling with a triangle of DVD players and a triangle of LED displays, However, the connection between Yahoo search terms on LED, Alec’s voyeuristic fantasy interpretations on DVD and the tower of technology failed to come together in any meaningful way. And after hearing Doherty’s talk at the gallery on Saturday 24th May I wasn’t sure if any of his imaginary connections in the work were meaningful.
The other video art at Kings worked a lot better – the ideas were clear, the installation elegant and effective.
Kay Abude’s “Moving Document: Supermarket Exhibition” is a wonderful work about contemporary art with many. Abude takes ideas from minimalist art (Karl Andre and early Christo spring to mind) and creates them using supermarket products. This was videoed and the video installed in the isles the Glenroy supermarket complete with art opening drinks. The art opening in the supermarket was videoed. In Kings A.R.I. the three video projectors show the arrangements of objects, the video installation and art opening in a well-edited sequence.
Julie Traitsis video installation ” Open Embrace” presents a tango dancer’s perspective on video with a choice of an attractive male or female partner. The choice depends on which way the individual viewer faces the screens. There can only face one with the two screens so close together. It is simple concept effectively presented an intense experience looking into the eyes of your dance partner.
I didn’t think that much of Hiromi Tango’s installation, ‘Absence’ at Vitrine and Sample (part of Platform at Campbell Arcade, Degraves St. Subway), just another exhibition of handmade books and works on paper. The Vitrine cabinet looked more chaotic with a range of fluorescent post-it notes scattered across its surface. There were pads of post-it notes and pens for people to use at the Vitrine cabinet inviting interactivity. Nothing to write in blog about I thought but after a second look on Saturday I changed my mind. The post-it notes had spread across the windows of the cabinets and there was a small crowd looking at the installation, people coming and going reading, photographing it and writing more post-it notes. It was clear from the public’s response that Tango’s attempt to engage with the public and that the public (not just graffiti writers) are keen to communicate, tell their story and to leave their mark in the city.