“The Museum of Lost Worlds presents: Swi Gunting (reconstructing artefacts from the lost island of Tana Swiwi)” must be the longest title for an exhibition that I’ve seen this year – it is on at Seventh Gallery and it is worth seeing.
Swi Gunting are carved and decorated wooden scissor-lifts constructed by the Jatiwangi Arts Factory from Jatiwangi West Java. The craftsmen at the Jatiwangi Arts Factory have produced beautiful carved and painted work. And the wooden scissor-lifts do actually work; they are capable of being cranked up and down with an adapted bicycle chain and sprocket wheel. Since these scissor-lifts are too small and decorative to have a practical use archaeologists would classify them as ceremonial objects and we know that they must be contemporary art.
Wanda Gillespie is the artist behind this spectacle of the Museum of Lost Worlds; her website has images and details of the sculpture on exhibit. For more information about her residency see Creative Journeys.
I like imaginary museums like the Museum of Lost Worlds; I have also seen the Museum of Modern Oddities and the Museum of Soy Sauce Art. The idea of a museum, the older relative of the art gallery, has an aesthetic impact on the art displayed. The artist becomes the curator and gallery director of their imaginary gallery. Unfortunately “The Museum” part doesn’t really work, it didn’t make me believe in a museum, and feels like an excess of words. Some didactic cards, a website, other exhibits or souvenirs from the imaginary museum would have helped make it more complete.
Wanda Gillespie is a Melbourne based-artist who mixes the conceptual and sculptural. I first saw her exhibition “Flying For Dummies and failed attempts” at Blindside in 2006. I thought that it was a good exhibition when I saw it but Swi Gunting is much better. For two years Gillespie was the secretary for Seventh Gallery, an artist run initiative, in part explaining why Seventh Gallery consistently has good exhibitions of quality contemporary art. She was also founding director of Twentybythirty, a miniature gallery, in Melbourne’s CBD.