Attempting to resolve the issue of the theatrical versus sublime in visual arts with an exhibition that could be stored in a matchbox. It could be a recipe for another boring exhibition. “Another empty gallery” was my first thought when I came around the corner of Conical gallery and set eyes on “Minor Infinities” by Jeremy Bakker.
This is not a hugely popular or hyped exhibition that attracts a large audience but there is something of the theatrical about it. It is art that can only survive on the theatrical stage of the white walled space of a contemporary art gallery.
However, if it weren’t for this stage of a white gallery room then only the mystics or the scientists playing at mysticism would be able to see the sublime beauty. And there is sublime beauty, a powerful poetics to the exhibition.
Bakker’s “Minor Infinities” at is in touch with the infinite and the sublime but also the theatrical. It is about seeing the infinite, like William Blake, in 107,928 grains of sand piled on a small white shelf low on one wall.
In other works Bakker subverted the sublime, bring it down to earth by swallowing the glass marble of “Satellite”. Or using his sperm as glue to attach the 100’s and 1000’s cake decorations to the pins heads for “Minor Infinities”. (How many sperm can dance on the head of a pin?) The art world has become blasé about shock art but this is often because so little poetry to it, that it lacks has any quality of the sublime. These little shocks in the exhibition bring a fundamental human quality to the sublime and infinite.
At first I didn’t even notice all the pins that filled one of the gallery’s white walls. Looking more closely I saw the precise geometric movement of shadows. Looking even closer it looked like a miniature (or infinitely large) 3D version of a dot painting by Damian Hirst with a randomly colored dots spread out across an infinite white plane. It is Jeremy Bakker’s “Minor Infinities”.
Jeremy Bakker is a Melbourne based artist who is on the programming committee for Westspace Gallery. His background in philosophy and English literature, that he acquired as an undergraduate student at UNSW Sydney, was clearly showing in this exhibition.