Saturday, December 7, 2013

A View of 21st Century Art at Melbourne Now

Patricia Piccinini
The Carrier
at Melbourne Now
Unlike the disappointing James Bond Exhibition that I recently saw, Melbourne Now is an engaging and innovative example of art in the 21st century. It's currently at the National Gallery of Victoria Australia (NGVA) and the NGV International (NGVI). It showcases the latest art, architecture, and design from Melbourne and the Victoria region. I will describe three exhibits that impressed me the most.

Julia deVille
Julia deVille is a vegan and taxidermist. Her works include animals - all of which have died of natural causes. This current installation is set in a Victorian dining room and includes stuffed animals gingerly placed on period china. 
The exhibit raises issues of mortality and environmental sustainability in the context of animal suffering. It's both beautiful and thought provoking ... and perhaps a bit preachy.

Stelarc
In contrast, Stelarc uses his body as art. In 2006, he began 'growing' a surgically constructed and Internet-enabled ear using stem cell technology. He traveled to Asia where he had the 'ear' implanted on his arm. (Medical and ethical issues prevented him from having the procedure done in Australia.) A photograph and cast of Stelarc's Ear on Arm is on display. It sent chills down my spine.

Believe it or not, this is all
Cake and Icing
My favorite installation was from Hotham Street Ladies. They explore themes of home life, feminism, craft, and baking. Their installation is a life size living room constructed of cake and icing. The first thing you notice is the smell of cake, and then the details: rugs, paintings, shoes, cushions, electric appliances, furniture, all made of cake or icing. They have transformed the NGVA foyer into a cake wonderland.

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