Debut IX

The latest Blindside exhibition is a group show featuring works by recent graduates from Melbourne’s tertiary art institutions.
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Debut IX at Blindside surveys the new work of recent graduate students from various Melbourne tertiary institutions. The show includes work by seven artists: Jessica Bruzzaniti, Eun Jin Choi, Danielle Hakim, Phuong Ngo, Daniel Peter Petersen, Shireen Rawlins and Brigit Ryan. Largely installation based, this graduate show is extremely diverse, and for me showcased both positive and negative aspects.

Daniel Peter Petersen presented us with All Star using familiar imagery of disgraced Australian male celebrities. The triptych, of large-format tabloid photographs, mechanically scrolled at a meditative pace. The style of presentation recalled a train station advertisement, while still maintaining a strong connection to the artist’s hand and the works method of production, by keeping the nuts and bolts exposed. It was quite a relief to see the spotlight of critique cast on Australian figures. The capacity to be inward looking in a politicised manner is often lacking in much contemporary Australian practise, and the clash of these familiar tabloid images of troubled stars within the surround of a gallery made for an interesting point of engagement.

Light Experience by Shireen Rawlins uses a range of coloured yarn to mobilise a corner space, and transform it into a process of aesthetic and optical engagement. The work is striking to look at, in a wave of colour and form, however I found that beyond its aesthetic value it lacked a conceptual grounding, and didn’t reach much further than a pretty piece of art.

I’m sorry to say that I managed to miss out on the essential aspect of Brigit Ryan’s Cloud Table – a button that I later found out activated a puff of smoke which cascades from the table’s edges. The work sounded like it would present its viewer with a beautiful experience, and so if you are to see the show, be sure to locate a button to press on this work.

Sprawled out under the Blindside window was national power 2011 by Eun Jin Choi. Glistening resin sculptures captured intricate silver foil detailing in organic and abstract forms. The works were refined and beautifully constructed. The title, at first seemingly at ends with the work, offers up a different reading of the works as a political critique, and speaks of its social and political context in an abstract manner.

The second darkened space basked in colour from the work of Jessica Bruzzaniti, who experiments with the intersection of light and colour. The use of these two phenomena in a darkened space was satisfying to look at initially, but unfortunately the presentation of the work, with a mess of white extension leads on the floor drew the attention away from the most important aspects of the work and made it seem reasonably unresolved.

The work by Phuong Ngo, In commenting on ethnographic collections, did just that. Mimicking the museum style collection and presentation of artefacts and transposing video work through small projections allowed the artist to look at and comment on the complex construction of Vietnamese national and personal identity. The work was extremely interesting, however the small scale of the work made the video component almost impossible to see. This may have been a deliberate component of the work, however it made it very difficult to understand or engage with the work on an intimate level.

Two television screens flickered on the floor presenting simple, absurd and visceral video work by Danielle Hakim. The two works titled Great idea eat a banana and Another great idea put on lipstick reference both early Sixties conceptual video and aspects of the Dada and Fluxus movements. Each video playfully focuses on a hand performing a basic task. Simple and affective, the works are tactile within the boundaries of their medium.

Curating a graduate show is not an easy feat. With such a large pool to draw from, and such diversity in media and subject matter in the multiple graduate exhibitions, pulling together a coherent exhibition is close to impossible. Admitting that, though, there were certain aspects of this show that meant it failed to cohere.

While looking at the wide ranging spectrum of work in our emerging artist scene is important, there is a fine line between diversity and incongruousness. Some sort of overarching or broad thematic thread between the works may have made them a little easier to access and understand in context, as opposed to presenting seven discrete, unrelated works. Seven installation and multimedia artists in two small gallery rooms was too many. The works crowded each other, and the works with sound interfered with the other pieces.

Debut IX proves that Melbourne’s young emerging artists are thriving, and ably demonstrates the breadth of the local art scene, however covering that breadth seems an insurmountable task for this graduate exhibition.

Debut IX

Curators: Blaine Cooper, Raymonda Rajkowski and Felicity Strong

Featuring works by Jessica Bruzzaniti, Eun Jin Choi, Danielle Hakim, Phuong Ngo, Daniel Peter Petersen, Shireen Rawlins and Brigit Ryan

Blindside Gallery, Melbourne

6 – 23 February

Sheena Colquhoun
About the Author
Sheena Colquhoun is a Melbourne based interdisciplinary artist and writer, currently undertaking a Bachelor of Visual Arts with a sculpture major.