– by Alice McShane
Hidden among the contemporary hub of New Acton, the Nishi Gallery lies in wait for savvy citizens to step inside and experience a provocative new exhibition: Rise Exist Demise (RED). Curated by Chloe Mandryk, RED brings together the works of 17 artists from Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra, whose work collectively investigates the physical, emotional and spatial binaries associated with the colour red; the colour so intertwined with hatred, happiness, death, birth, danger, love, communism and commercialism, that both its presence and absence speak volumes in our understanding of the world.
To balance the needs of such a dense and charged collection, Mandryk removes the information plaques from individual pieces, and in their absence, the space is unified and experienced as a whole. The concept of rise, exist, demise is brought to the foreground; it dictates our perception and generates a rolling flow as we move through the interconnected states.
The industrial space is charted, but mostly you’re free to explore on your own the numerous media used to produce these diverse works. By encouraging exploration of the gallery, RED inherently suggests individual discovery. I doubled-back several times to marvel not only at a product, but also conceptual processes I couldn’t possibly understand — for while thematically the works were linked, the forms they took were disparate and highly unique. While Celine Roberts’s Play With Me, a skeleton completely covered in fur save for leering white teeth at first glance (and it probably will grab you on your first glance!) presents as a highly amusing figure, the intimacy of this exposed skeleton with the blood-red bodily interior replaced by hair soon becomes disconcerting and easy for the eye to obsess over. It is inescapably informed by the works which contain it — being the
painstaking Q-Tip and Q-Tip II and the collaborative triptych The Unveiling I, The Unveiling II and The Unveiling III — and through its curated position, an unsettling dissection of our disconnect from existence becomes clear: Bill Brown and Caryn Griffin’s The Unveiling triptych cuts up the body and melts their disembodied parts; oozing blue paint drips censoring the red sexual base. Elizabeth Kenway’s decaying and stark Q-Tip installation suggests mania: the red emotion manifested in the work’s meticulous arrangement. Once again, Mandryk’s brilliant curatorial work is brought to the foreground with the space demanding you consider the whole as you consider the part.
RED is a bold, exciting and original exhibition that must be seen while it’s still here. Do yourself a favour and read up on the exhibition at artonshow.org, for there’s a method to this madness it seems and it’s really quite ingenious.
Rise Exist Demise continues from 3pm-6pm daily at the Nishi Gallery (located at the end of Kendall Lane in New Acton) until April 12.
Alice currently works in regional television, occasionally writes television commercials but mostly writes film essays. Obviously she should be followed on twitter @aliceclaire, and at http://filmalice.wordpress.com/