Our October session in the Bennet Gallery featured art installations by Sarah Crow, Dylan Martorell, Nathan Gray and the collaborative group DAMP from the Gertrude Street cooperative art studio in Fitzroy. This studio enjoys a somewhat stellar reputation and has exhibited at several Venice Biennales.
The art is interactive and the public are encouraged to participate. Indeed three of the art pieces rely on the public taking part for their artistic merit to become apparent.
An installation of musical instruments built from metallic refuse collected locally relies on the public touching the installations for musical notes and rhythms to be produced. Each artistic piece produces an electronic sound which is fed into a central speaker and music of sorts results as the musician artist intended.
Another installation is an audio installation that runs for 6 hours where the artist reads out the total catalogue of art works held by the Gallery.
Another installation is of several large garments resembling aprons which have quotations and slogans attached. The public are encouraged to put on the aprons and have their photo taken standing in front of artworks on the wall behind that have inspired the artist in making the garments. There are also helmets made of the same cloth so you can be photographed and retain your anonymity.
The most accessible installation is a display of ceramic vases and pots that have been deliberately smashed. The fragments have then been repainted in colors of works of art taken from the Gallery Storeroom and which have been placed on the largest wall in the room opposite the ceramic display. The presenting artists were allowed access to the Gallery Storeroom and the pictures chosen are displayed in the Paris Salon method without any identification attached. The repainted ceramic shards in the colours of the paintings opposite have then been reconstructed and rebuilt into vases and pots which resemble the original objects. One does not immediately see that the vases and pots have been rebuilt until closer inspection shows they have been put together like a jigsaw.
The total project encourages interaction and tries to involve the viewer. Hopefully to understand the creative urges of the artist.
This exhibition however provokes the constant conundrum that is always present with any new art form – what is art and how do we recognize it?
If we are told something is art should we accept it as art?
There is no doubt that the artists themselves believe their installations are works of art. They themselves work industrially at producing art and want the public to share in their creative process.
The paintings taken from the storeroom and placed on display are undoubtedly works of art. I found myself looking at them trying to recognize each artist, rather than becoming involved with the interactive installations.
One painting selected from the collection hadn’t been shown in the open gallery before, most have only been exhibited intermittently. I found myself questionning whether there are many other interesting paintings held by the Gallery we simply do not see.