VCA ART 2020

Dr Simon Maidment

States of tension, the timeless and the everyday

Overwhelming, compromising, destabilizing, isolating. The conditions surrounding this crucial year for all of these graduating students could not have been more at odds with the verve, tenacity, innovation and individuation that leaps from their works. My tour begins with nuanced and skillfully crafted single channel video works and video installations, where the choreographed body in the works of Anna McDermott and Luigi Vescio meets the visual montage and masterful score of Yundi Wang. Yundi's imagery blurs us at times into a state of nostalgia and dream where we are met by the analogue prints of Bec Martin, whose groundless, contextless images speak directly to the nether state we have all occupied during lockdown. A space without time – or perhaps more accurately across times – is at the heart of the images that Klari Agar creates through archival, found and contemporary photography. The allure of the analogue print produced by both of these artists is also adopted to different effect by Camille Perry, who juxtaposes the historical associations contained within this medium with an urgency of the present, through her activism and social engagement. The ambitious installation by Ebony Hickey, incorporating drawing, video and sculpture, sounds a direct, strident and personal note in the register of political and social change. The work stands in for many other works in the exhibition where artists have used their own voice to great effect, though few with as urgent a call as Ebony's. Digressing to sculptural practices, the everyday is called into question in many, however the tension of Kachun Lay's installation, a tension between the humble and found, and the elevated and crafted, is an exquisite one. Anna Jalanski turns her attention more purely to the found object than Kachun's trompe l'oil, but again, tension is at the heart of her array of works, both between the absurd and the meaningful, and in the very construction and conception of the sculptures themselves. Britt d'Argaville's libidinally red statement gives way to the unconscious framework that holds our outward facades in place, cradling a hidden and forbidden heart of desire, simultaneously abject, deathly and seductive. It is an external-internal dynamic which is inverted in the installation by Sean McDowell, who lays everything bare upon a Superstudio-like grid, the plane of drop-ceiling panels a counterpoint to the range of materials it supports, with all of their symbolic ranges. With the forms working against and between one-another, framed by a plane of institutional materialism, the work could be read as an allegory of this entire ambitious exhibition, where each element or agent is both absolutely individual, yet deeply connected between one another, buoyed by the platform of the VCA and its attentive and talented staff.

Anna McDermott, We cannot hold this up forever, single channel video, 6:14m, 2020
Luigi Vescio, bodyobject 2, Single channel video and sound, 2019
Yundi Wang, Sleepless, single channel video (still), 2020.
Bec Martin, Potato, chromogenic print, 2020. Documentation by Lucy Foster.
Klari Agar, Undo, 35mm film negatives, 2020. Documentation by Lucy Foster.
Camille Perry, Ruins Reincarnated, Suzuki Motorbike, 2020.
Ebony Hickey, exhibition installation view, 2020. Documentation by Christo Crocker, Eliza Dyball and Aaron Rees.
Kachun Lay, installation view, plaster, pigments, sand, rabbit skin glue, space, Giclee inkjet print, 2020. Documentation by Christo Crocker, Eliza Dyball and Aaron Rees.
Britt d'Argaville, dying to be the life of the party (Angel), glass, bronze, ashes, 2020. Documentation by Lucy Foster
Sean McDowell, Retrieved: Re-Imagined (Iteration 4), mixed media, 2020. Documentation by Guy Grabowski.

Dr Simon Maidment

Dr Simon Maidment is Senior Curator, Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Victoria and an alumnus of the VCA, University of Melbourne, where he completed a PhD.

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We acknowledge and pay respect to the Traditional Owners of the lands upon which our campus is situated, the people of the Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung, who have created art, made music and told their stories here for thousands of generations. We also acknowledge and extend our respect to the Traditional Owners of all lands on which our work is viewed, shared and enjoyed, and to all Elders, past, present and emerging.

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