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"Sweet Sixteen: Young Emerging Australian Artists"
2004-06-15 until 2004-07-04
Goya Galleries
Yarras Edge, VC, AU Australia

The Goya Galleries (Melbourne, Australia) presents "Sweet Sixteen", a Conceptual contemporary art show of 16 emerging local artists. Works in various media are represented at the exhibition: sculpture, drawings, digital and photographic prints of different types, textile, jewellery, paper works, textile. The exhibition includes Paul Compton, Veronica Fisher, Darren Gunstone, Zoe Hambleton, Adam Honeyman, Daniel Jenatasch, Emma Kuetgens-Fitzpatrick, Shay Minster, Charles O'Loughlin, Vanessa Oter, Abby Seymour, Josh Seymour, Tamara Tamowicz, Kate Wheeler, Jordan Wood and Monica Zanchetta.

Conceptually, without doubt, this group of young people came out of the Fine Art departments of the universities. There is no a sign of anything that involves screens, electricity or blinking lights in this exhibition. The only electrically powered piece is C. O'Loughlin's "Shredmaster 30s - a document shredder, which springs into action the moment visitors feed it sheets of paper generously made available by the artist. Most of the other exhibits require a physical interaction from the viewer as well. There are hand made books on display with art curator's white gloves provided. For example: Paul Compton's an "Imaginary Friend Construction Manual" - a hand drawn and hand sewn book of black ink line sketches. Even some names of the artist and the titles are hidden under flaps that have to be lifted in order to read them. The whole show comes to life when it is touched by the viewer. Interaction and multiple choices are one of the uniting themes of this exhibition. The concept, which is a part of the multimedia and art practices, empowered by the rapid development of the IT technology places the art works at the level of familiar and generational.

A small "chamber" size format of the works of art is another uniting feature in this exhibition. There is a lingering sense of a fleeting thought that was captured for a short moment in a small object. There is no time, need, tools or budget to develop it any further into a growing tangible matter. "Raised in a world where everything is outdated before it's available, we have learnt to react fast", - state the artists.

It is a group of young artists, but the deliberate persistence of childhood elements (toys, childhood memories, childish wordings) in their work hardly can be explained only by their age. And it is not presented in the brightest light available. The images are tense, deconstructed with the touch of horror elements and sad nostalgia. Is it the sense of the childhood squeezed out of the modern society? (For example: V.Fisher's "Dolly does Dallas").

The represented artists themselves as much as their work are punchy and articulate, conveying sense of ease and familiarity with the modern technology as well as literature and other forms of art. In their own statement accompanying the exhibition they claim to "signify a new movement in contemporary art" and that their group show "uncovers Melbourne's contemporary art future". The artists apply modern concepts to easy obtainable, transportable and fairly traditional media. Is it modern beyond modern or, in other words, "The New Modern"? Is it symptomatic of contemporary art of our days? In this show, besides a playful aesthetic, there is a nice use the concept of "interactivity" and "multimedia" without resorting to IT offered tools of artistic expression. However, chances are that the next time we see any of the very same artists, they will use the latest technology, electronically powered multimedia, amplifying their concepts via film projectors and liquid screens.

by Ausra Larbey, Independent arts critic

IMAGE
Emma Kuetgens-Fitzpatrick, Darren Gunstone, Monica Zanchetta
THE STAGE IS SET/THE SET IS STAGED
from Intrude Contemporary Art, 2003


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