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I started the year off with a long-overdue session of gallery-hopping, and here is the result: a list of my top 6 things to see in Melbourne this month (five exhibitions and one film). Some of these shows will run until the end of February, others will finish in mid-January.
State Library of Victoria
Open till 22nd of Feb
I can’t remember the last time I spent this long at an exhibition – I ended up walking around for about an hour and a half. State Library put together a wonderful homage to Melbourne’s bohemian legacy and there is a great deal to see and discover. Bohemian Melbourne takes you on a whirlwind ride from 19th century Paris and the origins of boheme to the cafes and studios of modern-day Melbourne.
“Mania of young artists to wish to live outside of their time, with other ideas and other customs, isolates them from the world, renders them strange and bizarre, puts them outside the law, banished from society.” – Felix Pyat
In my opinion there are two jewels in this wonderful collection: Nick Cave’s hand-written dictionary and Vali Myers’ diary.
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk
Open till 8th of Feb
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you would’ve heard about this one by now – Jean Paul Gaultier is the biggest exhibition currently on in Melbourne. There is a lot that can be said about this wonderful exhibition. It is truly spectacular, vast and innovative (you’d expect nothing less considering the subject matter). What I found surprising and unexpected was its humour and warmth. That and the “live” mannequins.
Aside from the 140 garments on display, the survey also features photographs, sketches, stage costumes, excerpts from runway shows, film, television, concerts and dance performances. The image that really stuck with me was the Narcissus having a conversation with his reflection towards the end of the exhibition.
20,000 days on earth
Open till 13th of Jan
Every now and then (not as often as I’d like) I see something which reminds me why I’m a creative. Go see this film. Go see it even if you don’t care for Nick Cave. 20,000 days on earth is a work of art in itself. Ian Forsyth and Jane Pollard – both visual artists from UK – put the documentary genre on its head. The result is a dream-like, yet highly polished narrative recounting Nick Cave’s 20,000th day on earth. It’s hard to believe that 20,000 days is Pollard’s and Forsyth’s first future film.
David Shrigley: Life and Life Drawing
Open till 1st of March
If you find yourself in need of cheering up, go see this little gem of an exhibition at NGV. Just 10 minutes of wandering around will put a smile on your face. This collection of work – Shrigley’s fist major survey in Australia – encompasses sculpture, drawings, animation and illustrations, all darkly humorous, engaging and full of heart. Shrigley possess a quality which is extremely rare for artists: he doesn’t take himself seriously. This, in part, is what makes his work so enjoyable.
Open till 1st of March
Menagerie looks at animals in art and our tendency to anthropomorphise our furry friends. Needless to say that animal lovers (and I think dog people in particular) will get more out of this exhibition, but the introspective examination it inspires will be interesting to everyone.
“The difference between friends and pets is that friends we allow into our company, pets we allow into our solitude.”- Robert Brault
My personal favorite from the exhibition is Two shoots that stretch far out by Shannon Te Ao. In the a series of short videos Te Ao – often unseen or in the background – reads an adaptation of on old Maori song called A Song For Two Wives to a range of different animals.
Yang Fudong: Filmscapes
Open till 15th of Match
The first-ever survey exhibition in Australia of China’s pre-eminent moving image artist, Yang Fudong, comprises three seminal video installations (The Nightman Cometh, The Fifth Night and East of Que Village) as well as The Coloured Sky: New Women II, a brand-new five-channel work. East of Que Village is a stark contrast to the rest of the exhibition, with its gritty, faux-documentary style and violent imagery.