Membrane is a major site-specific exhibition, infiltrating the cracks and crevices of Federation Square and showcasing some of the most exciting Artist Run Initiatives (ARIs) from around Australia. Membrane engages directly with the architectural and cultural landscape of the Federation Square precinct, colonising its underground, intermediary and sometimes inaccessible spaces. Opening up this very public site in new ways, Membrane invites the public into Melbourne’s civic heartland to experience an intense hub of independent artistic activity. Drawing together seven new and long-established ARIs from around the country, the exhibition represents the diversity of models for independent practice, and a myriad of artistic ideas within Australia’s dynamic ARI scene.
Participating ARIs and projects in Membrane include:
Boxcopy Contemporary Art Space (QLD) presents four dispersed nodes of activity across Federation Square that explore the futility of individual human acts, including art production and consumption. Joseph Breikers’ dysfunctional ramp is constructed from sheets of plywood and raw timber packing pallets, whilst Channon Goodwin and Daniel McKewen’s respective screen-based works incorporate Open Source Software and stock footage to expose the constructed nature of their medium. Tim Woodward and Tim Kerr’s collaborative artwork Extra Features mimics the optimistic language of packaged entertainment, providing a cheeky audio commentary that guides audiences through their sculptural rubbish pile, whilst writer Raymonde Rajkowski’s information card explores the conceptual threads that link these four discrete artworks.
Breadbox Gallery (WA) has commissioned young visual artist Rose Skinner to produce a site-specific installation in the Fracture Gallery of Federation Square’s Atrium. Incorporating disposable consumer items, brightly-coloured plastics, LED lights and a soundscape of ‘white noise’, Rose’s multi-sensory, web-like installation is enclosed in its own acrylic membrane, infecting the Federation Square architecture and drawing audiences in with its intricate detail, alluring colour and complex system of interconnectedness.
Chalk Horse’s (NSW) contribution to Membrane is manifest in a collaborative work by Marley Dawson, Jasper Knight, Dougal Phillips, David Teh, Isabelle Toland and Oliver Watts, titled Stones Against the Sky (Don’t Mention The War). Giving the illusion of transporting and then celebrating one of the most maligned pieces of Sydney public art, Ken Unsworth’s Stones Against the Sky (1998), Chalk Horse’s polystyrene and plastic simulacra suggests a narrative of failure, referencing the ambiguous role of public art and the shifting relationships between artist, state and community.
Conical’s (VIC) five collaboratively-produced, discrete sculptural and video installations in Membrane are linked by the one sight-line and also by the repeated use of specific materials. Adopting a bold aesthetic that borrows from Occupational Health & Safety systems as well as from the sporting arena, Conical addresses the grand scale of Federation Square’s architecture and its rhetoric of public accessibility, with rudimentary-styled installations and performative videos.
Firstdraft (NSW) presents two distinct works in Membrane that explore the notion of the atmosphere as a membrane. Michaela Gleave’s Mobile Democratic Communication Device (MDCD) is a portable, bubble-powered communication unit, devised to facilitate the public and democratic use of communicative air space. Will French’s monumental Big Bang Flag references cartoon explosions, comic violence, and the popping of a membrane, but is restricted from the air movement ordinarily essential to a flag’s communication and reading.
Six_a (TAS) have colonised the Trench underneath Federation Square, presenting Battery Operated, a collaborative, experiential, light-based installation powered by 250kg of potatoes. Wiring together five banks of potato battery cells that power five micro-installations floating above, Battery Operated uses the darkness of the Trench as matter to be negotiated. In this dark and intimate environment, Six_a’s installation beckons the audience, drawing them in to study the tiny architectural improvisations, ornate sugar-based structures and organic bulging protuberances that seem to have slowly accumulated in the wet darkness.
This project was assisted through Arts Tasmania by the Minister for Tourism, Arts and the Environment.
In the cantilever space at the entrance on Federation Square’s Atrium, Utopian Slumps (VIC) presents a playful maze of larger-than-life, wooden building-blocks that audiences can weave their way through as they enter Membrane. For this installation, Buro North Multidisciplinary Design studio has reconstructed a geometric landscape painting by visual artist Mark Rodda. As a sculptural installation, the brightly-coloured and angular geometric elements play on the slippage between 2D and 3D space, taking on shifting visual forms depending on where the audience is positioned.
Various ARIs : Boxcopy Contemporary Art Space (QLD), Breadbox Gallery (WA), Chalk Horse (NSW), Conical (VIC), Firstdraft (NSW), Six_a (TAS), Utopian Slumps (VIC)