I said I was going to write three posts on MCA. The problem is I’ve seen so much great stuff in Melbourne since I’ve been home that I’m also dying to write about. So instead I’m going to summarise the last two exhibitions in one post. I’ll tell you right now they were both amazing! If I sell them short I don’t mean it at all, and if you get a chance to go to Sydney in the next couple of months you should definitely go and check them out for yourself!

What: Primavera 2010
Who: Outstanding Australian artists under 35; Akira Akira (SA), Julie Frager (QLD), Agatha Gothe-Snape (NSW), Alasdair McLuckie (VIC), James Newitt (TAS), Jackson Slattery (VIC) and Emma White (NSW)
Where: Museum of Contemporary Art, 140 George Street, The Rocks, Sydney
When: Until 21 November, 2010

Primavera is an annual exhibition highlighting and promoting emerging artists in the earlier stages of their career. I was really looking forward to this one. Guest curator this year is Katie Dyer, Curator at the National Art School, Sydney and her selection highlights artists from across the country working in a variety of disciplines including painting, sculpture, photography, performance and spatial practice.

Akira Akria’s sculptures made from polyurethane resin, painted with black automotive paint, were the first to really catch my attention. The surface was so shiny it almost looked like liquid. This effect was created by many many layers of paint and he described it as “paint that never dries”. That’s exactly how it looked. These highly crafted sculptures were juxtaposed with found objects and modular furniture such as the Ikea table shown in spillberg (black) 2008. The work seems to challenge the modernist ideology that form follows function.

Image courtesy of Akira Akira

Emma White showed everyday objects meticulously crafted from Fimo. The first cabinet I approached contained artists materials such as empty paint tubes and colour wheels. I’ll admit that I kind of hurried past. I was slightly bored by it as I didn’t realise that it wasn’t actually the real thing! Upon close observation of her second piece I finally noticed that the Hasselblad camera on display was actually a sculpture. An obsessive replica.

Emma had also taken photo of the Fimo camera, which was displayed on the adjacent wall. If you hadn’t seen the original sculpture there would be no way of telling that the camera in the photograph was in-fact a fake. It really made me wonder, “was the reproduction was necessary?”

The gallery assistant noticed the look of horror and realisation on my face and came over for a chat. One thing she pointed out was that as the artist was in early stages of her career the size of her sculptures was pre-determined by her ability to bake them in her oven at home.

Her copy stamp and pencil sharpener with shavings were seriously impressive!

Image courtesy of Breenspace

Image courtesy of ArtTart

The way office stationary was displayed together with art supplies forced me to contemplate the way I currently balance my love of art with full time employment. Lots of young artists initially need to supplement their income. Perhaps Emma too.

What: We Call Them Pirates Out Here
Curated by David Elliot
Museum of Contemporary Art, 140 George Street, The Rocks, Sydney
When: Until 21 November, 2010

We Call Them Pirates Out Here featured paintings, drawings, sculptures and objects, selected from MCA’s collection by David Elliot, Artistic Director of the 17th Biennale of Sydney. The title comes from a painting in the exhibition by Aboriginal artist Daniel Boyd, which is a mock historical representation of Captain Cook’s landing in Australia. The Union Jack has a skull and cross bones on the centre, highlighting what that event meant to many aboriginal people, and shows that history is really based on perception. This piece set the tone for the exhibition, which is a continuation on the theme of the 17th Biennale of Sydney; The Beauty of Distance. Critical distance allows artists to look at themselves and their culture in an critical and ironic way.

I really enjoyed sitting and watching an animation by Richard Lewer, titled In Between (2007). Lewer is a New Zealand artist living and working in Melbourne. Using simple drawings, mostly in black and white, this documentary style short film was broken up into three X-files type case studies of paranormal encounters (or what each narrator believed to be). The stories were told in a truly New Zealand voices, and not one of the three narrators left me believing they had an actual supernatural encounter.


The first case study was the story of a woman on a farm. The first sign she had of paranormal activity was some of her animals were born deformed. After that she saw something funny in one of the Utes. Then, maybe weeks later, she had hundreds of flies inside the farmhouse, which HAD to be something to do with the ghosts! Naturally. In the second case study we are told by a young guy, “my friend and I were lying in bed. Nothing funny was happening. Just crashing out together”…

Image courtesy of the Physics Room, a contemporary art project space.

He then noticed strange colours coming from the fridge (you can see these in the bottom right hand corner of the pic), just like when you close your eyes really tight. These colours then entered his body, only to leave again promptly after. Hmmm. Too many drugs perhaps? Call me a sceptic. The third was something to do with horses, and an old sea captain. While the characters were very believable, their stories didn’t convince me of the existence of ghosts, not even close, but each was very endearing, and funny!

Mitch Cairns’ painting and decorations, We are strong, so strong (2006), stood out with their simple, yet affecting message, about how Christmas isn’t always as merry as one would hope.

Image courtesy of MCA

With work from the likes of Cindy Sherman, Rosemarie Trockel, Vivienne Shart Lewitt, Aleks Danko and Jenny Watson, it’s really en exhibition not to be missed!


4 thoughts on “Primavera 2010 and We Call Them Pirates Out Here @ MCA

  1. Hi to Mitch Cairns, just met your Mum and sister on the flight from Glasgow to Paris…they are very proud of you…I like your work ,

  2. Pingback: The Sun As My Witness « Not-Quite-Critics

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