03.14.06-05.14.06 ACCA: Australian Center for Contemporary Art, Melbourne
“NEW06” is the latest installment in the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art’s annual exhibition of young Australian artists. It includes the Makeshift Collective’s claustrophobic, cardboard labyrinth; Giles Ryder’s versions of L.A. finish-fetish neon and plastic; Helen Johnson’s gentle frescos; Darren Sylvester’s MTV impersonations of Kate Bush and David Bowie; Shaun Wilson’s miniaturized viewing couch with home movies stuffed into a David Lynch–like cabin; Natasha Johns-Messenger’s perceptual puzzles made from ply and mirrors; and a video by Laresa Kosloff in which a large black diamond box prancing around a studio is in fact a crudely constructed, sculptural analogue of a Malevich painting with the artist’s legs poking out. The standout works are without doubt those by Wilson and Johnson, both of whom locate themselves firmly within highly traditional narrative genres—Wilson within cinema and Johnson within premodern history painting—as opposed to the extremely busy, somewhat arbitrarily juxtaposed, and more funkily phenomenological works of the other artists. Sit on Wilson’s dwarf-size couch and you see a spooky, noir, digital doctoring of family home-movie memories. Johnson’s installation featuring delicately painted scenes of everyday life, The Centre for the Study of Adhocracy: Producing Singularities in a More and More Standardised World, 2006, are as determinedly contemporary as they are overflowing with worthy slogans and antiglobalization rhetoric. They consist of a cycle of fragments from shared student life: a bedroom in a communal house, young people at a lecture, and bookcases and blackboards overflowing with words denoting the politics of ecology and globalization, like a Thomas Hirschhorn monument painted in pastel trompe l’oeil.