Home arts visual arts Project 14



Project 14

March 2014

  • Suzanne Fraser

The title of the latest project show to open at Anna Pappas Gallery in Prahran is sure to conjure images of artists flocking and gambolling in open fields: painting, sculpting, filming, arranging bricks, musing with their muses and being generally creative. As stipulated by the gallery’s director Anna Pappas, this display is Free Range.

Yet it would be churlish to approach the exhibition expecting nothing more than a mischievous correlation between artists and chickens. The primary objective of Project 14 is to explore the seemingly immeasurable range of existence in our universe using the creative yield of a select band of contemporary artists. The line-up includes Melbourne residents Emma Langridge, Troy Innocent and Brad Haylock and out-of-towners Rebecca Baumann and Michaela Gleave.

In designing this exhibition, Pappas was inspired by the way in which individual imaginations are driven to visualise the outermost regions of the universe. As she notes, “The universe is mostly unknown, so we can make it up ourselves, in our own minds… It is our space, our experience.” Attempting to condense the immensity of infinite space into the confines of a boutique metropolitan art gallery might initially seem a little hubristic, yet it is here that the artist, with their creative dexterity, plays their part. Having offered participating artists free reign to address the curatorial theme, Pappas drafted them in the role of philosopher-artists. Their brief, to present a snapshot of the universe, chaos and all, in whatever form or method they saw fit.

That is not to say that the gallery’s curatorial team has remained idle in this pursuit. After defining the exhibition’s seemingly infinite parameters (although who knows what would have happened if a four-tonne elephant had entered discussions) and inviting select artists to participate, Pappas – along with her curatorial assistant Tahlia Jolly – determined on a ‘free range’ exhibition environment. While staged in the gallery’s regular premises in Prahran, Project 14 reinvents this orderly art space as a hectic and miscellaneous location.

The placement of Michaela Gleave’s moving projection Eclipse Machine (Blue, Red) (2013) is such that the piece immodestly encroaches on the visual territory of the works displayed around it. The elegant stationary mechanism of Gleave’s work is contrasted with the cyclical, disorienting light that emits from the podium; this illumination falls variously on the surrounding installations, in turn affecting the viewers’ experience of each piece. For Anna Pappas, this is an important aspect of Project 14: “it is breaking bounds”.

On the ground floor of the gallery, Brendan Murphy contributes more disorder in the form of a large concrete wad, entitled Predetermined (2013), which the viewer interacts with by driving it forward with their feet. A light push sends the curvilinear mass on a little circuit of the floor space, although the dimensions of this circuit are dependent on the pusher not the pushee. In this case, the surrounding viewers are more at risk of being encroached upon than the surrounding art – toes, in particular, should beware.

Free Range portrays the universe as characterised by diversity, sporadic disorder and metaphysical reflection, the latter of which is nicely parodied in Will French’s mirrored work Enquire Within (2014). The exhibition also reveals one of the primary tensions in our contemporary awareness of ‘universe’, that being the interaction between organic existence and synthetic existence. The 1960s fervour for all things space and alien – and the pop culture artefacts that it spawned – has irrevocably shaped popular understandings of the universe, what it is and what it means. In Rebecca Baumann’s corner work Reflected Glory #2 (2014), we find a gleaming and colourful disco cosmos, comprising various types of vivid surface arranged on the floor and in turn reflected on the walls. One might imagine this as an archaeological dig at The Jetsons’ place.

Additionally, in a suspended tunnel work by Henriette Kassay Schuster and Hermione Merry, entitled Sternengucker (2014), the artists include a projected image of a hooded figure seen within the pupil of an eye, evocative of footage from Neil Armstrong’s first lunar promenade. The viewer is able look towards the figure from either end of a horizontal fabric shaft, although from both sides the viewpoint remains from the rear. The figure is always seen to move away from the viewer. As a visual exploration the concept of the ‘event horizon’ – that being the line between the ‘known’ and the ‘unknown’ – this work encapsulates the curatorial motivation of Project 14, namely that the universe is subjective and ambiguous.

The seventh in a series of annual project shows to be staged at Anna Pappas Gallery, this exhibition – described by Pappas as “the gallery’s signature for the beginning of the year” – is less about sales and more about facilitating artistic expression. Comprising largely of artists not represented by the gallery, Project 14 announces the zeal of Pappas and curatorial assistant Jolly for championing the cause of contemporary art. Much as Stephen Hawking champions the cause of the universe, incomprehensibilities and all.

Project 14 shows at Anna Pappas Gallery, 2-4 Carlton St, Prahran, until March 12.

1. Stephen Giblett, Liberator, 2014, oil on linen, 91.5 x 122cm 
2. Cameron Robbins, Final Approach, 2011, giclee print on aluminium framed in Vic Ash hardwood, 95 x 75cm framed
3. Rebecca Baumann, Reflected Glory II, 2014, ETC Source Four, mirror, origami, paper, mirrored acrylic, wrapping paper, dimensions variable
4. Michaela Gleave, Eclipse Machine (Blue, Red), 2013, lamp fitting, dichroic glass, mirror ball motors, cedar, lighting stand, 100 x 100 x 140cm, duration: 11-second orbit
5. Yasmin Heisler, Wakefulness, 2013, vintage corduroy couch, polyethylene, paper, 77 x 87 x 140cm




Latest Edition

April Issue
April Issue
March Issue
March Issue
February Issue
February Issue


Harry Howard & the NDE: Devils