16 March — 25 May
In a Lonely Place
Crewdson's images compress the melodrama of an entire movie, or soap-opera season, into a single, elaborately constructed scene.—New York Times
American photographer Gregory Crewdson is famous for his large-scale, staged photographs that offer an eerie view of middle America. He says: 'In all my pictures what I am ultimately interested in is that moment of transcendence, where one is transported into another place, into a perfect, still world.' Crewdson is preoccupied with human alienation, and his work has been compared to the melancholic paintings of Edward Hopper and the American-Gothic films of David Lynch.
The show features three series, Fireflies, Beneath the Roses, and Sanctuary. Fireflies reveals the mesmerising traceries of insects, as they illuminate Summer evenings. The large colour photographs in Beneath the Roses show Crewdson at his most iconic, majestic, and cinematic. They were shot like films, with a process involving actors, sets, lighting, and an army of assistants. They present scenes of homes, streets, and woods, from unidentified small American towns, and suggest emotionally charged moments, where ordinary people are caught in ambiguous, disquieting situations. Epic in scale but intimate in scope, these breathtaking images straddle cinema, painting, and photography, fantasy and reality. In Sanctuary, Crewdson documents a ruin—the decaying sets at Cinecitta film studios in Rome. Their haunted atmosphere becomes subject and protagonist. These desolate images refer back to Crewdson's debt to cinema.
Curated by Estelle Af Malmborg, Jens Erdman Rasmussen, and Felix Hoffmann. A joint project by Melbourne's Centre for Contemporary Photography (for the Melbourne Festival) and Brisbane's Institute of Modern Art. Gregory Crewdson is represented by Gagosian Gallery, New York, and White Cube, London.
Estelle af Malmborg interviews Gregory Crewdson.
All Divided Selves
British artist Luke Fowler is known for his film portraits of radicals. His recent film, All Divided Selves, which featured in last year's Turner Prize, addresses the controversial Scottish anti-psychiatrist R.D. Laing.
Published in 1960, Laing's most famous book, The Divided Self, argued that schizophrenia was the result of people struggling with socially prescribed identities. In the counterculture period, Laing struck a chord, attracting followers to his anarchic, individualist, anti-establishment philosophy. Laing embraced fame, appearing regularly on television, later branching out into theatre, teleplays, vaudeville, and even an album of songs. Although his ideas were subsequently discredited, the challenge Laing posed to an establishment in desperate need of reform continues to challenge and inspire.
Constructed from countless hours of historical film and video footage, Fowler's documentary is a dense, engaging, lyrical collage. It traces Laing's transition from professional psychiatrist to celebrity. In scene after scene, Laing explains the experience of psychosis in language that is mesmerising, lucid, and compelling. Fowler weaves archival material with his own filmic observations, and marries a dynamic soundtrack of field recordings with recorded music by Eric La Casa, Jean-Luc Guionnet, and Alasdair Roberts. A joint project with OtherFilm. Luke Fowler is represented by the Modern Institute, Glasgow.
8 June — 27 July
Be Do Be Do Be Do
Every time I make a painting I'm dragging the whole history of painting with me.—Judy Millar
Post-expressionist painter Judy Millar is a paradox. She seems to do everything she can to distance herself from the old idea of authentic, expressive painting. She has made candy-coloured, heroically-scaled, parodic abstract-expressionist paintings. She has blown-up her painterly gestures using a billboard printer. She has attached these printed 'paintings' to giant sculptural supports (so it's hard to tell if her painterly gestures are in competition or cahoots with the support). Now she is handpainting enlarged halftone dots.
Recently asked if she was trying to denature or dehumanise the brushstroke, Millar explained, 'I'm not trying to dehumanise it. If anything I'm trying to rehumanise it. I'm trying to give it more authority. Despite the absurd scale, you still relate to the work through your body.' Regardless of her apparent efforts to put expressive painting in scare quotes, Millar's works continue to engage to court affect. They attest to the incredible resilience and efficacy of painting—a medium that has survived (but been transformed by) its many 'deaths'. For her show Be Do Be Do Be Do, Millar will create three site-specific painting installations, filling the IMA. She plans to work with local art students to help her complete the giant works in situ.
Millar, who represented New Zealand in the 2009 Venice Biennale, now splits her time between Auckland and Berlin. She is represented by Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland; Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney; Hamish Morrison Galerie, Berlin; and Galerie Mark Muller, Zurich.
We showed Olaf Breuning's videos Home (2005) in 2006 and Home 2 (2007) last year. Now our audiences can complete the trilogy with Home 3: Homage to New York (2012). Throughout these three half-hour videos, we are guided by an anonymous buffoon, played by Breuning's actor pal (some say alter-ego) Brian Kerstetter. Alternately bipolar, delusional, egomaniacal, and clownish, Kerstetter has a penchant for face paint, fancy dress, masks, reptilian contact lenses, and politically-incorrect behaviour.
In Home, Kerstetter holed up in a room in the famous Madonna Inn, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and reimagined his life as a collage of film references and anecdotes. His fantasies took him to far-flung locations, such as Machu Picchu and the fake Venice in Las Vegas. In Home 2, he continued his global odyssey, visiting Japan, Papua New Guinea, Switzerland, and Ghana. In Ghana, he threw money—and the shirt of his back—to boys living on a rubbish tip, while railing against materialism. In New Guinea, he mocked the entertaining mud men. Everywhere, he patronised the natives, while claiming to identify.
In Home 3 (2012), the chickens come home to roost, as Kerstetter guides us through his hometown (and Breuning's adopted city) of New York. Visiting sites like Times Square, a wax museum, and Coney Island, Kerstetter tries to impress us (and everyone he meets) with his factoids, specious insights, witticisms, and pranks. He patrols fancy dining haunts, donning an Angry Bird costume to devour a steak at Balthazar. He enjoys a lapdance with two blonde girl strippers in a Hummer stretch limo, while a belligerent midget male stripper tries to join in. He crashes a hip-hop party, cheats in the New York Marathon, and smokes dope in Central Park. As in previous installments, the travelogue is improvised Borat-style, with Kerstetter interacting with real-life bystanders—happily harassing a Buddhist monk, a taxi driver, sunbathers, Apple Store employees, and a bearded protestor who resembles Fidel Castro.
The cringe humour aside, Breuning's Home trilogy is deeply melancholic. Kerstetter's character exudes a sense of profound alienation before everyone he wants to connect with, including the viewer. It's terribly funny, and terribly unfunny.
Home 3 was produced with a grant from Métamatic Research Initiative, Amsterdam. Olaf Breuning is represented by Metro Pictures, New York.
3 August — 21 September
Chicks on Speed
In 1997, Australian Alex Murray-Leslie and American Melissa Logan met at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts and formed Chicks on Speed. Although it would achieve fame as an electroclash band, Chicks on Speed started as a multidiciplinary art project, applying a punk-inspired DIY ethic to performance art, collage graphics, and fashion (they created their own stage costumes). They got their name from when they were art installers, being so fast that someone quipped that they were like 'chicks on speed'.
Chicks on Speed have enjoyed an extraordinary career, releasing records (including hits like 'Glamour Girl' and 'We Don’t Play Guitars'), making music clips, performing at festivals, and presenting gallery exhibitions. The group has expanded and contracted, and engaged all manner of collaborators. In recent years, Chicks on Speed has been creating 'object instruments', like the e-shoe (the first wireless high-heeled shoe guitar), cigar-box synthesisers, 'super suits' and tapestries with sensors that trigger audio/video samples, and a haute-couture hat amplifier.
Scream adds a new element to this project—a set of interactive apps that enable visitors, using iPads, to compose, mix, and manipulate sounds and images live in the gallery. The apps were created on a residency at Karlsruhe's ZKM Center for Art and Media, and the show was developed during a residency at Artspace, Sydney.
Fresh Cut 2013 Part I
Since 1997, we have presented Fresh Cut, an annual exhibition showcasing our pick of emerging local artists. The show is limited to artists born or living in Queensland, who are up to six years out of artschool, who have not shown at the IMA before. This year, four artists will be selected by IMA Director Robert Leonard and artist and QUT lecturer Grant Stevens. Each will receive 5k to help them realise their work for the show, courtesy of a Creative Sparks grant from Brisbane City Council and Arts Queensland. This year, the show will come in two installments, the second opening in December. [image: Lucio Fontana]
5 October — 30 November
Swiss artist Thomas Hirschorn's video, Touching Reality, conflates seeing and touching. We watch fingertips scroll through photographs on a touchscreen. The photographs are of corpses and carnage; scenes of war, violence, and dismemberment; bodies burnt and shredded. We see heads blown apart; bits of muscle, viscera, and brain matter. These are images we do not tend to find in newspapers, but which are accessible on the internet. Unidentified, the shots are generic (they could be from any one of a number of distinct political contexts) yet specific (deprived of a wider political context, we see individuals uniquely mangled). The fingers caress the screen, stopping to zoom in for more detail, then move on. But we don't know their motivation, whether concerned or prurient—or neither. Certainly, they show us more than we might care to see. Hirschorn's video conflates seeing and touching, recalling doubting Thomas—who needed to touch the wound before he could believe. Thomas Hirschorn is represented by Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris.