Next Wave: New space, new work

Lily Hibberd

Bree Chesher and Bec Nissen, Untitled # 56 <BR />from 100 Hot Boys [seen from a passing car], 2004″></p>
<p class=Bree Chesher and Bec Nissen, Untitled # 56
from 100 Hot Boys [seen from a passing car], 2004

Spacement, a new Melbourne gallery, was launched during Next Wave with a series of exhibitions and performances. Five visual arts shows were installed in the 3 galleries and in-house cocktail bar.

Work in Progress and Domestic Bliss were the larger curatorial compilations exemplifying the Next Wave spirit of breaking with the convention. Unfortunately, in the case of Domestic Bliss, the structure of the show fell apart because most of the works were unrelated to domesticity. The exception was Jessie Scott's Interiors (2003), a video which melodramatically re-created a day in the life of a 1950s housewife. The filming was slick and the work well conceived, but was made painful by the terribly stagey acting and the whining cello soundtrack.

On the other hand, Work in Progress was a terrific compilation , including exemplary pieces by Emma Price, Alison Carpenter and some fascinating new work by Nick Mangan. The expectation was that there would be insights offered by the artists on the presentation of their work, but we were not told when this might happen. This would have been particularly interesting in relation to the installation art, such as Nick Jones' The Red Bower, in which musty editions of red cloth-bound books were carefully arranged within a set of bookshelves to create the form of a cairn, an ancient dome-shaped structure historically used as a memorial marker. Aside from the initial disappointment at not seeing any of the works being set up, this show had a fine selection of fresh artists and an innovative curatorial premise that dealt effectively with the irregularities of the space and the serial interventions of live performances in the gallery.

Porte Publique brought the dunny into the realm of high art, with a series of toilet doors appropriated from notorious pubs in Melbourne, producing an assault on both eyes and nostrils. Projekt: Next Wave presented 4 videos, including a fantastic take on the genre of 80s skateboarding videos remixed by Matthew Tumbers, entitled Pablo Velasquez Shoeboard.

On the walls of the plush Spacement bar was the photographic collaboration 100 Hot Boys (seen from a passing car). These images are effective and the reason is obvious: men are available for women to observe, made fodder for our gaze. From the safety of their moving vehicle, Bree Cheser and Bec Nissen spent 2 years taking photos of men around Brisbane: walking, talking, driving, smoking, skating, talking on mobile phones and just hanging out. Caught in the act of everyday life the boys' response to the camera's presence ranged from surprise to suspicion. In the tiny bar, lines of people shuffled past, breaking into chuckles over 100 photos that tickled boys and girls alike.

2004 Next Wave Festival: Unpopular Culture; various exhibitions, Spacement, Melbourne, May 18-June 03

RealTime issue #62 Aug-Sept 2004 pg. Onl

© Lily Hibberd; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 August 2004