Sunday, January 23, 2005

Melbourne


Inside the NGV, Melbourne

Lovely few days in Melbourne, staying with the gorgeous Tash! She showed us around St Kilda and forced us to stay up late drinking – that’s what we told Penny anyway ;-)

A very aussie experience - a full on mix of culture and sport (although Leon queried the difference!). Spent a lot of time in and around Federation Square - great architecture, worth the trip on it's own, sections reminded me of Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum in Berlin. Branch of the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) there along with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. The main square has restaurants and seating areas and a giant screen on the side of one of the buildings - which was showing live tennis late into the night...

So alongside the exhibitions I went along to the Aussie Open to watch some tennis - we had players passes thanks to a friend of a friend of a friend ;-) So got to wander around behind the scenes and have lunch in the players' cafe - lots of fun! Saw a Roger Federer match where he hammered some poor Finnish player who didn't stand a chance, and ditto for the poor chinese girl up against Venus Williams. Can't claim to know who was who and Leon felt that I wasn’t taking it seriously enough and came to the conclusion that my main interest was the men’s legs – this is untrue and totally unfair – I was also interested in the rest of their bodies… ;-) But at least I understand tennis, unlike the dreaded cricket! Didn’t get to see Agassi play which would have been nice, but I got in for free to everything so can’t complain!

Anyway, back to the art! The Ian Potter Centre at the NGV houses the Australian collection – large sign outside claiming it as ‘The Home of Australian Art’ showing that the Sydney-Melbourne rivalry continues – I thought the collection of indigenous art suffered by comparison with Canberra, but the Dr Joseph Brown collection was very strong – like a summary of the rest of the NGV – he’s a benefactor who recently donated his private collection to the state.

The ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) had an incredible exhibition of short films and video art called ‘Proof' exploring ideas of truth & evidence, propaganda & spin. Some pretty harrowing stuff made by survivors of torture and a lot of thought provoking pieces on violence and crime but also a piece on ‘how things go’ that was like a school chemistry lesson combined with slapstick comedy – like the car ad where a series of reactions cause the car to roll off the platform except with chemical reactions and explosions – very funny. ‘Evidence’ was a pretty frightening record of what it means to be a political artist in Bush’s America – you get on first name terms with FBI agents for a start ;-)

Had dinner with the Bloomsday in Melbourne crew while I was there – good to see them again without festival madness happening around us. They’re all fired up about what they’re doing next – wish I was!