Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Watching two up in Aussie

If you ever needed a reminder of the limitations of photography you only need to look at the exhibition 100 chairs in 100 days at RMIT in downtown Melbourne. Martino Gamper’s book of this project was published to great acclaim in 2012, but to see the chairs themselves is something else. There are indeed one hundred (rather sadly we counted them) and Gamper declares he did make them in 100 days, and this is where photography gets left behind. It's is a remarkable demonstration of formalism plus functionalism freely mixed up with spontaneity, wit and humor. Gamper makes up his own rules just for the fun of breaking them and we, the viewers, are drawn into his processes and ideas. Famous chairs, everyday chairs, stylish chairs, absurd chairs, classic chairs are elegantly collaged into new arrangements. That all this was done in 100 days is remarkable enough, but individually these works each test the very idea of function in ways that are both amusing and profound. And then, on the other side of the city, Gamper’s partner and sometimes collaborator Francis Upritchard is on impressive show at Monash University. Her first major survey exhibition Jealous saboteurs takes full command of the art museum there. This large show demonstrates Upritchard's distinctive style and her consummate skill with materials and ideas. Fortunately Jealous saboteurs will be shown in New Zealand later this year as it is a joint project of the City Gallery and Monash University. With a bit of luck, someone might also pick up the Gamper show.

Images: top, Martino Gamper chairs from 100 chairs in 100 days and bottom Francis Upritchard works from Jealous saboteurs