From Sharne Wolff…
Attracted by the temptation of seeing such real life “freaks of nature” as the ‘Two-Headed Man’, ‘The Tattooed Lady’, ‘The Man Monkey or ‘The Balloon-Headed Baby’, the commercial popularity of the sideshow peaked in the early 19th century. Peddled as human zoos that relied on word of mouth for an audience, each show’s success was heavily dependent on building anticipation and generating a mix of audience astonishment and shock. Fascinated with the idea of using the same surprise/reveal technique as a curatorial premise, Sideshow’s curator, Isobel Parker Philip has utilised the geography of the gallery as a means of mimicking the sideshow’s method.
Divided into five ‘tents’ within the space, each themed cluster or ‘micro exhibition’ of artworks in the show is concealed behind a sheer black curtain – a device that adds an essential theatrical element. Just like the original sideshow, audience participation is an integral part of the show, and the viewer chooses whether to draw the curtain and step inside. The art on display engages with the contemporary idea of the spectacle. While broadly making work that accords with the original grotesque or monstrous body, the artists have appropriated the theme in various ways – often incorporating it into their work in abstract or oblique fashion. This is an exhibition that must be seen to be believed!
Artists include Pat Brassington, David Capra, Christopher Day, Charles Dennington, Heath Franco, Andrew Hazewinkel, Matthew Hopkins, Emily Hunt, Anna John, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Polixeni Papapetrou, Sarah Parker and Tom Polo.
Until November 28
UTS Gallery, Ultimo
Pic: Daryl Prondoso, Sideshow. Courtesy of UTS Gallery and Isobel Parker Philip.