Living in the ruins of the 20th Century

Art Life , Exhibitions Apr 19, 2013 No Comments

From Carrie Miller

It may seem strange that a contemporary art exhibition has been inspired by a magazine, but Living in the ruins of the 20th Century is an idiosyncratic show, from its curatorial themes to the variety of the objects it displays.

QT_April 19_Living In The Ruins

The magazine in question is called Cabinet – a US publication that is feted for its rigour and originality. Where the connection lies between the magazine and this latest exhibition at UTS Gallery is primarily in the notion of curiosity. Adam Jasper – who has co-curated the show with Holly Williams – describes the agenda of Cabinet: “Curiosity has a bad reputation; it suggests idleness, the merely interesting. But it’s important. The best reason for believing the world might turn out differently in the future is evidence that it might have turned out differently in the past. Curiosity provides that evidence.”

Following on from this theme of the curious, Living in the ruins of the 20th Century is a Wunderkammer – a cabinet of curiosities – where contemporary artworks sit alongside historical objects in a reimagining of the 20th Century that creates the material culture of today.

The variety of sometimes bizarre, beautiful and strange artworks and museum objects in the exhibition were selected for their capacity to engage curiosity, by breaking with habituated patterns of thinking or knowing about something. What will also engage viewers is the simple fact that visually they are witnessing objects not normally displayed together, or displayed in hierarchical ways. Instead, the seemingly most unlikely pair of objects sit next to each other, suggestive of Cabinet magazine itself which always contains an eclectic range of content.

This rigorous exhibition will get you thinking, but the works also link well visually across the exhibition, making it worth a look without having to dig into the dense conceptual themes.

Until May 17
UTS Gallery, Ultimo.
Pic: Anne’s Taj Mahal by Buckminster Fuller on fire, Montreal, 20 May 1976: From Cabinet Issue 32, Fire. Courtesy Cabinet.

Carrie Miller

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