Tag Archives: Melbourne

Alex Selenitsch: AGORA at Place Gallery

I enjoyed AGORA, the recent show from Alex Selenitsch, held last month at Place Gallery. Place is an intimate and tranquil venue, tucked away in Richmond’s industrial backstreets. With a fresh exhibition program that covers a wide range of media and contemporary themes, it is well worth seeking out.

Work by Alex Selenitsch, Place Gallery, July 2013

AGORA was installed upstairs. The work featured two striking timber “shields” (created from offcuts from the timber workshop in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne); a series of mixed-media drawings and collages; and a further series of acrylic and timber sculptures (the polis series). All related to questions of architecture and urban form, particularly in relation to two key sites: the Stoa of Attilos at the site of the Agora in Athens, and Arthur Circus in Hobart. Two very different spaces, borne of different cultures and times; yet each place could be said to represent (or reproduce) a certain ideal of social encounter as it occurs in public space. Each space is, of course, overlain with buildings, people, human activities, roads, rubble, and representations—such as photographs. Together, these activities and objects ensure the persistence of space in individual and collective memories over time and across distance.

The meaning of representations shifts over time, and accordingly I appreciated that many of the works could be read in multiple ways. The timber “shields”, for instance, could easily be read as three-dimensional plans or models of an imagined urban landscape, with buildings scattered around bold Graeco-Roman geometric axes. In the contemporary Australian scene, the proposal that a city might be read as a shield also takes on an unexpected and highly ambivalent political meaning, for this viewer at least. For the measuring and mapping of space may work hand in hand with processes of social inclusion and exclusion, particularly for recent arrivals to the community.

Installation by Alex Selenitsch, Place Gallery, July 2013

Unlike Selenitsch’s previous show, flotsamandjetsam, AGORA did not foreground ideas of migration, movement, and displacement, but instead highlighted measurement, mapping, and drawing. There is continuity in the work that reveals itself in Selenitsch’s preoccupation with form-making—or with what he terms assemblage—as an act of translation.

Alex Selenitsch
AGORA: shields, maps & transparencies
3 July to 27 July 2013
Place Gallery, Richmond, Melbourne

Reflections on Design Made Trade

Still reeling from the creative diversity at Design Made Trade, a trade fair run as part of the State of Design festival. Held in the gorgeous surrounds of the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton, this event offered a whistle-stop tour of innovations in Victorian design and design thinking. (Not forgetting our Belgian visitors, from the excellent Design:Made:Flanders stand!)

‘Education’ was not really a buzzword at this event, but ‘community engagement’ certainly was – particularly, engagement with environmental themes. And the most iconic material that emerged from this event would have to be, not FSC-certified timber, not some kind of techno-laminate, but plain old cardboard.

The best examples of this meeting of ‘wisdom of the crowd’ and environmental values came perhaps from Makedo. What a great project. It’s all about community and creativity, as much as it is about all things ‘green’. The Makedo concept is very simple – it consists of a set of plastic ‘pins’, that can be used to create assemblages of existing materials. It’s all about doing more with less, and recognising the value of the stuff that surrounds us.

Or if that sounds too worthy, there is always Baking Architecture – a fun collaboration between architects and chefs. This project created some of the best news headlines, and unexpected visual/sensory textures, of any festival event. (Sensibly, the curators enclosed the baked/built creations safely inside plexiglass-style boxes, to foil any inquisitive taste-testings).

Check out some photos of the event from Design Files.

Is Liquid Architecture finished?

So, the Liquid Architecture 10 festival has just ended in Melbourne. I wrote a review of the final concert, held last night at the Melbourne Planetarium, which will probably be published somewhere. Intriguing venue. But will it be the last Liquid Architecture? The last festival, at least, in its current format. The Director, Nat Bates, strongly hinted at this in his closing speech last night. It’s true, ten years is a long time – in terms of digital media, certainly, it’s a cultural institution – but this has been an important festival for Melbourne and Australia, and I for one would be sorry to see it go.