17 January 2018 Comment
Trocadero Artspace opened the new year with the award exhibition given to new graduates from a visual art bachelor from the major universities. This year the exhibiting prize was given to only two graduates: Benjamin John Baker (University of Melbourne Victorian College of the Arts) and Michelle Kong (Monash University MADA.)
Gallery one was home to two works by Kong, which primarily focuses on the ideologies associated with heritage, culture, identity politics and colonialism. The minimalist aesthetic and use of mixed media (the work being both sculptural and digital, performative and traditional in nature - a rice paper scroll free flowing from the ceiling next to a television screen showing a photocopier clone images of a Buddha head on repeat and a book with the words whited out) alowed for focus to be directly on the message.
Kong’s work was, for something exploring such heavy subject matter, inherently inviting and curious, and the space allowed the work to sit with an almost dystopian reading - a giant ‘soul’ machine sitting alone within a white empty cube.
Benjamin John Baker’s works also used screen and video. Gallery two house three asymmetric television screens playing a range of Baker’s graduate works. Combining dance, movement and a playful exploration of media and object, Baker’s video works sit within a very specific oeuvre of contemporary video art. Gallery 2, being a long thin space, invited and tantalised the viewer to explore deeper into the recess with two screens shouldering each other in the farthest corner of the space. Baker also presented a new performance work in the Trocadero Nooky space, “Ball Buster” which saw the artist don a ballet slipper (his other foot remained anchored in a black doc martin boot) and attempt to crush a pool of acorn nuts. The performance, inherently a live version of his video works, oscillated between playful and sombre, with the final ten minutes of maddened and manic crushing becoming a tense undercurrent of symbolic politics.
These two young artists presented mature, professional and thought provoking works which succeed on both an aesthetic and conceptual perspective. Definitely emerging artists to watch.
NEWER is awarded every year and can be seen until Sunday 28th January 2018 at Trocadero in Footscray.