The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art brings the spirit of Wagner into the New Year with the exhibition Crescendo. Opera Australia’s presentation of the Ring Circle may be over by then, but we will not be done with the Gesamtkunstwerk yet!
Curated by ACCA Artistic Director Juliana Engberg, the exhibition features seven projects where artists have used the mediums of film and music to create enclosed worlds, each exploring myth, history and human pageantry as metaphors for life. There is a Nordic and European sensibility that comes into each of the works, touching on the traditions of music and the anthems that accompany our sense of history.
In Crescendo, the use of music is a great conveyer, emotionally and in narrative structures, especially when wedded to image. Visual artists seek the extra sensory dimension of music and sound, and recognise the strong subliminal message that the auditory can produce for an audience.
In each of these works, they explore the expanded opportunities of almost cinematic quality image-making in moving image. Viewers are treated to new visions of history, as artists explore histrionics, heroic deeds and herculean tasks, each a visual reflection of the inevitability of life and death.
Dutch artist Guido van der Werve swam, ran and biked over a thousand miles from Warsaw to Paris, with the epic intention of bringing soil from Chopin’s homeland to the grave where his body is buried in Paris. The work Nummer veertien, home (2012) captures this physically enduring practice on film, and is enhanced by an almost religious score and edited into segments interspersed with surreal imagery and stories about Alexander the Great and Chopin.
Belgian artist Hans Op de Beeck creates a theatre environment in Parade (2012) where a red curtain reveals a seemingly endless cavalcade of people walking by, in slow motion.
In Ana Torfs’ work Anatomy (2006), young Berlin actors use testimonies from the 1919 murder trial of German communist party founders Dr Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg to reveal the final hours of their lives. The same events are told from different angles, and filmed within Berlin’s 18th century Anatomical Theatre, the scene of many other non-historical dissections.
Rodney Graham’s Rheinmetall/Victoria 8 is a majestic 35mm film, where an iconic typewriter is shown first in its pristine state and then as a metaphoric hillside of snow covered trees, conjuring thoughts of the Black Forest and stories of the German Woodlands.
“History, both personal and public, is used as the material for these epic, episodic works that take their cues from theatre, opera and film to immerse audiences in worlds created by artists that are heroic, tragic and sometimes comical,” says Juliana Engberg.
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, 111 Sturt St, Southbank.
Exhibition: 20 December 2013 – 2 March 2014
For more information, visit: www.accaonline.org.au for details.
Image: Guido van der Werve Nummer veertien, home 2012 (still). Courtesy the artist and Juliette Jongma, Amsterdam