Mel O’Callaghan: Ensemble

NGV Mel O'Callaghan Ensemble 2013 (film still)The human body is pushed to its limits in Mel O’Callaghan’s powerful seven-minute video work Ensemble at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Born in Sydney and currently residing in Paris, O’Callaghan’s diverse and dynamic practice spans painting, film, installation and performance. Prior to its Australian premiere at NGV Australia, this large-scale, silent video installation was shown at the Centre Pompidou, in both Paris and Malaga in 2016, and at the Institut d’Art Contemporain Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alpes in Lyon, France in 2016.

Recently acquired by the NGV, the work is an expansive two channel video and is projected over a 20-metre-wide space. Exploring the idea of resilience in the face of violence, Ensemble features one man pitted against the visceral force of a jet of water. Using two frames, O’Callaghan isolates her subject in one and his opponents in the another.

As her subject begins to walk towards the uniformed men holding the fire hose, O’Callaghan suggests that he will cross this physical and symbolic break between the frames. Through this act of struggle, triumph and then retreat, O’Callaghan encourages her audience to consider how they too may overcome their own obstacles.

Ensemble is a representation of strength, adversity and persistence,” says Tony Ellwood, Director NGV. “It encourages a personal contemplation of social and political contexts through imagery that will stay with visitors long after they’ve left the Gallery.”

Mel O’Callaghan: Ensemble
The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne
Screening until 12 March 2018
Free admission

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Image: Mel O’Callaghan, Ensemble, 2013 (film still). 2 channel colour HD video, silent, 7 min 15 sec. National Gallery of Victoria Purchased, Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, 2017