Dear Miss April,
I have attended a performance by Rufus Wainwright at the revised Hamer hall. The performance was dire, underwhelming, phoned in; but that’s not what I’m writing to you about. I had a pre dinner drink and went down to the underworld of the theater to take my allocated seat. I endured the show and with the lumpen throngs exited conventionally up a sets of escalators planned like jack knifed semi trailers tumbling through a cement boot. Arriving at the top and facing away from the exit then redirected by doorstop docents, I trudged with the masses to the exit, like so many heifers at the RNA show toward the front door. An object caught my gaze on exit.At first I thought it the new chandelier as is expected of great concert halls. But it emitted no light, merely reflections from a series of carbuncles growing from tubular space frames. My stunned look elicited a comment from a passer-whizzing-by. “Its art” they blurted. It was in fact forgettable but what I do remember was that it was like an enlarge reproduction of an accessory from my little unicorn that had been vajazzled or some new organic surveillance system.
If you’re passing pop in and tell me what you think it might be.
Even under the heady influence of a dragging performance and now appropriate numbers of pre show drinks , I’m still unsure what I saw.
You appear to be undertaking the role of Aesthetics Arbiter with noble dedication. Do be careful to not exhaust yourself!
I visited the venue with the mind to formulate arguments in support of artistic interpretation and to dispel your disquieting disdain. As I gazed upon the suspended artwork I found myself painted into a wee bit of a corner, and felt rather amused at my pickle of a situation.
Firstly, let me say if you know of anyone who vajazzles unicorns please slip a note to their therapist. Secondly, I would write a stern letter to the toy manufacturer enquiring as to why they even made it possible to vajazzle their weird little horse dolls.
That said, are you aware of the practice of lauded Australian artist Robert Owen? Geometric abstractionist, interesting colourist, successful public architecture collaborationist? No / Oui? Well, you might be surprised to learn the installation you refer to is in fact the collaborative efforts of Mr Owen and lighting designer Rachel Burke. They are very happy and very proud of Silence. The staff at the art centre are a little more divided perhaps. One kept mentioning that the ‘big chandelier’ is not coming back because it ‘doesn’t fit’, with genuine sadness in her tone. Another younger, eager spokesperson was much more enthusiastic and very proudly told me that no less than 22,000 (!) Swarovzki crystals – I believe that is called Bling Power in TV shopping network circles – were used in the creation of the new Hamer Hall suspended masterpiece.
Alas, we can’t win all of them can we? And that does go for talented artists as well (there is also another dubious construction by way of a building in Southbank which I don’t believe quite makes it either, in my humble opinion). I acknowledge the reference to the art centre spire – the fractal geometric design that seems mandatory for all key Melbourne developments these days. What I do find interesting is the philosophy behind the Art Centre’s decision to ‘reclaim’ it as their own, to point out to all and sundry that they were the originator of this architectural signature and not bleeping Federation Square. A little too insecure for my liking, I mean surely the cute logo spire would have sufficed? However, the light, shadow and movement which the installation achieves also designed with this same message – I was here first – should be appreciated as a worthy effort.
But my responsibility is to defend my position, and I do. I applaud the emotion and the reasoning, but sadly I do think you are right, the installation screams more of My Little Unicorn rather than glamorous artistic achievement. The steel constructions appear paltry and thin within their surroundings, and dare I say it, I believe it would have benefited from more obvious wizzbang rather than the glitter dust and craft kit bedazzling it seems to have received. The distance, the height, the lack of weight of the sculpture does not compliment the materials. I entered absolutely determined to like anything I see if it achieved one thing: inspired the venue going audience to dress well for their event, and abolish this insulting fad of wearing jeans to the theatre. Sadly, I can see that it would only encourage said audience to ornament their prison garb with a home-made bedazzler kit and feel right at home. But it is here to stay, so we should feel lucky that we have kindly neighbours to inform confused guests that indeed ‘it’s art’.
So alas Underdazzled, let us mourn Arcturus together for that brightest star shines no more at Hamer Hall.
Don’t fret too much it only encourages wrinkles, yours in good faith