d.i.why? REVIEW

BY Sarah Rose


16 January - 2 February Kudos Gallery, Paddington

Curated by Jennifer Brady

Exhibiting: Billy Bain, Joshua Bentley, Jennifer Brady, Zoe Gojnich, Millie Mitchell, Rumpa Paweenpongpat, Natalia Stojevski, Matthew Varnay

A cluttered, chaotic, inadequate mess.

This description accurately aligns with the objectives of Kudos gallery’s January exhibition d.i.why? Featuring a diverse collective of UNSW Art and Design’s recent graduates, the exhibition is suggestive of a wasteland, consisting of assembled objects with seemingly minimal value; home-made, man-made, found, cheap, and broken. It alludes to the perpetual collateral of existence; disposable and disposed. Derived from low-fidelity aesthetics and do-it yourself culture, this exhibition’s magnetism comes not from its independent objects, but its collective provocation.

Heavily bound in materiality and constructive processes, the works ignite a politized ecology, referencing established DIY modalities. Traditionally, DIY practices have included the subversion of existing institutional norms through parodic acts, prefiguring and constructing alternatives that render tradition redundant through protest, as a deliberate statement of intent. The exhibition reflects this with each artwork protesting their worth, fighting for the right to be in the habitually exclusive gallery space, questioning why the imperfect, unpolished object cannot be associated with the prestige of the ‘fine art’ status. Furthering this discussion is the tumultuous exhibition design, which uproots the bounds of the white cube paradigm. This is not a clinical, composed, neutral space, but one that makes a strong institutional critique on what deserves a place and how a gallery should look. The underlying protest is sustained through the evident binaries of equality over inequality, inclusion over exclusion, cooperation over competition, participation over dominance, and access over restriction. As the title requests, questions surrounding what is art and how it aligns with societal, local and artistic values are raised and explored.

The haphazardly placed objects overlap, flow, and converse in a seductive, yet repelling vernacular, interrupting and interfering with each other. One does not want to admit that this space is overtly tantalising, whilst ‘trashing’ esteemed museum practices, but it is. Sensorial and experiential, this space embodies you, consumes you and spits you back out. As you watch your step, duck and dodge, your role in the space becomes void of clarity as you become an unintentional participant. This DIY audience experience responds to the notion that we don’t belong here as much as the objects seemingly don’t. Kudos to the curator Jennifer Brady, and make sure to keep an eye out for these emerging artists – big things to come. 

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