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Ten Immersive New Melbourne Exhibitions to Check Out This October

Gallery hop from a mirror maze to a celebration of Amy Winehouse's short life to a collection of pieces from the country's biggest portraiture prize.
By Hudson Brown
October 11, 2017

Ten Immersive New Melbourne Exhibitions to Check Out This October

Gallery hop from a mirror maze to a celebration of Amy Winehouse's short life to a collection of pieces from the country's biggest portraiture prize.
By Hudson Brown
October 11, 2017


Gallery hop from a mirror maze to a celebration of Amy Winehouse's short life to a collection of pieces from the country's biggest portraiture prize.

Another month, another great selection of contemporary art exhibition to check out. And October has spoiled us, with major arts and cultural events kicking off with some of the finest artists from our lands and beyond. Melbourne Festival 2017 is open for another year with an eclectic range of events, while Australia's best portrait painters see their work on display at Geelong Gallery for the 2017 Archibald Prize.

If you prefer your portraits by photograph, the National Photographic Portrait Prize is also on this month at the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery. With so many great events — featuring many local and international creative geniuses — there's art, design, music, film and more to see.


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    Mark All As Read

    Most people dislike the daily grind, but can art tell us what sort of impact our professional lives actually have our psyche? That’s what Mark As Read sets out to explore at Blindside Gallery with the exhibition presenting a critical gaze into the physical and virtual space of the office and the world of productivity. Taking over both galleries at Blindside, local artists Nick Modrzewski, Nabilah Nordin and Katie Paine show through a variety of creative mediums and expressions the effect of work on the body, and what might be gained or lost from working within a professional space.

    Each artist offers their own perspective on the subject, with Modrzewski combining exploring power hierarchies through painting, sculpture, performance and more, while Nordin works with various found and discarded materials. Finally, Katie Paine’s work features installation and collage to create immersive artworks reimagining the office experience.

    Mark As Read is on now at Blindside Gallery, showing until Saturday, October 21.

  • 9

    Merging creativity and technology this major exhibition by leading media arts organisation Experimenta presents work from 20 local and international contemporary artists, including eight never-before-seen commissions. As part of Melbourne Festival 2017, Experimenta Make Sense: International Triennial of Media Art challenges artists to consider prominent biologist E.O. Wilson’s belief that humankind’s greatest challenge is our combination of ‘Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions and god-like technologies’.

    A light-hearted and expansive exhibition, through a variety of installations you’ll get to experience the sensation of being submerged inside a wave, use VR goggles to step into the shoes of a stranger and explore what impact sensory deprivation has on the body. As technology becomes increasingly space age, Experimenta Make Sense will engross your senses in the search for what it means to be human.

    Experimenta Make Sense: International Triennial of Media Art is on-show from Monday, October 2 until Saturday, November 11 at RMIT Gallery.

  • 8
    Joaquin Segura and Tony Garifalakis: Repertoires of Contention

    Repertoires of Contention sees Mexico City-based artist Joaquín Segura team up with local artist Tony Garifalakis for a fascinating exhibition that considers the global role of artists, and the cultural institutions that challenge perceptions and encourage public debate. The unlikely duo first met at the International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York and found they share a similar outlook on global power structures and the way they are encouraged and simultaneously resisted.

    Repertoires of Contention features textile, video, installation, photographic and intervention works and explores the similarities in the pair’s ideologies, despite their vast geographical differences in the place they live and work. Named after a social theory that describes the tools organised groups can use to protest and resist, Repertoires of Contention presents this interconnectedness in an exciting and enlightening exhibition.

    Repertoires of Contention is on now at Gertrude Contemporary until Saturday, November 4.

  • 7

    Feel more comfortable behind the camera, than in front? Head to the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery and find out how some of the best portrait photographers go about their business.

    Now in its tenth year, The National Photographic Portrait Prize is Australia’s leading award for portrait photography, with this year’s competition attracting more than 3000 entries, which the jury selected 49 exhibiting finalists from. Back in March, prominent Sydney photographer Gary Grealy was announced as this year’s winner, offering a sombre portrait of ABC television presenter Richard Morecroft and his partner, and acclaimed painter, Alison Mackay.

    While many of the images submitted to The National Photographic Portrait Prize are stunning in their technical achievements – the panel of selectors look for images that see the photographer create an atmosphere where the subject ‘reveals a glimpse of their inner self’.

    The National Photographic Portrait Prize is showing at the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery until Sunday, November 26.

  • 6

    Poet Robert Frost once said “if we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.” This idea is explored through the latest exhibition at MUMA, which features newly-commissioned and recent works by a selection of six leading local and international artists.

    Presented in association with Melbourne Festival 2017, The humours offers a range of works that use comedy and absurdity to explore deeper issues around race, work, gender and politics. More than just an exhibition of funny art, The humours is interested in the underlying strategies of comedy – how stand-up comedians and late-night TV hosts deal with serious issues using physical movement, dialogue, exaggerations of scale and absurdity.

  • 5
    Joseph Kosuth: A Short History of My Thought

    Celebrated American concept artist Joseph Kosuth heads to our shores this year as one of the featured artists for Melbourne Festival 2017. Emerging during the 1960s, for more than 50 years Kosuth has been examining the nature of art with large-scale installations and text-based neon artworks. Interested in the ideas behind art itself, Kosuth’s work is held in virtually every major gallery in the world and has created site-specific installations for Musée du Louvre, The Hague and presented work at four editions of the Venice Biennale.

    Taking place at Anna Schwartz Gallery, A Short History of My Thought continues Kosuth’s lifelong investigation of art’s ability to provide insights into questions of existence, and how we art can better help understand how meaning is constructed and interpret in our lives.


    Words by Hudson Brown, Marissa Ciampi and Sarah Ward.

  • 4

    Australian Centre for Contemporary Art’s latest exhibition presents French-Algerian artist Kader Attia in an exploration of his major installations, which examine ideas of the complex cultural exchange between Europe and non-Western countries after decolonisation. Curated by the MCA’s chief curator Rachel Kent, the exhibition includes over a decade of artwork, focusing on his installations, videos and sculptural work.

    Attia’s 48-minute single-channel film, Reflecting Memory (2016), is a particular highlight of the exhibition. The intimately intense film explores themes of injury, unseen repercussions of trauma and the ‘phantom limb’ through interviews with psychiatrists, surgeons, trauma specialists and survivors.

    Attia began his career working in the Congo, a region deeply affected by on-going conflict. After returning to France, he has worked with activist groups that support migrant communities, including displaced Algerian cross-dressers who faced persecution in their home country. In 2016, Attia was the recipient of the Prix Marcel Duchamp prize — the most prestigious art award in France.

    Kader’s installation at ACCA runs from September 30 to November 19, as part of his first exhibition in the Southern Hemisphere.


  • 3
    Archibald Prize 2017

    One of Australia’s most prestigious arts awards, the Archibald Prize presents the year’s most-loved portrait paintings, with artworks typically featuring the full spectrum of celebrities, politicians, sportspeople, authors and artists. The 2017 award was taken out by Sydney-based painter Mitch Cairns, whose figurative painting depicting his wife, and fellow artist, Agatha Gothe-Snape was a near unanimous winner. Cairns had previously been short-listed for the award four times, and was runner-up twice, but this time came away with the award – and the $100,000 prize to boot.

    This year’s prize is exhibited exclusively in Victoria by the Geelong Gallery and presents the many engaging, and often controversial works, created by Australia’s leading and up-and-coming painters. The entire 43 finalist’s paintings are on display, plus don’t miss the pop-up cafes, bars and weekly events taking place throughout the exhibition.

    The 2017 Archibald Prize is on display at Geelong Gallery from Saturday, October 28 until Sunday, December 10.

  • 2
    House of Mirrors

    When last year’s Dark MOFO program dropped, House of Mirrors immediately rocketed to the top of everyone’s must-do list. Created by Australian installation artists Christian Wagstaff and Keith Courtney, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a walkthrough space filled with reflective surfaces that will not only strands you in a maze of your own image, but turns your likeness into a kaleidoscope.

    Since then, the installation has made its way to BrisbaneSydney and Bendigo. And now, eager Melburnians will soon get the chance to wander through the disorienting, perception-altering, panic-inducing, optical illusion-based labyrinth for themselves.

    From October 5–22 for Melbourne Festival, the mirror maze will take over the Arts Centre Melbourne for 18 days of reflective roaming, with the modern, minimalist twist on the fairground classic featuring 40 tonnes of steel and 15 tonnes of mirrors — and no added gimmicks, no special effects, no special lighting, no soundtrack or soundscape.

    It’ll be the first time House of Mirrors has come to Melbourne, and it will be open 4–10pm Monday to Friday and 10am till 10pm Saturday and Sunday. Tickets will be $10 on the door. We suggest going at sunset so you can see it while the sun’s still up and when it’s lit up after-dark.

  • 1

    Taking over the Jewish Museum of Australia from October 22, 2017 until March 25, 2018, Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait aims to provide a different insight into the beloved singer-songwriter, stepping through topics of faith, fashion, music and London life. And, thanks to an accompanying music program, it’ll also offer up a soundtrack to match.

    In a series of Thursday evening sessions taking place on November 9, December 14, January 11, February 8 and March 8, the museum will showcase five genres of music that Winehouse worked within and was inspired by, via a series of live performances. it all kicks off with a celebration of jazz and big band tunes with The Rookies, before moving on to soul and R&B with Thando, gospel with Phia and Melbourne Indie Voices, Motown with Vince Peach and hip hop with DJ MzRizk.

    Presented with Hear Them Holler, tickets cost $16 ($12 for concessions and museum members), and include entry to the exhibition. Other events in the program range from Ashleigh Kreveld’s Amy and I, an interactive cabaret performance from the experienced Winehouse impersonator,  to Amy Winehouse — a tribute, which takes over the Memo Music Hall with a concert drawn from her repertoire featuring a heap of local talent.

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