Not since Susan Norrie's stunning Undertow graced the exhibition hall has Da Pimp been so excited about an ACCA show. NEW06 is undoubtedly one of the best exhibitions to be curated by Juliana Engberg and so I finally get to rave about something that is actually "new" in the NEW program, which aims to expose fresh Australian talent. Caps off to the Makeshift team from Sydney for producing their cardboard maze world replete with hidden rooms of models and lightshows. After being bored senseless by the Contemporary Commonwealth shows at NGV/ACMI, my expectations for the ACCA NEW06 show were somewhat dampened and I arrived 20 minutes before closing which literally meant a run through. Helen Johnson has taken over the walls in the main hall that has been split into two spaces this time. Her lightly temporal painting covers four walls and is worthy of closer inspection considering it will be obliterated in May. From memory the first artist to paint directly on the walls was Andrew McQualter back in the debut NEW03 show. So movin on, right past Giles Ryders' ode to neon sixties, and onto Natasha Johns-Messenger's incredible spatial installation. The work features an oblong cutout from the main wall of ACCA that is displaced onto a three dimensional shape on the floor. This is a brilliant piece of spatial play that literally cuts through the white walls of the gallery cube to turn the physical space into a self-referencing sculpture. Spot on. Quickly bypassing the other artists (as I only spent a short time with their works... note to self: must revisit) and straight into Makeshift. This crew hails from Sydney and the peeps involved are Anna Crane, Ned Sevil, Pep Prodromou and Marley Davison. The sheer amount of labor that has gone into producing this installation is something close to phenomenal, particularly because it is made out of cardboard. Welcome to Merrylands 2006 is a walkthrough space made up a series of maze-like walls - even the handholds are visible so you can literally climb the walls here (actually maybe don't try that!). Like a cave from the movies, there are a number of options that send you off through this totally engaging space. It reminds me a lot of one of Engbergs's favourite subjects of the rhizome as a metaphor for contemporary thinking. So up stairs or under crawlspaces and you soon find yourself in near hidden rooms with sculptures and shadow play about travel and the sea. The work is part funhouse, part ghost train, and part like being put in a huge cardboard rat cage. Makeshift's Merrylands left me completely revitalised about contemporary art...finally! Less of the "con" and more of the "temporary" I suppose. This one should definitely be traveling nationally. Yay ACCA (wow there's a first time for everything!)


posted by Art Pimp at 14:39 April 2006