REenact\DISenchant - OPUS #3

RMIT Gallery, Storey Hall, Melbourne, Victoria

by Lyn Plummer

This installation was created so that it could be reformatted to interact with and comment on, the spaces in which it is exhibited. In this respect, among the issues to which the work refers, are two which address the sense of place. They are firstly the ambience of a space and secondly, the historical and contemporary relationship which exists between high ceremony, religious ritual and art. The ambience of the space, the silence, the grandeur, the hushed expectancy or the busy noisiness of the aesthetics, become embedded in the work for the time it is installed there; and also become embedded the memory of the response to the work. Art has now claimed many spaces which were originally erected as places of important cultural ceremony. Such spaces in the main, inspire awe and /or demand reverence in some degree. I am very pleased to have been given the opportunity to nstall REenact\DISenchant Opus # 3 in the RMIT Storey Hall Gallery as it has provided me with the venue which completes the envisaged journey, (the contemporary pilgrimage), from the religious space to the secular space.

Norman Day, in a recent interview in the Magazine Monument, with architects Ashton Raggatt McDougal, creators of the new Storey Hall, noted that "Embedded into the vocabulary of the buildings are politics, paradoxes and contexturalism." Such obvious voicing of contemporary cultural issues presents an invitation, a link and a challenge to the artist, to question the conventions of siting. This fits well with the underlying intentions of this installation and also allows the opportunity to further engage the question of art's publicly accepted references to religious reverence.

The architects have pointed out that the post modernist aesthetics which are identified with their buildings should be understood firstly as a method of creating a dialogue of tensions. The uneasy tension present in the Storey Hall galleries between the old, 'revered' embellishments and the 'noisy', metallic-like hardness of the contemporary references, reiterates and amplifies the grating undertone, the barbed commentary, which is generated by corresponding references in the installation. The vestments, images and history of ceremonial acts have been re- presented in a manner which dislocates them from their public and historically accepted context. This act lays bare the instincts which underpin the public memories so that another, more personal and instinctive reading is evoked.

The siting of the installation was conceived in terms of a journey, whereby each new site builds the experienced narrative of the work, the history and function of each space forms an integral element of the dialogue. The venues were chosen to trace the manner in which built spaces contextualise their contents, and to a large extent control the public's responses, especially in relation to art.
Finally, the "kind of fetish" which Ashton Raggatt McDougal had, "to make a green building", provides another kind of tension with the installation; in the juxtaposition of their insistent green with its complementary, unrelenting flesh/red. The imposition of red onto green is black.

Lyn Plummer,
March, 1996