“New13”

ACCA: Australian Center for Contemporary Art
111 Sturt Street Southbank
March 16, 2013–May 12, 2013

Sanné Mestrom, Weeping Woman, 2013, aluminium, bronze, internal irrigation, water, dimensions variable.

New, a curated exhibition of emerging talent, has become a much anticipated annual attraction for ACCA, and this year’s “New13” includes works by Benjamin Forster, Jess MacNeil, Alex Martinis Roe, Sanne Mestrom, Scott Mitchell, Joshua Petherick, and Linda Tegg, curated by Charlotte Day.

Scott Mitchell’s New Millennium Fountain (all works cited 2013) surprises viewers before they even enter the galleries. Square mirrors perch here and there around the foyer, catching the eye and drawing viewers into a treasure hunt of reflections. The Olafur Eliasson–esque tunnel of vision leads outside, to mirrors around and on top of the building. Mitchell pursues the concept further in a rear room of the gallery, a dark and hermetic space, where the mirrors intermittently draw sunlight inside to illuminate two large inflated objects, manufactured from sheets of clear plastic.

Linda Tegg’s video Tortoise, Melbourne continues with the theme of reflections. At first giving the impression of portraying a kinetic sculpture composed of pieces of mirror, the piece soon reveals the presence of performers manipulating the shiny surfaces from behind. The dancers at once conceal their bodies and beguile onlookers with their moving reflections—a form of high-art burlesque.

Benjamin Forster contributes the installation Arrangement of Extra-Linguistic Factors—an array of deconstructed electronics that makes the dark room seem almost like an Aladdin’s cave of technology. For Dysgraphia, a computer screen detached from its frame displays flickering red, green, and blue lines. A brief inspection indicates that the colors are independently affected by sounds from a radio, a set of speakers, and the room itself, all picked up by microphones that have been placed around the space. Forster’s Universal Grammar (Chomsky), a USB device plugged into a laptop, autonomously types sentence after sentence of perfectly composed nonsense. On the opposite wall, Constellations ( ___ of the phaistos disk) displays tiny screens flickering with static, with occasional images briefly appearing.

Including a diverse group of artists, this year’s New feels more composed and sober than those before. Rather than being a collection of early-career practitioners, those represented in “New13” seem more like fully fledged artists who haven’t yet been recognized for their talents.

— Elizabeth Pedler