63 Penfold Street
September 20 - November 11
The exterior of this gallery is covered in scaffolding with large, dark sheets of canvas hanging from the bars. But the space is not under renovation—this is a work by Oscar Murillo called The Institute of Reconciliation, 2017. On the scaffold’s frame sits a Július Koller photograph, Universal Physical Cultural Operation - Defense (U.F.O.), 1970, which shows the artist hiding behind a table-tennis paddle. By the entrance, a text piece by Mladen Stilinović, Nothing Gained With Dice (P. Celan), 1994, reads, “We have seen, we have realized—the more zeroes the less value. One zero, we know, is infinity; but two—two infinities? A more and more evident transformation of all things into money.” The quote is attributed to Paul Valéry.
The scaffold, a sign of ongoing gentrification, can also be a surface upon which to build and start afresh. Reconfigured, signs of investment can become objects with new and unforeseen uses. Inside are also a number of disassembled exhibition structures: Alongside regular walls and fixtures, some works are mounted onto panels leaning against timber frames; the floor is concealed by taped-together cardboard. Hanging on the leaning panels with other works are Běla Kolářová’s hair photographs such as Lesbos, 1964, and Koller’s series of collected waste wrappers, “Junk Culture,” 1966–77. Nearby, a stack of soundproofing material acts as a low-set plinth. On it rests Stilinović’s accordion drawing, Mladen - My sweet little lamb!, 2013. The exhibition is dedicated to him.
The show is a dense collection of striking works that celebrate underexplored histories of Eastern European avant-gardes and the beauty of cast-off or seemingly valueless things. It demands that we reset our sense of what’s good enough to keep and what gets thrown away.