Critics’ Picks

View of “Everything we see could also be otherwise (My sweet little lamb),” 2017.

View of “Everything we see could also be otherwise (My sweet little lamb),” 2017.


“Everything we see could also be otherwise (My sweet little lamb)”

The Showroom
63 Penfold Street
September 20–November 11, 2017

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.