“The Labyrinthine Effect”

ACCA: Australian Center for Contemporary Art

In “The Labyrinthine Effect,” curator Juliana Engberg tracks a genealogy of artists who make mazes, from Bruce Nauman to Francis Alÿs. From time to time, the exhibition implies, certain symbols become important in culture. As Engberg notes in the show’s catalogue, the labyrinth is both a sculptural form and a synecdoche for the walk-in environment. (It’s also the dominating trope in interactive iCinema and games culture.) Almost all of the show’s labyrinths are installations that are at the same time historically self-conscious to the nth degree and irony free. Despite the literariness of her essay, which stresses modernity’s love affair with the maze and its perpetuation into the postmodern, Engberg’s Wunderkammer installation establishes the reverse: The widespread contemporary simulation of both allegory and interactivity comes without any of the lit-crit underpinning we’ve come to

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