Collecting debt and other bad moods

15 Nov 2023 to 11 Feb 2024

Artists: Janet Burchill and Jennifer McCamley, Lauren Burrow, Fyerool Darma, George Egerton-Warburton, Geoff Lowe, Sven ’t Jolle
Curator: Bala Starr

Collecting debt and other bad moods reflects an unease and ambivalence about the idea that things are on the constant up and up. The exhibition originated in conversations with Belgium-born artist Sven ’t Jolle, who has been living in Melbourne since 2010. Presented in the gallery to the left of the entrance, ’t Jolle’s sculptures and drawings converge cultural influences from Europe and Australia. His politically charged and often humorous work reveals a deep interest in problems of labour, migration and empire-building, which have become central threads for the exhibition.

At a time of social inequality, increasing general debt and crisis in the cost of living, this exhibition brings together artworks that display their creators’ suspicious minds. Like ’t Jolle, Janet Burchill and Jennifer McCamley, Lauren Burrow, Fyerool Darma and George Egerton-Warburton have chosen broken and discarded objects, derelict housing materials, obsolete machines and fabric such as reused plastics. They are creative miners, probing and giving new currency to faulty structures.

The exhibition borrows its title from works by ’t Jolle and Burrow. Lauren Burrow has spoken about the latent or abeyant violence that characterises her materials; for some, shattered car window glass, bricks and galvanised steel carry a residual threat. Burrow’s works are often inspired by an encounter in the environment where she has recognised an imbalance, for example, between a polluting technique of industrial production and the beauty of its byproduct. Burrow senses that artworks are transformative, offering us the potential for new ways of communicating.

Alongside Burrow’s work in the furthest gallery space, Janet Burchill and Jennifer McCamley’s photographs from the 1992–93 series Freiland depict DIY outdoor furniture settings built by and for Turkish people in Kreuzberg, where the Berlin Wall had stood until a few years earlier. Burchill and McCamley were interested in what they have called the ingenious joinage between the parts of broken and reconstructed seating.

Geoff Lowe’s 1983 painting The idea of good government is installed in our atrium opposite the entrance. It is a panoramic collage of his then community’s views – both invited and imagined – on good government. Near Lowe’s painting, Fyerool Darma (in the adjacent gallery) and George Egerton-Warburton (in the atrium) have also created composite assemblages. Fyerool has nested shapes and patterns together to build a ‘hot’ zone of contemporary plastics technology, simultaneously coded and glitched. Poignant and heavy with recycled farm machinery parts and disparate consumables, Egerton-Warburton’s kinetic mobiles confuse an already obstructed passageway.

Download the exhibition guide [PDF 90KB]

Image: Sven ’t Jolle, Trickle down (study for 'Bird of fiscal paradise II') (detail), 2022, steel. © Sven 't Jolle. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Laurent Godin. Photo: Yann Bohac