Review: Politics of picturing

Two exhibitions both with political concerns to a greater or lesser extent are on show at the VCA. One is titled "The Construction of the Quiet Earth" by Nathalie Grenzhåeuser, and the other by Bill Sampson, a PhD student at the College. Grenzhåeuser's work is photographic, they impress on a technical level but also through their content - the work dismantles the sublime normally associated with images of vast snowy landscapes, by including among that landscapes the technologies and destructive economy of man. The machinery and the huts look forgotten and redundant- already, their fate predicting that of the earth upon which they sit. Samson's show is the second PhD show that has disappointed this writer, though there is work and directions that are worth development. Sampson's art with its marks, drips, lines and traces works best when, as a viewer you can put abstract expressionism aside as the main reference point and see them as mind maps or as explorations of a hitherto unseen world. This could be a world of destruction, of an angry earth fighting for its very survival. The best piece here - hands down is the large black and white work on paper. Other artworks such as the boards affixed directly to the wall have some way to go before they should be seen in a gallery. The show suffers from a lack of editing. A stronger show could have been delivered with as few as four works

By David O'Halloran

David O'Halloran

David O'Halloran is an Australian visual art curator of 25 years experience working with some of the country's most important visual arts organisations including the Biennale of Sydney, the Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia, Contemporary Art Services Tasmania, and the Adelaide Festival. For the Glen Eira City Council Gallery he has curated important exhibitions that surveyed the work of significant Australian artists, including Elizabeth Gower, John Dunkley-Smith, Jon Campbell, Jan Murray, Stieg Persson and Victor Mazjner. David O'Halloran fondly remembers a maxim drummed into students at art school - "you can be so open minded your brains fall out".