The exhibition component of Goodbye Kind
World is located at the Metro Craft Centre in North Melbourne. Forums
will be organised with the Australian Centre at Melbourne University.
During the months of July and August 1999, the exhibition
will be available for public viewing in the main hall of the Metro Craft
Centre (the old Meat Market around the corner from Melbourne University).
Visitors to the hall will be greeted by the rustic smell of haystacks
distributed around exhibition. Interspersed between the haystacks will be
works by twelve of Melbournes finest artisanstheir own souvenirs of
the 20th century. Pervading the exhibition will be a soundtrack
containing the lost sounds of Melbourne (Fares please, Carn roys,
typewriter, etc.) And a catalogue will offer fanciful interpretations of the
Melbournes in futures past.
There will be a number of public events during the course
of the exhibition. The first of these will be a debate on the topic that Melbourne
has lost its soul. There will also be two forums: receding Melbourne (e.g,
Monkey Grip, South Melbourne, Carringbush & tea rooms) and emerging
Melbourne (e.g., second-generation Greek, Koori & virtual Melbourne).
The works provide material for the kind of
sentimental nostalgia that will characterise retrospectives of the 20th
century. With so much rhetoric about the challenges of the next millennium,
there is less opportunity to express what might be lost in the process of rationalisation.
This is experienced concretely in the loss of figures who once offered live services
that punctuated the day with human contact. The last decade has seen the reduction of
self-service petrol stations, bank tellers, automated phone services, electronic bill
paying, etc. This loss is felt particularly in Melbourne with the replacement of tram
conductors by ticketing machines.
In the course of such transformations, it is possible for extremist parties to emerge
that capitalise on the resentment caused by these losses. This makes it particularly
necessary to consider how the social contract might be re-negotiated.
Recycling has become a dominant art form in recent
times. Much contemporary art involves re-assembling off-cuts from industry into surreal
constructions. In Northern Europe, designers have been attempting to develop objects that
serve the aim of environmental sustainability. In Australia, particularly Melbourne,
recycling serves more symbolic purposes. Used materials often have historical
significance, such as timber taken from a demolished building. The resulting objects are
almost like reliquaries: they contain fragments of a past made sacred by its loss.
Given the rapid social change that a society like
Australia is experiencing, there is a rich material vocabulary of loss available for
creative interpretation. Consider the replacement of tram conductors. This change puts
into circulation a range of materials, including tram tickets, hole punches, conductor
bags, etc. The abundance of these materials favours the production of multiple works that
could be sold as souvenirs of the 20th century.