Cover image of the review
Ari Tampubolon, *Symposia: This show is dedicated to K-pop girl group, TWICE. I love you. Installation shot.* Photography: Aaron CV Rees

Ari Tampubolon, Symposia: This show is dedicated to K-pop girl group, TWICE. I love you.

21 Mar 2020
SEVENTH Gallery 5 Mar - 27 Mar 2020

Is it possible for institutional critique to be joyous? If we cast our minds back to some of art history’s seminal works of this “genre”—Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, Andrea Fraser’s Museum Highlights—we recognise a humorous aspect in them; but the humour acts as a foil for an underlying pessimism. For many artists, the institution is treated as black and white; it is either good or bad. But the reality is that our relationships with institutions is far more complex. Roxane Gay, the American feminist writer, summed it up beautifully when she said that, despite the misogynistic content of the large majority of rap music, she could not help but love it. Ari Tampubolon, a queer artist of Indonesian descent, loves K-pop (South Korean Pop) and minimalism, despite both having some serious problems.

Symposia: This show is dedicated to K-pop girl group, TWICE. I love you is an installation in the small upstairs gallery of SEVENTH. The installation is a deliberately obvious reference to American minimalism. Nine white wooden boxes have been placed on the floor in a grid formation. They vary in height but are all quite low to the ground. The tallest box is about 30 cm high. Suspended from the ceiling, slightly higher than this grid formation is a square frame of white neon lights that illuminate the installation. It reminds me of Felix Gonzales-Torres’ light globe edged Go-Go Dancing Platform (1991); indeed, Gonzales-Torres was the quintessential post-minimalist identity politics artist. Many of the boxes contain documents related to the exhibition process. But the most compelling aspect of Symposia, is a 3:33 minute video titled Exegesis: You make me feel … special. In the video – which is presented on an iPad that sits atop one of the white boxes—Tampubolon lip syncs and dances to K-pop girl group TWICE’s 2019 hit Feel Special. I recognise the gallery I am standing in as one of the video’s backdrops. And as I continue to watch, I realise that the entire video was shot in SEVENTH. A pang of nostalgia hits me when I see the gallery courtyard where I spent many opening evenings at the gallery—one of the longest running ARIs in Melbourne and the only one in Fitzroy to have survived.

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