Cover image of the review
Andy Butler, The Agony and the Ecstasy 2022, still from 2-channel video, 8 min. Courtesy of the artist.

Collective Unease

20 May 2023
The Ian Potter Museum of Art 26 Sep - 3 Jun 2023

Collective Unease is staged by the now-conglomerated University of Melbourne Museums and Collections department. Announced just prior to the pandemic, the incorporation of the University’s main contemporary art venues into the department was coupled with a rebranding of the University’s diverse array of collections, archives, and galleries as the “Cultural Commons,” which has garnered some criticism. A cultural strategy and promotional framing device, the Cultural Commons is not managed by any specific faculty and appears guided by a decidedly non-academic strategy. Conforming to the increasingly dominant therapeutic rhetoric in art and academia, this marketing device’s mission statement boasts, “this is a place for you, our community, to stay connected, inspired and engaged.” In the wake of this restructuring and ongoing refurbishment of the Ian Potter Museum of Art—the University’s art museum—the exhibition finds a home in the stately cloister of the Old Quadrangle at the centre of the main campus. The title suggests the awkward relationship between the institution as a patron and its beneficiaries (artists and academics) and customers (students). The ceremonial space is draped with intriguing ornithological panels and festooned with lively video works that embellish the solemn space.

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