Cover image of the review
Installation view of Sarah Ujmaia, Marmoreum, presented at Gertrude Contemporary, 2024. Photo: Christian Capurro


16 Mar 2024
Gertrude Contemporary 10 Feb - 7 Apr 2024

I visited Sarah Ujmaia’s exhibition Marmoreum twice—initially for the opening, and again for a proper look several weeks later. Not much had changed between visits, or so I thought. The almost four thousand white hand-cast paving stones were still laid in place across the entire gallery floor, moving slightly with a gentle clinking sound as I walked across them. En masse, the pavers seem relatively uniform—15 × 15 × 4 centimetre blocks of mineral calcite, punctuated by slight variations in colour and texture. The gallery’s fluorescent lights were reflected by the bright white walls and floor to dazzling effect.

On the occasion of this second viewing, however, I accidentally crashed a Monash post-graduate group critique session and ended up sitting next to someone on the floor. From this new vantage point, I realise that despite its static appearance, this work is actually eroding beneath our feet, the edges of the pavers are crumbling into fragments and dust, which sticks to our hands and clothes. Down here I also notice that, while some blocks are quite smooth and plaster-like, others contain small bits of shell and crushed up-material, all of which is slowly accumulating in the narrow gaps between each paver alongside strands of hair and other detritus unknowingly shed by visitors.

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