Cover image of the review
Claire Lambe, Sudden bursts of nasty laughter, 2022–23 (still); video with sound. Commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Courtesy of the artist and Sarah Scout Presents, Melbourne © Claire Lambe and Sarah Scout Presents, Melbourne

Melbourne Now by Chelsea Hopper

1 Apr 2023
National Gallery of Victoria | The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia 24 Mar - 20 Aug 2023

“It seems significant that we don’t want things to be quiet ever, anymore,” David Foster Wallace remarked in a 2003 interview. While he was referring to “almost any public space in America…piped with music,” Melbourne Now can be added to the list. This sprawling multi-level bonanza of art, design, jewellery, architecture, and fashion filtered for us in an interactive QR-coded map, beckons our short attention spans to follow the sound everywhere.

Furniture music loudly fills the ground-floor foyer, presumably a commissioned sound work. I ask who the artist is. “No one. It’s just music,” says the gallery attendant. Things don’t get easier in the exhibition. Try viewing Kate Daw’s video Reverse Anthem (2021) without overhearing Damiano Bertoli’s Beware the Badly Belted Boy (2019) and the rattling bass from Rel Pham’s installation TEMPLE playing across the room. Even stopping to watch Scotty So’s lip-syncing video work plonked between two whirring ascending escalators feels like a bit of a cruel ask. It is a recipe for self-diagnosed misophonia.

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