Cover image of the review
Installation view of Rel Pham’s Temple 2022-2023 on display as part of the Melbourne Now exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne from 24 March to 20 August 2023. Photo: Sean Fennessy

Melbourne Now by Tristen Harwood, Calia O‘Rouke, and Indi Jennings

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

Melbourne Now (2023) might be a great advertisement for leaving Victoria, but as a kind of advertisement or marketing event or whatever you call it the exhibition’s reverence for the state aspires to something more like the slushy nationalism in Qantas’s I Still Call Australia Home (1987). While the “iconic,” callow, settler-supremacist Qantas advert taps into the sentimental hope for the future/nation represented in the figure of the child (the children’s choir no less), the perennially slow off the mark NGV opts for a different tact.

The oldest gallery in Australia has assembled their exhibition/events from a decidedly older milieu of designers, conceptual entrepreneurs, publishers, architects, and artists (the NGV does still show some art). I’m not making a criticism about the participants biological age here—the kids have Top Arts so why shouldn’t Melbournian adults get a go too—it’s just that the whole show just feels stale, like a TV rerun of an episode I’ve already seen, or like a natty wine gone warm, a long black gone cold.

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