Cover image of the review
Installation view of Room 107, Chalk Horse, Sydney.

Spring1883 Art Fair by Victoria Perin

12 Aug 2023
Void_Melbourne, Sarah Scout Presents, Niagara Galleries, Chalk Horse, Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art, Neon Parc, CAVES, Arts Project Australia, Michael Lett 10 Aug - 12 Aug 2023

Walking out into Spring Street I ask Charles Lai, doyen of Naarm art openings, what was his favourite suite this year? He told me it’s not about favourites. I pestered, “best bathroom? Best bed??” He told me he’d been to all eight iterations of Spring1883. I asked him to rank them. He demurred.

Is Charles right? Do artists need support more than critique? A round of eight-fingered applause (two fingers occupied by a thin stemmed champagne glass)?

Installation view of Room 307, Sarah Scout Presents, Melbourne.

The text-art scattered around left us under no illusions. Artists don’t want your applause, or your glib comments. They want cash. “GENERATION RENT” snaps Elvis Richardson’s new steal-work at Void_Melbourne. “UN / PAID” is painted on an insistent set of drawers by Nadine Christensen at Sarah Scout Presents. Yet, by the time I stumbled into the great Michael Stevenson’s underwhelming grant application beanbag at Michael Lett’s suite, I got the point. When I caught sight of Angela Brennan’s apathy-core paperweight, Who Cares? (2020) at Niagara Galleries, I knew we were out of the relatively breezy days of dole-wave. This is recession art, and our only strategy seems to be directly asking for what you’re owed. Not so much concrete poetry as cold, concrete floor. These naked appeals get horribly muffled among the heritage jabots and swags of the Windsor’s curtains.

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