Cover image of the review

Zac Segbedzi and Friends (enemies) Early Career Group Show

21 Jul 2018
West Space 5 Jul - 18 Aug 2018

A black and white image of the contemporary pianist Javier Perianes, a photograph of a cute miniature donkey on Instagram, and a punctuation mark are the promotional material given for a retrospective hybrid solo/group show of work by Zac Segbedzi, titled Early Career Group Show. This is all that appeared before the exhibition opened at West Space, at which time a real miniature pony (apparently toy donkeys don't live around here) arrived with the artist in the gallery, accompanied by hired piano muzak. A digital flyer for the show was also circulated online, made up of parodies of conversations adapted from local commentary on the contemporary art scene in Melbourne: the police, arts administration, theory of exhausted narratives, etc. This is Segbedzi's artistic gambit, one could call it a self-conscious performance of the online troll—usually encountered as a 4chan Incel/Cuck, a confused and/or sick teenaged boy—assimilated to a particular subjectivity as the model of the contemporary artist. The works by Segbedzi, and his friends (enemies), conspicuously installed and mostly wall-mounted paintings, are not uninteresting to encounter in this space, however. Seeing past the defensively “Punk” façade, they become the grotesque results of modernism's forcible mashing together of art and life, a negative Frankenstein. Alt-art that feels very 2018—not just painting and installation, a performance.

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