The Total Look: locating furniture

1991

Plimsoll Gallery
Centre for the Arts
Hunter Street, Hobart

Howard Arkley, James Kutasi, Tom Risley; Fred Cress, Mark Douglass, Deborah Halpern; Fiona Gunn, Wendy Lewin, Caroline Williams.

Introduction: Paul Zika.
24-page catalogue: ISBN 0 85901 485 1

Download PDF: The Total Look Catalogue

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Installation view: The Total Look - Douglass Cress and Halpern Installation view: The Total Look - Kutasi Risley and Arkley Installation view: The Total Look - Williams Lewin and Gunn

Download PDF: Review - The Total Look, Mercury
Download PDF: Review - Edward Colless, Art & Text

Foreword

To view artworks within churches, public buildings or private residences is often more rewarding than in an art museum or gallery. These buildings house collections that are either strongly representative of a particular style or school or are disparate collections assembled by one or more informed collectors over a longer time. It is the very range and diversity of artefacts brought together within a particular space that provides a more dynamic context in which to appreciate the individual works. Furthermore, works have often been commissioned and conceived for that specific space.

Conversely, the art museum or art gallery seeks to provide a neutral context in which to view the artefact as an autonomous object. Paintings tend to be viewed within the context of other related paintings; similarly with drawings, sculpture, prints or photographs. Diversity and cross referencing of media can occur, but within strict conceptual and stylistic frameworks. This practice ignores the eventual placement and context of most artworks (unless they are returned to the artist's studio or become part of a permanent museum collection). A different notion prevails when furniture is exhibited. Either there is an attempt to present a piece of furniture exclusively as sculpture on a plinth, denying its intended context, or to place it within a tableau - these settings combine a range of artworks to suggest a specific interior. In this latter alternative, the additional artefacts are normally secondary to the furniture; minor props in a stage set or decorative items within a smart interior design magazine illustration. Exhibition practice within specialized galleries often reinforces the high art/applied art divide, preventing a positive interaction between diverse artefacts.

This exhibition combines art works that can be categorised as furniture, sculpture and painting. The catalogue lists the participating nine artists, suggests the nature of their work and clearly indicates the three groupings. All the artworks have been produced as autonomous pieces, but through curatorial intervention - "mixing and matching" - they take on a new dynamic. The choice is very catholic and eclectic; there is not a dominant or homogenous aesthetic in the selection. It is the juxtapostion of the works that creates the context within the "neutrality" of the gallery space, rather than the suggestion of a particular room. Each space has its peculiar mood and sense of place without alluding to familiar locations; and every artefact contributes equally to the total look - the appearance and feel that the viewer experiences within that space.

Paul Zika - Curator, July 1991