Inner City @ Gallery of Modern Art

Michael C McMillen’s impressively detailed model of an imagined LA slum provides the first literal nod to the urban context that brings together the four exhibiting artists of Inner City.

Review by Adam Benmakhlouf | 06 Jul 2018
  • Inner City, install view

Michael C McMillen’s impressively detailed model of an imagined LA slum provides the first literal nod to the urban context that brings together the four exhibiting artists of Inner City.

Alberta Whittle’s sculptures, prints and video work draws attention to the multiple places of belonging and legacies of colonialism that make up the expansive network of home, the city, family, migration and displacement. In one part of the video, A Study in Vocal Intonation, Whittle rings a cow bell singing Amazing Grace loudly into the main space of GoMA. Set into a different and unrecognisable key, its strangeness is also felt in the inversion of the image of the video. Giving a sense of the high stakes of the speaking voice, Whittle says, "my tongue lives in exile... my body remembers the journey across the Atlantic in the swollen belly of a ship whose name has long been forgotten."

Also considering some of the hidden narratives of the city, Mitch Miller’s dialectograms combine floorplans, sketches and drawn portraits on large pieces of paper. These are built from the mapping of differently politicised, communal or public spaces and drawing in the narratives of those who reside or work there. There’s a virtue in his deft conflation of buildings and community, architecture and anecdote.

Finally, Breda Beban’s film touches on the ambivalent listlessness and reward of wandering the city. From initial shots of a domestic interior, momentum builds with the rhythm of the tinny rustling of the string quartet soundtrack, and curiously unpeopled shots of the city in movement. The purposeless but paced and lyrical wandering gaze subtly lists beautiful instances of gridded paving stones or a stream of shiny water, ends ambiguously with the text: 'She said/ it seems/ that our time/ like / any other time like any other time is illegal.'

Inner City, GoMA, until 11 Nov