Strange Loops @ Generator Projects

Article by Andrew Cattanach | 29 Mar 2011

Not often will you find a gallery deviating quite so boldly from the traditional group show format. With the Craig Mulholland-curated exhibition Strange Loops at Generator Projects, most aspects remain the same: there are more than two artists, a curator, a title, a map of the gallery and a piece of accompanying text. But beyond the comfort of these exhibitionary customs, Strange Loops is a veritable recurring nightmare.

Entering the first of three rooms you find a conventional exhibition with six works, one by each of the participating artists. Some of the artworks are floor-based while some hang on the wall. No surprises so far.

Textile designer Carmel O’Brien’s intricately pleated skirt and collar, pinned to a tailor’s dummy, is an intriguing study of repetition in design. Sovay Berriman’s spindly-legged, triangular sculpture, made from old doors, has an odd black growth on one corner, undermining its geometry. Craig Mulholand has made a mosaic spelling out “THIS IS NOT A MESSAGE” using a substance called silicon carbide, a compound with multiple applications, used in electronics, bullet-proof vests and in the creation of the gemstone moissanite.

At the threshold of the second room, it’s immediately apparent that it contains the same artworks as the previous room. There’s the same pleated design, the same triangular sculpture and the same mosaic text. And then once again in the third room.

It’s more than unsettling. The works, now devoid of any apparent aura, are oddly devalued as unique objects, slightly altering in scale in accordance with the size of the room they inhabit.

One of the most interesting and ambitious exhibitions seen in a while, it is nonetheless unclear if this is the work of six autonomous artists or a vehicle for Craig Mulholland. Where the exhibition’s conceptual underpinning destabilises the individual works, the exhibition as a work of art in itself here dominates. [Andrew Cattanach]