6 - 23 February 2013

Curated by Blaine Cooper, Raymonda Rajkowski + Felicity Strong.

Opening Night | Thursday 7 February, 6-8pm

Brigit Ryan, Danielle Hakim, Dan Peterson, Jessica Bruzzaniti, Shireen Rawlins, Phuong Ngo + Eun Jin Choi

BLINDSIDE presents Debut IX, the ninth installment of BLINDSIDE’s annual exhibition surveying the hottest talent of students graduating from Melbourne’s art schools. Debut IX delves into the minds of our freshest artists, presenting a variety of installation and screen-based works.

From Brigit Ryan’s work where smoke cascades from the table’s edge, and Eun Jin Choi’s clouds of resin which mushroom at your feet, to Jessica Bruzzaniti’s investigation of colour projections, Debut IX provides a snapshot into the next generation of Victorian contemporary artists. These artists ask the hard questions such as: What do rotating disgraced celebrities and banana eating have in common? And what are the effects when light fractures through networks of string and discarded bottles? How can a series of fabricated coins tell the stories of a people? Debut IX invites you to help launch the exciting careers of these new artists and discover the answers to these and more of their creative questions.

The artists featured in Debut IX are Brigit Ryan (VCA – Drawing), Danielle Hakim (VCA – Honours), Dan Peterson (VCA – Painting), Jessica Bruzzaniti (Monash – Sculpture), Shireen Rawlins (Monash – Painting), Phuong Ngo (RMIT – Honours Photography) and Eun Jin Choi (RMIT – Drawing).

Images: Brigit Ryan - Cloud Table (2012), Jessica Bruzzaniti - Coloured Light (2012), 


University graduate exhibitions are celebratory events. They are milestones in the careers of graduating students, signifying for many, the moment of transition into the broader art world. Yet, graduate exhibitions are also occasions to celebrate the very new and cutting-edge of contemporary art. The works on display are the result of a culmination of years of study, experimentation and critical discussion, with the aim to offer new perspectives on contemporary themes and subjects. The atmosphere at the opening events for graduate exhibitions greatly contributes to the anticipation associated with seeing fresh new talent. The excitement of navigating through the spaces, crowds and queues to the bar is palpable, and encountering the shear volume of work can be pleasantly overwhelming.

BLINDSIDE’s annual exhibition Debut continues the celebrations. Restaging a selection of work by graduates from Melbourne art schools, it offers not only another opportunity to see the works, this time outside of the university context, but is also a chance to engage with a broad cross section of current practice and artistic experimentation, to gain some insight into the kinds of questions and interests driving contemporary art practice.

Daniel Peter Petersen takes a hard yet witty look at societal values with a DIY blogroll of disgraced celebrities. All Star (2012) presents us with some familiar faces: Shane Warne, Matthew Newton and Shane Crawford. While confronted by this sequence of mug shots reproduced from tabloid pages, no explanation is required to see the connection between these publicly denounced figures and transgressive personalities. Instead, humour can be found in the way scandal-ridden celebrities have become, or perhaps have always been a bred unto themselves. As we revel in the public mockery, slander and attacks aimed at these fallen stars, they still manage to hold our fascination and interest, continuing to succeed selling us their own endorsed products.

Humour takes on nonsensical form with Danielle Hakim’s works with the self-explanatory titles: Great Idea Eat A Banana (2012) and Another Great Idea Put On Lipstick (2012). As is suggested, a video monitor shows a hand eating a banana, and next to it, another with the same hand attempting to put lipstick on itself. Appealing to the inner-child in all of us, this playful act takes us whimsically back to our youth to a time of simple amusements. While encouraging us to reflect upon our own time spent engaging with absurd acts and performances, and probably enjoying every minute of it, Hakim’s work finds its roots in Dada and Fluxus humour and its many manifestations within contemporary art.

In contrast, Brigit Ryan engages our sense of curiosity and fascination with a finely crafted table with an intriguing button. When pressed, this button triggers smoke that slowly fills within the tabletop, creating a thick white cloud that is conveniently contained for our close observation and wonderment. After a few moments, the smoke dissipates and visibility is restored to the table’s interior — but it is not long before the same or another curious onlooker repeats the process. The more time spent with the work reveals the extent of craftsmanship involved with this contraption, designed solely to create momentary marvels. Like a fine piece of designer furniture, the attention given to the detail accentuates another set of concepts concerning the intersections between art, craft and design.

The ethereal floating nature of Eun Jin Choi’s resin sculptures captures our attention in more elusive and subtle ways. Resembling clusters of mushrooms clouds, this three-dimensional work made of silver tape, and clear epoxy resin speaks of materiality and notions of the sublime. It draws us in with its organic, fluid forms and shapes, and intricate patterns, but also causes us to think twice about this tranquil sight by its title national power 2011 (2012), suggestive of a serious critique of greater social and political issues. Interested in the potential for contemporary art to subvert and shift social norms and perceptions, the artist explores the way viewers engage with artwork and how they reconcile aspects that seemingly sit at odds with each other.

The experiential potential of art is further explored with Shireen Rawlins’ installation Light Experience (2012). A rainbow of coloured yarn fans out creating a dynamic interplay of light and colour. As an immersive and interactive work, viewers are invited to enter underneath the planes of colour and become enveloped by the varying hues of yellow, red and blue. Transforming the space itself, this enticing work challenges traditional modes of viewing and leaves a lasting impression of the tangible and intangible realms of spatial experience.

Light and colour also features prominently in the work of Jessica Bruzzaniti. Using light boxes, coloured acrylic and plastic bottles containing colourful liquid, the artist creates a spectrum of fragmented light that scatters across the space, resulting in a kind of static light show. The many extension cords and power boards remain exposed and visible amongst the cascading and luminous colour, giving no illusion to how the light display is made and highlighting instead the phenomena of light itself.

Phuong Ngo’s In Commenting on Ethnographic Collections (2012) takes us in another direction entirely. With a display of artefacts relating to Vietnamese culture, the artist examines the role objects, politics, history and memory serve in shaping personal identity. Ngo draws on what he describes as his own fragmented understanding of how his Vietnamese Australian identity has been formed, having only artefacts and historical references to connect to his ancestral past. In displaying such artefacts in meticulously crafted vitrines and projecting moving imagery over the static objects, this work not only represents but also evokes the history and stories lost to time.

- Felicity Strong + Raymonda Rajkowski