Contemporary Categorisation

Contemporary Categorisation

Photography, objects and antiques come together for the National Gallery of Victoria’s, Melbourne, encyclopaedic display Patrick Pound: The Great Exhibition. The New Zealand born artist is fascinated by the process of categorisation, his work suggesting that meaning can be found in the accumulation of items. Drawing on personal archives, which amassed over years of meticulous searching, Pound reorders the fragments of everyday life into complex compositions addressing issues of contemporary society. This method transforms the banal into poetic and insightful reflections on the human condition.

The Great Exhibition showcases more than 50 assemblies – described as a “museum of things” – featuring hundreds of items from the practitioner’s private gatherings. Furthermore, he extensively researched the NGV’s departments, incorporating more than 300 pieces from the gallery’s diverse holdings. In this combination of material, connections between the artefacts and artworks become apparent, allowing audiences to see the organisation’s acquisitions in new contexts and perspectives.

Tony Ellwood, Director, comments: “Through complex arrangements of items drawn from the artist’s archives alongside works from the NGV Collection, Pound’s installations playfully explore the art of collecting, and the ways in which things can hold and project ideas. Within each, a new logic or exciting narrative is created for the viewer to unravel or identify.”

In some collections, Pound pairs contrasting items in a contemplation of juxtaposing concepts. In The Museum of there / Not there a selection of items, including an archaic Australian $2 banknote, a mourning locket and a milk jug produced to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VIII, who abdicated, are curated to explore the ideas of absence and presence. Amongst these “museums”, visitors encounter vast displays of images, each revealing a common thread. In The hand of the photographer, the practitioner’s eclipsing thumb is ever-present, whereas in Damaged, each has been defaced, ripped or burned. The show is part of NGV’s inaugural Festival of Photography, a series of events celebrating the medium.

Patrick Pound: The Great Exhibition, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, from 31 March – 30 July.

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1. Patrick Pound, The Great Exhibition. Courtesy of the artist and the NGV.