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Un Magazine 9.1

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 7 Oct 2014 – 8 Feb 2015

Jake Swinson

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11/27

Article

As the clock struck midnight, a Witch appeared in the National Gallery of Victoria out of a cloud of dense, black fog. It was 4am. Fumbling with its robes and black pointed hat, a bottle of Flintstone-shaped multi­vitamins tumbled from a concealed pocket onto the floor and scattered about the space. On all fours, Witch crawled around the foyer scooping the pills into its pale and willowy hands, immediately dry swallowing them.

It stood upright and became very still, present and meditative. It tasked itself with experiencing exhibitions by using meditation methods, prior to physically entering a space as a device, an ‘en et set’—an et,—so as to flesh out some kind of pocket in which the exhibit can reside, as in—a personal inflection with the space, an acknowledgment of its existence in a contemplative form. It took long, moany, deep hog-breaths and softly cast a net of awareness into each gallery space, letting the artefacts and exhibitions acknowledge its presence. Witch began to deeply breathe in the entire contents of the gallery and exhale them back into their correct positions, but exfoliated and flippèd. Like waves softly lapping the shore, so did the objects gently ‘back up’ against Witch’s awareness.

<em>The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk</em>, The National Gallery of Victoria, photograph: Anthony Licuria

Witch addressed the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition: ‘I want you bare and flat, like a sleek surface, flippèd. I want to be able to consume you with one quick glance, then forget you.’

Witch entered the exhibition and the proposed autonomy of each Gaultier piece was immediately steamrolled flat with a casual laugh, and then everything began to slowly merge into one ‘event’. Hovering through the exhibit ‘hyper-aware’, Witch examined squares of fabric deep within their most intricate and fractal details. Then it would instantly zoom out, miniaturise and view the entire exhibition in a compounded form as well as exhibition-et la-fractal. It repeated this process several times until the distinction between fabric and exhibition became arbitrary, and Witch’s position between these two locations was severed.
Then it passed its cheek softly across a cool stone wall and said the words:

‘Cool stone wall—plunge me down. I know you run deep, take me there because I want to see and feel all of you.’

And its awareness was immediately cast down into the foundational structures of the NGV. There, acknowledging Witch, was a worm and maggot, who were hanging out. They both winked up at Witch, and took a long draught from a nearby underground stream.
Moving onward, Witch was confronted by six garments, all secured (by straps and zips) to mannequins that had been curated to mechanically rotate 360 degrees in a jarring, unnecessary way. Witch fell to the floor and stroked the smooth marble tiles in ecstasy, delightfully unaware as to where its skin stopped and the floor began. Why? Because the entire exhibit had begun to slowly entwine with its body and became an extension of this ‘Marbellè Witch’. Exhibited garments became vital organs: ‘liver number two’ or ‘lung number three’. Witch cast its gaze over at its own circulatory system, which was now casually draped over a tuxedo like an old friend. It experienced the floor of the gallery as its stretched out anus hole, and as it did, Boris Groys entered the space—his shoes knacking at tiles repetitively, echoing off Witch’s anus onto its nearby eyeballs, pancreas and larynx.

Witch suddenly warped the space, deleted the gallery context, and re-hung each piece within a densely thicketed rainforest. Each design was nailed consecutively to an individual tree in a long line. The exhibition was now to be experienced via a really fast flying fox. Witch was harnessed in by a safety instructor and shot into the forest at high velocity. Each gown was reduced to a fuzzy blur until the fox came to a jarring holt. The fox became a ‘viewing mechanism’, and opened up something poignant within Witch. Detail and flourish was transcended, as in the context was ‘flippe’, as in it forgot its own social settè, as in everything was supplanted by crippling waves of adrenalin. Gaultier-via-fox, a là filtered through this adrenalin (Gaultier et la adrenalin). The last object in the line of trees was a simple demure blue bow, singing sweetly to itself all alone.

Witch then morphed into the plans of a quirky public program contained inside a beige manila folder, sitting on a gallery director’s desk. The program involved the participants visiting the gallery late at night as part of a ‘club’. One member arrived late, entered the room, and accidentally blurted out an intense and inappropriate secret. On the last day, Terry Smith ‘surprised’ the club with a guest lecture and used the term ‘chillaxed’ probably like three times, as a plump and lazy bumblebee hovered around the edges of the audience knowingly.

Witch had now unintentionally plugged into higher realms of curatorial thought and was being bombarded by artistic information from the future. It foresaw people curating entire biennales around intense thematics like ‘Hermione Granger goes to the Berghain’. Witch saw a vision of a Turner Prize–winning entry as the curatorial act of releasing nineteen purebred Labradors loose to explore the parkland around Niagara Falls without documentation. It effortlessly morphed into a sprig of saffron landing softly in Claire Bishop’s hair, who then boards a plane to the Istanbul Biennale where Allora and Calzadilla have installed a cup of water which had been politely refused by Susan Philipsz at a nondescript restaurant.

At 8:45am the invigilators entered the gallery to find a really intense amount of human shit sprayed all across a west-facing wall. In discovering this, they filled out some kind of ‘incident form’. The form collects dust in a fairly ordinary filing cabinet and has remained unacknowledged for five years. The singing blue bow sometimes comes to visit the form, and they just kind of hang out and make symbols at each other like ‘hang ten dude’ and sometimes bust open a few nangs.