Cover image of the review
Installation view of Yusi Zang and Andre Franco, Altered Routine, and Jacquie Owers-Gayst, { ~~~~~~~~~ }, 2019, Blindside, Melbourne.

Yusi Zang and Andre Franco: Altered Routine & Jacquie Owers-Gayst: {~~~~~~~~~}
  • Kate Loncar

17 Aug 2019
BLINDSIDE 6 Aug - 23 Aug 2019

Ascending the seven flights of stairs to Blindside gallery in the historic Nicholas building primes gallery viewers for a shock when they finally step into Andre Franco and Yusi Zang's stark white minimalist installation. Upon entering the space, gallery-goers are met with the chemical smell of freshly painted pristine white walls. In fact, the scene is so off putting I walked right through the room into the adjacent gallery, thinking there was nothing to see. Yet on further examination, it becomes apparent that the space is not as it usually seems. Franco and Zang have constructed two additional walls in the left corner of the usually rectangular gallery space. The glass windows are painted over, two of which serve as frames to the painted mirrors of the adjacent windows.

Entering Jacquie Owers-Gayst's parallel installation was an equally overwhelming yet contrasting experience. We are plunged into a dim room where small rotating crystal ornaments hang from the ceiling, casting dancing glittery effects over the walls. A set of speakers loop the sounds of dripping water, magpies crooning and distant church bells that blend with the din of traffic. The gradual crescendo and fade while the lights shimmer evokes a sense of euphoria as they dance in varying rhythms and sizes.

As subsequent viewers enter to encounter Franco and Zang's work, it was amusing to observe them searching for a focal point, some static spot to stare at and peruse, yet the artists do not satisfy this desire. Rather than presenting a new, foreign artistic object, they mirror the gallery's architecture. Whilst the blank walls emulate the white-cube gallery setting to an extent, they ultimately refuse the art object by constructing only an extension of the existing space. We search for the attribution of significance in the work and attempt to decode its relationship with the outer world. Yet what we have not realised is that by entering the space we too have become a part of its artistic tension, that our reaction to the work is a commentary on how we relate to constructed spaces. Despite the solidness of the physical work, the conceptual aspect of the piece had a certain malleability regarding ideas of form, matter and human perception that suggested its meaning would develop as gallery-goers continue to interact with the space.

Owers-Gayst's work shares the idea of repetition and mirroring. Here too the eye struggles to rest as the glittering light projects onto the blank walls. In the intimate setting, one gets the sense of being the attendant of a strange empty disco, yet the terrestrial sounds of rain and traffic offset this mood. When I spoke to others viewing the work, they reported feelings of tranquility and repose, and displayed a positive response to the decorative impulse of the work. It seems that by merging real sounds with visual beauty, Owers-Gayst suggests that we reconsider the ordinary to produce a transformation of the mundane into something valuable.

Both Franco and Zang's work in Altered Routine and Owers-Gayst's in { ~~~~~ } address human relationships with the spaces we inhabit. By prodding the limits of the existing architecture, the artists challenge the limitations of conventional gallery spaces. Their unique artistic visions address our lack of attention and the superficiality of our connection to the contemporary environment.