Institute of Contemporary Art Newtown


The Gift

June 2009: The Gift




images: top to bottom (left to right); Ocular Lab “The Gift” installation view (floor work by Sean Loughrey); Tom Nicholson, Rafaat Ishak; Sally Mannal, Elvis Richardson; Damiano Bertoli, Sandra Bridie; Sean Loughrey, Johnathan Luker.

“The GIFT” Ocular Lab (Melbourne) June 12 – 28

An exchange exhibition at I.C.A.N. of Ocular Lab members: Sandra Bridie, Damiano Bertoli, Raafat Ishak, Sean Loughrey, Jonathan Luker, Sally Mannall, Tom Nicholson and Elvis Richardson.

Ocular Lab is an artists’ project initiated for the purpose of promoting dialogue and experimentation amongst its members, peers and associates. Run out of an old milk bar in West Brunswick, Melbourne ‘The Lab’ has evolved out of the histories of ‘h’ project (1997-1998) and its past incarnation, Ocular Laboratory (2000 -2001). The exhibition at ICAN is of works responding to the idea of a Gift by various Lab members and builds on a history of off-site exhibitions, hostings and events.

The Gift 2009 exhibition at ICAN exhibits works of eight members of Melbourne artists’ group Ocular Lab. In the context of an exchange between likeminded organizations, the exhibition’s premise engages with an idea of the offering of a gift. In the simplest and purest sense, a gift is a freely given generosity, a humble acknowledgement of goodwill. Likewise, some gifts are neither pure nor simple and may be deeply enveloped in layers of intent and potential interpretation. The Trojan horse was a disguised form of a gift or offering.

The gift requires the act of giving. An artwork may portray the act of giving or it might represent the actual gift without the act, yet the gift will still be defined by the act of giving the gift If one gives a child a stone in a gift like manner, the child accepts the stone as a gift. If one throws the stone at the child, the child will most likely through the stone back. Either way the stone is still a stone, hence, the paradoxical nature of the ‘gift’

Works on display will range from a painting that helps people who want to emigrate to Saudi Arabia by Raafat Ishak, a residue of postering action over 10 nights by Tom Nicholson, the restaging of a Last Mans Club photograph featuring the 1996 /97 directors of First Draft by Elvis Richardson, a video of a waiter setting a dining room in preparation for a function by Sally Mannall, 240 volt decorative handkerchiefs by Jonathan Luker, a type of research project into ‘gift declaration’ informed by Duchamps declarations of the ready made, by Sean Loughrey and more.

Each year Ocular Lab hosts off-site projects engaging with specific locations such as ACMI, Spacement Gallery, Trinity College University of Melbourne and George Paton Gallery. The Gift continues this off-site engagement with other spaces and their particular environments.

(The core group consists of artists: Damiano Bertoli, Sandra Bridie, Julie Davies, Raafat Ishak, Sean Loughrey, Jonathan Luker, Sally Mannall, Tom Nicholson, Elvis Richardson and Alex Rizkalla)


Written by ICAN

August 24, 2017 at 11:58