Institute of Contemporary Art Newtown


A Kitten Drowning in a Well

Quinto Sesto 1. 55 2014Quinto Sesto 2. 55 2014Quinto Sesto 6. 55 2014Quinto Sesto 7. 55 2014Quinto Sesto 5. 55 2014Quinto Sesto 3. 55 2014Quinto Sesto 4. 55 2014

Quinto Sesto in “A Kitten Drowning in a Well – A Mike Kelley Tribute Exhibition”, 55 Sydenham Rd, Marrickville, NSW, Nov-Dec 2014. Curated by Iakovos Amperidis

Quinto Sesto, works and artefacts included in the exhibition;


Quinto Sesto, Smells Like Art, 1975


In 1975 Quinto Sesto released a series of limited edition prints entitled The Disasters of Art. This poster, the second in the series, was produced in response to John Olsen’s 1975 exhibition Edge of the Void at Rudy Komon Gallery, Sydney. Group member Warren Mitchell described the exhibition as “the single greatest catastrophe in Australian art since the birth of Brett Whiteley.”


Quinto Sesto, Tea Party, 1975

Wooden coffee table

Fed up with the macho posturing of group leaders Santo and Mitchell, Jeannie ‘Mad Dog’ Morcombe carved the word ‘Feminism’ across the top of the household’s coffee table. Morcombe described this work as “being like Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party but with room for fewer cunts.”


Quinto Sesto, Short Work, 1976

Found book, aluminium arrows

The Whole Earth Catalogue, an American counterculture magazine and product guide, was a popular resource for ‘alternative’ lifestylers in the 1960s & ’70s.  It is unclear if Short Work should be read as an environmental work or a swipe at the ‘hippie’ movement which the group had previously termed “the cheesecloth army.”


Quinto Sesto, Totally Full/Totally Empty, 1976

Ceramic mug, photocopies, glue

This mug is a recreation of a marquette for a line of “dialectical homeware” planned by Jeannie ‘Mad Dog’ Morecombe, a talented ceramicist and producer of “incendiary pottery’. The idea behind this series was somewhat reminiscent of American artist Martha Rossler’s famous Vietnam collages where she dialectically counterposed images of violence and war and ‘benign’ US commodity culture. On this mug, the only existing example, Morecombe pasted an image of the military oppressor (the ridiculously hatted British Beefeater) and the radical countercultural opposer (a Black Panther in this instance).


Quinto Sesto, The Cloud of Deceit, 1976

Acrylic paint and dirt on board

This painting, most likely the result of a collaboration between ‘Sesto’ Mitchell and Tracey Cox, indicates Quinto Sesto’s move into more creative territory as an attempt to temper Robert ‘Quinto’s’ political fanaticism. Here “the cloud of deceit”, indicative of the turbulent political times (but probably also of darkening tension within the group) is overlain with the “grid of oppression” representing bureaucratic state control.


Quinto Sesto, The End (Nothing butt Memories), 1976

Found black and white photograph in frame

This photo taken by Warren ‘Sesto’ Mitchell in 1976 commemorates his visit to Jim Morrison’s grave in the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Staging a silent endurance performance, a ‘smoking vigil’ as a tribute to the dead singer – “the dark star of a brighter horizon” – the image, perhaps unconsciously, also preempts the disintegrating personal and political relations of Quinto Sesto.


Quinto Sesto, 72 Woomera Ave, Kings Cross, 1975

Found black and white photograph

One time Quinto Sesto headquarters and drop-in centre


The Institute of Contemporary Art Newtown (I.C.A.N.) represents the Estate of Quinto Sesto




Written by ICAN

January 23, 2015 at 11:58