Pandemic inspires quirky art exhibition

As Melbourne’s arts scene continues to recover from the pandemic, a dynamic exhibition that blurs the line between contemporary art and design has taken unlikely inspiration from lockdown restrictions.

The lack of connection and limited interaction many faced during the city’s extended COVID-19 lockdown has formed the basis of a peculiar concept now on display at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV).

Abandoning gallery etiquette, the Freedom of Movement exhibition encourages physical interaction with its pieces, which were acquired over a 10-year period.

About 60 works encompassing contemporary furniture, lighting, painting, film, sculpture and installation are featured by prominent artists and designers like Shilpa Gupta and Alicja Kwade.

Themes of climate change, connection and inclusion are consistently present and are intended to spark conversations.

NGV art curator Amita Kirpalani said the gallery had curators of many disciplines within its contemporary art and design department, but the exhibition brought them together.

“I think one thing that we’re pursuing in this show is this blurriness between how an artwork sits in the museum and how a contemporary design work sits in the museum,” she told AAP.

Mexican artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s work Please Empty Your Pockets consists of an airport-style moving conveyor belt, where art fans can interact with a computerised scanner that records an image of everything that passes under it.

Around the corner, children can draw their own self-portraits using iPads inside esteemed artist Julian Opie’s creative studio.

Creative Industries Minister Steve Dimopoulos said the family-friendly exhibition would be great for tourism, providing visitors with more reasons to visit the Melbourne city centre.

Freedom of Movement: Contemporary Art and Design from the NGV Collection will be on display from December 3, 2022 – April 10, 2023 at NGV International in Melbourne.

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