A Collection of Stranger Things

Celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery (MPRG) presents ‘A Collection of Stranger Things’ to highlight and refamiliarise the public with rarely before seen artworks from their collection.

‘A Collection of Stranger Things’ is a curatorial collaboration between guest curator Patrick Pound, artist and Associate Professor of Art and Performance at Deakin University; Danny Lacy, MPRG Senior Curator and Narelle Russo, MPRG Collections Curator. Together, they have carefully selected artworks from the MPRG collection to sit alongside and complement the seldom seen works from the collectomania world of Patrick Pound.

‘It was a great opportunity to have a different perspective on the collection, and a great opportunity to bring people in to help us reveal some of the hidden treasures of the collection,’ comments Lacy.

The title, ‘A Collection of Stranger Things’, refers to the Netflix series Stranger Things, where life exists on a parallel plane with an upside-down world in an alternative dimension. Such is the curatorial process – in that the displayed objects and artworks have been turned upside down to create a world of alternative meanings and viewpoints.

Dusted and reawakened, artworks and objects that had previously lived solitary lives in the MPRG collection have been reactivated and reinvented. On display are a series of paintings, prints and drawings alongside Pound’s collections of found photographs and objects, carefully curated into a linear juxtaposition to form new visual connections from incongruous relationships. An abstract painting hangs amongst photographs pinned to the wall depicting people in active poses; items with no relationships, united by one-word themes; while figurines, books, prints, records and other memorabilia sit together in vitrines like archaeological artefacts. There are political hints in the show, such as references to colonial Australia and Captain Cook’s cottage.

The reinvigoration of these seemingly incongruous objects has created new narratives that explore the opportunities to reinvent and reverse the traditional approaches to displaying art collections within museums and galleries. Pound reflects, ‘a collection is like sleeping object, and I like to reactive them and to give them a new task that is meaningful to make you see the art again, to see things differently, and to see yourself and your relationship to things differently.’

Pound’s curatorial abilities are theatrical, presenting works as performances entwined with often humorous narratives. Each display differs in period, idea, style and meaning; yet, together the works form a palindrome of poetic stanzas – reinforcing the notion of a theatrical performance. As Pound describes, ‘I look for formal relationships – ideologic – I don’t care about stylish ones – relationships allow new systems, and new things to come into play; it opens it up, it becomes truly democratic and more poetic.’

Discarded photographs and objects that are entrenched in personal histories are recirculated back into the world as works of art. The artworks have no titles, and visually, the exhibition appears as one large collage. Between the three curators, the intent was to deliberately meddle with ideas and meanings to create a journey, and to entice the viewer to engage in a game of cryptic puzzles. Your role is to look at all the artworks and figure out how all the pieces fit together. By connecting the works and solving the riddles, the exhibition brings you into a visual cohesion between the MPRG art collection and the collection of Patrick Pound. ‘Patrick takes the weight off the MPRG artwork collection, and makes you look at it in a new physical design sort of way’, explains Russo, ‘but then the weight comes back to the artwork, creating an exhibition of balance.’

A Collection of Stranger Things
6 March – 26 April 2020 *currently closed until further notice
Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, Vic

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