This week the installation of Patrick Pound’s Melbourne Now work, The Gallery of Air, began. The project brings together more than 100 works from across the NGV Collection and around 300 works from the collection of the artist. Comprising artworks as diverse as George Stubb’s grand eighteenth century painting A lion attacking a horse and a tiny found photograph of a man with his tie blowing in the wind, Pound has created a contemporary ‘wunderkammer’ carefully constructed of artworks and objects that hold the idea of air.
Speaking about his project, Patrick Pound recently said,
‘To collect is to gather your thoughts through things. My work looks at how things hold ideas. One of my collections is made up of hundreds of things each of which variously holds an idea of Air ― from a draft excluder to an asthma inhaler ― from a battery powered ‘breathing’ dog, to an old bicycle pump.
For the National Gallery of Victoria’s Melbourne Now project I’m putting hundreds of these things together with one hundred of their things which I’ve also found to hold an idea of Air ― from an air stem glass to a Dali ash tray made for Air India ― from a Constable cloud study to a Goya print of a farting figure. A Wedgwood vase decorated with flute players might find itself alongside a record by Curved Air; a blown glass orb with a single air bubble ― the breath of its maker ― caught forever inside, might find itself next to a blow drier.
I simply want to put the NGV Collection to work in a different way. By selecting these things according to an apparently arbitrary and poetic category, the way we read them will be temporarily reset. I was quietly worried that their things might not be as interesting as mine but they seem to be holding their own.’
On entering Pounds installation visitors will be drawn in to a game of thinking and rethinking about the objects before them and how they might be activated by air. Some are obvious, some are obscure, all are interesting.