The human body is pushed to its limits in Australian artist Mel O’Callaghan’s powerful seven-minute video work Ensemble. Exploring the idea of resilience in the face of violence, Ensemble features one man pitted against the visceral force of a jet of water.
Born in Sydney and currently residing in Paris, O’Callaghan’s diverse and dynamic practice spans painting, film, installation and performance. Prior to its Australian premiere at NGV Australia, this large-scale, silent video installation was shown at the Centre Pompidou, in both Paris and Malaga in 2016, and at the Institut d’Art Contemporain Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alpes in Lyon, France in 2016.
Recently acquired by the NGV, the work is an expansive two channel video and is projected over a 10-metre-wide space. Using two frames, O’Callaghan isolates her subject in one and his opponents in the another. As her subject begins to walk towards the uniformed men holding the fire hose, O’Callaghan suggests that he will cross this physical and symbolic break between the frames. Through this act of struggle, triumph and then retreat, O’Callaghan encourages her audience to consider how they too may overcome their own obstacles.
Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV said, ‘Ensemble is a representation of strength, adversity and persistence. It encourages a personal contemplation of social and political contexts through imagery that will stay with visitors long after they’ve left the Gallery.’
Mel O’Callaghan: Ensemble is one of five solo exhibitions by leading Australian artists for NGV Australia’s 2017-18 summer program. Ensemble will be on display at the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square, Melbourne from 17 November 2017 – 12 March 2018. Entry is free. Further information is available at NGV.MELBOURNE.
Deakin University is a proud Major Partner of Mel O’Callaghan: EnsembleDownload media release