Reflecting on the installation of Takahiro Iwasaki’s Reflection Model (Itsukushima)

Contemporary Art often provides interesting challenges when it comes to planning their transport, handling and installation. Takahiro Iwasaki‘s Reflection Model (Itsukushima) was one of the largest shipments we’ve received for a single artwork in a number of years, with its fourteen crates taking up two shipping containers sent from Japan. Being a three-dimensional model of an architectural icon in reflection means that handling is complicated; its parts project at all angles so it’s not possible to simply sit a piece flat on a table without a custom-made stillage.

NGV staff from the Exhibitions & Collections Operations, Registration and Conservation departments inspected each of the crates after their arrival in an off-site store. The work involved checking the artwork’s condition after shipping, measuring and weighing each part and their crates to facilitate planning their movement of around the NGV building (i.e. including ensuring they fit through doors!) and its subsequent installation (figure 1: opening crates after shipment). The artist provided instructions for installation, including a map indicating which parts fitted to others. Our Assets and Facilities department then supplied engineering, lighting and fire services locations in the ceiling where the artwork was to be installed at the NGV International building. Weight loads were checked and specialised hanging fittings ordered in preparation.

Installation of the fourteen pieces was carried out over a few days by Exhibitions & Collections Operations staff under the direction of Paul Spencer, with each piece carefully suspended on stainless steel wire. To ensure alignment of the horizontal reflection, the team used laser levels to assist with placement, and micro-adjustments were made using turnbuckle fittings (figure 2: installation of fittings and wire, with staff on the ground spotting for alignment). Working against the clock to install unique and irreplaceable artworks such as Reflection Model (Itsukushima) can sometimes be stressful, however it’s always enjoyable to see the result; in this case, a calming dreamscape for the mind to wander.

Reflection Model (Itsukushima) is on display at NGV International on Level 1, Mezzanine level until 6 Apr 2015.