Substance search in the new exhibition of the MCA | Pro Club Bd

Chinese artist Lu Yang worked with a team of designers and technicians to create avatars for him DOCUMENTARY Series. Lu appears as six different characters loosely based on Buddhist cosmology. Each character – “asexual or genderless” – dances madly in a different fantasy setting. Regardless of the Buddhist associations, the works have the same aesthetic availability as online games or music videos. They are produced with incredible skill, but there is limited entertainment value in watching an artist dance around in costume.

Since 2012, Thai artist Korakrit Arunanondchai has been working on a project called Paint with history in a room full of people with funny names. The work includes installation, performance, painting and sculpture, which we see in the form of a three-channel video made in collaboration with American artist Alex Gvojic. If Lu Yang lacks substance, Arunanondchai gives us too much information.

Korakrit Arunanondchai and Alex Gvojic’s No History in a Room Filled with People with Funny Names 5 (2018).Recognition:Alex Davis

This fifth iteration of its ongoing series is largely set in the town of Mae Sai, where the 2018 boys’ soccer team was trapped in an underwater cave. There is footage of this episode and a performance in which a different artist plays the role of the naga, a supernatural being in the form of a snake.

Perhaps I lacked patience, but this presentation reminded me that many acclaimed works of video art would never reach cinema status, lacking in narrative thread, continuity, any claim to drama, and so on. We’ve gotten too used to the idea that a video might seem incomprehensible because it’s profound, rather than poorly executed or presented without proper contextualization.

Bhenji Ra and Justin Shoulder, the masterminds of Club Ate, take their excursions into Filipino folklore to a more professional level Ang Idol Jo/You are my idol. Club Ate’s videos are cinematic vignettes that incorporate CGI, performance and a sensibility that could be described as Camp Gothic. They know how to tell a story, or at least a fragment of a story, and they know how to edit.

Club Ates (Bhenji Ra and Justin Shoulder) Ang Idol KO/You Are My Idol (2021-22).

Club Ates (Bhenji Ra and Justin Shoulder) Ang Idol KO/You Are My Idol (2021-22).Recognition:Alex Davis

in the You are my role model, Ra appears as a supernatural being surfing on a crocodile against a sky streaked with bright red tones. In another scene, a festival takes place with a group of sexually ambiguous characters swapping stories around a crocodile-shaped rice hill. As I watched this queer-trans-shamanic bacchanalian, I began to doubt that anyone from Club Ate would ever be nominated for membership in the Australian Club.

Saeborg from Japan is represented with two installations that also serve as costumes for performances. slaughterhouse and Pootopia started in the Tokyo club scene and is best appreciated by an audience of late-night fetishists or young children. slaughterhouse is a farm inhabited by inflatable animals; Pootopiaa playground for overgrown dung beetles frolicking among piles of plastic.

Saeborg's latex-heavy slaughterhouse (2015).

Saeborg’s latex-heavy slaughterhouse (2015).Recognition:Satoshi Takase

Maybe you have to live in an unforgiving urban environment like Tokyo to have a lot of fun with inflatable plastic animals and poop. To me it looked like a severe case of developmental retardation.

The final artist, architect-trained Lawrence Lek, uses gaming technology to create compelling sci-fi scenarios. its main piece, geomancer, is a 48-minute film set in Singapore in 2065, the year of the nation’s 100th anniversary. A voice much like the one on your car navigation device tells the story of an AI-powered satellite that crashes to earth with the intention of becoming an artist.


It’s an idea that defies the conventional belief that the computer’s logical mind is immune to the pull of art. Lek teases the idea that as AI evolves, machines will develop an artistic drive and may be better at it than we are. His geomancer wants to be an individual who craves experiences like gambling that cannot be fully controlled by a superintelligence.

Lek was the only artist on the show whose work was truly thought-provoking. There can be an abundance of “ideas”. Ultra unreal, but most of them are too scattered to be more than a few minutes’ distraction. Lek didn’t just generate ideas, he explored and expanded them, making it clear that imaginary worlds can be virtual without being ephemeral.

If viewers really want to see something mind-blowing this week, I’d point them to Indigenous artist John Prince Siddon’s show instead. My painting is my voice, in the Arthouse gallery. A former rancher who lived in remote Fitzroy Crossing, Siddon’s paintings combine commentary on global events with his own traditional stories and motifs. It’s a powerful demonstration that hi-tech and plastic are completely unnecessary when you have an imagination that knows no bounds.

Ultra unreal runs at the Museum of Contemporary Art through October 2nd. John Prince Siddons My painting is my voice is at the Arthouse Gallery until August 13th.

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