Beau Emmett and Carmen Reid “Semi Detached” at First Site is an excellent exhibition. The familiar domestic objects and fixtures used in this exhibition are made uncanny rearranged with a playful logic that places carpets on the ceiling and plumbing in chairs. It is creates a new curious world of improvised scrounged materials. The materials have been detached from their original setting and reassembled to create new structures.
There are some impressive sculptural work, “architectural fragments” as Emmett and Reid call them, and some wonderful small works, mostly involving plumbing or wiring. There is a great cone of house bricks, an old door and door-jam (the door has carefully curved in an arc and is unable to shut), a bed in a box under a pile of earth, two chairs that have been plumbed with taps, and much more. Most with a wonderful worn aesthetic and the nostalgia of early 20th domestic materials. Some of the works didn’t work as well as the others. I thought that the carved wooden hammer and bent nails were too arty and new, compared to all the other materials used. But these are minor quibbles about an exhibition that on the whole is great fun.
The exhibition uses ambience the basement of Story Hall at RMIT as a feature and the subdued lighting highlights the architecture. Some of the features are as quirky as the objects on exhibition, especially the stairway that goes nowhere. Other features contributed to the exhibition as the ventilation caused the carpet squares to flap eerily.
Upstairs at RMIT Gallery German artists (with a lot more profile and money and bigger studios than Emmett and Reid) are doing similar sculptural art with domestic interiors. “Come-in” is an international touring exhibition showing “interior design as a contemporary art medium in Germany”. This exhibition demonstrates that Emmett and Reid’s art is in tune with contemporary European art trends and have a comparable quality. Seen together these two exhibition make excellent pair of contemporary sculpture.