It’s time to get your diaries out! This winter sees the return of Melbourne Art Week from July 30 to August 5 and it’s bringing us together to celebrate the works of over five hundred artists in an exciting and dynamic series of events, exhibitions, performances, talks, tours and workshops. Also, featuring the main (must-attend) event of the week: Melbourne Art Fair (2-5 August 2018), for the first time being hosted across two venues within the Southbank Arts Precinct and alongside ACCA; Vault Hall and Riding Hall.
Bigger and better than ever before, the Melbourne Art Foundation has teamed up with over fifty Victorian cultural organisations, institutions, art spaces, satellite fairs and galleries to orchestrate this exceptional celebration of art. Scattered across more than thirty unique venues, we know only those with superpowers will be able to see everything there is to see – don’t fret! We’re here to help and have hand picked the top five events we believe you can’t miss. Without further ado…

Chiharu Shiota at Anna Schwartz gallery

A big year for the Japanese-born, Berlin-based artist, Chiharu Shiota. As well as presenting her new work, The Crossing, in a solo exhibition at the Melbourne Art Fair from 2 to 5 of August, she is also hosting a handful of exhibitions throughout Australia over the next few months. This unique exhibition will see a sculptural field of white thread interwoven with books as Shiota explores the complex relationship between the body and the mind. This particular installation is described as “an organic constriction like a biological structure that flexes in all directions, rejecting a hierarchical system.”

Shiota is renown for transforming large-scale environments into incredibly intricate installations that encapsulate such power and emotion that no one leaves the same. “Every single thread carries a vast amount of meaningful information, accumulating in a mass of awareness. It is the history of our interwoven, universal narratives, filling the space with an organic structure of human matter. With The Crossing, I want to present this intermingling but compact system, to map the knowledge we share and pass on to our children, who pass it on to their children,” says Shiota. This is not one to miss, so be sure to grab your tickets now. Her collection New Works is already being shown at the Anna Schwartz gallery until August 11 and, from the 24th, she will see her projects Embodied and Absence Embodied at the Art Gallery of South Australia. 
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A lightness of spirit is the measure of happiness, by various artists

Identity, connection, family and community. This intriguing exhibition highlights the significance and importance of these fundamentals in contemporary aboriginal life, topped with a seasoning of humour. Consisting of commissions from thirteen indigenous artists, this exhibition explores everyday experiences through voices from all over the country and radiates the message of strength and unity.

Curator of the exhibition, Hannah Presley, talked about and introduced her show for ACCA saying, “I really liked the idea of getting some artists together and talking about some of the things that sustain us as aboriginal people. Some of the happiness and the joy that gives us strength to deal with some of the horrible things that are happening out there in the world. The things that we have to deal with everyday, the onslaught from media, the intensity of statistics, everything that we’re constantly having to deal with. The idea of this show was to try and have a reprieve from that and have some good laughs.”

Talks: Brook Andrew

Last year, we got the opportunity to chat with Brook Andrew about his fight to cast a light over ignorance’s shadow through his multidisciplinary and deep artworks and exhibitions. For this reason, he is most confidently in our top five to see. Brook is an incredibly intelligent, multidisciplinary artist visually exploring subjects such as colonialism and his work is nothing short of fascinating. Eye-opening, completely inspirational and slightly shocking at times – he previously stated, “I would say my work is interfering with the rules of compliance that are usually followed and understood by dominant cultures.”

This year, at Melbourne Art Week, he will be curious in conversation with Niko Papastergiadis, Director of the Research Unit in Public Cultures, University of Melbourne, in what I already know will be an enriching discussion describing how and why he does what he does. I think everyone should learn a thing or two through the words of this wise man.
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Thursday, 2 August, 2018, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm, Federation Hall, Victorian College of the Arts, Grant Street, 5/7-17 Grant St, Southbank

Design for Life: Grant and Mary Featherson

This timeless exhibition explores the significant works and collaboration between the iconic designers Grant and Mary Featherston. Melbourne Art Fair describes the exhibition as “an exploration of Grant’s use of new materials and technologies and production of innovative furniture throughout the 1960s and ‘70s”. Grant and Mary met in Australia 1965 and formed a personal and professional life-long partnership. Sharing a common dedication and interest within their work and an unbreakable bond, over a period of thirty years they successfully completed many projects together in the fields of furniture, exhibitions and graphics. This exhibition follows Featherston’s journey to recognition and their consciously cultural and social design decisions, beginning with the Montreal 1967 Expo Chair. 

Metamorphosen, by Phillip Adams BalletLab

Metamorphosen is a one-of-its-kind performance installation presented by Phillip Adams BalletLab, located at the Melbourne Art Fair. This captivating spectacle is a response to composer Richard Strauss’ Metamorphosen (1945), an emotional orchestral soundtrack, arguably one of the most important septets of the last century. The performance consists of a giant eighteen-meter inflatable designed by artists David Cross and a continuation of colourful rolling body bags.

Described by the Melbourne Art Fair as “a Mondrian pop art grave yard of dripping paints”, the body bags roll continuously in long drawn out adagio representation of grief and trauma but of great upheaval in response to romantic musical climaxes in the score. The interruption of a catapult device that projects paint bags into the air is a humorous disruption (a conceptual representation of comedian Jerry Lewis and a TV sitcom laughter box). This unique performance is enlightening and really is a must see – added bonus, it’s also free!
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Friday, 3 August, 2018, 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm, Melbourne Art Fair, 111 Sturt Street, Southbank