MS AND MR, TODD MCMILLIAN, SAM SMITH. CURATOR: ELISE ROUTLEDGE.
Fantastical... was an exhibition of work by 3 young Sydney-based artists who drew on everyday life, yet created uncanny situations and imagined landscapes which proposed new possibilities and understandings for our contemporary world. Ms and Mr are Stephanie and Richard nova Milne, a collaborative duo who have exploited themselves as subject, object and material in their work. Fusing their marriage with their artistic collaboration, Ms and Mr’s photographic and drawing-based work has drawn on cultural fantasies of romance, and concerned itself with the playful revival of oft-maligned materials and genres. Todd McMillan’s video By The Sea showed the artist standing atop a cliff on Sydney's coastline from sunrise to sunset, with the twelve hours of film condensed into a few minutes. Responding to Caspar David Friedrich's quintessential evocation of the sublime in his painting Monk by the Sea (1809), McMillan stood in exhaustive contemplation of the endless ocean view. If he was searching for something in the existential vista before him, no conclusion was offered. Instead the artist relieved the sadness and possible redundancy of his gesture with cinematic beauty, grandeur, and quiet humour. Sam Smith’s Tokyo Exercise Suite, created during a preceding residency in Japan, drew upon Smith’s experience exploring a new environment, but shifted the figure of the traveler into a virtual realm. Investigating video as a medium for fantasy, the artist moved into a 'hypothetical landscape of video green and blue screen'. Collapsing video and computer technology into fiction, Smith harnessed special effects to portal himself through blue and green screens, defy gravity, and magically disconnect his fingers from his hand. Curator Elise Routledge says of the exhibition, “Todd McMillan, Ms and Mr and Sam Smith imbue their art with honesty, but mix it with delightful absurdity and gentle humour that might incite a low chuckle or grin. Their practices are sophisticated, but can be appreciated free from any extended theories or explanations.”