Sunday 23 October 2016

Public Art Brings A Lot To QVM, Even Tears

It is fair to say that many traders were a little bemused by the imposition of public art projects on our trading ground this week, but the consensus seems to be that the Public Art Melbourne Biennial Lab has proved to be a worthy addition to market life.

A variety of activities have graced our aisles and in fact it is the integration of public art with a public market that seems to work on a number of levels. We have seen some very different activities, communicated with some very different people, and encouraged customers (and traders) to move out of their comfort zones and explore alternative offerings in our great market.

As I write this article I am listening to the intrepid broadcasters from Field Theory who have added a whole new level of commitment to the Queen Vic Market by talking, eating, sleeping, and bathing at the market non-stop for 9000 minutes. The next time a trader complains about long hours and extreme conditions we might just have to mention the example set by Field Theory. Lifting the renewal discussion embargo now that the council elections are over, has given broadcasters some rich subject matter to tease out over the airwaves.

The Visible Hands project by A Centre For Everything may not make great reading in the brochure but participation makes this an engaging experience. The process starts by having your hands drawn by an artist in E shed, and then moving to select trader locations around the market, using different hand signals, and learning as you go. We use our hands for communication in many different ways each day and this project enhances that activity and adds a number of new dimensions.

The tears have come from a short animated film presented in A Shed by Isobel Knowles & Van Sowerwine. It tells a very poignant story of a trader who has committed his everything to the market and like much good art it leaves more questions unanswered than many of us may be comfortable with. The presentation on a screen surrounded by storage boxes, and the sounds and vibrations that go with it, all combine for a memorable presentation.

There are many more projects that make up the Biennial Lab and they are all worthy of greater comment than we have given here. The combination of events and displays has provided some new perspectives and an opportunity to step outside our daily norms. For a market about to embark on a renewal program these are valuable experiences for all participants.