Dangerous Worlds

Posted on September 6, 2010

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Hannah Gibson, Homo-lymphae, 2009.

The maquettes and drawings in Dangerous Worlds depict post apocalyptic human beings. These critters are evolutionary visions of what we might become if we mutated to cope with a variety of dire ecological scenarios. It’s all very Arthur C Clarke. Humanoids sprout tails or become super compact or hyper elongated: standard sci-fi fodder, the type of thing you can see on the cover of tattered paperbacks in second-hand bookstore bargain bins all over the world.

Dangerous Worlds showcases work by Design and Illustration students from the Design Centre TAFE. It’s a small show and around half of the students have opted to give their drawings a faux patina of age, an effect which teeters vertiginously on the edge of kitsch and so-kitsch-it’s-cool. In fact, the whole show balances on this very fine line.

Hannah Gibson, Homo-lymphae, 2009.

Hannah Gibson, Homo-lymphae, 2009.

This exhibition would be a bit mediocre anywhere else, but held in the Macleay Museum, (one of Sydney’s best semi-secrets) it is lent a certain gravitas.

The Macleay is like a museum of a museum. Full to bursting with butterflies and arachnids pierced by steel pins, stuffed birds, skinned reptiles and various foetuses jammed into jars, it documents an earlier era of voracious collecting as much as our planet’s stunning biodiversity.

Surrounded by beautiful old wooden vitrines filled with the skeletal remains or stuffed carcases of other species which didn’t last the distance (some actually collected into extinction), the works in Dangerous Worlds no longer seem quite so much like pulp fiction escapist fantasies. Instead they ask some pertinent and serious questions, such as: do we actually have time to evolve in order to cope with climate change? Or will we simply be wiped out while our planet and its myriad other life forms go on without us?

Tracey Clement

Dangerous Worlds is on at the Macleay Museum until September 12, 2010.

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Posted in: The Good