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Collecting Comme

Collecting Comme

1 November 2019 – 26 July 2020, 10am-5pm

Free entry – NGV International

Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons is one of the most visionary and influential fashion designers working today. Her intent has always been ‘to make clothes that didn’t exist before’ and since the early 1970s Kawakubo has consistently challenged the ways people think about dress. Recognised for her intellectual, anti-fashion vocabulary of the 1980s, Kawakubo has upended notions of ideal beauty and gender, and ‘deconstructed’ conventional garment forms to introduce a new vocabulary into fashion, including oversized volumes, asymmetry, layering, imperfection and the use of black.

With her new approaches to silhouette, inventive pattern-making and experimental fabric treatments, Kawakubo’s work has remained enigmatic and radical, season after season, often critiquing the codes of femininity and gender.

Collecting Comme celebrates the NGV’s expansive collection of Comme des Garçons designs, generously gifted to the institution by Mr Takamasa Takahashi from 2005. The exhibition also includes work by Rei Kawakubo’s protégés Junya Watanabe and Tao Kurihara. A self-described ‘Comme tragic’ with a long history of collecting, Takahashi’s profound appreciation of, and emotional connection to, Kawakubo’s work permeates this exhibition, which considers both the historical and the personal significance of Comme des Garçons in cementing Kawakubo’s place within the history of contemporary fashion and the NGV Collection.

In Absence

Yhonnie Scare & Edition Office 2019 Architecture Commission

8 November 2019 – April 2020, 10am-5pm

Free entry – NGV International

Occurring annually, the NGV Architecture Commission is an open national competition, which invites architects to create a site-specific work of temporary architecture, activating the NGV’s Grollo Equiset Garden. For 2019, architects were encouraged to submit ideas focusing on multidisciplinary thinking, collaboration and audience engagement.

Yhonnie Scarce’s and Edition Offices’ project In Absence is an architectural installation that invites audiences to better understand the fallacy of the premise of Terra Nullius, which declared Australia as an emptiness awaiting ownership, by revealing and celebrating long histories of Indigenous construction, design, industry and agriculture, including the permanent villages and dwellings of many Indigenous communities.

The dark and enigmatic exterior form of the timber tower conceals a textural and uplifting interior, composed of two dramatic internal voids adorned with two thousand black glass Yams by Yhonnie Scarce.

Shirin Neshat

NGV Melbourne


15 November 2019 – 19 April 2020, 10am-5pm

Free entry – NGV International

Shirin Neshat (1957– ) is an Iranian-born artist and filmmaker living in New York. Since the early 1990s, her work has explored the complex relationships of femininity to Islam, representations of the Muslim faith in poetic and evocative ways, and the manner in which various social, political, religious and cultural codes shape us as individuals.

This exhibition presents Neshat’s Dreamers, a trilogy of video installations which explore the world of dreams from the perspective of three different female subjects, with the artist returning to the filmic and open-ended aspects of her early practice. In many ways, the characters and their surreal narratives are projections of the artist, through which she reflects on some of her own personal nightmares and dreamscapes.

The first work in the trilogy, Illusions & Mirrors 2013, features Natalie Portman as the protagonist. She is led by a blurry figure from the dream archetypes of the seashore, with crashing waves and sand dunes, to a stately home in ruin. Roja 2016, drawn from Neshat’s own recurring dreams, memories, and desires, traces an Iranian woman’s disquieting attempts at connection with American culture while reconciling her identification with her home country. The use of the uncanny is carried over into Sarah (2016), where the environment of the forest becomes a site of haunting, of the mysterious and unknowable. Sarah is both an observer and protagonist as she explores a space inhabited by processions of religious and military figures who hover between the potential of death and the mourning of life.

Through these three video installations, Neshat recreates the unstable and mesmerising space of the dream space, inviting audiences to travel with her exploring the inner lives of the women depicted.

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