As part of the NGV's Festival of Photography, Patrick Pound's The Great Exhibition at the NGV at Federation Square is a wondrous collection of photographs and everyday objects curated by the artist. Most of the photographs come from his extensive collection but some are also from the NGV's collection. As well as photographs, there is a collection of objects of all kinds in the Museum of There/Not there. As such the exhibition defies definition and classification and teases the visitor. It is a fascinating journey into people's lives and a commentary on society across a number of decades.
It is the first comprehensive exhibition of the New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based artist. A very keen collector, Patrick Pound acquires many of his photographs online through auctions or private collectors. He is interested in systems and the ordering of objects, an attempt, perhaps, to make things coherent. As Pound says, 'to collect is to gather your thoughts through things'. Ideas are playfully presented and entice the viewer to delve deeper and to make connections between ideas and his or her own life and experiences.
The photographs are shown as collections, described as 'museums of things'. Objects that are seemingly redundant or overlooked are collected by the artist and put back into 'use' in these museums. So the arrangement, according to themes or 'museums' challenges the viewer with unstated questions as to why certain photographs were selected for a particular theme.
There are amateurish photographs that resonate because many viewers experienced in photography before digital cameras, will identify their own attempts at recording family milestones, travel, artistic attempts and even failed photo booth results. The photographs show ordinary lives and ordinary people but far from being mundane there is a sense of joy and a sense of humour. The personal photographs are interspersed with professional photographs, mainly of films fitting the theme.
In the Museum of There/Not There, a cardboard cutout of Hillary Clinton stands next to a male mannequin wearing a tight nylon shirt and a ventriloquist dummy completes the trio. It is again up to the viewer to interpret what is curated and shown. There are books, pieces of furniture, board games and many other artefacts that tell stories of the past and may or may not be "there".
It is a truly fascinating exhibition and well worth spending a couple of hours looking, contemplating, reflecting and asking questions. You will walk away enriched by this collection and perhaps get out your own old, dusty albums and everyday objects that may not be in fashion anymore.
For those further interested in photography and collecting there are also mini-events such as why we collect and looking at trends in photography. For dates and bookings please check here. For children there is a specially devised activity trail