An anti-cap gloss to student show

Rhonda Dredge

A giant melting marshmallow has won the 2022 Majlis Travelling Fellowship for a final year student at the Victorian College of the Arts.

The $15,000 scholarship is awarded to an art student so they can travel and potentially pick up more capitalistic tricks.

Shannon Toth won the award for a gross installation Beating, Bleeding, Breathing.

Art prizes, unlike those in other industries, award conceptual thinking as well as making and the marshmallow is both authentic and big.

The exhibition of 15 finalists at the Fiona and Sidney Myer Gallery takes quite a few sugary swipes at the emptiness of neo-liberalism.


With everything from video, paintings, photographs, installation and linocut prints, the exhibition gives students the chance to make their often cynical commentaries on mainstream culture.


Transformation Vol 2: A Romantic Incident by Jungxuan Chen is a witty parody of the constant portrayal of Asian women in society as “pleasing”.

In three videos, an airline hostess, marriage provider and student perform their capitalist roles for the viewer.

“My love comes cheap,” says the marriage chick as she gets marriage candidates to fill in forms at her desk.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are now experiencing turbulence,” says the hostess in her corporate setting.

Their performances are flat and regress over time into a peep show, a commentary on the service industry and the way it offers up of subjectivities as cocktails for those with the funds.

Another great feature of this exhibition of students’ minds at work is the Smile series of paintings by Wylie Siassios.

The smile is virtually invisible on a bold smattering of materials including acrylic paint and deodorant.

If you were looking for a theme behind the slick smile, falsehood might do it.

The ability to turn a trick into a treat is neo-liberalism’s coup de grâce and it’s not that far removed from the antics of these up-and-coming consumers despite their anti-cap gloss. •


Photo caption 1: Transformation Vol 2: A Romantic Incident by
Jungxuan Chen.

Photo caption 2: A melting marshmallow by Shannon Toth.

Photo Caption 4-5: A slick smile by Wylie Siassios.

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