Being vulnerable in the COVID-19 era

Being vulnerable in the COVID-19 era

By Rhonda Dredge

Once again, the Assembly Point vitrines down at the Guild building on Sturt St are reading the culture of Melbourne as it evolves.

At the beginning of the first lockdown, an exhibition of drawings reimagined the beauty of the banks of the Yarra River during first settlement.

Against this the artists juxtaposed the developer’s hammer of the contemporary construction scene.

This exhibition captured the mood of the times when people were out exercising and rediscovering the geography of their city.

In the current exhibition, BOOBOO, three feminists are making a striking tribute to the ins and outs of the female body.

There is always something new to be said about biology and its spatial and hormonal wonders but are viewers still receptive, given that social constructs such as gender have taken over as hotter topics in the public domain?

Ian was down getting a coffee and was happy to talk to Southbank News about his responses to the exhibition.

“I’m trying to figure out what the yellow is,” he said, looking at Stephania Leigh’s piece Partial Figure (RYB). “It’s a womb.”

“I’m interested in what the blue is. Blue is usually the colour of peace. The fact that the yellow is off the ground and held up by blue suggests a tranquil, peaceful holding of a womb.”

The BOOBOO girls, Karryn Argus, Stephania Leigh and Caroline Phillips, should be happy with this receptive reading of their feminised space within Melbourne’s coffee culture.

“Leigh’s work explores the visibility of the female form through opaque and abstracted planes of acrylic and wood, with a reductionist approach to colour,” BOOBOO said in its artists’ statement.

They say the work aims to play with the viewer’s ideas and emotions and it certainly does in Female, in which two floating shapes seem to capture the more maudlin mood of the city as it goes further into lockdown.

One large red teardrop shape hovers in space while another dark blue full stop hovers in front. This could be a way of saying: “stop your crying.”

Female artists are offering comfort as people adjust to the fear and isolation of the COVID-19 era of physical distancing.

Feelings of vulnerability are brought forward in this collaborative project and Blobbing by Caroline Phillips is visceral in its use of soft materials in tortured forms while lovely knitted blobs in muted colours by Karryn Argus invite you into her room.

BOOBOO, Caroline Phillips, Stephania Leigh and Karryn Aurgus, Assembly Point, Sturt Street until September 27 •

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