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Ironic travelogue heralds in grad show season

Ironic travelogue heralds in grad show season
Rhonda Dredge

Grad Show season has begun at the campus of the Victorian College of the Arts, kicking off at the beginning of November.

First up was the Graduate Certificate of Visual Arts at the VCA Art Space, opening on November 1.

The full undergrad show will follow on November 23 at the Fiona and Sidney Myer Gallery.

The exhibitions attract thousands keen to check out what the city’s future artists are doing and saying.

An outstanding travelogue by Jasmine Lawrence was one of the 37 final year presentations at the VCA Art Space.

Her work Exchange (V1 and V2) is an audio-visual presentation that raised important questions about what makes a good travelogue.

How much should be included? What is the best medium? Does text work better than voice? What images are evocative?

Lawrence has chosen audio-visual as her medium, but it is a far cry from a typical slide show of favourite sights.

She has combined original and found images with lines of text to create a reflective, amusing and non-specific account with equal measures of irony and pathos.

“I hope to dream in German,” the first piece of text says, coupled with a fragment of a map and some abstract images of ruins.

A viewer can start anywhere in a video loop, and this is one great advantage of an installation over a book.

A few disjunctive comments such as “neither of us particularly love waterfalls” and these were “the worst bikes we’d ever seen” captured the truth about sightseeing.

Coming up face-to-face with monuments can be fun or painful and a traveller is forced into close contact with herself, one of the pleasures of the journey. 

Personal responses count for a lot, but they can become tiresome if shared endlessly.

This is where the aesthetics of a good travelogue come in. The experience needs to be shaped and cuts made.

Lawrence does a brilliant job of this. It’s impossible to know what countries she visited or if she even left Melbourne.

Gritty comments such as “driver was a bit of a cowboy” and “my dreams the night before had been full of old hurts and insecurities” drop a few hints.

The final scene includes an image of a train returning and the realisation that “travel is not about rest”.

Lawrence admits her strategy in a final comment: “I know these are cheap, disingenuous thoughts.”

Grad Show, Victorian College of the Arts, November 23.

 

Caption: Final scene from Exchange (V1 and V2) by Jasmine Lawrence.

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