Once Upon a Space

Ben Howe

Art Exhibition previously on at Brunswick Street Gallery in Fitzroy-Collingwood precinct, Victoria, Australia. Published by anonymous on Sunday 09 December 2007. Friday 07 December 2007 to Thursday 20 December 2007. Opening Friday 07 December 2007 .

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The works comprising this exhibition form an allegory between the phenomenon of gentrification and the importance of increasingly marginalized cultural spaces. Hamburg is the focus, but through this city a global crisis can be viewed – one which is most certainly shared with Melbourne. Howe has made paintings of buildings and spaces that have a history of counter culture and change.

Upon his arrival, Howe rapidly became acquainted with the underground cultural scene, where he refined a critical vision of the modern city in relation to his experience as a recent migrant.

“As the ever increasing process´ of gentrification, globalisation and contemporary capitalist society continue to Compress everything into neat boxes; pushing people into departments, buildings into uniformity and shaping the direction of our movement, it is important to take a moment to consider the intrinsic worth of such establishments that have been reclaimed for culture, and their future place in the outskirts of the system.”

The works in this series explore the city’s forgotten cultural centre: places ugly and run down from years of council neglect, and all in danger of being erased due to the movements of developers, business and an expanding middle class (drawn by the very things that they would remove).
Among them are music venues, political centres, youth clubs, Squats, cheep eateries, self run cinemas, and of course: artist studios and collectives.*

The works form an allegory between the phenomenon of gentrification and the importance of increasingly marginalized cultural spaces. Hamburg is the focus, but though this city a global crisis can be viewed – one which is most certainly shared with Melbourne.

Howe has made paintings of buildings witch have a history of counter culture and change
“Their facades are crumbling, accumulating coats of history with layer upon layer of graffiti, dust and event posters in the face of new, antiseptic apartments, offices and shops.”

He explores a number of techniques to reflect this subject. Sometimes stencils are utilized to mirror the street art witch covers the walls, occasionally strips of paper are layered and peeled off, and he also plays with the idea of working “free form blackout” over carefully planned pictures that evoke and parody the “instant artist” effects available in some computer programmes.

The issue of reproducing the words and pictures of other people is also confronted, as the countless scrawls and icons that crowd every available surface are inseparable from the living history of the spaces.
These were at times interpreted and translated into meaningless impressions: an unreadable language of lines and shapes through witch meaning can almost, but not quite, be derived. This is the world in which the artist found himself: struggling with a new language in a city full of curiosities, a city full of contradictions.

Location

Brunswick Street Gallery, 332 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, Melbourne
Wed-Sun: 11am-6pm