Opening night of the Fringe welcomed in the Art Gallery’s latest big ticket purchase, a print of Russian photographic collective AES+F’s Allegoria Sacra. On that night it was shown twice on a massive screen out the front of the Gallery towards North Terrace, giving Fringe patrons the visual feast denied them by the trashy parade that preceded it down King William Street.
Inspired by Giovanni Bellini’s 15th century painting of the same name, this third and final part of their trilogy about the dilemmas of the modern world gives viewers all the sensations that the two previous parts have (Last Riot, seen at the Jam Factory four years ago and The Feast of Trimalchio last year) including big, thunderous background music, an array of delightful (semi clad) subjects and those peculiar stilted turning head movements arising from the extraordinary technology used.
This Allegoria Sacra is centred about a very modern form of purgatory – being stuck in an airport transit lounge waiting to move from one world to the next. Laced within the story are futuristic scenarios, images of idolised youth, fashion, progress and wealth that raise as many questions about their substance over form as it does about where to next for us all. Throw in some scenes from a rain forest and a golden centaur and for 30 minutes one is immersed in a cauldron of desire, revulsion, envy, shock, humour and wonder.
Compared with the two previous (aforementioned) works, not much new in terms of imagery or technology happens here – the tens of thousands of photographs used to comprise the moving images we see are as big and bold and as rich with metaphor as they are imagination as the previous works. But that is not meant as any form of criticism but rather an inducement for those have enjoyed AES+F’s previous works when here to roll up while it is still on its first public viewing (til 3rd June).
The big difference now of course is that this time we have a copy of our own. Well done to the Art Gallery and its donor patrons on the purchase.