CROWD Theory Adelaide – Victoria Square / Tarntanyangga – Samstag Art Museum – 4K

Simon Terrill - Crowd Theory Adelaide: Victoria Square / Tarndanyangga (detail), 2013

Simon Terrill – Crowd Theory Adelaide: Victoria Square / Tarndanyangga (detail), 2013

By Peter Maddern

Simon Terrill’s Crowd Theory series started as a solution to a problem about how to capture a group of people’s reactions and connections to a particular place with which they have an attachment. His early works in Melbourne focused around apartment buildings, sports fields and the like, each bringing a combination of people often dwarfed by the physical structures behind, notable for their bright lights emanating.

At the end of February, citizens of Adelaide were encouraged to congregate near the Three Rivers Fountain in Victoria Square just at the moment it was about to undergo a transformation and Terrill, perched up on scaffolding at the southern end, would capture that gatherings interaction’s with the space in a form of performance art.

The result, Crowd Theory Adelaide – Victoria Square / Tarntanyangga, is now hanging in the Samstag Art Museum, the entity that commissioned the work.

Done for the first time by Terrill in three panels, Crowd Theory Adelaide is, if nothing else, a terrific, stunning capture of Adelaide in 2013, one that will stand the test of time. As a participant, seeing the whole carries very much more an impact than the involvement itself did. Careful inspection reveals audience members undertaking all kinds of behaviour, responding to Terrill’s urgings that the thoughts we held could be captured by the camera.

However, it is the lights that span out behind the fountain that really pack the image’s punch. The symmetry that Light bestowed upon our town is for all to see in its glory 175 years on – the Town Hall and Post Office towers straddling lines of traffic, one approaching, the other distancing itself from the core of the image, the fountain. The office buildings then seem to climb up from the valley of traffic.

Being able to also balance the red bunting in place (in the foreground) for the works then soon to commence with the lights of cars moving on at the rear was quite inspired (it otherwise being an eyesore.)

Like many contemporary images of their time, many may not give this work much thought. This would be an error as there is something, as I say, quite stunning and enchanting about Adelaide done up like this But in time, the significance of this (like other contemporary) images will grow – nostalgia and fascination will take root and Terrill’s image will be sure to become an iconic for one Adelaide.

We may also then be able to better answer whether a better image would have been before the Council work set in, to have seen Victoria in her pomp at the end of 50 years, especially if the renovations now underway finish up as the same sort of debacle as the Council’s work on Victoria Park.

Kryztoff Rating   4K

See our interview with Simon Terrill about this and his other work by CLICKING HERE

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