Mimicry and Subversion in Cover Versions


The question of the relationship between the original and the copy has persisted from Ancient Greece to today. Nowadays we tend to accept the paradoxical and circular relationship between originals and acts of mimicry; the new work not only references the original, but also creates a dialogue in which we rethink the original itself. So what happens when this fragile relationship is paired with our digital age? This is one of the central questions informing Shepparton Art Museum’s current exhibition Cover Versions: Mimicry and Resistance.

Featuring 13 artists and collectives, the exhibition is curated by Anna Briers and spans performance, drawings, sound art, video and installation. The show also evokes all manner of covers including impersonations, appropriations, reproductions, multiplications and replications.

Further intersecting with nature, the internet, popular culture, sociology and music, Cover Versions begins from the central tenet that acts of mimicry may hold subversive potential.

The exhibition also includes site-specific pieces that stem from two newly commissioned works; a participatory sound art performance by Julian Day and Super Critical Mass, and Michael Candy’s Synthetic Pollenizer. While Day’s piece centres on the creation of an impromptu choir, Candy’s work takes audiences outside the gallery to where the artist has created robotic flowers that successfully trick bees into thinking they are real flowers. One of the primary aims is to increase pollination rates, and the work also looks at the links between robo-genetics and agriculture. Currently situated in Carlton, the robotic flowers will be live-streamed in the gallery.

Further showing is Marco Fusinato’s Mass Black Implosion works in which the artist draws over scores by avant-garde composers. By literally ‘covering’ the musical notations, Fusinato obscures the original to gain new meanings. Meanwhile The Kingpins video work VERSUS re-performs the video clip for Run-DMC and Aerosmith’s ‘Walk This Way’.

Through an act of feminist subversion, the re-performance forefronts the stereotypical gender roles that litter mainstream music.

In addition the exhibition also considers acts of mimicry in relation to colonialism, exploitative histories and political subversion, as found in the works of Christian Thompson and Yuki Kihara. Finally Cover Versions looks to that modern day behemoth of reproductions and appropriations; the internet. By thinking through questions of digital alterations and viral sensations, artists such as Soda_Jerk show how the act of mimicry is often simultaneously an act of both critique and homage.

Cover Versions: Mimicry and Resistance
Shepparton Art Museum
10 November – 14 January 2018

Preview Words by Tiarney Miekus