Octopus 17: Forever Transformed


The End of Time. The Beginning of Time, which closed in June, was the final show at Gertrude Contemporary in the street that gave the art gallery its name. It’s difficult to avoid being histrionic – anyone tied to Melbourne’s art world in the last three decades must feel just a twang of nostalgia for the end of time. We must remember though, dear Gertrude’s moving, not deceased. The street, located in Fitzroy, was a baffling melange of art, dreams and desperation in its heyday, and the gallery had been the golden buckle in the belt since 1985.

This place has serious pedigree – 17 out of 20 artists that have represented Australia at the Venice Biennale since 1995 have either been alumni of the Gertrude studio or an exhibiting artist.

Now Gertrude’s picking up its skirts and shifting north to the scent of gentrification in Preston South’s High Street.

The gallery will unfasten its doors for Open Melbourne weekend (29–30 July) – including those leading to the new artists’ digs. The first cab out of the rank is Octopus 17: Forever Transformed; a group exhibition curated by Next Wave artistic director, Georgie Meagher.

The show casts a critical eye to one of the most highly valued qualities of our time – resilience. Meagher will bring together works “which both embrace and reject this concept” including a selection from Tony Albert’s Optimism series and an installation by French-Guyanese artist Tabita Rezaire.

The exhibition, she says, “challenges the efficacy of quickly bouncing back and explores alternative frames of reference that encompass resistance, decolonisation, perseverance, subversion and optimism.” The title itself was taken from the text for the final show at old Gertrude, pointing “to the new chapter in Gertrude’s history” and most pertinently, “a scientific definition of resilience, the capability of an object to resume its original shape after deformation,” says Meagher.

Octopus 17: Forever Transformed
Gertrude Contemporary (Preston South)
29 July – 9 September

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