Mar 26, 2018
I wandered through the gallery rooms of the NGV International, unsure when I would encounter Mueck’s ‘Mass’ exhibition. One room of ancient paintings leads to the next until I reached a room adorned with 17th and 18th-century masterpieces. Staring at me from the centre of the room was a lone white skull.
It was like I had entered a tomb-come-shrine, but didn’t know who it was for. I moved closer to the skull and got my first glimpse of the room beyond, which was packed to the rafters with larger than life human relics. As I entered this room, ‘Mass’ delivered its full impact. The scene struck me as ironic: here were individuals gathered in a wondrous kind of union, to marvel at the collective remains of those long deceased. It was at once a celebration of life and death, which to this day is a common and potent symbol used in art. The skulls represent both our inevitable mortality, and a prized part of our structural anatomy.
It was certainly overwhelming to witness these 100 skulls stacked haphazardly upon each other, each one individually and intricately crafted. While the sculptures made me feel dwarfed, I left with a heightened appreciation of not only human life, but also Mueck’s ability to evoke powerful emotion through his means of representing it.
You can see Mueck’s work at Melbourne’s NGV International as part of the NGV Triennial until April 15, 2018.
Put it on your Melb-Must-Do List! 💀