Darren Sylvester

Working across photography, sculpture, video, music and performance, Melbourne artist Darren Sylvester mines the polished world of pop culture to construct narratives about contemporary ennui, pathos and mortality. The artist’s first major Australian exhibition sees seventy of Sylvester’s works permeate the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia with colour, glam and sheen.

‘Darren Sylvester: Carve A Future, Devour Everything, Become Something’ is woven with commentary on pop culture, consumerism, music and advertising as a way of exploring the ways in which everyday life is shaped by branding. Forty-three of Sylvester’s hyper-colourful photographs are on display, their meticulously constructed sets and highly symbolic mise en scène revealing the artist’s ongoing fascination with our place in a Western world ruled by pop culture and multinational brands.

The show also features large-scale installations and sculptures, chaise lounge upholstered in cheeseburger wrapping. A celebrity acceptance-speech stage, adorned with a standing microphone and red carpet, spotlights the absurdity and vacuousness of celebrity culture, as embodied by Hollywood awards ceremonies. A reinterpretation of Sylvester’s dance floor installation For you – based on a YSL makeup compact that uses colours ‘proven’ to be flattering by market research – invites audiences to come together and dance.

Music also plays a role in Sylvester’s multidisciplinary practice, and in 2008 the artist spent four months producing and performing an album of pop songs, teaching himself how to sing, play guitar and drums, record and mix. He has since released two albums complete with music videos. Audiences can listen to these heavily layered and hyper-produced songs within a dedicated ambient music alcove in the exhibition space.

Connected by Sylvester’s highly-stylised aesthetic, the works in ‘Carve A Future, Devour Everything, Become Something’ reveals playful yet poignant links between consumerism and mortality, pop culture and the banality of the everyday.

Darren Sylvester: Carve A Future, Devour Everything, Become Something
1 March – 30 June 2019
The Ian Potter Centre: NGV, Melbourne


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