BrightSide Exhibition Opening, aMBUSH, Feb 14
When a friend asked me what I did for Valentine's Day, I responded with: "I watched a pole dancer, danced to some rockabilly music, avoided being hit with Cupid's arrow - literally - all while being served absinthe cocktails by topless waiters". Pretty good Valentine's night if you ask me.
If you're wondering where all this magic took place, it was the launch of local artist BrightSide's showcase at aMBUSH Gallery
. For a night that is usually filled with cheesy sentiments and loved-up couples, this exhibition gave Valentine's a whole new meaning. On arrival the crowd was already spilling onto the street, quite an eclectic group mixing hipsters with art lovers, and the odd couple that got lost on their way to dinner. Entering the gallery I immediately felt like I'd run off to join the circus: there was a stripper pole in the middle of the room, dwarves were dressed as Cupid, girls were in fairy costumes, there were topless waiters and an angel in the DJ booth.
I grabbed my first beverage of the night - an absinthe cocktail, no less - then out came the pole dancer. Now, I've been to a few art shows, and until Tuesday was yet to experience one with a pole dancer. With a feminist rant all prepared for my friends, I was stopped short as it actually appears to be quite a skill to master, and accordingly it pulled in an intrigued crowd.
And the 'traditional' art? The exhibition was themed, appropriately, around Valentine's Day. Screen prints were strategically mounted on the walls in the shape of giant love hearts, which made for a lovely feature. Being somewhat of a Disney freak growing up, I took a particular liking to the pieces, which reflected the animation characters I knew and loved. At first glance you think you are seeing the artist's take on fairytales as seen through a modernist lens, but when you revisit with your second drink you see even more. The artwork takes on a love vs. lust quality, extractng the good we see in our favourite childhood fairytales, stripping it down and mixing it with a darker side.
Turning out to be more of an extravaganza than an exhibition, BrightSide also showcased works screenprinted onto mirrors, lighting installations and live performance. The use of mirrors gave the art an interesting edge - when looked from particular angles you would see three or four pieces across the room that you missed before.
The hardcore attendees who stayed on until after the booze ran out were treated to what felt like a haunted house ride on acid. The rockabilly picked up, dancers filled the floor, the artwork was mirrored on the walls and for the ones who were game - a go on the stripper pole.