Co-curated exhibition at Gertrude Contemporary as part of the 2010 Melbourne International Arts Festival.

Featuring work by six major international artists, Jeremy Blake, Ulla von Brandenburg, Bas Jan Ader, Joachim Koester, Mel O’Callaghan and Saskia Olde Wolbers, Dying in Spite of the Miraculous reveals the shadowy outlines that bleed between worlds, where the artist becomes inseparable from their haunting of a site or a story.

all images by Christian Capurro

Co-curated by the Melbourne Festival and Gertrude Contemporary the exhibition explores film’s potential as an allegory for the interplay between real time and the illusory as actors blur their characters with themselves, and sites resonate with accumulated history.

Combining the intrigue of real life events and myths born from trauma and psychosis with ritual and magic, this exhibition presents a restless fusion of the celestial and the real. Bas Jan Ader and Jeremy Blake both disappeared presumed drowned at sea while exploring sadness and psychosis in their work. The myths and superstitions surrounding occultist Aleister Crowley and killers Jean-Claude Romand and Charles Manson are the subject of works by Joachim Koester and Saskia Olde Wolbers. Joachim Koester and Ulla von Brandenburg reveal a curious collection of architectures, from the ghoulishly muraled rooms of Crowley’s magical community in Sicily, to Le Corbusier’s failed utopian experiment Villa Savoye, and Jeremy Blake’s video work summons the spectres of the Winchester Mystery Mansion built by Sarah Lockwood Pardee, as a gift to the ghosts that haunted her. In all of these works the celestial coexists with the out-take and the certain becomes ethereal.

Working in collaboration with architect Johan Van Schaik Gertrude Contemporary’s two gallery spaces will be transformed into a dematerialising labyrinth, mirroring the way the works blur the distinction between self and subject, and creating an entire viewing environment for each of these works.


Jeremy Blake (USA) presented work in the 2000, 2002 and 2004 Whitney Biennials, and his solo exhibitions included Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid and Schusev Museum of Architecture, Moscow. His work also features as the abstract sequences in the film Punch Drunk Love.

Ulla von Brandenburg (Germany) has exhibited widely including the 2009 Venice Biennale, the 2008 Torino Triennale, Yokohama Triennale and Biennale Jerusalem, Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco and Tate Modern, London.

Bas Jan Ader (Netherlands) exhibited at Museum of Modern Art, New York, ‘Prospect ’71’ Düsseldorf, and his solo exhibitions included Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, ARC Musée d‘Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Camden Arts Centre, London, and Kunsthalle Basel.

Joachim Koester (Denmark), a conceptual artist and a graduate of the Royal Danish Academy of Art, was a 2008 finalist for the Hugo Boss Prize, exhibiting in West and East Europe, North and South America, and Africa, including the 2005 Venice Biennale Danish Pavilion.

Saskia Olde Wolbers (Netherlands) was the winner of the Beck’s Futures award in 2004 and the Bâloise Prize at Basel Art Fair 2003, exhibitions include 2009 Athens Biennale, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Art Gallery of York University, Toronto, Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.

Mel O’Callaghan is an Australian born, Paris and Berlin based artist whose film, video, photographic and sculptural installations have been exhibited in Sydney at Annandale Galleries, Gitte Weise Gallery, Sherman Galleries, Gallery 4A, Asia-Australia Art Centre, and University of Art Gallery of New South Wales, as well as Queensland Art Museum, Galerie Schleicher+Lange, Paris, Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris and Irma Vep Lab, Champagne, France.

Curators: Emily Cormack, Alexie Glass-Kantor, Simon Maidment and Brett Sheehy.

More details about the exhibition design can be found on the website of Minife van Schaik Architects.