Before the Age OF tHe Museum


Michael Bugelli Gallery Hobart

Before The Age Of The Museum, staged across the previously inaccessible basement levels and the ground floor galleries of Hobart’s historic Ingle Hall, pivoted on the historiographic aspects of Hazewinkel’s multiform practice.

Excavating and opening the building’s basements to the public for the first time revealed a materially tangible, irrefutable history of the building (and it’s various colonial inhabitants), occupation of an ancient and an already occupied land. 

A quasi-scientific archaeological dig around the building’s foundations unearthed the use of gathered (but otherwise unworked) river pebbles as flooring, presented alongside imagined artefactual discoveries pointing toward the personal histories of the building’s early inhabitants.

Moving back and forth between the earthy unvarnished basement levels and the aesthetically polished ground floor galleries, exhibition visitors encountered a site-specific installation spanning both domains, wherein a live CCTV feed performed surveillance of the temporal limbo evidenced by a lineage of incised graffiti uncovered during the basement excavations. Recent sculpture bearing the marks of erosion and photographs of disinterred antique figurative sculpture (declaring their subjects exposure to unintended agents) reflected the characteristic markings of the building’s interior life.  Seashells and small rock specimens (presented as the imagined keepsakes of the building’s earliest inhabitants), point toward the well documented history of the 'cabinet of curiosities' from which today’s museums have all emerged. A triptych of large format figurative screen-prints on sandpaper (presenting images of European archaeological finds drawn from 19th C glass photographic negatives) remind us of the way in which material relationships can transcend perceptions of delineated or boundaried time. This material timelessness was also evoked through the relationships between the crisp digital video and the unseen technology of it’s presentation against rough hewn stone walls. Further conceptual material explorations were brought to mind by the screen-printed leather curtain, presented in the round in the largest ground floor gallery. Here a kind of spectral materialism unfolds and then quickly circles back on itself as a photographic representation of hard stone, in the form of a soft body, wearing only the skin of an animal, is represented, across time, on the hides of another animal.  

Oscillating back and forth, above and below, swinging between fact and the imaginary, Before The Age Of The Museum set us, both in body and in mind, hovering between a present and a past without  priority.

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