Wednesday 15 February 2017

The Intimate 8 by Moira Finucane

There is a sense of excitement and anticipation shared between twenty strangers as they stand around the National Gallery of Victoria's information desk. We are about to embark on Moira Finucane's The Intimate 8 tour of the gallery, and anyone who knows Moira Finucane knows that expectations should be left at the door and to openly accept the adventure that awaits.

 I'm not quite sure when or where Finucane appears from, but suddenly she stands before us, wearing a black flowing dress with Swarovski crystals. "This is the gallery ladies and gentlemen, The National Gallery of Victoria, and it belongs, belongs, belongs to you, to the people", she proclaims as we are guided through a number of artworks housed in the NGV. 

The tour requires we all wear headphones so that when we hear Finucane speak, it feels like she is a thought in your mind, as if your subconscious has suddenly come to life to enlighten you. Her constant elaborate movements, physical contact with the audience and steady, impassioned eye contact as she relays the history of the various paintings, sculptures and other works vividly bring these items to life as humanly possible.

August Friedrich Albrecht Schenck's Anguish
While Finucane explores the political meanings of the works - both from when they were created to contemporary world interpretations - she also manages to infuse her trademark humour and suggestive undertones into the performance. August Friedrich Albrecht Schenck's Anguish received the strongest reaction from myself with the painting depicting a murder of crows surrounding a sheep as it vainly attempts to protect its dying lamb. It speaks volumes on the state of Australia's politics with regards to refugees and protecting those that are disenfranchised and require protection.

The Intimate 8 experience is further enhanced by the soundtrack playing through our headphones throughout the tour. Created by composers Darrin Verhagen and Ben Keene, the creative decisions they have made allow for a deeper evocative response from the audience to not only Finucane's words but also to the art itself. 

Porcelain Heart by Catherine Lane
Having seen Finucane performing on stage for many years, it was a refreshing opportunity to see her in a different light. There's a reason why the NGV has appointed her its first ever Creative Fellow in 2016, and I was extremely fortunate to be able to get up close and personal with a person who inspires so many to create change through their art and their lives.

Being part of The Intimate 8 was an invigorating encounter. Finucane's passion for art, the idea that it is political and should be for everybody, rejuvenated my own passion for change and provided me with a fresh look at viewing art. In doing so, it has also allowed me to look at my life and the world around me through a different perspective and planted the seed to begin acting on this new-found passion.

The Intimate 8 was performed at the National Gallery of Victoria 28 January, and 3 and 11 February 2017.

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