Melbourne, Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Program 2015

Art and Design: The Curtain Breathed Deeply, Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Program 2015

0 Comments 27 February 2015

Sydney artist Justene Williams’ exhibition The Curtain Breathed Deeply is four rooms of coloured chaos. Blending “the energy of one realm into another”, Williams’ interest in choreography and performance is clear in the interactive environment and hypnotising films that are projected within each of the exhibition’s four rooms.

Curiosity is a key feature of the exhibition. Walking through the space there are muffled sounds and vibrant, coloured lights leaking into rooms from every direction. The sense of unknown, that comes from never being sure what sounds and colours are coming from where, keeps you walking through the exhibition.

The exhibition space is relatively small, making a second walk through necessary and rewarding. The first walk is almost overwhelming, a chaotic blend of colour and texture. On the second its abrupt nature falls to the wayside and the underlying influences of the exhibition become clear.


The exhibition is inspired by the death of Williams’ Father, who passed away from melothemania, an asbestos related cancer affecting the lungs and the breath. This knowledge gives every object a whole new, more haunting impact, which is really where the strength of the exhibition lies.

The influence of the disease is evident in every room. Walls are stuffed and covered in sheer fabrics. Rooms are cluttered. Giant foam blocks, vibrant, coloured lighting and a multitude of screens and sounds results in an almost suffocating experience in four rooms. Another room, in contrast, is clinically white and bare, plastic curtains acting as a literal depiction of the hospital curtain her Father lay behind before his death.

Ultimately The Curtain Breathed Deeply is an encompassing exhibition that will suit both novices and experts of the art world. Its only fault is the lack of explanation given to the inspiration behind it, a story that encourages you to stay in each room for a longer time and analyse each and every object within it. But then again, most of Williams’ work is up to audience interpretation. Maybe too much explanation would spoil the wonderful sense of confusion that comes with sitting on a cracked, painted lounge watching Williams’ characters dance around on the projected screens that surround you.

The Curtain Breathed Deeply runs from 7 February until the 2 April at MUMA, as a part of the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival.



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