17 May – 13 June 2004: Vicki Conville + Memento Mori


Gallery 1

Federico Fellini once said, “all art is autobiographical, the pearl is the oyster’s autobiography”.

In her new work, Vicki McConville uses autobiography as inspiration for new media, diorama boxes and digital prints, produced while undertaking a Master of Fine Arts at Monash University.

Memento Mori translates as “Remember You Must Die”. It is also a description of an object or a  warning symbol (eg: a skull) related to death and remembrance. In Medieval and Victorian times, people kept ‘memento mori’ of loved ones, a lock of hair, a memorial spoon, a clay death mask.

In 2000 and 2001, McConville experienced a series of dramatic and transforming events. Having always used personal archives and visual research as the basis of her work, she explored responses to death and dying for this new work. McConville says “the Memento Mori project has been a form of self-preservation”.

In this exhibition, McConville borrows from the wunderkammer tradition of collection and display. Dating back to the 1500’s, and precursor to our modern museum, the wunderkammer celebrated the idea that all the wonders of our world could be contained within a room, within a box. McConville muses that “the computer is our contemporary wunderkammer” and creates a series of mirrored boxed dioramas, reminiscent of what American artist Joseph Cornell described as his ‘boxes of memory’. These are installed with digital prints, a sound scape and a DVD film.

Exhibiting professionally since 1982, Vicki McConville has exhibited extensively in Australia, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Slovenia, Russia and the USA.  In 2000 her new media project ‘The Private Eye’ was toured to the UK as part of the Federation Festival. Her work is in prominent public collections and private collections throughout Australia, USA, UK, France, Italy and Germany. Vicki has worked in traditional printmaking, digital print media, installation, video, radio, voice and performance. She has been the principal artist and the artistic director on large-scale projects in urban and regional areas, is a Juror for the International Digital Art Award and is a Director on the Board of the National Association for the Visual Arts.