Octopus ’17
Gertrude Contemporary has moved into new digs in Preston, launching the new space with its annual Octopus group show. Guest curator Georgie Meagher’s exhibition focuses on resilience. Tony Albert’s Optimism is a photo series of a man wearing a Jawun woven basket – a traditional symbol of positivity, resilience and hope in the Indigenous communities of northern Queensland – worn in a variety of contemporary contexts as a sign of the perseverance of culture in modern urban life. Artist Sophie Cassar’s zine-inspired pieces are built on the impersonal aesthetics of hospitals, inspired by the artist’s own inpatient stints, internet communities and Lacan’s mirror stage. Cassar has an eye for the clinical and absurd: look out for the paper bag her breakfast toast arrives in every morning, emblazoned with a pink rose and cursive text that reads, “Your toast”. Tabita Rezaire’s Peaceful Warrior is a garish, web 2.0 anti-aesthetic instructional video. These are all contemporary, diverse voices, and they add up to a coherent whole.

Octopus ’17: Forever Transformed is at Gertrude Contemporary, until September 9.

Constance Stokes and Minna Gilligan
At the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, two women take centre stage. The first is Constance Stokes, an unjustifiably obscure modernist painter. In her day, Stokes was displayed alongside Arthur Boyd, Russell Drysdale and Sidney Nolan, but her name doesn’t have the same recognition as these men’s do. This is a retrospective of work from across seven decades, including vibrant portraits as well as journals, sketchbooks, letters, photographs and drawings. Her earlier works garnered international acclaim, but it’s the bright palettes in later pieces from the ’70s and ’80s that light up the room. Melbourne artist Minna Gilligan’s digital prints and collages sit beautifully beside Stokes’s. Gilligan takes women from catalogues and other advertising images and immerses them in painterly, psychedelic dreamscapes. They’re garish, quirky and fantastic.

Minna Gilligan: Mystery to Me and Constance Stokes are both at the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery until September 17.

Blood: Attract & Repel
The brand new Science Gallery at the University of Melbourne is not for the faint-hearted – its first exhibition has already upset some. Blood: Attract and Repel is about challenging our perceptions of blood. These works, selected by a team of experts that includes a haematologist and a cardiologist, ask the question: are the feelings of revulsion towards blood cultural or biological? You Beaut! by collective Hotham Street Ladies is a toilet cubicle decorated with illustrations of uteruses and smatterings of menstrual blood (which is, in fact, cake icing). Other works are also designed to provoke, such as a record made from dried and compressed pig blood. Next to that, there’s a collection of items made using HIV-infected blood that visitors are encouraged to pick up. There is no risk of infection from these sterile, inanimate objects, yet the piece invites us to ask ourselves whether we still feel uncomfortable holding them. It’s a worthwhile crossover of art and science: all thought provoking and all challenging.

Blood: Attract and Repel is at the Science Gallery, University of Melbourne, until October 5.

The Score
Centuries ago, musical notation was standardised into the lines, dots and Latin terms we all recognize today. But how can such an emotive, endlessly re-interpretable artform be boiled down to a rigid system of rules? This huge exhibition, crossing all three floors of the Ian Potter Museum, explores alternative visual representations of music, from canvasses of abstract colour to interactive sculptures. The work here crosses disciplines and forms, often within the same piece, and the results are as exciting and visually appealing as the music they represent. Angelica Mesiti, for instance, uses sculpture to physically represent Morse code message in the form of a windchime. She then assigns a percussionist to interpret her sculpture, which is then interpreted by a dancer. When you’re freed from the limitations of traditional notation, anything can be represented as sound. Michaela Gleave’s piece 1977.09.05.28.2920°N, 80.3440W° is a 36-part choral performance; the score is based on the position of stars in the sky. There’s a performance of the piece in the gallery in October: the choir, snaking up the building’s central stairs, will be singing the stars.

The Score is at the Ian Potter Museum of Art until November 5.

Call of the Avant-Garde
One hundred years ago, in the wake of the Russian Revolution, a bold new international art movement emerged, influenced by architecture, abstraction and a connection to the real world. Its adherents created sculptures that looked like scale models of cranes, and paintings that recalled propaganda posters. A century later, Constructivism is still with us. Heide’s Call of the Avant-Garde: Constructivism and Australian Art charts the movement throughout the last century of Australian artists. Across 100 years and more than 233 works, Constructivism’s form might vary, but the basic concerns with geometry, sharp lines and stark colours don’t change. That means spaces filled with geometric sculpture, bold colour and graphic, kinetic canvases.

Call of the Avant-Garde: Constructivism & Australian Art runs at Heide until October 8.

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