The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art’s latest exhibition, Mortality, is an exceptional, though brooding, exposition on life’s compulsive pilgrimage towards death. Mark Richards’ sculpture series, Snow Boy—a collection of three nude infants hanging precariously from their plinths—offers a fitting introduction to an exhibition that attempts to explore life’s trajectory with works of youth, transition, vulnerability and fatality.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Mortality is a rather dark exhibition—both conceptually and literally. Dimly lit and claustrophobically laid out, this exhibition feels like a grim observance of life’s inescapable decline. Produced in conjunction with the Melbourne International Arts Festival, Mortality features works by some of the world’s leading contemporary artists, from the beautifully bleak video installations of Bill Viola, TV Moore and Anri Sala, to Peter Kennedy’s obituaries in blue neon and white fluoro and Aleks Danko’s miniature houses perpetually locked in hyper-accelerated cycles of sunrise and sunset.

While Mortality manages to occasionally invoke birth, youth and growth, the exhibition functions so that the inevitability of death always maintains its lurking menace. As a result, even the most hopeful works are imbued with a sense of tragedy. Rest assured, however, that while the subject matter might not be particularly uplifting, its masterful interpretation by the contributing artists certainly is.

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