It could have been your average Thursday night at Chin Chin. Hopefuls are hovering by the door, the kitchen is pumping out pork sliders, and the din from the diners is pegged at just below raucous. The mood changes at 9pm, however, when performance artist Ariel Blu saunters up to the front desk and shrugs off her trench coat.
Naked, except for a floppy black hat, dark shades and heels, Blu is escorted by two burly security guards to her table, where she orders a “vodka on the rocks and a sundae”. The front half of the restaurant turns to catch a glimpse, while diners at the back remain fixated on their suckling pig wrap-ups. Slowly, though, the buzz trickles through the dining hall. Beautiful naked women in public places tend to garner such a reaction. Soon enough, people start lining up to have their photo snapped with the accommodating model.
Conceived by Melbourne artist Adele Varcoe, best known for her “participatory performance events” and her trademark jumpsuits (tonight it’s a yellow and black polka dot number), tonight’s piece is the latest instalment in Chin Chin’s Wall of Art project. While The Lucas Group's communications maven Jess Ho describes the space as “creating a platform for emerging artists” and “blurring the lines between art and food”, last night's performance might just as easily be read as a titillating publicity stunt.
Curated by Kat Clarke, another Chin Chin staffer, this experimental exhibition space kicked off with video installations from “local, emerging, established and international artists”. The project purports to provide a platform for “informative and experimental work that is provocative and controversial, but not offensive”. Projected onto Higson Lane each night, they can be viewed from Flinders Lane or the comfort of a window-side seat at Chin Chin.
Applications for the next intake of artists are now open, and will close on July 31. Visit chinchinrestaurant.com.au/wall-of-art for details.