Sculpting Society

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Shaping Public Perception Through Art

04 April 2024

Nina Sanadze, a Melbourne-based contemporary artist, will soon be showcasing her latest works at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, demonstrating the impact of public statues and monuments on society. Her exhibition combines installations, sculptures, and found objects to explore societal transformation through art. By weaving personal stories of conflict and incorporating fragments of public sculptures, Sanadze's art becomes a dialogue between the past and the present. 

Sanadze believes in the transformative power of art and beauty to unite people, advocating for peacebuilding through determination, negotiation, and the creation of narratives that bridge different viewpoints. Addressing urgent global socio-economic and political developments, Sanadze uses humour and beauty to navigate the complex reality of our existence. 

The exhibition explores how statues reflect the values and priorities of their time, both when they are erected and removed. Drawing inspiration from the landscape of public monuments in her childhood home of Tbilisi, Georgia, where Soviet icons once replaced imperial statues, Sanadze's work poignantly reveals how our cities, monuments, and public art are never static but instead evolve to reflect the evolving values and historical narratives of their times. Her art brings to light the idea that public spaces and the artworks within them bear witness to the ever-changing cultural, political, and social dynamics, serving as living documents of our collective history and present-day priorities. 

In her installation "Monuments and Movements", the artist references Melbourne-based sculptures, including the Queen Victoria (1819–1901), Edward VII (1841–1910) and King George V (1865–1936) monuments in Melbourne. Replicating these monuments as flat, folding silhouettes on wheels, this installation presents these sculptures in a state of flux between being assembled or dismantled, drawing attention to ideas of permanency and the ephemeral. 

"Bollard City 2018" examines the use of bollards and barriers, and related concepts of public safety, personal freedom, and trust in the community. The work includes oversized bollards appearing to be made of heavy concrete, but are actually composed of lightweight cardboard and polystyrene, offering a sense of transience to these often-permanent structures. 

Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV, said: ‘Nina Sanadze is a contemporary artist whose thought-provoking works encourage audiences to consider the roles of monuments and their meanings, and how these can change over time.’ 

Nina Sanadze's exhibition is on display from 12 April at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia.