Oct 14-23, 2016
Having drawn more than 12,000 visitors over ten days, the curtains have now drawn on Empty, the recent solo show for internationally-acclaimed Melbourne artist, Rone. And within a few short weeks, it will likewise be curtains for the historic Fitzroy building that housed the landmark exhibition: with developers set to start construction on a new apartment complex in early 2017.
The show was a bitter-sweet swan-song for the soon-to-be- demolished, art nouveau-style Star Lyric Theatre building (located in Fitzroy’s Johnston Street). The building’s impressive scale and handsome features stunned visitors, most of whom had little idea of the beauty and history that laid beyond the covered- up façade of the one-time Dimmey’s store.
Inside, an immersive virtual reality video experience offered a chance to explore the epically derelict spaces that featured in Rone’s photographic works, while a ‘secret’ installation in a neighbouring warehouse (visible only through a small window) added to the show’s sense of theatre.
In the late afternoon, a series of almost theatrical shafts of sunlight beamed through the building’s original porthole windows onto the black floor, creating in the space a fleeting sense of sacredness.
Exploring the synergetic relationship between beauty and decay, new and old, wanted and unwanted, the exhibition’sshow stopper was Rone’s
dramatic mural piece, The Star Lyric (named in honour of the building’s past). When the artist started sandblasting the building’s rear wall he unwittingly uncovered a 100-year-old tromp l’loeil which he then restored and integrated into the new mural work.
But for Rone, any beauty that has been found, revealed or created in the process of this exhibition was only ever going to be short- lived. The entire project was undertaken in the knowledge that the building will be gone forever shortly after the exhibition closes.