precious

mueckbaby2

Yesterday, quite unexpectedly, I ended up at both the Ron Mueck exhibition at the NGV, and then a pre-release showing of the movie Precious.

I’ve seen a lot of Ron Mueck’s pieces, in different places around the world, but nothing prepared me for what it would be like to see them together. His work is human sculptures, sometimes huge, sometimes tiny – all captured in what seem like transition moments; thin places, as such. I swear they have souls.

The review in the paper said that the crowd reaction was half the experience, and it was right. Normally when we come face to face with installations about humanity we don’t like what we see. We half turn away from it, and each other. I think it frightens us, maybe, or disgusts us… But people were walking around this one smiling, talking to each other. It was like this celebration of what connects us, rather than an avoidance of it. It’s hard to describe, but it’s different to how i’ve seen a crowd at an exhibition before.

boat

Every time someone would approach one of the sculptures they would search out the eyes first and look into them. I did too. It was an unconscious, instinctive reaction. I think we were looking for wisdom or truth, and without being trite, it felt like we might have seen it.

[these photos were all taken on my phone – there are some great photos here]

Two older women, approaching ‘Youth‘:
W1: is that a stab wound?
W2: i think it’s from barbed wire.
W1: no he’s been stabbed.
[momentary pause]
W1: i hate it when young people wear their trousers so their underwear shows. do they do that in brisbane too?


In the afternoon we went to see Precious, which opens in Melbourne this week. It’s as beautiful and confronting as all the reports say. One of those films you feel lucky to have seen – like a life you feel privileged to have witnessed. I was nervous it would be too Hollywood – that it would be a story about someone rescuing Precious from her life, but while she had her champions, and couldn’t have done it without them, it was always a story about her courage and her determination.

This was the moment of the film that won me over. It was Precious’ first day at the new school. Her teacher Blu asks her to say something to the class:

Precious: I never talked in class before.
Blu: How did that make you feel?
Precious: Here. It made me feel like I was here.