Power. Status. Beauty. The pursuit of these desirable qualities transcends time and culture, and has coloured much of history. In The Stars Know My Name, works from leading multi-disciplinary artist Darren Sylvester are contrasted against a selection of ancient-inspired bronze helmets from the Hellenic Museum collection.
Based on cosmetic beauty masks and the mythical Fountain of Youth – an idea alluded to by the Greek chronicler Herodotus in the 5th Century BCE – Sylvester’s polished bronze sculptures speak to an unrelenting, hyper-capitalised world of beauty, youth and status as social currency. Their fluid forms and polished surfaces evoke this enduring allure of eternal beauty and the excess of modern consumerism.
In the past, the helmets of the ancient Greek hoplites were tools of self-preservation, protecting flesh from battle. Before they were tarnished by war and time, they too were polished bronze; symbols of the glory attributed to warriors and the archetypal heroes to which they aspired, whose stories were immortalised in the stars.
Though worlds apart, these objects share the same concern for reputation and mortality. Together, this contrasting display illustrates a universal story of human desire – not only for longevity, but power and status, in whatever form they may take.
This exhibition is showing in the Hellenic Museum Contemporary Art Space from Friday 10 February – Sunday 23 April 2023 and is included in Museum general entry.
Supported by City of Melbourne Arts Grants.