New Zealand-born artist Fiona Connor’s practice complicates the divide between the remade and the existent.

By Ash Kilmartin

Fiona Connor’s appreciation of design has always been clear to see in her art practice, all the more so in the installations for which she garnered the most acclaim. Sitting at a table in the below-ground food court of the Collins Place atrium, nestled between the pair of 50-storey towers that mark one of Melbourne’s earliest high-rises, Connor gives an account of the Pei Cobb Freed-designed blocks that loom above us. Placed at a 45-degree angle from Melbourne’s Hoddle Grid to avoid exacerbating the manmade wind tunnels of the CBD streets, the rotation was also a shift away from the norm, a signal of new thinking. Even in the context of such massive buildings, Connor suggests that “the pivot anticipates movement”.

New Zealand-born Connor’s work is conversant in the texts and textures of modern architecture, and might be said to share the elegantly economical combination of pragmatism, conceptual daring and symbolic gesture that characterises the Pei design at which we meet.

In Connor’s own work, she “quotes” moments of existing architecture or street furniture at full scale, remaking entire facades, windows or drinking fountains, replicating even the smallest traces of age and use, and relocating them to the pristine space of the gallery. Her favourite part of the Collins Place building? “Oh, definitely the turnaround,” she says, referring to the covered driveway at the east end of the site. It might read as an allegory for her present life, given she is often oscillating between her... Subscribe to read this article in full

IMALENNOX STACMIACCA MelbourneMCA Roslyn Oxley Gallery