Darren Sylvester:
The New Pop

Darren Sylvester wants you to live your best life.

feature by STEVE DOW MAY 2019

Pop, installation, music and photographic artist Darren Sylvester is putting the last touches to his consumerist art sculpture garden. Serendipitous finds are being laid for visitors to his 20-year career survey here at the National Gallery of Victoria’s Federation Square site: looking beyond the hamburger-styled couches in various sizes, new art surprises have been secreted in cavities behind the plinths.

Photos have been set upon large, freestanding walls within the space: the oldest, an image of a little girl wearing a Panasonic Discman, from 1998, becomes a memento mori for past pop technologies as well as the flicker of a fleeting experience. “We’re changing, we’re growing older, and brands also grow older,” Sylvester tells VAULT, admitting he resisted an urge to weight the exhibition too heavily in favour of the new.

Death and growing old are clearly signalled in the images of hospital surgical masks but also may be sniffed in the zeitgeist of youth: mortality is never far from Sylvester’s pop art surface. The survey title, Carve a Future, Devour Everything, Become Something, sounds to this writer like a satire of the aspirational language of glossy magazines, but Sylvester’s interest has always been about reflecting rather than critiquing the cultural moment.

“It’s saying: ‘Do something before your time is up’,” says the artist, who moved to Melbourne to make art at 21 and turns 45 this year. “Do anything. I don’t know what it is, and I can’t help you, but try and do something. But also, yes,” he concedes, “it sounds like an ’80s aspirational quote.”

A recreation of his illuminated dance floor installation entitled ... Subscribe to read this article in full

LENNOX STACMIACCA MelbourneMCA Roslyn Oxley Gallery IMA