Simon MacEwan BatmaniaOpening: Tuesday 8 April, 6-8pm Dates: 8 Apr-26 April 2008
Batmania is the name ‘John Batman’ proposed for the settlement that would become the city of Melbourne.
While the careful naming of new housing developments such as Caroline Springs and Edgewater may appear pretentious, most Australian place names are similarly imposed on the landscape, with motivations ranging from the sycophantic – Melbourne is named after Lord Melbourne - to the literal and prosaic, such as Red Hill. Over time place names have lost their original contexts; Bayswater, a place without a bay or any other significant body of water, is named after Bayswater House, home of a wealthy C19th Bookmaker, Ferntree Gully is named after a painting. Divorced from their origins and intentions these place names offer rich allusive possibilities, conjuring images that the original name givers may not have intended to evoke; in the present economy few people agree with the sentiment of Lovely Banks. We might ask- is Box Hill really a hill made entirely of boxes, who are The Sisters and what goes on at Mount Buggery?
‘Batmania’ is an exhibition that takes these names at face value, separating them from their historical context - a series of paintings and models exploring the visual potential of Victoria’s postcode names. Box Hill becomes a hill made of cardboard boxes, Serpentine has snakes aplenty, and in Batmania everyone wears a batsuit.