Yesterday I dropped in at the Collingwood gallery, Off the Kerb, to see a small show of works by Daniel Agdag. What he makes is webbait — google and you’ll find pictures of his creations scattered across the world — the cardboard constructions are seductively miniaturist, with an irresistible real-world-density of detail. Not surprisingly he has a fan in Adam Elliott who launched the exhibition.
Go to his website and see for yourself — they are A,maz,zing. Still, the beautifully shot sepia-toned photos give you a very limited sense of their sheer enchantment. There are five pieces in the show — one is monumental: “Amalgamated,” which you can see Agdag working on; the others are under a metre and in glass domes.
You have to stand in front of them and peer through the glass to see and believe the incredible level of design imagination and mind-blowing minuteness of his handiwork. You may feel a bit like Superman looking down at miniature bottle-city of Kandor.
According to a story in the Herald Sun, Agdag “build[s] from the ground up, creating one layer at a time, and as it builds it gains its structural integrity.” And, even more incredibly to me, he makes it up as he goes along. From his website: “All the images [here] are made from cardboard — boxboard to be precise. They are cut into manageable pieces using a surgical scalpel (blade Nº.11) and assembled intuitively by hand using a plain well known brand of wood glue, without detailed plans or drawings.”
The monochromatic aestheticization of his photos distances the work, so here are a few rough and ready snaps which might make them more palpable.
The Wait by Daniel Agdag
The Approach by Daniel Agdag
I showed some of these pictures to Constant Gardener who said, But is it art? I’ve thought about that now and feel it’s an unnecessary question. One may justifiably ask, Are they a good investment in the art category? Possibly not as Agdag’s profile is primarily in film, but he is young and this is the first time he has been persuaded to show these pieces — which he makes for fun (!). More useful would be to ask, Will looking at them give me pleasure, make me wonder, fill me with astonishment? Are they beautiful? I would say: Yes, yes, yes. Totally yes.
In front of Agdag’s constructions I felt my own sense of fantasy powerfully enabled — the effect of seeing objects of miniaturist perfection, but a perfection that is loopy and charmed. This is obsession manifested as delight — let’s see where a pair of gifted hands and a wandering mind can take us.
Do yourself a favour — it’s only on at Off the Kerb for another four days: Nov 4 Sat, 5 Sun, 8 Thu, 9 Fri. At 66B Johnston St, Collingwood, between Smith and Wellington opp. The Tote.
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He has some T-shirt designs for sale, in his distinctive drawing line.