VCA 2021 Zoom finissage, graduation and awards

Blogs, Commentary, Exhibition Critiques

For those of us who are not fluent in French, which especially includes me as a student of German, the finissage is the finish or finishing which in this case refers to the completion and graduation of the art students at VCA.
The past couple of years have been severely impacted by the COVID pandemic with many courses having to be completed online taking away the opportunity for art students to collaborate and network in person. As someone who has completed two masters online by choice, I know that it can be done, but you do miss out on the face to face interaction that completes and enhances university study.
Given these restrictions on in-person study, and live events, the quality of the presentations and speeches over Zoom were adequate but certainly not professionally produced. Of most interest was a video of the art spaces with accompanying music written and produced by one of the graduating students. The quality in this video was outstanding as the music reflected the spaces and artworks beautifully creating an atmosphere of tranquility that came across the web extremely well.
The reading of the award winners, was, as expected, probably of more interest to the students involved than to casual observers like myself. In my opinion, I would have liked to see examples of each student’s work along-side their names, which would have made a far more engaging few minutes.
The feedback issues during the speeches and readings also impacted the quality of the presentation, which, if the VCA wishes to continue with this style of ceremony, has to be worked on. VCA has a reputation, built up over decades, of high quality as a premier higher education establishment for art, so everything they publish has to reflect that.

Catalogue launch
During the event the graduating catalogue was announced as going live online. This I thought would be an opportunity to look at the quality the work created by the students from bachelor to PhD degrees.
After several failed attempts to find the catalogue, I went to Instagram for some images.
In these I found a few well presented and creative works that indicated a good understanding of academic training in composition, colour and materials that were engaging enough to hold my attention. However, there were, as I have noticed in previous graduating exhibitions at other institutions, a good amount of “experimental” and “contemporary” works that I found to be less than impressive. Again, in my opinion, if the viewer needs to read an artist’s statement to find out what they are looking at, to some degree the artist has failed to engage on a human level. An artwork should at least begin a dialogue, even if it can’t elaborate on it.

Last Impressions
I have always held the VCA in highest esteem, as the inheritor of the Gallery School and the aspirations of the many students and teachers who became a part of our national visual arts heritage. Sadly, I saw a disconnect or something else that I can’t quite explain going on that leaves me disappointed in the Zoom presentation and limited artworks that I could access on the web. I can only hope that there were more examples of extraordinary artworks that I have yet to see in person that were not evident in my explorations online to date.

Sources:
https://www.instagram.com/vca_art/
https://finearts-music.unimelb.edu.au/about-us/news/vca-art-grad-show-2021
https://finearts-music.unimelb.edu.au/about-us/news/art-2020-grad-show

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