Mel O’Callaghan: Centre of the Centre

Mel O’Callaghan: Centre of the Centre

The University of Queensland Art Museum

Mel O’Callaghan, Respire, Respire, 2019. Performance and installation at Confort Moderne. Courtesy the artist and KRONENBERG MAIS WRIGHT; Galerie Allen; Belo-Galsterer. Photo: Clemens Habicht.

February 21, 2020
Mel O’Callaghan
Centre of the Centre
February 22–July 4, 2020
The University of Queensland Art Museum
University Drive
The James and Mary Emelia Mayne Centre (Building 11)
Brisbane Queensland 4072
Hours: Monday–Friday 10am–4pm,
Saturday 11am–3pm

T +61 7 3365 3046
Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Vimeo

Centre of the Centre, Mel O’Callaghan’s new exhibition, traces the origins of life and its regenerative forces. The catalyst for this new body of work is one small mineral given to the artist by her grandfather, renowned mineralogist Albert Chapman. The mineral contains a small pocket of water, possibly millions of years old, which holds traces of the elemental forces responsible for all life on Earth. Inspired by the geophysical conditions and potentialities held within this primordial liquid, the artist invites the audience into a total experience.

The film, sculptures and performance capture the circulatory motion of breath in response to extreme environments. During a three-week mission in the Pacific, Mel O’Callaghan filmed hydrothermal vents in the depths of the ocean using the submersible Alvin with the support of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Using trance-induction techniques, performers also engage in cyclical breathing, potentially triggering altered states of consciousness including ecstasy. Investigating the elemental template of life on Earth, the exhibition is a celebration of collective strength through resilience.

Accompanying the exhibition Centre of the Centre is a book that features two major new essays by Daria de Beauvais, Senior Curator at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris and leading academic and writer, Professor Edward Scheer. The book also includes an in-depth interview between Kathryn Weir, Director of the Madre Contemporary Art Museum, Naples and anthropologist and writer Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies at Columbia University, along with interviews between the artist and Dr. Daniel J. Fornari, Emeritus Research Scholar in the Geology and Geophysics Department at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), and Artspace Executive Director, Alexie Glass-Kantor, in addition to nine original short texts on existing works over the last ten years.

Mel O’Callaghan’s Centre of the Centre exhibition and book is co-commissioned by Artspace, Sydney; The University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane; and Le Confort Moderne, Poitiers.

Join us at UQ Art Museum during February 2020 for a series of free events programmed for Centre of the Centre. 

Saturday February 22, 2020, 10am
Mel O’Callaghan: Centre of the Centre publication launch
The launch will include a conversation between Mel O’Callaghan, Dr Daniel J. Fornari, Alexie Glass-Kantor, and Peta Rake, as well as a performance of Respire, Respire.

Wednesday February 26, 2020, 6pm
Mel O’Callaghan artist talk and performance

Friday February 28, 2020, 1:30pm
“Fire, Water, Life: Deep-Sea Volcanism and Hydrothermal Processes” with Dr. Daniel J. Fornari
A keynote lecture by Emeritus Research Scholar, Dr. Daniel J. Fornari followed by a panel discussion with Dr Daniel J. Fornari (WHOI), Dr Emma Gagen (UQ), Professor Gregory Webb (UQ), Dr Paul Evans (UQ) and Dr Teresa Ubide Garralda (UQ).

Saturday February 29, 2020, 11am–3:30pm
“Practical theory of altered states of consciousness and The art of breathing” A lecture-workshop by Sabine Rittner
A lecture-workshop by Sabine Rittner in conjunction with Mel O’Callaghan’s exhibition, Centre of the Centre. This workshop will be led by Sabine Rittner, Associate Researcher and Music Psychotherapist, Institute for Medical Psychology, University Hospital of Heidelberg, Germany.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020, 6:30pm
Join us at the Sydney publication launch of Mel O’Callaghan: Centre of the Centre held at KRONENBERG MAIS WRIGHT (91 Stanley Street Darlinghurst, NSW 2010) in partnership with Artspace, Sydney
The launch will include a conversation between Mel O’Callaghan, Dr. Daniel J. Fornari and Alexie Glass-Kantor.

Mel O’Callaghan’s Centre of the Centre is co-commissioned by Artspace, Sydney; The University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane; and Le Confort Moderne, Poitiers. With Commissioning Partners Andrew Cameron AM & Cathy Cameron and Peter Wilson & James Emmett; and Lead Supporter, KRONENBERG MAIS WRIGHT. The development and presentation of Centre of the Centre is supported by the Fondation des Artistes; the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its funding and advisory body; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the US National Science Foundation. Centre of the Centre was curated and developed by Artspace and is touring nationally with Museums & Galleries of NSW. 

RSVP for Mel O’Callaghan: Centre of the Centre
The University of Queensland Art Museum
February 21, 2020

Thank you for your RSVP.

The University of Queensland Art Museum will be in touch.


e-flux announcements are emailed press releases for art exhibitions from all over the world.

Agenda delivers news from galleries, art spaces, and publications, while Criticism publishes reviews of exhibitions and books.

Architecture announcements cover current architecture and design projects, symposia, exhibitions, and publications from all over the world.

Film announcements are newsletters about screenings, film festivals, and exhibitions of moving image.

Education announces academic employment opportunities, calls for applications, symposia, publications, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Sign up to receive information about events organized by e-flux at e-flux Screening Room, Bar Laika, or elsewhere.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.