Emma Hack Gallery presents Emma Hack’s current exhibition, Gen Z: Generation Next, as part of the 2015 SALA festival. Hack’s works focus on Generation Z, the first generation to be born into a digital world, and explores the relationships this creates, some of which Hack critically questions. The exhibition is split into three different themes; Elements, Connections and Manipulated Memories, all of which focus on different aspects of this technologically savvy generation.
The first theme, Elements, concerns itself with Generation Z’s attachment to technology, and questions their ability to embrace the natural world with a vision and respect that will allow it to survive. Like Venetian masks, embroidered representations of the four elements considered essential to life (earth, wind, water and fire) cover the eyes of Hack’s photographed models. In contrast to the black and white photographs, the richly colourful embroidered landscapes are reminiscent of Van Gogh’s energetic brushstrokes.
Connections creates some startling images as Hack explores the intertwined relationship between Gen Z and technology. Stylistically it continues the juxtaposition of colourful embroidery over black and white photographic images, however here the silk images follow the sinuous forms of the human shapes beneath. Technological parts, such as batteries and reclaimed computer wiring, are placed within the delicately embroidered natural images of flowers and a peacock. This proves to be a successful combination of two contrasting mediums.
Lastly, Hack presents Manipulated Memories, a reflection of how through technology you can pick and choose which memories to hold on to, which memories to present to the world, and the contrast between previous childhood memories and what is experienced today. Rock Me In Your Hands shows a skilfully embroidered rocking horse that, as Hack explains, seems to have been replaced in childhood these days with technological products such as iPads. The viewer is left wondering what childhood memories should be.
The embroidery in this exhibition really does steal the show, with its incredible detail consuming the viewer’s attention. Although a delicate medium, the silken images seem alive and filled with movement and energy. Some of these individual embroideries have taken Hack from 160 up to 200 hours to complete, reflecting the patience and precision required for her complex and creative images. The embroideries themselves could well be individual works, Hack is just that good.
The distinctly feminine feel of the exhibition is reinforced by the glamorous atmosphere of the gallery itself. Stepping into the Emma Hack Gallery feels as though you’ve entered the offices of Vogue, where contemporary interior design combines with images of beautiful young women. This relationship is not surprising since Hack herself designed the layout of the gallery.
Although the focus of the exhibition is on Gen Z, the artworks will interest people from all generations.
Reviewed by Georgina Smerd
Venue: Emma Hack Gallery, Shop 14, North Adelaide Village, 67 O’Connell Street
Season: 5 August – 13 September