Have you ever noticed how paths sometimes appear where people want to walk, rather than where they ought to? The term ‘desire lines’ refers to this phenomenon in which people stray off the footpaths and official routes to forge their own trail (they also get called ‘goat paths’, but ‘desire lines’ makes a better title for an exhibition).
“I have always enjoyed the phrase” says ACCA’s Artistic Director Juliana Engberg, “…the rebellion behind it always tickled me and I thought it would be a good hook for an exploration of a number of artworks."
Desire Lines is a major new international survey show, curated by Engberg, which explores the physical and psychological ‘desire lines’ created by some of the most celebrated artists of the 20th and 21st centuries – including Francis Alÿs, Tacita Dean and Bruce Nauman.
“The exhibition follows the line of enquiry from early conceptual practice to land art to urban performance,” is how Engberg describes the exhibition, “It takes a detour into the poetic lines of artists dealing with the written word and meanders into the psychological territories of the unconscious.”
The terrain covered by Desire Lines is wildly diverse – both conceptually and physically – with a number of works taking place outside the gallery. Artist and mountain climber Dan Shipsides will scale the famous rusty monolith that houses ACCA to create a ‘drawing’ from rope, while Jacqueline Donachie will ride a special bike through Melbourne’s city streets, leaving a colourful chalk trail in her wake.
“Artists are always creating desire lines,” says Engberg, “that's why we need them... they take us off the familiar path and lead us astray to unknown places in our minds and hearts.”