‘There’s no time like NOW!’ proclaim the signs.
Inspired by the fond reminiscences of slow tram rides of several Melbourne personalities, whose brief anecdotes are interspersed between the pages of the sumptuous Melbourne Now catalogue (Melbourne Now Limited Edition, National Gallery of Victoria, $100 hb, 280 pp, 9780724103768), I am travelling into the exhibition by tram. Through the rectangle of the window I watch the ziggurat of the Shrine of Remembrance and the green slopes of the Domain slide by. Max Delany, senior curator of contemporary art, admits in his essay ‘Metro-cosmo-polis: Melbourne now’ that, despite its scope and hundreds of participants, this exhibition can be neither completely inclusive nor exhaustive. Words like ‘mammoth’, ‘significant’, ‘grandiose’, ‘grandiloquent’, ‘pretentious’, ‘ostentatious’, ‘impressive’, and ‘inspired’ rattle around my brain in time to the tram’s stop-and-grind, and anticipate my reactions to the vast undertaking of Melbourne Now. I have high expectations – I hope to see the culture of my city with a tourist’s fresh gaze.