Reviews/Perth Festival/Visual Art

A dreamworld between day and night

25 February 2022

The Sunset Lounge installation takes place within the rooms of a hotel but its dreamy tableau seems to play with things that connect us to the world beyond, writes Kim Kirkman

The Sunset Lounge, Tarryn Gill and Benjamin Barretto ·
The Alex Hotel, Northbridge ·

At the top of a hotel lobby lift, through an anteroom welling with late-afternoon light, behind a door marked 201, The Sunset Lounge is a dreamy plunge into a playful, subaqueous realm. 

Within, Tarryn Gill’s otherworldly cushion creatures swirl in glitter and darkness, gazing down at the viewer from the ceiling of the room to form a kind of inverse aquarium. Accompanying text by Christina Chau describes “part-humanoid, part celestial and totally gentle” beings, and the plush assembly of amphibious figures that are Gill’s To the monsters, we are the monsters embody this blend of benevolent mischief and ethereal majesty.

Peering up through the dim, jellies, eels and sequinned sharks shimmer murkily in swathes of velvet and tassels, and outstretched hands reach blindly down amongst them, as though from above the surface of water. The sea puppets’ glowing eyes flick keenly left to right — cheery LED lights that feel like Christmas, and their layered chins and downturned mouths bear guileless smiles. 

Lying back on a hotel bed beneath them, our faces upturned to their soft, twinkling underbellies, we become the ones in the fish bowl. To the monsters, we are the monsters.              

Next door, in Room 203, Benjamin Barretto’s Nature sounds on auto-tune (ocean edit) is its own dreamscape in colour and sound. Billie Eilish’s “Ocean Eyes” washes through the room from multiple Bluetooth speakers, birdsong and the crash of waves threading through the languid melody. 

Limited to just two viewers at a time, the installation feels intimate, like stepping into a life – dusky pinks, greens, blues and blacks fill paper printouts on the walls; the rumpled bedcover, and the gestural forms stretched across a canvas in front of the bed. 

The light here feels coastal, tranquil. Throaty magpie calls and the South West surf break rolling on livestream, from a TV screen propped up by the window, place the work firmly on antipodean shores. But the iPads, phones and auto-tune distortion of natural sound conjure a sense of distance, of separation. A meditation on digital connection? 

Beyond the pelagic twilight beaming live from the screen, a real-life Perth city sun sinks in the west-facing window, spilling its colours and shadows into the room. Both here and there, in real time. Ambient, nostalgic; the work seems to play with the things that connect us, our sunsets, sounds and seas.  

 The Sunset Lounge continues until 5 March 2022.

Pictured top: Tarryn Gill’s otherwordly cushion creatures. Photo: Danica Zuks

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Author —
Kim Kirkman

Kim Kirkman studied journalism and community development, and has worked across the state as a reporter and story gatherer. She loves food and fiction writing and hearing other people’s stories. Always up for a challenge, the monkey bars are her favourite part of the playground.

Past Articles

  • Taking it from the streets

    Can the havoc and exhilaration of graffiti survive relocation into a gallery? Kim Kirkman heads to the Art Gallery of Western Australia to find out.

  • Freshly hatched statements

    Newly graduated artists take a lively approach to the dilemmas and delights we currently face, in the latest iteration of PICA’s “Hatched” exhibition, writes Kim Kirkman.

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