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69 Capel Street, West Melbourne VIC 3003

Disability Access: KINGS Artist-Run is a wheelchair accessible venue. Unfortunately, there is no wheelchair accessible toilet. Please contact the gallery with any access requirements and we will endeavour to support your visit.

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Kings Artist-Run provides a location for contemporary art practice, supporting distinctive experimental projects by artists at all stages of their careers.
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KINGS Artist-Run acknowledges the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate.

We offer our respect to Elders both past and present and extend this offer to all Australian First Nations people.

Domesticus Venus

Victoria Pham

11 August 2022–03 September 2022

How do we reconstruct the past? Throughout the late 19th century and 20th century, Upper Paleolithic stautes depicting women began to be uncovered. These have been labelled as Venus Figurines with the Venus of Willendorf, dated from 25 000 BP (before present) coming to symbolise art, iconography and ritual behaviour of pre-Neolithic cultures. These figurines have extensively been research but are too often assigned the function of ritual object and being depictions of fertility mother goddess. In the words of Dr Alison Betts, if the world were to be destroyed today and all that remained were Barbie Dolls, would we then assign those objects the same function as a Paleolithic Venus Figurine? 

Domesticus Venus seeks to interrogate these reductive modes of research. By playfully tracking the creation of similar statues from this period into their discovery in the late 1890s and thus proclamation of an object that was intended as a mere toy into the religious symbol of a society labelled as ancient and primitive, this video work challenges modes of academic knowledge-making. This project asks us to consider the question; despite “objectivity” of scientific methods, do we ultimately superimpose our subjective perception of past behaviours and past cultures?

Narration by Robert Attenborough and Victoria Pham

Voices Recorded by
Aman Kang as Australian academic
Edwin de Jaegar as South African academic, in Afrikaans
Daniel Pini as German academic, in German
James Clark as British academic
Natalia Z. as American academic
Victoria Pham as French academic, in French, and young girl

Camera and Filming
Daniel Pini
Victoria Pham

Original Score and Sound Design
Victoria Pham

Script and Editing
Victoria Pham

Domesticus Venus is presented as part of STRAY VOLTAGE, KINGS Artist-Run’s iterative video program, collaboratively facilitated by Rebecca McCauley and Aaron Claringbold. Looking to the potential that exists between seemingly incompatible ideas, STRAY VOLTAGE premises an experimental program of critically engaged moving image works, fundamentally grounded by the earth.

STRAY VOLTAGE is supported by the City of Melbourne 2022 Annual Arts Grants Program.

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  • Victoria Pham is an Australian installation sound-artist, composer, and evolutionary biologist. She currently is a PhD Candidate in Biological Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. As a composer, she is represented by the Australian Music Centre as an Associate Artist. Pham has been commissioned by a number of institutions such as TATE Britain, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and the Sydney Opera House, amongst others. She has featured in several festivals from VIVID to ANTIDOTE to BLEED. Pham is currently the Artistic Director of FABLE ARTS and is the host for the podcast, DECLASSIFY. As a scientist, Pham’s specialisation is in archaeo-acoustic technology, bioacoustics, and the evolution of sound signalling and music. Her artistic and musical work is driven by explorations into the sonic connections between second-hand memory, examining modes of decolonisation, communal story-telling, intertwining electronic sound with acoustic instrumentation, and ecological expressions of construction.