Faced with the opportunity to make a work for exhibition in the Queensland Art Gallery under the Artist-Residency scheme of the Melville Haysom Memorial Art Scholarship, it might be very tempting to create a comforting, middle-of-the-road piece, at one with the permanent collection. Danny Guinsberg's Lightbox Stairs resists this easy option, with a dashingly perceptive gesture of intelligent opportunism and quite literal illumination.
Selecting one of the central staircases as the site for his lightbox installation, Steps to a Disintegration, Guinsberg reached, as it were, for one of the largest slices of the Gallery's cake: a spot that many visitors would necessarily pass and contemplate. it's one thing to select such a location and quite another to use it effectively. Guinsberg does both with considerable flair. Taking the familiar model of the illuminated image upon the sides of bus-stops, Guinsberg places horizontal and vertical slices of two quite different images (a bookshelf, and a close-up image of a burning match) over the successive vertical and horizontal surfaces of a stair-shaped lightbox, so that these images themselves virtually descend/ascend the staircase. From above, the viewer apprehends one image stretching over the top, horizontal, surfaces. From below, one perceives the other image, spread over successive vertical surfaces. Together, these images juxtapose fire and literary spines; visual fragments photographed from TV screens, and juxtaposed here with the evocative impact that Guinsberg terms: 'individual yet confronting enigmas'.
This installation works well, and still more significantly, explores and reveals not so much the 'hidden meaning' that Guinsberg rather mysteriously associates with his images, as the explicit visual delight of an illuminated installation running up and down a staircase, like a three dimensional Albers drawing. Electronic, photographic, sculptural and implicitly kinetic, this installation encouraged the viewer to walk up and down-and were it possible (which it wasn't, once the piece was roped off), to somehow walk around the composition in order to decode its adjacent surfaces and connotations.
Steps to a Disintegration displays an innovative freshness of composition, and towards its final days of installation offered a welcome counterpart to Anne Kirker's Instant lmaging exhibition of works by artists using computer and photocopy art. Seen from the context of this exhibition, Guinsberg's work convincingly demonstrated the advantage of displaying large-scale photographic works as vital, illuminated, light-box constructions, rather than as less dynamic photocopied or computer- printed variants. it will be very interesting to follow Guinsberg's subsequent work with this medium. As Steps to a Disintegration indicates, he has a gift for making the right work at the right place. Whether the content of his work proves as strong as his evident formal and conceptual audacity remains to be seen. But Guinsberg's a young artist, and has already achieved a great deal-not least, in this memorable installation.