The problem with Conceptual Art is it doesn't make you feel very bright, does it? I was feeling a bit thick walking through Endless Present: Robert Rooney and Conceptual Art, an exhibition of Rooney's photographs and publications and those of his Australian and international contemporaries dating from the late 60s to the early 70s. I guess it requires you get the concept. Lord help you if you're not sure, which I often am. Not sure, I mean. I was trying to work out what it reminded me of, drifting through the space (beautiful, by the way) peering at little photographs and publications, diligently reading the wall texts. I think it's meditation practice at the end of yoga, specifically the bit where I observe my ever wondering thoughts. I always feel a bit of a failure not just at Shavasna but the self critical thoughts that invariably follow. But I don't want to sound down on the show which is not only elegant and thoughtful but stylish. Rooney and his cohorts were interested not only in ideas but style: the graphic language of publications and signage, typography and consumer culture. If you are feeling wobbly, pick up a catalogue. The essay by its curator Maggie Finch is a quiet and soothing guide. It helped me focus.
Endless Present: Robert Rooney and Conceptual Art on at NGV International until 27 March 2011.