Traditional temple

The neon temple on the unmissable rooftop

Temple. Fun house. Mega church.

Victorian visual artist Paul Yore uses many evocative words to describe Seeing Is Believing, but Feeling Is the Truth, a large six-by-six-by-five-meter installation he built especially for Rising. (For visualization purposes, that’s about four standard shipping containers, stacked two wide and two high.)

“My idea, generally, with installation work is that people feel very immersed,” he says. Yore has a lot of experience showing his garish, kitschy, collage-like works on this scale. But only indoors, working with fragile supports like colored paper, cardboard tubes and knitted wool. “I like to make the work wonderful and whimsical, but there’s also this nauseating element,” he says. “It’s borderline sickly sweet.”

Seeing is believing, on the other hand, will act as the centerpiece of the Golden Square roof, sitting outside for two weeks and likely in the rain. And one of the first discussions he had with the festival was about how much weight the roof can support.

“It’s a thrilling challenge,” says Yore, who uses prefabricated trusses, neon tubes and mirrors to create an almost architectural room for visitors to walk through. How he will use these new materials to convey his usual ideas remains to be seen, in person.

Yore’s work often deals with themes such as sexuality, homophobia, consumerism, late capitalism and celebrity worship, drawing from his own experience as a gay man. Still, it’s through a kitsch but cutting lens.

In 2019, his collage Taste The Feeling was removed from a gallery in Wales after a misguided visitor accused him of “spitting[ing] homophobic hatred”. The work put common anti-LGBTQ slogans like “God hate fags” and “Gay nations doomed” alongside the faces of conservative figures such as Gina Rinehart and Tony Abbott.

While this new artwork is unlikely to carry such a literal message, it won’t be meaningless, responding directly to the parking lot as a “utilitarian commercial space” and referencing the visual qualities of a “restaurant of abandoned fast food”. Golden Square looks different from the blank slate that is traditional art galleries, Yore points out, and he wants to fix that, even if it means creating a bigger hill to climb.

“Working with such a large piece in a public space, the line between being an artist and a creative and then having to think about engineering specs, it’s…interesting,” he says with a wry laugh.

Inside, visitors will be able to view (and possibly purchase) one of 10 limited-edition $1,100 necklaces created with Melbourne-based jewelry designer Seb Brown. True to Yore’s provocative story, the threaded bead features two glass mushrooms and a Stirling silver rooster with encrusted gemstones. Yeah.

Seeing is believing, but feeling is the truth by Paul Yore airs June 1-12 as part of Rising, at the Golden Square Rooftop, 217 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. Tickets are $24, and more information can be found here

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