Interactive art: Swap old tennis balls with new ones at the NGV

Photos collage – NGV.

MELBOURNE, 19 January 2024: The annual Australian Open (AO) fever has gripped the city. Those not on holidays are watching matches glued to TV screens. Each day till 28 January, tennis balls hit by rackets at the Victoria Gardens by iconic global Tennis players will entertain the audiences. Not to be left behind the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) has invited visitors to trade their own tennis balls for one of over 8,000 new balls lining the walls of Melbourne Tennis Ball Exchange, a participatory artwork by leading British artist David Shrigley. 

This large-scale and evolving installation at the NGV is making its Australian premiere and is presented as part of the free, late-night Triennial EXTRA program, 19-28 January 2024.

Visitors to Melbourne Tennis Ball Exchange have the opportunity to contribute to this ever-changing artwork by exchanging a pre-loved tennis ball for a new one. Shrigley hopes that visitors can consider the joy that can be experienced through trading everyday goods, even when the goods are of equal value.

A previous presentation of this work Mayfair Tennis Ball Exchange premiered in London in 2021 at Stephen Friedman Gallery and saw thousands of people engage with the work over three months.

David Shrigley says, ‘The Tennis Ball Exchange was initially inspired by my dog. She loves tennis balls. Dogs and human beings have different relationships to objects. My dog will fight over a tennis ball at one moment and then be completely uninterested in it the next. When I first made the Tennis Ball Exchange in London I thought that people would bring in soiled tennis balls that their dogs had chewed and replace them with nice new ones. What most people actually did was create an artwork on a tennis ball which they then came and exchanged. So it became a sort of free-for-all open exhibition.’

Melbourne Tennis Ball Exchange is a centrepiece of the NGV’s late-night Triennial EXTRA festival, which unfolds over 10 nights featuring live performance, DJ sets, artist pop-up talks, conversations and other creative activations in response to the works in the exhibition.

Open late to 11.00pm every night 19 – 28 January, the free program presents unique and thought-provoking experiences that explore, reflect and resonate the ideas of international contemporary art and design practitioners in the NGV Triennial exhibition, and the world at large.

 ‘Over the ten nights of NGV’s Triennial EXTRA program we invite visitors to contribute to the Australian premiere of this remarkable interactive work by preeminent British contemporary artist David Shrigley. Melbourne Tennis Ball Exchange expands upon the artist’s conceptual practice while playing with concepts of community and the simple joy of trading everyday items.’, says Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV.

By SAT News Desk

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