​Mel O'Callaghan: Centre of the Centre / 7 July — 30 September 2022

Image: Mel O'Callaghan, Centre of the Centre, 2022, installation view, Samstag Museum of Art, University of South Australia. Photography by Grant Hancock.

A major new commission by Australian born Paris-based contemporary artist Mel O’Callaghan, Centre of the Centre traces the origins of life and its regenerative forces, iterated through video, performance and sculpture. The catalyst for this new body of work was one small mineral given to the artist by her grandfather, the renowned mineralogist Albert Chapman. The mineral contains a small pocket of water, possibly millions of years old, which holds traces of the elemental forces responsible for all life on earth.

During a three-week mission in the Pacific, and with the support of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, O’Callaghan used the submersible ‘Alvin’ to film hydrothermal vents in the depths of the ocean. Investigating the elemental template of life on Earth, the film, sculptures and performance in Centre of the Centre capture the circulatory motion of breath in response to extreme environments, and the capacity of life forms to endure and evolve. Centre of the Centre was curated and developed by Artspace and is touring nationally with Museums & Galleries of NSW.


Samstag Museum of Art, University of South Australia, acknowledges the Kaurna people as traditional custodians of the land upon which the Museum stands.