PROJECTS N7 What Destroys What


Instead of causing us to remember the past like the old monuments, the new monuments seem to cause us to forget the future.

Robert Smithson, “Entropy and the New Monuments”


What Destroys What is a new exhibition that seeks to create a condition of constructive enmity. Six exhibitors (three artists, three architects) have been invited based on the alchemical transmutability identified in the conceptual, material, and formal realities of their work. These states of oppositional transference are productive, provocative, and opportunistic: material evolving into time, space transforming into concept, structure devolving into air. Slow, invisible, irreversible.

What Destroys What is curated by N, a curatorial collective comprised of David Burns, Sam Spurr, and Adrian Lahoud. Fundamental to each N project is the investigation of the overlaps and disjunctions between art and architecture. N believes that the conversation thus far has been too narrowly focused on material practicalities and territorial preoccupations. What Destroys What seeks to renew the discussion with a deliberate grouping of diverse works that defy disciplinary specificity.

What Destroys What is supported by Firstdraft's "Experimental Curators Program" and by a grant from the Centre for Contemporary Design Practices at UTS.



David Burns
Todd McMillan
Frank Minnaërt
Justine Varga
Nadia Wagner

Catalogue essay by Jaime Tsai- read essay

Copies of the catalogue are available from N.


21-25 November 2012
Artist talks: Saturday, November 24

Firstdraft Gallery
116-118 Chalmers Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010





DAVID BURNS creates objects and spaces that manipulate perception through designed indeterminacy. His recent work explores structural redundancy through large-scale installations using common architectural methods and materials. David is one-third of the curatorial collective N and is currently the Director of Photography and Situated Media at the University of Technology, Sydney.

The photographic and video art of TODD MCMILLAN brings the themes of German Romanticism to bear on the humorous and pitiful adventures of a twenty-first century Everyman. Deeply introspective, the images evoke the tragicomedy of life, the inevitability of failure, and sincerity in the face of hopelessness. The place of endurance and repetition in making sense of the world is afforded great significance. While these are broad themes, the work focuses on the trials of men: how their lives negotiate injury, obstacles, and the ultimate barrier of empty time.

FRANK MINNAËRT is a French architect and academic with a background in art history. He established a multidisciplinary design practice in Sydney in 2006 operating the field of architecture, design, installation and curatorial works. Projects have been published and exhibited internationally including at the Venice Architecture Biennale, Pavillon de l’Arsenal in Paris and Federation Square in Melbourne. He has taught and practiced in Paris. He is currently a full-time Lecturer in the School of Architecture at the University of Technology, Sydney.

nova Milne have exhibited since 2003 as their ongoing artist entity MS&MR. Their work often encompasses the application of video, installation and 2D components to fabricate temporal disturbances through the re-combination of anachronistic elements. nova Milne have a particular interest in the occult potential of the archive as a medium through which to reanimate the past. The resulting projects are often informed by micro-historical events, space travel and the tropes of science fiction.

JUSTINE VARGA graduated with Honours from the National Art School, Sydney in 2007. In 2012 she has featured in Primavera 2012, Museum of Contemporary Art, Flatlands: photography and everyday space, Art Gallery of NSW and in The Lookout, National Art School Gallery. She was a finalist in the 2011 Helen Lempriere Travelling Art Scholarship, and has work in the collection of Art Gallery of NSW.



Image above by FRANK MINNAËRT