The Last Dance / Ships Passing in the Night
Recent work by Malcolm Smith
13 - 31 May, 2012
This exhibition comprises two bodies of work; Ships Passing in the Night and The Last Dance. They are different series but were both created around the same time so I guess that's why they share a similar atmosphere. Both series take place late at night, when we are prone to fill the shadows with our imaginations - the ghosts of the past and our fears for the future.
These images describe the moment when our dreams fail and hope turns into disappointment. There's a sense of melancholy that runs through them, but there's some humor also, which I hope you can appreciate. We can either live in fear of our frailty and our humanity, or we can laugh about it.
Ships Passing in the Night is an idiom from before the time of steam or coal powered shipping. In the era when sailing ships glided silently across the vast and lonely oceans, two ships passing close by at night might easily fail to notice each other. The phrase is often used in the context of one-night-stands, but on a deeper level, it also refers to lost opportunities or unrealised potential.
The Last Dance is the final track the DJ plays before the nightclub closes. In those final minutes we must face the practicalities we've avoided all night; how to get home before the sun rises, before the drugs wear off, before our housemate/partner/parent wakes up, or before the person we've just picked up sees us in daylight and realises how old/ugly/out-of-it I am.
For a few hours we had been united in the collective fantasy that the world was better and that we were its shining lights. The Last Dance signals the end of that dream, the imminent crash into reality, where we are no longer special; just ordinary.
About the opening night, read here.
Photographed by Dito Yuwono