“How is the value of art renegotiated by being relocated from its proverbial pedestal in the gallery, sidelined to a (shadowed) storage space?” - Frances Wilkinson, co-curator 
Curated by Samantha McCulloch and Frances Wilkinson as part of the Next Wave Emerging Curator’s Program, ‘shadow sites’ features new works by seven artists using various media to explore the relationship between artwork, archive and site. In an act of inversion, ‘shadow sites’ liberates the document from the darkness whilst relegating its subject, the original, to the corrugated confines of a nearby storage facility. Presented at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP) and across three spaces at National Storage Collingwood, ‘shadow sites’ is an ambitious exploration of personal and collective narratives that inform our understanding of both exhibition processes and the spaces we inhabit.
Contrary to the display of artwork in elite cultural establishments, those found in storage do not intimidate. Humbled in the peripheries, they wait to be noticed. Under the flicker of a fluorescent tube, Sophie Neate’s ‘Measuring a storage unit 3’ latex sculpture lay folded, limp and vulnerable. This is in stark opposition to its confident presence in photographic form at the CCP. A volcanic rock casts shadows behind roller doors as gallery goers consume its image fading upon light sensitive paper in ‘Memory Muscle’, an unsettling examination of cultural history, politics and representation by Catherine Evans. ‘Document #335’, Elmedin Žunić’s concrete sculpture, rests still against the rippled wall of the storage unit while its plastic protective sheet floats gracefully in the spotlight; the marks made by the once wet concrete, admired as an abstract expression of process and memory.
An unavoidable melancholy looms over the storage facility as we are reminded that artworks spend most of their time like this; out of sight and out of mind. This sentiment is echoed in the multilingual text work of Léuli Eshraghi. ‘Absences’ speaks to the failings of the archive in relation to Indigenous populations worldwide whilst simultaneously celebrating the renaissance of Wurundjeri culture. James Tylor similarly seeks to regenerate cultural practices by teaching himself how to craft traditional Australian Aboriginal objects, a skill lost unto many through the violent impact of European colonisation. Tylor’s Woomera accompanies his photographic work in ‘(Erased scenes) from an untouched landscape’, a haunting visualisation of this loss.
The artworks modestly adapt to the utilitarian space of the storage facility - making way for bolts, beams and pipes that refuse to be ignored. Rudi Williams embraces the presence of a surveillance camera in her photographic work ‘Window, Bode Museum Berlin’ addressing history, spectatorship and change. The site does not alter for the artwork. Despite its deceptive intentions, even Grace Herbert’s illusory wallpaper must succumb to the eccentricities of the site which subsequently enhance her work. Commenting on the “over consciousness of display,” ‘Ultra Spatial’ further confuses the authenticity of the site and thus one’s understanding of how to behave within it. Without the authority of the gallery, the works must independently assert themselves. As a result, the art encounter is rendered raw and honest in the corrugated cube.
Just as the artists map time and space in their work, the viewer too, performs their own navigation throughout the labyrinth of the storage facility. Fragmented across multiple sites, all works in the exhibition exist as both part and whole. “There is no logical a priori, rather co-production” explains McCulloch, “insisting on ambiguity as opposed to didacticism”. Nor is there a singular route from which to approach the exhibition. Each path, and as such, each experience of ‘shadow sites’ is authored by the individual. We are reminded that neither artwork nor meaning are ever fixed.
By deconstructing questions of display, ‘shadow sites’ exposes both the vulnerabilities and strengths of artworks once removed from the hegemonic institution. Dynamic and thought provoking, McCulloch and Wilkinson prepare us to more critically perceive how our future encounters with art, space and absence are shaped. Each artist speaks eloquently to the aesthetics of the sites in this collective “protest against forgetting” (to adopt the terminology of Hans Ulrich Obrist used to describe his ongoing interview project). Lost histories are revived, shadowed spaces are invigorated, and forgotten artworks are remembered.
 Shadow Sites exhibition catalogue, p.9
 Shadow Sites exhibition catalogue, p.4