Daniel Johns announces “time-travelling” art exhibition for Melbourne

The former Silverchair frontman promises that “for 45 minutes, people can physically time-travel back to my childhood and into the FutureNever”

Daniel Johns has announced an interactive art exhibition titled Past, Present & FutureNever, which will make its debut in Melbourne later this week.

Described as an “event experience” – with a press release declaring it to be the world’s first of its kind – the installation will chronicle Johns’ career from his beginnings in Silverchair circa 1992, right up to the release of this year’s ‘FutureNever’ solo album.

In a press statement detailing the exhibit, the recent NME Australia cover star said: “I can say without a hint of exaggeration that Past, Present & FutureNever is the most ambitious project I’ve ever been a part of. For 45 minutes, people can physically time-travel back to my childhood and into the FutureNever in a way that provides a greater insight into my creative process and personal life than any live concert could ever hope to achieve.

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“It’s literally a lifetime of work that has gone into it and I’m prouder of it than anything I’ve ever done.”

See a preview for the exhibit, featuring an extended explanation of its concept from Johns, below:

Past, Present & FutureNever will launch at the Rialto tower in Melbourne’s CBD this Friday (August 26) and run until Sunday October 9. Tickets are available here – $5 from every one sold will go towards the FutureNeverFund, Johns’ philanthropic effort that aims to “create better futures for people and animals in need”.

The exhibit comes as a collaboration between Johns, BMG and local art collective Radio Velvet. In addition to a sprawling catalogue of the artist’s personal memorabilia, Past, Present & FutureNever will feature original pieces by mural artists Adnate and Claire Foxton, as well as works from the likes of Celeste Mountjoy, George Rose, Travis Price and more.

One key area of the exhibit will replicate Johns’ teenage bedroom, replete with pages from an actual diary the artist kept in his adolescence, school reports, and the original handwritten lyrics to Silverchair hits like ‘Freak’ and ‘Tomorrow’.

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Among the other attractions will be a custom DeLorean (dubbed the ‘DanieLorean’) that today’s press release notes will be “transformed by a ‘FutureNever’ soundscape synchronised with projection mapping and an eery live pianola experience.”

The exhibit was curated by Radio Velvet’s creative director, Eddie Zammit, who said in a statement of his own: “A trip to Newcastle to spend time with the Johns family led us to discover the pristine chronicle they had lovingly preserved for 30 years. It’s truly the most extensive archive of Australian music memorabilia we have ever seen!

“Pairing this historic narrative with the infectious creativity of Daniel, alongside ground-breaking technology and special effects, has enabled us to morph fantasy and reality to create something truly special. If you’ve only listened to a Daniel Johns song or album, you’ve only scratched the surface. Any good exhibition uncovers something new – this is no exception!”

The sentiment was echoed by Angus Kingsmill, founder and managing director of Radio Velvet, who added: “As a fan of Daniel’s musical genius for decades, I was stoked when he reached out personally to request that Radio Velvet bring his vision to life.

“We have been privileged to work with the biggest entertainment properties on the planet in recent years, but this exhibition stands alone in terms of detail and storytelling. [It is] our biggest, yet most personal, spectacular and immersive [exhibition] to date.”

Earlier today, Johns revealed that in the process of making ‘FutureNever’, he attempted to reunite with his former bandmates in Silverchair. The revelation comes in the premiere episode of Johns’ three-part docuseries Inside The Mind Of Daniel Johns, titled ‘Reclaim Your Art’ which will land on YouTube at 6pm AEST tonight.

Ahead of the episode’s release, Johns shared a preview in the form of a quote touching on his failed attempt to reunite Silverchair (albeit not formally under that moniker) for a song on ‘FutureNever’. He stressed that his aim in reaching out to his former bandmates – drummer Ben Gillies and bassist Chris Joannou – came “not out of necessity”, but because he “wanted to make it clear that I don’t have an issue with them as people”.

In a four-star review of ‘FutureNever’, NME’s Andrew Trendell praised the album for the way it “shows off [Johns’] range”, writing: “While there’s a lot of Daniel Johns at his best here, this isn’t ‘The Best Of Daniel Johns’. There’s rock bravado throughout, but you won’t get a whiff of ‘Frogstomp’. Styles and eras clash, but ‘Neon Ballroom’ it ain’t. There is, however, a vulnerability, curiosity and adventure that makes ‘FutureNever’ unmistakably Johns. That kid who once asked you to wait for tomorrow is living in it today.”

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