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smh is repetitive and the artlife is on the money

evidence as follows:

1. today i read the second review of the Juan Davila show by a SMH 'arts writer' in as many weeks!

I mean, he's great, but, please, it's a little monotonous!
Do Tracey and John go to any other galleries apart from the MCA?
More to the point, does the arts editor actually read the submissions entering his inbox?

2. the artlife's poll, (that has been running for far too long now, but anyway) is officially gospel.

the top response to Winning an art competition is is
A way to pay off some credit card debt" at 28%.

Today, Lucy Culliton said, when asked what she was going to spend her winnings from the Portia Geach on said "pay of my credit card debt"!!!*

hmmm.. food for thought.

*[lovingly paraphrased from www.smh.com.au]


collections and philistines

well after all the heated discussion this week about philistines and bad corporate art collections, I went to the opening of the new round of works from the contemporary collection at agnes wales a little confused.

usually I either take the moral high ground and look at the work from a position of disdain, or, more often than not, with a sense of wonder and naivete, hoping to suck in all the knowledge and excitement about new work.

well, tonight I think I was so preoccupied with the upcoming liminal personae show at Gallery 4A, the meeting I’d had about it earlier in the evening, and the fact that I’d gotten away with telling the truth that sounded like a lie to the woman at the door, that I forgot to put on an opinon before I walked in. probably a good thing.

and as an aside, the truth that sounded like a lie was this: "this afternoon I emailed my very late RSVP to the art gallery and got an email back saying that the door list had already ‘gone downstairs’ and I would have to bring my invitation with me. well, in my haste to get to Chinatown in time, I forgot to take my invitation, but I had actually received one."
now if I was a door bitch, I wouldn’t let me in, so I’m grateful that the woman either didn’t care, or believed me. which was a relief, ‘cos I was actually telling the truth. I thought about telling an actual lie that sounded like the truth, just to make it easier, but I’m a shithouse liar.

anyway, back to the collection. I was quietly impressed with the works that are on show at the moment. there were a few safe favourites and I thought that the emphasis on bill henson’s early work was a little overdone (a bit like someone boasting that they knew the band before they went platinum), and I thought putting Jenny Watson’s Wings of Desire next to Tracey Emin’s work was a bit mean. The feeling and context of the works are similar, but Emin’s execution and schutzpah far outweighed the aussie girl and she ended up looking like the poor country cousin. As an aside Tracey isn’t listed in the chunky ‘handbook’ but I know I saw her work – I’m a huge fan of the diva.

Jenny WatsonWings of Desire
Image from www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au

Mat CollishawWaterfall
Image from www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au

Other work that really grabbed my attention was the Mat Collishaw Waterfall, which was a digital projection on sandblasted glass, set into a turning mirror frame complimented by a gilted mirror with running water flushing through it, on the floor.

Callum MortonMotormouth
Image from www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au

Seeing some of the big names of Australian contemporary art was quite affirming after seeing the Balnaves project a few weeks ago and for the moment, I don’t feel the need to whinge about state galleries’ inattention to contemporary art. Other stars of the night for me: Janet Lawrence, Mikala Dwyer, Mike Parr, Ernesto Neto, Christine Borland, Callum Morton (swoon!), Ricky Swallow (yes, daggy, but hey) and the return of the Tatsuo Miyajima Region no 126701-1270000 (boy that title reminds me of The Price is Right!). I remember the first time I ever went to AGNSW, this work was on display and it still resonates for me as a commentary on technology, time, surveillance, terrorism, and armageddon.

Tatsuo MiyajimaRegion No. 126701-1270000
Image from www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au

Reading the catalogue (my friend's copy) on the way home (which is a pretty good buy at $45) my cynicism for public collections has waned slightly. This is helpful really, ‘cos if i have to box myself into a "Commercial Gallery" or "Museum Collection" kind of artist, I’d have to say Museum, so I have to find some hope somewhere. The breadth of Agnes’ Collection is actually quite impressive and the foresight of some of the works purchased is fantastic. And although I know it’s a pain in the ass, I’d like to see more of the collection more often.

But I guess, until then, I need to get that catalogue.


relational aesthetics

i'm sure this is so last century, but i've recently been hearing stacks about relational aesthetics and i'm intrigued! i guess i took it for granted that people create 'political' work, work that relates to their particular situation and circumstance in a meaningful and informative way, and encourages some kind of discussion about that idea, circumstance, etc. but now it seems that there's a real 'movement' of it now. (that all sounds very cynical, but it's not meant to, honest!)

in reading about artists that have been linked with this idea (those in the T'fouh exhibition, Zanny Begg, Lucas Ihlein, Art Interactive), i have wished that i was one of those artists. i'm generally an outspoken and political person, and when i see artwork, i like seeing works that are responsive to specific things, work that encourages me (and hopefully others) to participate in something other than reality tv.

unfortunately, i'm not one of those artists and it's kinda got me bummed. i'm having to realise that i'm a daggy, conceptual artist that wants you to think about the human species as a whole, rather than relate to a particular group, event, idea. so last century.

Relational Aesthetics
Aesthetic theory consisting in judging artworks on the basis of the inter-human relations which they represent, produce or prompt.


on the road again

oh, the F3 and Mooney Mooney bridge.

so this weekend, i'm actually chilling out at home, in preparation for a bit of a mammoth drive and a gargantuan people-filled weekend next weekend,

that's right kids, TINA is back! what's love go to do with it? everything and nothing!
This Is Not Art Festival, that's what. I'm really excited this year to be going and i'm hoping that someone from wollongong council is going 'cos god knows we need something like it down this end of the coastal range, that's for sure. I've been meaning to go for a few years now, and each year it seems to get bigger and bigger, so this year i decided to just bite the bullet, fill up the car and head up the F3 again - i've done it a few times this year, so i can't use the drive as an excuse anymore.

It runs all long weekend (Sept 29 - Oct 2), but on Sunday i'm going to join all the cool kids and check out what's going down up in newcastle. i'm looking forward to checking out some of the forums
stuff that looks good so far:

subjective vs objective and art writing art both on at watt space from 11:30am
voiceworks mass debate: young australian writing is boring and shit - ooh, i love a good debate!
niche - at WEA
history is so hot right now - at the festival club
new!shop somewhere - i couldn't quite work out where it was, but i'm sure i'll find it - i'll use my nose :)
the zine fair
- at the playhouse theatrette
soda_jerk's pixel pirate II - at the playhouse theatrette

and then at night, my friends SC Trash are playing the Lake Cowal benefit gig at the festival club, so that's where i'll be spending the rest of the evening at least! excitement plus!

talk about all over the place!! i've got no idea how close all of these places are, but i'm guessing that although i've got big plans, i reckon i'll see about 4 of those things. like all good festivals or conferences, your hopes are so much more than you're actually capable of.

and in unrelated news, my invitations to the platform show arrived yesterday. yay!
can i just say how rad whirlwind are? i don't care what anyone says, these guys take the nightmare out of printing invitations for shows.

so if you're in melbourne, come to the closing party for the show on Friday 24th November at Platform 2. I'll go into further detail about Entropy in the next couple of days, with updates about the process, some work-in-progress images, etc. so stay tuned.

and also stay tuned for more info about what's happening with the liminal personae show.. it's also travelling and heading to Gallery 4A next month!


geeking it up and swanning around

is it possible to be quite as geeky as me and still get away with fooling that world that you're actually quite cool? sometimes i don't know how i do it! ha!

to start with the geek fest - i've fallen in love with blogs all over again. i mean, i've loved them for a while now, but through following a comment from one blog, to another blog, i found the new love of my life - LED Throwies! Interactive Architecture.Org is my new best friend after introducing me to these things! So many possibilities for fun and games...

LED Throwie, courtesy interactivearchitecture.org

So on thursday night on the way home from work, i decided to head to the old DSE and see if i could purchase the bits and pieces needed to make one. And then if i made it work, i could go nuts. The guy behind the counter - whose name for the sake of this blog is James, and i, spent a good half an hour, poring over the LED pages of the supply catalogue, testing out batteries that would suit - trying to find the right luminescence to weight ratio and trying to recall basic electronic theory, which states the the current in a series decreases.. or something, i can't remember exactly. but boy it was hot - while everyone else was out doing late-night shopping, seeing bands at the youth centre, or having cheap drinks at the pub, i'm in an electronics store geeking it up for the sake of art!
woo hoo! and i've got friends? wow!

so to offset that ultimate nerd flavour, yesterday i went to paddington and emersed myself in the über style that is the inner eastern suburb of chic du jour. well, actually, i really went so that i could check out a couple of galleries, but hey - i'm sure the chic rubbed off a little at least.

firstly i popped into Sherman Galleries, largely 'cos it was on the way to where i was originally headed, secondly, i wanted to check to see what they had on and thirdly i thought i might bump into Lisa who works there and could say hey. the show they had on was surprisingly beautiful. with the first work i saw of philip wolfhagen, i kind of groaned - it had lots of paint, it was landscape and an image of a fire. ugh. however, i persisted and actually went into the gallery and found some incredibly beautiful works. almost the painting equivalent of Bill Henson' landscape photographs. Huge canvases with, low and wide perspectives of, yes, landscapes, but they were of things like 5 minutes before the storm, or just after dusk across a vacant lot. really quite beautiful and i could have actually looked at them for ages. his choice of light 'moments' was great and i was equally pleased to see that these huge, sometimes ominous works were selling well. it's good for my artist-as-crap-career-choice cynicism to see a bunch of red stickers on work that is worth $15,000+ (in every sense of the word worth). and not only did i get to check out this surprisingly beautiful work, but i got to catch up with a bunch of sherminator gals! tanya and lisa were both there and chayni henry (Primavera, SafARI, etc) had popped in to visit, so it was great to meet her too! see i do have friends!

Philip Wolfhagen, IdyllXXCourtesy Sherman Galleries website

Rose Nolan, See Anything SuspiciousCourtesy Sarah Cottier website

then i dragged my friend down to the new Sarah Cottier. i was excited about seeing this show - i only became aware of Sarah Cottier towards the end of my degree, when they were in Redfern and i have a vague memory of the first show i saw there containing a huge car just sitting in the middle of the gallery floor(?). Maybe i've got my wires crossed, but anyway, it was amazing to me at the time and i was looking forward to seeing what the new gallery had installed. After reading artswipe's review of it, i knew that i had to make the effort to see the show before it closed and i'm glad i did.

as a complete show, it was nothing to really rave about. as a taste test for things to come, it was delicious.
i totally dig Rose Nolan, and although her See Anything Suspicious work was a slight anti-climax after her huge 32.Banal Ideas Cannot be Rescued by Beautiful Execution. in the Biennale (which i loved), i'm excited about the prospect of seeing more Nolan works. Other works i dug as a taste-test were Koji Ryui's Fantasy Drawing, made out of straws (or plastic & nylon monofilament according to the room sheet!), Stephen Bram's Untitled (Two Point Perspective) and John Nixon's Silver Monochrome. Other works were OK, but not necessarily rave-worth. I am looking forward to seeing the forthcoming shows at Sarah Cottier though.

And then to top the whole experience off, i returned to my geekness by getting deliriously excited about the Neild Maze, next to the gallery. It was so rad! this little slice of childish delight in the middle of oh-so-adult paddington and throwback to european taste. my friend and i took turns in getting to the middle of the maze (which is about waist-high hedge) and taking photos of each other.

how sophisticated!


celebrity death match: audience vs author

after an update from one of my favourite blogs, the SEE life differently blog, i started thinking about the relationship between author and audience and how that has and will change in future, and also what effect that may have down the line.

the kids at SEE have developed this great interactive technology that they've used on a few of their branding projects, as well as in the cafe where it kicks in as they serve your coffee to a bunch of hungry butterflies. it features on their award-winning Elwood jeans website, and I for one was impressed 'cos it allowed me to scribble over the web page and not get in trouble!! ha ha!
it's part of their development of branding 'experiences' rather than the traditional dictatorial approach to marketing/branding/advertising/selling. Read their thing on it, they're better at explaining it than i am.

Anyway, in reading about this new way of relating to consumers, it got me thinking about the necessity of current author/audience relationships. How important is that traditional role of audience to author where the author says and the audience responds? As an artist, i don't want to treat my audience with contempt and force them to experience the work from a particular point of view, but at the same time, the reality of the situation is that i create the work expecting that, based on the traditional role of audience to author, the audience will interact only up until a point, but mostly consume (for want of a much less loaded term). Even interactive works have this as the basis from which they depart to encourage the audience to interact.

If, as i hope they do, companies and brands BEgin to address their audiences on a more authentic and possibly personal level, and consumers, or perhaps people in general, begin to interact on a far more active level, will this lead the way to affecting culture in raising the level of interactivity we will expect? Or will art continue to operate from the tradition standpoint and the divide between art and advertising becomes greater. Does art influence advertising or advertising influence art (by influencing consumers, who then engage with art)?

It will be interesting to see if, down the track, this does see a paradigm shift in the way a person perceives that which is presented to her/him, be it advertising, a performance, an artwork, what the resulting artwork will be. If the beginning point from which an artwork is created is based on a highly interactive audience (as opposed to a more static and reflective one) what will that look like, feel like? Will the work that bases itself on stasis become the new avant garde (as interactive artworks are now)?

I have no answers.

In fact, i don't really know if i want answers. I could go and study a bunch of theory on the subject - in fact i could probably develop a goddam thesis on it, but just for now, i'm enjoying the questions. I don't usually think about what form of perception i base my artwork on and just for a while, i'm going to.


problem solved!

i love it when you've been trying to figure out how to make an artwork actually work or perhaps workable (ie, so you don't leave the gallery in a complete state of disrepair afterwards) and a solution presents itself!!

all i have to say is thank you to those industrial chemists all those years ago who made monomers into polymers that have become the variety of products that save my ass on many occasions.


a visit to agnes

While waiting for the Helen lempriere opening to open, I trotted up the steps to ANSW to check out the Giacometti exhibition and the Adventures with Form in Space - The Fourth Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Project (which everyone has reviewed, but hey - i'm gonna jump on the band wagon too)

Two vastly different shows, but equally as captivating.

With my NAVA discount, I got a concession price into the Giacometti and after paying almost $20 for the Picasso at NGV last month, $7 to get in was a treat!! It was a lot smaller than the afformentioned blockbuster, but the difference with this one, there was no filler. The byline for the show was ‘drawings, prints and sculptures from the Maeght Collection’ and the only thing that didn’t come under that heading was a print from Margaret Olley’s collection. But I forgive the slight deviation.

I'm exposing my absolute geekness, but the works were all amazing! The pencil drawings and mostly lithographic prints of his analytical drawings were largely that which I had studied most of my degree and used his technique in a lot of my drawings. It was amazing to see the sculptural quality to them plotting out the figure in space, or the object in space. He is the master of making an incomplete drawing look so complete that it was done before it was started.

His drawings and paintings were all about structure. Provide the structure and the form will appear. What a dream boat. Well, actually, I’m not that much of a formalist, but I good smattering of structure and form will really float my boat

I wished that his paintings were on display. I would love to see his amazing plots of figure in space in brush stroke upon brush stroke that eventually a figure appears. Similar to the way a Frank Auerbach figure emerges from the material, a Giacometti figure emerges from the structure.

The show was clean, concise and succinct. Exactly what I needed. no fucking bullshit. Not too much wall text and NO audio guides! yess!!! exactly what a show like that should be. It’s not rocket science kids – if you want to know more about the artist, check him out on the net, go buy the book in the bookstore, or borrow a book from the library, don’t expect a spoon-feeding – you gotta think for yourself sometime!

After the joy of the Giacometti show, I popped down to the café and treated myself to a chai latté and lemon tart. And boy were they good. But about 2 minutes after getting my treat, fire alarms started going off in the gallery! It was all quite bizarre because I wasn’t sure if they were alarms to start with.. they were quite musical compared to the blare that my work building has to put up with every now and again. So they battened down the hatches and we were kind of stuck in the café. The fire doors were shut off at the start of the downstairs gallery, so I couldn’t check out the Balnaves show, and the other door was at the top of the escalators, so there really was no way out, except to wait.
Or bitch and moan if you were the spoilt teenage princess that was flouncing her way around nearby.

Once all the drama was over and we were informed that it was a false alarm from the kitchen on level 1 (Barry, you burnt the toast again!), I was able to check out Adventures and it was fantastic! Another who’s who of top Australian emerging artists.

Jonathan Jones’ wall of fluorescent lights was actually quite comforting and mesmerizing, John Meade's work might have been OK to someone, but didn’t really kick start my heart, Nick Mangan’s work was not nearly as interesting as the one in Uncanny Nature at ACCA and same goes for Hany Armanious’ work: the ‘machine’ looked as though it might have worked, and I liked the allusion to possibility and suggestion of machinery/industry, but the rest of it was kinda.. eh. I did try and make it exciting for myself and blow the candle out on the CC work, but being made mostly of wax and a strong wick, didn’t work. But ultimately, I was kinda bored with his work. And given than I’ve mentioned work by Hany 3 times in the last month, I think I need to see other people.

My favourite works from the show were Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro’s Self Storage. I’ve liked their work for a long time, despite having serious professional jealousy of them, and was stoked to be able to see the work in the flesh. Their garage of stuff was awesome and invoked all kinds of experiences for me, which I think is a fairly mainstream experience, but you can’t get away from it. I loved checking out the detail, the little clues into their life. I noticed the Will Self book and the big can of Polyester Resin and the milk crates of spray cans. I couldn’t help thinking of Matthew Barney when I saw the Centaur mannequin. (Is is still a mannequin if it’s half mann, half horse?).

I did read in the catalogue how the work was devoid of museological reference – no official catalogue, label, numbering system, but was more like a game of tetris and I liked that idea, although I did feel like being facetious and pointing out the labeling system on the frame: Front End, Bott, Top Right, Top Left.

I had 2 other favourites. Damiano Bertoli’s Continuous Moment sublime appropriation of Caspar David Friedrich’s painting Wreck of Hope. There may be a whole bunch of theory behind it, as indicated by the catalogue, and I appreciate the 3-dimensionality that Bertoli added to the idea, but I just liked the work ‘cos it’s a beautiful appropriation.
Simplistic? maybe, but the first time I saw it at the National Sculpture Award (RIP) at the NGA last year, it actually put the idea of ‘sublime’ into context for me. It made it a contemporary idea (which I guess it is in the current political and social climate) and something I could appreciate the beauty of and come to appreciate the original. That in itself is a worthy pursuit (in moderation).

Damiano Bertoli Continuous Moment

Nike Savvas Atomic, Full of love, Full of wonder

And lastly Nike Savvas’ amazing installation of coloured balls Atomic, full of love, full of wonder was rad as well. The gallery guide kept telling everyone it was ‘the highlight’ which I would dispute, but it was pretty cool. While I was there, the fans were on and the back section of the piece went mad with agitation. It was OK, but it just made me want the whole piece to do that and I actually preferred the stasis of the piece. The chasm of possibility, like the whole piece could move at any moment. poised. Similar to the Ranjani Shettar piece from the Biennale, I could have stood in wonder for ages. And I love a piece that does that for me. When I can, for a brief moment forget about the context of a piece and have some fun with it, see it as a child sees it and drink it in.


he sees red

congratulations to todd mcmillan.

not only as the winner of the Helen Lempriere Travelling Art Scholarship, but to his obvious penchant for red heads. flanked by his good friend Chris Hanrahan and his dealer James fromGrant Pirrie(who could be separated at birth), there was a definite presence of red flowing locks about him after the award was announced.

the man understands the power of red. already a winner, in my book.

I don’t really know todd, but I like his work, a lot. the alone alone show at grant pirrie was amazine and I actually would have liked to buy one of his smaller works. I'm not a fan of NICK DRAKE, but I remember I wanted an E. and for those that are having a quiet giggle, I don’t take ecstasy any more, but even I said to myself while typing it ‘hey, who wouldn’t!’

anyway, back to the Helen Lempriere and the esteemed Todd Mcmillan.

I picked it. in fact I picked it months ago when Zanny told me who the finalists were, I knew it would be Todd that won. and today when the office thought about running a sweep to see who the winner would be, again I said it would be Todd. I had to say it quietly ‘cos I didn’t want Jaki to feel like I wasn’t hoping that she win, but when you’ve got a gut feeling, you’ve got a gut feeling. Next year I'm going to start taking bets.

I’m usually extremely cynical about these kinds of things – the whole show was full, and I mean chock-full of the it-kids of the Sydney art scene right now – artists who are at the peak of their game and producing some really cool shit, but they’re also the names you’re hearing a lot of, so I could easily have whinged and bitched about the winner. and I know that todd is also part of the ‘in’ crowd, but I’m not going to begrudge him this success. he seems like a good guy, plays a good game of netball and isn’t afraid to give his dad a hug, or stand in boxer shorts. artistically he’s also sincere. and I like seeing work that is sincere. ernest even. but not so serious that there isn’t a wry smile in there somewhere.

I’m pleased he won the prize. as they kept banging on in the speeches, the prize has been going a really long time and is one of the largest prizes for emerging artists and it feels nice for once to know that it’s gone to someone who deserves it.

and to someone who chooses his friends by the colour of their hair.