Saturday, October 18, 2008


In case this isn't blindingly obvious - I haven't been posting here of late......

In fact - it's probably time to announce the end of this blog since I've moved to melbourne - and ain't up to updating stuff on sinney art......

I'm also *still* finishing off the tome - which is keeping me in a protodoctoral purda from seeing a lot of kulcha

however I'll still be posting the odd bit of stuff on "First World Problems" especially as I venture out into the browning glades of melbourne.......

i'm having boundary issues about the art thing.....(as one should) - I mean, I've seen some really shite architecture here, does that qualify as "art"? and....whatabout this amazing Martial Arts film I'm about to go and see?

I spent my last 3 months in sydney working as a research assistant at Information and Cultural Exchange in Western Sydney. witnessing so many amazing projects on the edge of art/multimedia/community cultural development - shook up my brains a bit about the whole ARt thing - beyond the red travelzone of inner city shabby white boxes - there is a hell of a lot of amazing stuff going on.......

Art & Mayhem ended as a 2SER segment in 2006. Daz Chandler was hosting it as part of her Monder Overdrive Segment.....

Daz has also moved on from 2SER - and in now doing an amazing project, doing Podcasts with kiddies in Palestine........

Friday, July 18, 2008

Animating Space

Sadly this blog continues to become more of a chronicle of stuff that I'm missing than stuff that I've actually been able to get out and even sniff out, let alone have a decent contemplative sigh over.....

I'm, still mulling over the Biennale bits that I saw at cockatoo Island. I think Susan Phillipsz piece epitomised my ambiguous feelings about the place, the work, and whatever was in my head that day... the last time I'd been to cockatoo Island was during the dockyard workers protests of 1989 - Most of my memories are heavily filtered by the haze of alcohol that I lived under at the time.... but I remember drukenly screeching "The Internationale" while on a harbour cruise filled with drunken shipping workers, and drunk and dazed ratbags like moi... the sun, VB, sweat, and a bizarre trostkyite zeal that the falling walls of the eastern Bloc would be a good thing for the revolution. Linking tianmen square and the closing of the shipyards in sydney harbour, through drunken word slurring boozy renditions of "Arise ye workers from your hunger" seems now to be completely bizarre, and testament to my complete mental absence from where I was, or... something.....

Cockatoo Island is a compellingly mournful type of venue, even on a sun-saturated day in June. Impossibly huge rusting bits of machinery, brutally modernist edifices, where the patina of peeling paint graffitti in the late winter sun, lead me stupidly towards a Rosalie Gasgoine style reification of the detritus of industrialisation.... but unlike her assemblages, the paint peeling, foreign shapes, rusted out bolts, old concrete, infinite patinas of labour, salt and seagull shit loom around us - intensely immersive and alienating. Walking through th huge halls, my body felt disconnected from itself, disarticulated... and so Phillipse's mournful strains ehcoing through the various chilly chambers added to this.

the cockatoo Island insallations all seem eerily incomplete - and perversely enough I like the fact that the curators have left the spaces empty enough to haunt the works. the rabbitwarren of Mike Parrs creepy Gruesome Silly Stuff seemed to be the best way to present the works... with just the right level of claustrophobia and mystery, to evoke a building likea body, or a collection of bodies.

I wanted to be taken out of this space, to dive into artworks as another magical sphere of utopian immersian. Part of me wrung my hands remembering a similar setting for the Lyon biennale in 2000 - where cavernous industrial spaces were transformed by installations of netted birds, remade kitchens, an immense dining room made from sheets of woven hair.... at the end of the day, I was frustrated at the plethora of screens - that the main way to use the spaces seems to have instaled little portals out of them......

Cockatoo Island is still a "liminal" space - somewhere between industrial refuse and remade recreational fantasia that actually operates as a "nice" (ok - effectively icky) corollary to the Biennale theme of "revolution". for me revolution, always implies not only a kind of endless return, but a strange spatiotemporal disjncture from the present..... our minds leave the present, fetishize history, projecting into a redemptive future that disconnects us from the present time, the present space and propells into far more enticing imperatives....

Despite such natty critiques, I'm afraid I've hardly changed. this week I found myself sitting on a bench in Parramatta Arcade, discussing Heidegger with my boss, in order to stop my face from freezing into a stony faced scowl at a random bunch Catholic Pilgrims singing loudly. Parramatta itself seems to have morphed into a bastardized version of Spencer Street station, and La defense, and I wodner where the hell I actually am.

I got a bit more gloomy when I read the weekend herald and found my views of the biennale concurred with John Mcdonald's. Mike Parr works well in the space, and WIlliam Kentridge is incredible...... I really like Lene Berg's installation too, though it was too late in the day for me to see the Pinhole reflection... TV Moore's instalation int ehd go tunnel felt like an allegory of heterosexuality itself, and I wish the space could ahve been given over to the Brown Council - but maybe that's just me...... I also think Shaun LGadwell is overrated.

I need to stop my grumpy grumblings now, so want to remid people of the delights of stuff around sydney. I staggered out to firstdraft on wednesday night - for - what looked like the tunnel of love - a flatscreen phallanx of top of the pops videos filled with crowds on non pilgrims, huddling and shuddering from the papal phillistines outside..... I was pretty feverish - so was just BEWILDERED by the guy pumping up the back chair in the back room. I loved the front room installation - complete with retro 1980's computer hardwear of the live not live, subtitle duo... Performing for the Camera was lots of fun.

the other fun thing this week was the launch of Midnight Morning by the incredible animation collective Popperbox. these guys take virtuality and space into completely new realms of fabulousness - and have used digital media as a nexus for collaborating about projects that get fed back into the real world..... My favourite project consists of the projections they did on the windows of Canley Vale Recreation Club (I kid u not).

If I miss mirroring space tonight - then I thought I'd go into the powerhouse in a fortnight for fabbo theory head funstuff at Jack Halberstam's talk on "Queer Animation". Part of me sustpects this is going to be another girly gush fest almost as silly as Judth Butler's talk at angel PLace 3 years ago, but part of me reckons What the hell, I'm officially part of the cognoscetti of queer, visual culutral critique, so one must be seen at such things.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Missing Link?

For those looking for a bit more of the Bill Henson biffo the MCA has a FORUM this Thursday at 6pm - with lots of different concerned types in attendance........

Meanwhile the Alter egos of Schappylle Scragg and her hot hubbie Darryll McGurk are donning their protodoctor caps this friday for a bit of a high falutin femininst gabfest on Performance, Porn and critical theory.

Be in the Wester tower of the camelot of camperdown (sydney uni's main quad) at 2pm as Getchen O'Riorden, Cath Davies and yours truly address "the subtle abyss"......

It's free, and should be entertaining......

It's also the first time I've attempted to theorise schappylle scragg......

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Reasons to emigrate

Thanks to Ruark Lewis for this image above. If *only* I had more time I'm sure shcappylle could have arranged something with Uncle Kev on a similar theme....

Is it necessary for me to join the chorus of people stating the bloody obvious - that the censorship of Hensons' show, the police intervention, the media fueled witch hunt is about as disgusting and scary as the SIEV X hypocrisy? I do not have a single shred of faith that *any* of the commentators actually give a damn about the prevention of childhood sexual abuse, but have found the unnverving and creepy aspects of Henson's images (and they *are* unnerving and creepy) a convenient excuse to insist on shunting adolescent sexuality into some sort of 4WD padded secretive suburban purda...

I *really* HATE how the child sexual abuse issue gets dragged into some smug suburban censorship push. Is it just me who feels fundamentally that it is the hidden clothed unit of the FAMILY where most child sexual abuse occurs? Is it just me who pukes at the thought of kiddies locked away in family homes, suburban cars, clean surfaces, singlets tucked into underpants, arms tucked above sheets, and freaky secular fatwahs on nudity, masturbation and pre-pubescent smut? I stopped attending reclaim the night marches 10 years ago when they got hijacked by a bunch of born again Xtians who claimed that Jesus saved them from the shame of being diddled by a bunch of satanic suburban child molesters.... somehow the personal is political feminist ideal got co-opted into 'the personal is transcendental' garbage - that still left me feeling just as confused, powerless, isolated and enraged as I did as a child.

for what it's worth - Henson's images are deliberately and consciously *creepy* due to a canny mobilisation of caravaggio-esque lighting - funny bits of collage - which interrupt any clear pictorial sense of what his images depict, ambiguous juxtaposition of decaying car bodies and naked torsos and limbs of wan youf - sans heads or eye contact, not to mention dark scrub and moody sunsets. He's utilising a lot of standard pictorial devices for evoking unease, coy eroticism and death that date from Post-Renaissance Western Art History 101. How the affective complex associated stylised unnnerving ambiguity can be reduced translated into hit and click pay per view kiddie porn is something that only the smugly distorted mind of cretinous copper or toxic swill such as my favourite gutter journo and yours could possibly fathom.

I believe culture works - when it gives a space for a collective and public expression of messy feelings of ambiguity fear and confusion. Seeing images that are both repellent and sexy, that arouse, disgust and disturb us - *can* give us space to feel and acknowledge difficult feelings and experiences are also sites for connection and communication. Ten foot high collaged prints of compellingly confusing images placed in a public venue like an art gallery OPERATE entirely differently to small pictorial snapshots on a computer screen in someone's home. they operate to disturb us - but this public disturbance can create a space for public recognition and discourse about stuff that's usually snuffled and denied.

On a proactive note: some bright sparkshave set up a blog petition - so please click and hit and add your name.

I've been buried in the bowels of academia of late - which explains my lack of posting. I've been seeing some nice art lately tho - but..... haven't had time to post about it .... bummer

Monday, April 14, 2008

Appropriation: my favourite things

I've have been hideously remiss in blogging, and pretty much disappeared for the previous month. I even vanished from the blogosphere, and cut down my facebook time, and barely checked my email.

something about leaving a 24/7 wireless connection, and taking up a heap of teaching, while trying to wrestle with the dilemmas of the constativity of discursive practices versus materialist ontology...... yemmite I kid u not.

anyway - Just thought I'd start this posting with a few of my favourite things - whihc miraculously appeared on other blogs as well as in the real world:

the artlife just did an interview with Cash Brown - who has a show at robin gibson this month..... I LOVE HER WORK SO MUCH I COULD WET MYSELF.

It may have been a cheap ploy to outdo the *hot* posting from The Artswipe last month which set my heart aflutter by posting up Renny Codgers sauna pics.

Like the love pump, mayhem is quite proudly a fan of the pole and the hole, so I've been quite delighted with the arty erotics of irony on the offing of late...... especially in the live field of performance land.

I had the pleasure of heading on out to Blacktown finally to see the Bent Western exhibition and caberet. If Nanna Madge was there she would have been no doubt made a bit hot under the collar by DMC's Jodie foster impersonation, and would have flung her step ins at the stage on numerous occasions. Renny Codgers live appearance was mesmerising, and my fantasy of seeing Liam Benson as Jesus was finally realised.... and the Brown Council were tops, and the Liinas version of that lassic starella postapocalyptic punk showpiece " sickly sweet" was the perfectly underscored wrong shade of saccharine that it should have been, and there was a hell of a lot of quality quality bloody funny affecting work. It felt great to be part of a mad queercore underground, even tho I was distracted from Yourgios's poetry by some guy sitting near me who was ostentatiously picking his nose and eating his snot in such a baroque manner that I kept thinking he was part of the performance.....

anywya - I digress. My dear friend the freelance provocateuse aka the marrickville milkmaid continues to squirt bits of breast fluid in a shopfront on New Canterbury Road (bit of a change from the sex workers who were there 15 years ago, I know). The culmination of her 10 day endurance pumping action is happening this Saturday 19th april from 6-ish at Don't Look Gallery, 419 New Canterbury Road, dulwich Hill. Nanna Madge will be there, as will a host of other collaborators, and there may even be STOUT to drink (it being the traditional health bevvy for irish nursing mothers).

hmmm - so sorry it's been a pretty slim promo/roundup. I PROMISE to come up with some intelligible guff from my excursion to AGNES on thursday (if only to the students I'm teaching) - hmmm...... cash brown....... bill viola..... :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Milky bits and Pink

On the theme of Mates.... err, well... here's another plug.

Mayhem's partner in Crime - aka Schappylle's hubby darryll has an astonishing project about to gush forth onto the streets of dulwich hill

don't Look Gallery are hosting 10 days of nonnomrative lacto-madness by the performance artist and evolutionary humanoid Zoo who will sit in the shopfront making milk and doing all sort sof poetry/performance/collaboration and play with it

Her words are better than mine so check this out:
Exhibition title: Curdle
Artist’s name: Zoo

Exhibition details: Don’t Look Gallery, 419 New Canterbury Rd, Dulwich Hill, NSW, Australia (a block back from the corner of New Canterbury Rd and Marrickville Rd) or email
Opening hours are 11-5, every day for the duration of the exhibition
Opening night: Wednesday 9th April 2008 6-9pm. Small informal launch, statement of project intentions, few beers.
Closing night: Saturday April 19th, from 6pm. This is the big one- art created during the installation will be on display, and I will have more to say about it!

Contact details: Through the gallery or

What it entails: Curdle is an endurance-based installation piece, where the main activity performed is inducing lactation. This is achieved by regular pumping and the ingestion of a variety of herbs including fenugreek, fennel and milk thistle. I have done this before, but not to the same degree, so one of the main focuses will be on seeing how much milk I can produce. The first part of the piece will concentrate on the process of inducing, documenting the changes to my body and what milk I produce. The second part of the piece, once lactation has been achieved, will involve myself and other artists creating a series of milk-based pieces, by using the lactation process and the actual milk itself as inspiration, as material, or both. Already I have photographers, painters, sketchers and musicians taking part, and am open to any other suggestions for collaboration. Artists can just turn up as they wish, but for larger, longer pieces which involve serious input from me it is best to contact me and schedule a time, or at least discuss the nature of the work. The public is invited to visit at any time during opening hours, to record their responses, stories and ideas about the work in the journal provided, to ask questions, to observe the work in progress and engage with it in any respectful way they wish.

The main point of the installation: This is part of a larger body of work that has previously centered on other body fluids and processes, most usually blood and bleeding. It has its roots in body modification practice in that it is concerned with altering the form and functionality of the body. Curdle, and the entire induced lactation project I have undertaken, grapples with questions of how bodies (and more specifically, body fluids) are gendered, how they communicate with other bodies, and what happens when bodies and embodied practices are allowed to drift loose of their traditional boundaries. Clearly, lactation is traditionally the preserve of mothers and their babies (and the odd lucky husband), but breastfeeding is not the only context in which it exists or the only function it performs. Lactation and breast milk can be used to cleanse the body of toxins, to inhibit fertility, to access new ways of thinking, to gain sexual pleasure, to nurse a partner, to comfort oneself and others, to transmit cultural knowledge, to cure or to contaminate. This installation is also largely concerned with investigating milk as language, a text, and the lactating body as producer and conveyor of meaning.

For the record: This is not positioned against maternity or breastfeeding, but rather an attempt to consider what knowledges and experienc
es lactation and breast milk might offer when allowed to speak freely outside of patriarchal, heterosexual discourses.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Spinning Out

Ahh the joys of AGNES!!!! (aka AGNSW)

Sadly nerddom has kept me confined to the quad this Mardis Gras - and I'll probably miss out on the great painters piss-up too - next week at the Archibald, Wynne And Sulman opening.

I rarely go for the wine or the art - but definitely for the buzz - which is somewhere between sloshy goonfest of a scupture opening, and something off the social pages of the telemirror - it's all stemmed glasses, LBD's, crowd spotting and name dropping and goon splashing. all under the pretext of big name drip stuff. a delight.

By sheer chance, one of my favourite paintings *ever* has actually made the walls of AGNSW - in the Sulman show. It's by my mate steve - who I've referred to casually on this blog before. I thought I'd chuck in a more serious and considered reference tho - ie a copy of the catalogue essay for his show in Bathurst. I hope this ain't too nepotistic - Bragging about my friend's work -and posting up an essay I put somewhere else.... but it is an amazing piece -and I'd hate to think of punters missing out on something amazing just coz of a straightforward phobia about bad photorealism celebrity mongering....

so Review is here:

Steve Kirby: Between Choice and Chance

Art is that moment at which life can touch chaos, most joyously… art is that momentary
opening up to chaos where we can enjoy a fragment of chaos, now bound safely, in a
frame. In art we come closest to enjoying chaos without being destroyed by it... And this
is how art can return us to that unliveable from which we came and gives us a
premonition of an unliveable to come.
Elizabeth Grosz, Sensation: The Earth, a People, Art, lecture given at Faculty of Architecture, University of Sydney, 2 August 2007.

I’m going to start this catalogue essay with an unusual confession, which is, when I
visited Steve Kirby’s studio to view the works for this exhibition, one of the paintings
made me cry. I’m not accusing the painting of being morbid, or sad, or painful, and nor
would I anticipate that anyone else would have the same reaction. I can’t explain why
The Joining Run made me feel so sad. Generally I’m not in the habit of crying in front of
paintings, and Steve’s work tends to provoke feelings of joy rather than sadness; the
jewel like colours are spun gossamer across the surfaces of the works, often in
compositions reminiscent of lace, or marquisette jewellery. Generally I’d say that Steve’s
paintings embody a life affirming delight in the world and the capacity of paint to stretch
the eye and imagination of the viewer beyond a representation of the existing world into
remaking new worlds and new possibilities of seeing, sensing and living.

Kirby’s paintings hang somewhere just on the edge of meaning; composed of intricate
forms that remind us of things, that we can almost name, but then slip away, just like the
symmetry of much of his compositions, hinted at and then evaded. The forms that emerge
in his work are protean, reminiscent of marine life, or cells, or even fleshy protuberances
like buttocks, encased in visceral linear forms, which take our eye away from the point of
naming what they are, and into the strange rhythms of the painting itself, patterns
spreading across our field of view, marking out, filling in and moving across space and

The time aspect is important to these works, as they do not represent a fixed scene or
invoke a deadening stasis. Movement pulses throughout, and our eyes are continuously
taken across, up and into the works: through the forms, enfolding and encircling each
other, along the lines that are not quite lines, that meet each other and meet our eyes with
a remarkably odd delicacy. The lack of aggression only adds to the strangeness of the
works; they nudge us with the grace of an oddly coloured butterfly, hovering on the edge
of our field of awareness.

The works are imbued with a diachronic temporality; we see the time they were painted
in, within each mark, particularly within the squelching coils of spiralling lines, spanning
the surface of the paintings, weaving in and out of the picture plane, generating their own
geometries of paradox. The painterly finesse of this technique is based on extensive
experimentation with the viscosity of the paint, and working the mediums up to a level of
flexibility that can suspend time, and sustain the delicate films of translucent colour
Kirby uses. The fragility of the paint mixture grounds the marks, the gestures, the forms
made by the paint as much in the chemistry of the paint itself, as the techniques Kirby
uses to amplify gestures, to test the limits of his body and imagination.

There is something in the paint, which manages to continually slip between its materiality
as oil paint and what we experience as viewers of the work; as we encounter colours
oscillating across a surface and the suggestive qualities of the marks and forms that Kirby
has spun and woven the paint into. This experience doesn’t belong to the artist or to us as
viewers, but hovers and slips and slides within and outside of us, like sunlight reflected
off water. Perhaps it was this that made me cry.

Maybe I was too close to the work, well within the eighteen inches that Mark Rothko
suggested to the viewers of his paintings. I was less than a foot away, slightly to the left,
where concentric amber rings fading into the white of the board caught in my eye, and
made me shudder and sob. I felt part of something lost inside, as a nameless sensation
met with the paint, and the scraping points of light seemed to expand and overwhelm me.
It seems strange to write about something that is so far beyond words, and my point is
that painting as art affects us deeply. The way that light bounces across a surface and
enters our eye, the way that colours scintillate and marks oscillate and vibrate within us
like music, affect us emotionally and physically. Painting is not about pictures, but about
paint, and the wordless intensity that can fill us with sensation and take us somewhere
else, such as an impossible intimacy with the artist, and ourselves. Kirby’s works
approach this metaphysical condition of art, a space where we can open ourselves up to
not understanding, but to experiencing the joy of looking with our whole bodies.