Thursday, October 20, 2005

Taste, Distinction, Stuff that's on

I've been reading Bourdieu's Distinctions - whihc should make me a better art reviewer.

In the 1960's more of PB's highbrow art consumers preferred George Brassens to Petula Clark. crikey the world has changed. The main song I know of Brassens are raunchy little numbers like "Suis Pornographe "and the one about the rustic wench who breastfeeds a kitten. Petula Clarke meanwhile got immortalised by the ORB - in a tres tasty soundbite..............

Distinctions makes me think of the Boris Vian song "Je Suis Snob" and I end up lulling myself to sleep.


there'as a lot happening - despite my somnolence.

NAS drawcard opens tonight - I had a sneak prevew on tues and like the small canvases - its a good way to play a match the style wiht the artist.........

I think they may be sponsored by ABOLUT vodka??????

Dougherty have also got a landscape show - with students and staff....... field trips to the desert are totally good thing for artists. Kind of like bootcamp but worthy.

then there was that scary helicopter boyzone desert tirp a few years back...... I eat my words.

On mondya I murmured somehting incoherent about a reguee show this weekend.

heres the info:

3 exhibitions, 2 openings, 1 workshop - 'Room for Refuge' in conjunction with the 'Where to Now Forum'
Refugee Week 2005.

Where to Now Forum
speakers include Phil Glendenning, Phil Griffiths, Cheikh Kone (former Port Hedland detainee, writer) Susan Metcalfe (UNE) and many more,
October 22, 10am – 4pm
UTS Markets Campus (Rooms C129-31: Entrance D, end of Quay St.)
Gold coin donation
more info, phone Mark on 0422 078 376

Room for Refuge exhibitions:

Designing refuge: design protest and the refugee movement and
Out of Place (Works by Louise Cox and My Le Thi)
both open October 22, 5-8pm, with Sierra Leone Cultural Dance Group, Nick's Entertainment and Okapi Guitars
Addison Rd Gallery, 142 Addison Rd, Marrickville

Designing Refuge - hands on Workshop 29 October, 1 - 4pm
Addison Rd Gallery, 142 Addison Rd, Marrickville

people, places, situations: response
‘The Hearth’ foyer exhibition space
University of Sydney, Faculty of Architecture
148 City Rd, Darlington
Official Opening: Saturday 29 October: 5 - 8pm
Exhibition: 24 October - 5 November
Opening hours – Monday to Saturday 8:30am - 6pm
further information and updates:

Room for Refuge is supported by a wide range of groups including the Refugee Council of Australia, NSW Refugee Action Coalition, Society for Responsible Design, Marrickville Council, Architecture for Humanity (Sydney), SONA.

For further information on the exhibitions, workshop and forum go to



Monday, October 17, 2005

Grey Skies Soft Brain

Outide the sky is grey and the leaves look even greener than usual

solarphobic me should be delighted - but somehow the lack of sun makes it harder to shake myself out of my doona.

My brain right now is profoundly fuzzy

I've seen hardley any art lately and feel like I've lost interest in everything

OK Tibits I saw last week

Agnes Wales on Wednesday
Went and saw maggie preston. Tres Noice
In decades of scary antipodean beige (Why DO ALL australain paintings from the the mid 20thC look like they're are covered in a film of fine sandstone - or dodgy winton aluminium chloride chalk filler?) she used strong bright clear colours .
but in 1946 something shocking must have ahppened coz her landscape paitnings that year were total shit. I dunno why in a retrospective - curators can't admit that even prolific geniuses have their off days/weeks/years.
It oculd have been her diet. The sho included her reciptes for paint and her recipes for cooking (boil carrots for 2 hours - I kid you not)

ARt in the City on Thursday
Big plastic photos in hyde park. HArd to get excited about. The 'quick and the dead' montage (showing a bondi markets stall stuck among the graves at waverley cemetery) REALLY irritated me - same with the' east and west' (a full body black burka clad chick strolling outside red brick veneer house with uberkitsch black spear throwing loin cloth sculpture) - I would have stuck with the freaky sculpture. - or called the thing 'an ode to the tigers' and pretended it was taken in Balmain but thats just me.

am I BAD for not plugging the free public art fest that was on the weekend? NAS had life drawing by the archibald fountain,pine street were getting punters to do their own paintings, and restos were selling takeaway food out of cute canvas huts. I'm not particularly opposed to such things, just not really excited by them........... Hear hear for the city for running such fun stuff - It beats the crap out of the government sponsored offerings of the inner west - but, oh but........

It's not original but I reckon there is a link between art and life. Boring people with boring lives tend to produce boring art. this includes the art brut/douanier sydnrome as well. I feel the difference between exceentricity and insanity is the boredom factor. ONCE poeple get locked inside their brain and some tedious cycle of paranoic word salad circuits they become BORING - there is no capacity for suprise or insight into what they are saying. Mostly this is a very thin grey wavery line and it changes within people quite a lot.

Basically if ART becomes some discrete space where bland people can relive the unsaid circuits of their dreary repressed lives - without actually challenging the contents of those lives - or it becomes some internalised fantasy world of the mind - (bad tripper art) then it becomes BORING. Art as a mental excursion, as a form of recreational tourism - a kind of weekend or chemical pose - which is detached from and unwilling to articulate and challenge the social conditions of peopl's daily LIVES - is bland wallpaper guff.

By this I'm not trying to insist on a fervent social realism in art -hell no. Most poeple live life in an unreal sense - with flights of fantasy, tradition and confusion thrown into the maelstrom of confused fumblings with the every day ......... interesting people usually emdiate this in an explicityl creative and interesting way - juxtasposing stuff or making explicit the odd mental collages that often occur inside mos tof us anyway.

Boring poeple tend to have a more seamless compartmentalisations of part of their lives. Seamlessness is part of the social veneer of successful professionalism, successful consumerism, successful fashion, successful kitchens. Walling off sections of experience or emotion from other parts of our lives is BLAND - and poeple who do this as part of their daily lives produce walled off, discrete BLAND art.

Mayhem is into rupture, seams, crevices, cracks and scratches where detritus accumulates and creates its own ruptures on the slick superficialities of hypermodernity. Such eruptions hearken back to dear old modernist baudelairean space - the past in the present etc. For me - art is what happens when the detritus of life's muddle articulates such ruptures.

I reckon, just as boring emotinally dead people produce boring art - boring, socially dead cities produce boring simulacras of culture. Having said that -PAris is a pretty interesting and fun city but PArisian contemporary art is pretty damn shite - at least the stuff in galleries - the graffitti scene is tres cool. (more on that in 2 months time). So for Sydney - bright light and fun. Bright light and fun art for bright light and fun people - pity the public transport is shit and real estate is astronomical so the only way to make art is ..... by having 3 extra jobs and working in discrete hyperspaces of digital media.........

I'll stop grumbling before I morph into Bob Ellis.

KNOT Gallery

My little homily above about art, sanity and life was a segue with a purpose. Knot Gallery was hosting a week long mind fest in honour of mental health week.

We had "mental health icon" Wart on the radio last week to plug the 4 day fest. Wart has been involved in Pine street Community art centre and is the articulate and acceptable face of 'mental health consumers'. Wart featured in the Javier Tellez installation at the MCA biennale. She has hennaed red hair, plastic spectacles and ciggie, and is able to perform and articulate a number of roles, artist, mental health consumer, mental health spokesperson, performer, community organiser, and mental illness survivor. The euphemisms are a bit much, but the cultural role of insanity is a s a kind of a reified weird lurking beast beneath the seam of culture - and is surrounded by fear and misaprehension on all sides. People who are seen to have traversed the varying shades of sanity, eccentricity and madness suffer a weird fate of iconisation and exclusion. Gosh that Jeanne D'Arc film was a good thing to show. Wart is part of a group that produced 12 and a marionette, and they have stuck tog ether as a group of cultural producers. The visual art on display at KNot - by members of the group was for the most part unremarkeabe, amateruish, kitsch and not unlike some of the stuff in Bondi -but the nice bit - was how they organised an art project fundraiser for Breat Cancer helpline. EPople getting togehter to create, display and sell art for a specific social purpose has a nice organic aspect to it that warms the cockles. I'm releived they didn't have a Tim Storrier bra on show. I bought a peeking duck bra.

The only depressing thing about friday was the location of the venue. KNot is in a crumbling edifice on ELizabeth Street near central. It looks like something out of Ruth Park, and is refreshingly free of the renovator craze that has defaced most of Sydney. At its best this part of surry hills reminds me of the daggy bits behind central station in Brusses, the city that the 80's forgot. Only brussels has pharmacies, supermarkets, and REALLY GOOD beer, kebabs and chips for cheap. Oh, and public lighting. Central sydney is the where nomanzone that looks like it has been abandoned by humanity. Weird gated residential blocks. Weird gated office blocks, lots of cars, scurrying pedstriants and gangs of train bound youf looking bored and edgy, and gangs of grey clad storm troopers loking bored and edgy. A portal to hell. Wandering around - I thought of bits of La Zone" in Paris - the weird outer suburban fringes of caravans, gypsies and concrete. But La ZOne has better lighting, better cafes and better supermarkets. OUtside of Knot I got hungry and STUPIDLY thought I'd wander up the strip to cleveland street. Bad bad bad food, overpriced and no where to sit, no where to shit. Pubs full of sport and and screaming men. Footpaths empty. Hell world. I finally settled on the worst kebab of my entire life. From the big place on the corner DON'T EVER GO THERE! The meat - was like a weird mashed amalgam of bad TVP, spinach and mushrooms. It was black and soft wihth a wafting bouquet of rotting mince. I scraped it into the bin. Incredulous. I moaned and wished I was back in St. Peters at the MAYS launch of mickey quick's latest wall art. In the gated brick veneer australand dogbox paradise of newtown, a funky graphics art company is supporting funky aerosol art, sponsored by a funky local microbrewery. Aaaaahh the joys of upwardly moblie bohemia! Soft blond beer, soft bright graffiti, soft bum on soft asphalt, and my soft brain smiling at familiar faces giving street cred to the soulless yuppies in their high rises around us. Precarious and pathietic as it is, in future weekends, I'm staying local.

The nice bit of this surry hills foray is running into someone on the bus on the way home. She'd been making stencils coz she's having a graffitti war in the back lanes of Surry Hills. So there's life in hellzone at least, just not in the kebabs.

Monday, October 03, 2005

this is not art Batty Hurts

Last Week I Went to Bathurst for the supercheap 1000. I reckoned it would be a good way to avoid that youf avantgarde cutting edge culturefest - THIS is NOT art. with a name like that I feel compelled to go "OK, if you're not art then I'll ignore you" . the supercheap 1000 seemed right up my ally. We took the bog mobile for a lap round mount panorama and checked out all the dudes in dayglo setting stuff up. Banners, metal stands, portaloos, kangaroos.

Unfortunately I got my dates wrong coz the big race is next week. So I had to settle for the preview at the Warpstanza gallery cafe. FANGO was a play on "Fanging" a term apparently derived from the late great Fangio. Fango is a group show by local artists, Shane Summerton,Jock Alexander, Karen Golland, Adrian Symes, ChristianPrusiac, and some guy called Pete. Ity was light on, bright fluffy stuff. Photos and paintings of cars including the model I lost my virginity in, and some aesthetic chomro bits, plus some carwindow frames for some works on paper, which reminded me why the naughties have features 'the return to traditional skills'. Bad drawings get a bit tiresome at times. I liked Karens serious stripes and less serious cars attached wittily to the tops, sides and undersides of the racing boxes. SO much so, that I asked the dude from the local paper to snap me in front of them. My other big face was the video come installation. The video wasn't that great. (the curse of unedited rushes!), but I liked the installation of sculpted character cars and story boards with an etymology of "fang".

the whole opening thing made me wistful for days of sydney being more than a real estate speculative hole. the warpstanza remindes me of AD163 - the old gallery cafe in Glebe - with big couches and bad chai and lots of crannys with stuff - I used to hang there for hours and have done so at the warp as well. Warp is a bit of a cultural node. They have openings, concerts on sunday arvos and thier own TV station. the local media was there too. "Arts out west" - runs as a 15 minute segment on Prime TV (rural channel 7) which is about the same as I get on 2SER. In the bruhaha of the latest ABCTV arts non event - maybe we should just approach chennel 10 to do a segment on their news - surely we could find a buxom blond presenter - or dress up mike parr?

We went and checked out hill end and considered joining the exodus of artists out west - for about 5 minutes. I reckon I'd get sick of home renovations and 4WD trips to bunnings in abut 3 weeks. Also - I got kinda scared by the shows at Bathrust regional - of local interesting serious artists ......... whose work looked complacent and derivative. Oh hell is there that much difference from Sydney?

ON matters rocking - the fossil museum really made me happy - especially in the light of Jonathohn Vencores piece at 4A.

Right now its really hot, and too hot to type and even the artlife is on holiday this week. (I can't wait to head north for a european winter).

In the meantime - art galleries are air conditioned and mostly free. I'd recommend the following:

MCA - Primavera
Museum Station - Ricky Maynard /Deborah Kelly (ain't seen it yet)
St. James Station - Ricky Maynard /Deborah Kelly (ain't seen it yet)Artspace - try the dark cavern - or just sit and watch the utopia project. Looking at all those old victorian hippies in thick jumpers can be comforting.
AGNSW - MArgaret Preston and free films

wot else is on?

AT LAIRD MACKENNY'S opens 6-8pm Tuesday 4 OctoberKudos Gallery6 Napier St. Paddington. Three artists; Jacqueline Byrnes, Jacqui Drinkall and Sandra Scheffknecht transform the gallery into ‘Laird MacKenny’s den’ – an ‘ode’ to morbid beauty where the human face and figure is re-imagined through prostheses and mutation.

My eyeballs are frying
I'm going to stop