Thursday, November 10, 2005

A (scatalogical) Valediction for an Alma Mater

Right now I should be writing up a nice paper on interdisciplinarity for some seminar I've got on tomorrow. Hell -tho! Procrastination is such a fuel for for blogging!
In the paper that will be I considered disucssion the french word for discipline which is fomration - much nicer, it sounds malleable and constructive whereas discipline sounds so repressed and well behaved.
this leads onto the segue of this blog posting whihc will have very little to do wiht the show on monday.
Lucas will be talking about art and I'll be up a tree in the tarquin in Tasmania. Stay tuned


Next week, the silly season cranks up big time. Its a sweaty, smothering, plastic cup, chateau cardboard boozy midsummer night's slurrrrr.. Spring shows have flowered every where and the art schools are having their end of year pissups... err soirees, err,,,,, shows. its a sweaty sinky boozy time between Spring exhibitions and the Christmas season (read end of ratings periods). ahhh the christmas shows - when the artworld becomes like a bing crosby album, or a $2 shop. Two of my favourite things. Its a fine time.

I'm returning from Tassie expressly to head on out to the SCA show. It opens on Tuesday the 14th and I've got friends finishing masters and loyalty defeats the ignominy of paying $2.00 for splashes of seriously shite goon, served up wiht a sermonizing line " under VSU this service won't exist" (stop it - you're turning me liberal).

Next Thursday (24th) - there's the annual darlo double up of COFA and NAS - both swilling away their fine young things. NAS has better alcohol but much longer speeches. COFA has alcohol comparitive to Frank Watters, but much shorter peeches and an opening night ambiance compariable to wild warehouse parties back in olden days of surry. (god bless you, F-Block).

I should of course be reviewing the art. i'm not. Hell, who cares about the art? I always thought art school was about having a crazy time and getting trashed. Art is not brain surgery. If you spend 3 years making total garbage no one is going to die!

For me, art schools are interesting - not fomr the exceltional quality of theiry star graduands (fortunately the sheer nausea inducing quality of this phrase is enough to repress my pointed barbs) but from the amount of fun that people seem to be engaging in. If Georgio Morandi came out of an art school you'd be bloody worried. Misery and solitude was the crucible of his genius - thats not what you want at art school. Art school should (here I am sounding like an old bat and I'm not even 35) give people a reason to live, and a glimpse of the possibliity of living well. People learn how to make shit mean something when they're fucked up and alone in the real world.

Anway Formation. I'm an alumnus of National art school. I drank my way through in the late nineties just as it was becoming independent. I did a painting major and didn't do any paintings - just lots of manifestos, junk assemblages, performances, soft err sculptures, and other random stuff - and I could feel like a rebel. I also scored another degree with no additional Hecs debt. I also made an incredible bunch of really close friends who I still know to this day. the fun and the friendships is what sustained me afterwards, shit poor and shit bored and often quite depressed and deciding to learn how to paint. the type of professional formation I had - was -to stick to what i believe in.(even when i don't know what it is) Push the envelope. Don't take anyone's shit. OK take some poeples shit. this is all sounding banal - and i guess most of it gets covered in bohemia 101 - but I still reckon its got a place.

I know lots of people from my old art school - stretching back across decades. A long lineage of dodgy daubers and drunks, plus the odd success story, we see each other around and nod and patter - for me it was the informal networks of community that I really have benefitted from since leaving at art school. My closests friends were whingeing bitter cantankerous foot stomping yelling terminally late for class fuckups - we've kept in contact since and kept going since. Lots of the nice girls and nice boys haven't - coz chasing success can get boring in a milieu where the odds stacked against success are so high. Not as boring as the art . go down glenmore road and shudder. Or the gunnery on a bad night.

I don't think NAS is unique for creating a fun filled sanctuary for crazy boho types. theres some GREAT stuff happening at SCA at present - and COFA has supplied most of the BYT's of the artist run initiative, contemporary art, primavera circuit etc.. I had friends going through COFA at the same time as me at NAS and they had just as many crazy parties as we did.. I dunno if there was the same split between the official art school stars and the seriously silly bohos, but I'd be scared if there wasn't. If poeple's art school activities and trasngression is a nice seamless segue into official avant-gardism - thats quite frightening. As my friend Fabian From the Academy of Young Urban Fuck-ups said - fucked up people don't win prizes.

OK Here comes the seriously preachy bit. I believe that learing how to make art involves learning how to fail, again and again and again. Creativity is the right to create somehting new, unforseen, unexpected and incomprehensible. This involves risk, incomprehension and incompetence. Learning to live with failure and not as a single hamlet style damning moment - but as a regular state of stumlbing - make sthe pssibilities for living and risking life - a lot more interesting. Vale the ludic theory of human life. There's a bit more - I'm scared society is beccoming dictatorial and moncultural - where the space to be non productive, to do stuff because its pointless?

I like to see shit art. I like to see shit art in art schools. Lots of it. Art that is shit in ways I can't even imagine. 20 year olds and the state of the universe. Serously offensive bad porn 'that's like so ironic' and is like, so NOT. I LOVE Bad paintings. Especially if they refer to the deacde just past. we need more bad chunky primary coloured expressionism, espceialy next to the beige, and more malevich, with some textured glitter/klimt stuck in and more bad pop, and a bit of dodgy jungian shit just to help the goon come back up. Bad metal sculpture, and bad performance art. Lots of bad performance art, and lots of self obsessed 19 year old skinny art school girls stuck in the lacanian mirror phase but citing nan goldin. there are always rare special flowering wonders - but they deserve to be nurtured in a ruch hummus of strange crap.

Art schools are interesting if they can foster communities of people who are successful at not succeeeding - at living in an undisciplined, cantankerous fucked up barely functional way. I don't think there is any successful pedagogical model for doing this - and I think the less of a pedagogical model there is - the greatest change of success there is. I've inwardly shuddered at the moved towards streamlining and profesisnalism at my old stomping grounds, as I shudder at the increasing numbers of 4WD's parked outside and the freaky Bellevue blonde helmets among the students - and even though I'm doing doctoral research on art education - I really don't know what the fuck an Atelier model actually means - beyond fairly vapid francophonic citations that were bandied about the Slade in the late nineteenth century. (Trust me, I've got the references). In increasingly regulated, managerial performance outcome driven model of infomration economy management it'd be surprising if any art school can get away with much that hasn't been codfiied as a core learning requirement. But I reckon there is safety in numbers. The more art schools that can survive, defining themsleves against each other in bitchy, crazy little fights left over from the seventies (the painting vs new media bitchfights - ya gotta love that one) ,or even the fifties (welded steel vs everything else three dimensional) the more space there is for interesting and odd things to ferment. the scary sedition laws wil make it harder than before to create anything a bit ambiguous, suss or playful - we'll all either be forced into the serious subversive martyrdom camp or the sell-out successful non confrontational camp - and thats a great pity - art should confuse and mix shit up on many levels.

Anwyway - this is an extremely long winded way of getting to the point of this post - which is that rumour has it that the National Art School is going to be merged with the College of FIne arts - or 'aquired' by the latter. Its a bit of a shame - and not only because lots of the NAS staff have seen COFA as their Nemesis ever since the bad old days of the Mackie Merger that left the remnants of the old NAS stuck as a sculpture and design deparmtnet in TAFE. If it goes through the furr flying should be pretty intense - but probably not very pretty or productive for staff or students. COFA has done extremely well in surviving the yoke of UNSWinc. , they have a vibrant and diverse culture of research and practice across a numbe of fields - and I frankly wish I was going there now. But its not NAS, and it wouldn't be interested or able to kep NAS as a distinct school - and the site would too easily be subsumed into the profit imperatives of Kensington. So I'm a bit sad, a bit cross that Bob Carr has broke another election promise immediately apon retirement - (an independent art school? what?) and a bit scared about whatever else may come unstuck.........

Am I the only one who gives a sincere disinterested* shit?

* I'm not a paid employee of any art instututions in sydney at present - though I'm open to any offers

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