Monday, May 29, 2006

Relational Aesthetics and Zones of Contact

After guzzling coffee in my backyard all morning I staggered shakily to my computer and logged onto the ARTLIFE's call to arms with 100 promises for the artworld. Click on the title above to see what I'm about.

And it's a fine way to start this weeks posting as I will enter the radio studio today not as a remote art critic but as a meaty little vegemite myself: an artist - engaging in gratuitous self promotion.However I rckon theory has fogged up my brain and my spectacles and I'm seeing the world through all the nice theory talk contemporary artspeak that slides across my tongue.

God what a slippery slope it is.

but its all in a good cause!

Part 1: Relational Aesthetics:

Relates not to the book by Palais de Tokyo director Nicholas Bourriand but a group show opening at Peloton Gallery opening on thursday Night. Basically Tracey Clement, who does the Heralds 'critics pics' column in friday's Metro, has assembled a whole heap of artists to do an exquisite coprse mail art project.If you chekc out the list below it looks like a who's who of sydney art scene (with a smatteirng of unknowns like moi to give that edgy art world kudos) ad shows the value added effect of getting an art critic ( who does fairfax scribing to support her studio habit) to coordinate a show.

"Post it" is a clever little fundraiser for Medicins Sans Frontiers, and its all in the theme of "Le Corps Morcele". All the artists drew little body bits on folded and taped secret sections of paper - which have all been unfolded to create these assemblages, which wil be available for silent auction at the opening.

details are: 6pm thursday 1st June
at: Peloton Gallery: 19 Meagher Street chippendale
(across from the old wedding circle)
show runs to June7th.

Contributors are:
Joan Ross, Matthys Gerber, Stephen Crane, Ben Quilty , Margaret Seymour, Alison Clouston, Benedict Ernst, Ruark Lewis, Alex Anastas, Luis Martinez, Judith Duquemin, Ric McConaghy, Monika Beherens, Vicki Willkes, Mireille Astore, Graham Blondel, Jaqueline Olivetti, Adam Cullen, Eugenie Lee, Kurt Schranzer, Caroline Rothwell, Yirgos Zafiriou, Margaret Roberts, Pia Larsen, Mike Esson, Helen Pynor, Rebecca Oh, Pierre Cavalan, Mini Graff, Michael Goldberg, Steve Tyerman, Todd McMillan, Megan Yeo, Mitch Cairns, Paul Donald, Anna Kristensen,Peter Burgess, Vernon Bowden, Melissa Laing, Adam Laerkensen, Iakovos Amperdis, Tom Loveday, Ron Adams, Lisa Jones, Tracey Clement, Soda_Jerk, Gerard Manion, Gaby Montejo, Margaret Mayhew, Mark Hetherington, Priscilla Bourne, Susanna Strati, Elizabeth Day, Deb Faint, Ben de Nardi, Patsy Payne, Pauline Plumb, Nana Ohnesorge, Keith Chidzey, Julia Davis, Zoe MacDonell, Barbara Doran, Melanie Khava, Lachlan Warner, Giles Ryder, Victoria Baker,Michelle Jensen, Alison Macgregor, Catherine Stuckings,Hayden Fowler, Lorna Grear, Ann Bentley, Hamish Ta-me, Rebecca Beardmore, Jodi McConaghy, Randolph, James Dorahy, Leslie Rice, Nick Vincent, The Tool Room, Prudence Murphy,John Paul Mullins, Phil Williams, Peter Nelson, Stephen Cramb, Jai McKenzie, Yuko Mamada,Sarah Kaur, Tom Polo, Mark Elliot, Jess McNeil, Daniel Kojta, Richard Glover,Nicolas Folland, Seraphina Martin, Nadine Binder, Nuha Saad, Lisa Andrew,, Mona Ryder, Alex Seton, Paul Ferman, Angela Tay


Is not only the title of the Biennale of Sydney but is an apt description for an alternative biennale preshow at Mori Gallery.

Mori gallery has been encouraging artists to visit the Botany Bay National Park for the past couple of months and draw some reactive creativity from the site. We are also plaanning an open artists' picnic and sunday stroll along the Bailey Coastal Walk (gooing from the end of Catain Cook drive down past the Cape SOlander Light House to the top of Cronulla beach)

Going on an artists' stroll may just seem a bit too post-object art for most people and maybe its beyond the shire - but we reckon the time is right for a bit of punchy "derive-ing" in a public park (yep that's wiht 2 e's and no-one has to stick to the path...). If you can imagine sculpture by the sea without any welded steel or Bondied abdominals then hopefully it can give you a sense of what this expereince should be - where whale watching meets relational aesthetics - where art is a process rather than an object on a wall or plinth.

Meet At the Cape Solander Carpark at 1pm This Sunday 4th June. Bring $7 to pay the NPWS tolls or cycle along the track and bring a hat, water and picninc lunch and allow 3 hours for te full stroll to Cronulla Beach. Public Transporters can get a train to Cronulla beach and either start the walk in reverse or catch a 987 bus from the station up to the park.

The results of the walk will be at mori gallery next week along with other stuff that people have been working on -

Thats 6pm Thursday 8th June at 168 day Street CBD (walk down Liverpool or Bathurst streets from Town Hall)and is in aid of Trying to save Kurnell Peninsula from being consumed as an adjuct of Caltex all in the name of desalination.

The show opens the same night as the BIG BOS PISSUP. (Free piss scammers take note: On thursday June 8th et out your black skivvies and armani spectacles and see if you can't clipper the front and sides of your hair in one of those trendy upbermullet things and then once the sun sets, get into some serious lurking outside one of the following venues).

Museum of Contemporary Art
Art Gallery of NSW
Ivan Dougherty gallery
Australian Centre for Photography
PErformance Space

I'd really welcome some comments on which had the best/worse free acohol, entry policy, fashionable crowd. In that order. If you can't get in anywhere or feel like disdaining that sort of institutionalised avant-gardism - then no wukkas! head down to Mori for the real credfest.Here's why:

The biennale promises 85 artists but I reckon that's not much more than Peloton or the Morifest which opens the night before and has 60 artists all expressing work about the Kurnell Penninsula.

I'd highly reccomend that you double up on the night. Mori is a gentle downhill stroll from MCA and AGNES WALES - or a little bus ride from Artspace the ACP, dougherty or the other one. If you got an invite to the biennale then go to mori early. If not - then try your chutzpah chances at the iofficial venues and then if it fails - crawl down to Day Street for some nice wholesome art.

10 reasons why This show is more aobut ZOnes of contact than anything in the biennale

1. Kurnell is the site of the goorawal aboriginies who were the first aboriginies EVER to see the cream of old blighty stride across their middens - some of which are still there. (middens and anglo-australians).

2. Kurnell is meant to be where the new desalination plant is planned - for a citybuilt on saltawater and sand, which wants to drink more freshwater and burn more oil than it can afford , and then build a power station in order to distill water and oil and its all happenign at Kurnell.

3. Kurnell has a massive zone of contact between caltex oil refinery and a national park and the ocean. this is mediated by a big fat pipe pumping all kinds of weird and toxic crap out to see.

4. Kurnell is the best place in Sydney to watch Whales at this time of year. sooner or later they are going to start glowing in the dark; see point 3.

5. Kurnell had amazing big sand dunes - which you used to be able to see for miles - but now area top site for 4 wheel drivers - doing big chunky burnouts - fueled by CALTEX

6. Kurnell now has massive craters from mining all the dunes - whihc have ended up in most of sydney's brick veneer (you want a zone of contact/ go ram your haed into a McMansion wall!)

7. the Southern end of the park has a freaky looking colony of inbred wildlife (the last outpost of the six fingered shire freaks) with which are apparently 99% genetically compatible with the rest of humanity. (and you can see them for less than a ticket to the zoo)

8. the sand dune mining has been causing a gradual sucking away of Cronulla Beach the toxic residues of the hard fill is leaching into the proteced mangrove swamps in botany bay and threatening their destruction

9. cronulla Beach was the site of the scary race riots last year - it's the nasty white trash underbelly of sydney's soul - all the conflict, avarcioussness that we try to scoop under our soy latte coasters bares its scary beer belly for all too see.

10. sydney's real estate boom has extended even into the shire - and envirnomental destruction is being tempered by the desire for continued house price rises. Real estate? fossil fuel? alternative power? water? deslination? Petrol fueld 4WD recreation? you want zones of contact? it's all here!!!!

Not only that - but the above information is infinitely easier to negotiate than the BOS website - which was created by some overpaid Flashmonkeys with ADHD (don't they know that some of us have dialup!!!! some of us like to have our information in simple easily displayed HTML!!!! - why can't I acces a list of galleries, a list of artists and a basic press release without donloading 5 pdfs? huh?)

After treading the Artlife promises I considered the solemn oath:

13. I have come to accept that drawing a picture of a tree is not necessarily the same thing as saving one.

And I promise to have NO PAINTINGS of Sand Dunes or even moody looking mangroves.

I'm not sure if my intervention will accord with the oath below:

3. I promise I will never dress up in drag and think I’m changing the world.

but after seeing Leigh Bowery and Claude Cahun I rekcon I'm allowed to differ with them......

I'm here, I'm queer, I'm not going shopping.........

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A weekend of mayhem

I've got a full diary this weekend and I'm not afraid to flaunt it!

It all kicks off on FRIDAY NIGHT at 6pm at the Petersham Bowling Club, cnr The Avenue and Brighton Street.
with delicious dinner cooked by Fiona, bowling shenanigans,
and a slide show by some amazing visiting Filipino artists who are here
for the Biennale: Alfredo Juan Aquilizan & Maria Isabel
Gaudinez-Aquilizan. There'll also be a powerpoint presentation by yours
truly, in which I attempt (perhaps unsuccessfully) to explain how a
combination of social interaction and blogging might be construed as

Then I'll stagger home and drunkenly serenade the boys in my backyard who are having a BBQ.

Saturday is oging to be a tricky one.

I could go into the city and lurch around ART ON THe ROCKS while making up my mind whether to head down to Loose for fun with mark titmarsh and silly string, or over the cross arts (33 roslyn Street Kings Cross) for CROSS CONVERSATION: 'May Day, May Day: Rethinking Art & Politics whihc kicks off at 3pm.
Speakers: Ann Stephen, curator and author of On Looking at Looking: The art and politics of Ian Burn (2006); Neil Towart, research director Unions NSW and curator of Trades Hall collection, Raquel Ormella artist and Craig Judd, curator Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery

I could also check out the current show: MAY DAY: THE RETURN OF ART & POLITICS IN THE 21st CENTURY
Or I could stay in the inner west and crawl over to chirssie cotter for free custard and goon as part of the EXHIBITION OPENING
SATURDAY 27 May, from 2.30pm to 6pm
Chrissie Cotter Gallery, Pidcock Street Camperdown (off Mallett Street,
and not far from Parramatta Road).
with afternoon tea, a little excursion to the former border of
Petersham at Johnston's Creek, and, if we're lucky, a ribbon-cutting by the Mayor
Himself, Sam Byrne.

Or I could go to the writers festival.

At night, there's a letterish type of thing at 8pm at the Bangarra theatre.

THE SPOKES - a spoken-word-music troupe, have words by BenEzra (aka Eytan Messiah), Bravo Child, Briohny Doyle, Alana
Hicks and Miles Merrill.
Live Music by John Maddox on Bass & Nigel Date on Guitar.

It's free.

sunday, again Art on the rocks which hopefully will involve my friend steve doing a paint drilling thing, and /or writers festival stuff.

Sunday night: third last ever frigid. night time at Newtown RSL.

Monday, May 22, 2006

SLACking off

This week I've been led from the carpet walled haven at 2SER to go and look at some nice rocks in southern sydney. I find it impossible to resist a nice cliff and some billowing foam so I've left listeners with the dulcet tones of Lisa Kelly from Sydney Lady Artists Club.

She did a preview on their excursion to the Oxford Tavern's Jelly Wrestling night some weeks back. You can read more about it by clicking on their link on the right, but that's not why she's starring in the hotseat.

Lisa's one of the directors of LOOSE - a new gallery space up the stairs at 168 Day Street in the CBD. I havne't given Loose much of a plug in the past - because of traumatic experiences of endless stairs climbing and coloured corridor meanderings that it has taken me some time to actually be able to share with the world.

but this wendesday - it might just be worth giving it another shot. If not this wednesday - then maybe saturday.

Metaphysical TV - promises to be a major eyeball fest for all of the super8 fans out there. It opens THIS WEDNESDAY 24th MAY, at LOOSE - and the other details are below.

The same night, the for hire space formerly known as Four A, has an enigmatic show - which is about art and fashion combining. It could be good, and kind of vintage meets nostaligia meets cultural critique - or it could be bland ragtrade pastiche. I can't actually tell from the presa release and I'm a sucker for having my ambiguous zones tweaked. Belinda Lai is the name of the 'artiste'.......

The good news means that Lucazoid will be able to come into 2SER and spread his vocals acorss the airwaves. the bad news is that, oh, well, it has been so nice having something local and relational happening in hte inner city. Lisa is also a Petersham local - so I thought she'd be best equipped to discuss this.
(confused? click on 'where's lucazoid' on the right for more info)

As part of the closing fest - there'll be A DINNER AT PETERSHAM BOWLING CLUB THIS FRIDAY NIGHT.
this promises to be WAYYYY better than the xmas luncheon fare at Jimmy's Kitchen at the glen innes bowling club. Not only is the catering done by capable foina, but there's going to be boosted by the presence of International Art Stars(TM). A group of Biennale artists, who are also marrickville council's artists in residence are going to give a presentation, and lucazoid will as well. It should make a great complement to the fetching decor of lawn bowls badges framed along one wall. Actually, the might have to cover that up with a screen. shit.
dinner starts at 6pm. ring fiona on 0434 813 926 if you wanna eat or just rock up and get ready to bowl and sink beers and look at stuff.

SATURDAY - Lucazoid also has his chrissie cotter opening - to demonstrate the 'outcomes' of the sham project. It will be from 2.30-6pm at a small space behind the Camperdown Bowling Club, and will involve a group stroll around the sham periphery.

If you don't wanna walk - go back to Loose for the silly string theory metaphysical fest - also on at 2pm.

Last week - I checked out Greg Shapley's performance endurance piece at Newspace Gallery in rozelle. It was much easier to get to by bus than Macquarie uni. anyway - newspace has been newly painted and looks great - and upstairs was decked out well with three guitarists in each room, doing their controlled two chord 4 second strums. There were candles and dips. It was vintage tasteful. It could have been Black mountain college in the thirties. with great beer. It was cool.

i wandered around and saw that one of the guitarists was Brendan Penzer. The other guy had his face to the wall, hidden under a beanie so I couldn't work out who it was. It was like an understated MANJAM. I wnadered aorund , did some skethces and settled into a chair, wondering how long the perfomrers would last without beer, and if I should offer to pour beer into mouths somehow. but then Greg cracked. He put down his guitar after only 95 minutes. I was disgusted! so I left.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

metaphysical opening

This opening sounds wayyyy cool - especially the bit with silly string.

only thing is the dates don't tally with my verison of i-cal!

Is it some kind conceptual art impossibility?

Metaphysical TV [Still]

Andrew Frost + Stephen Harrop + Michael Hutak + Mark Titmarsh + Gary

Opening Wednesday May 27, 6pm. Loose Projects, 2nd Floor, 168 Day
Street, Sydney.
Exhibition runs for Three Days: May 27 to May 29
Gallery Hours: Thu-Fri 12-5pm, Sat 1-6pm.
Video Performance by Mark Titmarsh: [Silly] String Theory. Saturday May
29, 2pm.
Attendees for the performance are invited to bring a can of silly
Curated by Mark Titmarsh.

Monday, May 15, 2006

stuff last week

I've been trying to do a leaner, meaner, more in depth coverage of a few specific visual gems, rather than covering everthing in depth.

awww hell -this is just a tragic excuse for the fact that I just don't gt out much anymore.

I spent last week chekcing out unveristy museums. I ahvne't heard much form either KUDOS or dougherty, so I dunno wots happening at COFA. Tell me please! someone!

Anyway last wednesday I missed the jellly wrestling in order to trek out to Epping for the Ian Milllis retrospective. Punters can eyeball the online version by clicking/cutting and pasting/woteva the folllowing link:

Vintage readers of this blog may know the millis as the painter of bad irises at slot last year. then he said they were his mum's. HIS MUM WAS AT THE OPENING! I kind of hid in the corner.

Anyway the website above is dominated by a big tryptic - that also fills one wall of the gallery. the sky bit is more luminous in the flesh -but there's a dry margrittey tone about the whole thing. Swing, Tree, Noose. Initialy I thought it was a comment about the deaht of michael hutchence - but I was having a fairly intense '80's flashback moment at the time. it soon passed.

If you go to the website, click on "the invisible artist". bit. (It's invisible on my browser whihc is kind of enigmatic) then you can see all the background info about his ouvre, and what all this means. Basically this show assembles a wonderful glimpse of delights in the past - and of sydney's really interesting avante-garde heritage. 35 or something years ago - artists like millis were actively involved in inner city communities and in fighting to preserve areas like wolloomooloo. what came out of this social engagement - was a flourishing of experimental approaches to art making. Culture works like any ecosystem - feed it enough hummous and all sort sof insteresting things mushroom........

anywya - seeing the retrospective in the flesh , well the context of maquarie uni is hard to ignore, partiuclalry if yyou go by bus like I did. I spent 60 minutes on a gridlocked freeway, surrounded by suits and residue of mix106.5 statticking in the bakground, only to emerge into a see of parking lots and gumtrees. in the dark.

Fortunately I found a security guard and found the gallery easily enough. It's a nice new brick building. I strolled in and noticed the white powder map on the floor. I don't think it was coke. I looked up and went for the framed covers of the Contemporary Art Society Broadsheet, and other publications. Cool vintage stuff. with arty sqauatters stnaindg on a warehouse lookig like the droogs form a clockwork orange. and then lots of letters, minutes, fragments. Bits of encapsulated dreams. Looked left and the masking tape on the floor "follow this line' only possible wiht eyes, but I did and came to couch, and photos of couch in galllery. a 4 minute cage symphony of an artspace...... whihc was a nice way to head towards the cute corridored left of the gallery. Instruction conceptual world. well placed in an intimate space, wehre you have to be alone with the walls, and the instructions. emerging back into the gallery, wiht a massive laser print out, huge pathcwork artworkers union banners, more bits between paintings.

what is all of this doing in Epping? sydney has a really amazing history, and its bizarre how quickly radical moments get smoothed over, and moved on. Even thoght the people still hang around, sharing stories and showing scars. This is a treasure of a show.

back to sinney central and I nealy wet myself at the tin sheds on saturday. Joan ross is everything a girl could wish for. fur, lino, underpants, glitz. glorious kitsch delight - worked into some punchy thematics about australian idenity. 19th century colonial portraits painted onto kangaroo fur. and wired hanging bit sof stuff, and furry birds, and th albert namatjira lino cut kookaburra, and all those textual, delightful lacy frilly, whirling big things.


stuff this week

Greg shapely is doing an endurance piece - non stop guitar at Newpsace Gallery. Starting on thursday night at 6pm and going until his fingers fall off or someone smashes the guitar over his head.

Should be a nice complement to the current experimental noisefest at artspace

The Australian Network of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines invites you to an exhibition: Unfinished Business: Completing the Ban on Landmines
A collection of photographs by John Rodsted taken in Bosnia & Rob Alsop taken in Cambodia

Opening: Saturday 20th May 2006 at 6pm at the Mori Gallery, 168 Day Street Sydney
Exhibition: Saturday 20th until Tuesday 23rd May 2006, between 11am-6pm
gallery will be open sun, mon and tues.

Further details: Susan Braun ph: 0407 463 779 &/or Denis Doherty ph: 0418 290 663

Thursday, May 11, 2006

art and the alma mater

Maiden Voyage opens next thursday 18th Maay at 6pm
At a new space in slurry callled GAFFA
Adddie is 330 crown street
sho goes from may 19-30
GAFFA is open MONDAYS TOO! - It's open 7 days a week: 12-5ish

names of emerging artists are aidan li, bridie lander, melinda young, karin findeis, kim robson, mike turner, damien butler, madeleine bod, ben frost, rosary coloma, loren keir

Now i've got that out of the way - i thought'd i'd stiick my 2 cents worth into the NAS saga.

My interests in this - are that I'm an ex-studnet and ex-life model of NAS, and have a love hate relationship with th place. the other interest I have at the moment is in art education, and what types of art schools can foster/stifle/promote communities and creativity.

when the NAS vs COFa shitfight really blew up late last year I weighed in with the rant below.

I dunno if it says anything, but it's kind of amusing in a bleary eyed boozy kind of way.

Last week Friends of the National Art School sent me an email asking me to reply to 3 questions:
1. why did you go to NAS?
2. what was the highight of your time at NAS?
3. what do you think of the merger with COFA?

Here's what I sent back

Q1: I chose NAS - partly because there was no HECS and
I already had a huge debt. I had also gone around to
all the other art schools - and something about NAS
just felt right. I stayed because I loved the people.
I had friends at COFA and they were having a great
time as well - but NAS felt smaller and more
non-threatening. I could spend all day writing
manifestos and planning performances and doing really
weird installations based on walking around the block
on a particular day and finding bits of garbage and
feel like I was a rebel. I still feel that learning is
a complicated process which is more about having the
right people at the right time than any formal course

Q2: where do I start? Castle mountain (1 week painting camp at wiseman's ferry) was definitely a
highlight and it is a damn shame that these cheap
crazy week long 24 hours per day
painting/cooking/canoeing/drinking fests don't happen
anymore. Bill Pratts desert tours (student organised 3 weeks in a minibus for $400 art tours) were also just
incredible and Ian B's trip to central france changed
my life. doing "bob" (student newspaper) was frustrating but really fun -
especially the elvis edition and it was even funnier
when damien nugent started up a rival student
newspaper coz he thought that "bob's" production
values were too grungy. And then there was the
courtie, and scraping up coins to get one last
guinness at the end of the night. so many romantic
sodden soliloquies about art and life, and so many
hangovers. It was worth every single one.

Q3: I think both institutions are amazing for entirely
different reasons. Part of me regrets having never
gone to COFA for postgraduate work because people do
fantastic stuff there -and it has a great history as
mackie and wonderful links to some really interesting
emerging artists and artists run initiatives. the
COFA store is excellent and KUDOS gallery is really
great. But I don't see why we can't support both COFA
and NAS in sydney as separate institutions. I'd like
to think they support different needs and have
different roles, and different possibilities. I'm not
anti COFA - and students from both institutions lived,
showed and worked together or nearby back last decade.
I'd like to see that difference continue as a source
of exchange and possiblities just like it does with
students from SCA. I'd be scared that a merger would
end up with the worst of both at both institutions.
NAS would be incroporated as some kind of conservative
drawing /studio skills wing within COFA, which would
detract from the existing history of drawing and
painting practices at COFA - and from the history of
experimental approaches to teaching and studio work
that has continued at NAS.

What I didn't write in the letter above was wathcing how the student populatin of NAS changed over time. when I started there in 1997- there were a lot of studnets in their mid 20's - with oldies and youngies iether side. It's hard to say whether it was just the grunge fashions of the time - but the standard art chool garb was blunnies, flannies and baggy, paint smeared or torn pants. Lot sof people seemed t have a lot of time and energy to put into other stuff like intercapus art shows, or student papers, or mad camps, or sitting around and getting drunk with teachers and blithering sit into the night.......

By the time I was working as a full time model - I felt a really big class difference between myself and a lot of the other students - many of whom were weird easter suburb helmet haired 4WD driving types - living out some pseudo acadmeic version of "the artists way" - or people that could have been their kids; young, middle class and very white. I don't know why or how this occured. NAS was and still is the CHEAPEST tertiary art school in sydney - so why it has attracted so many affluent and conservative seeming students is a mystery to me, but it was sad. the middle age studnets didn't have time to go on long painting excursions or wild parties, and the kids didn't have the skills or initiative or contacts to organise crazy shit.

as stated above, I think it's the stuff that happens around and outside of art shcools that indicate the amount of life within. If art students are organising their own shows,parties,zines or whatever - or if they are involved in the networks of artists/activists that are - that DOES feed into the institution - as well as the community. I'd defend the idea of more art shcools rather than less - just on a basic biodiversity model. I'd prefer to see NAS and COFA exist separately, but I'd prefer NAS to merge wiht COFA rather than Notre Dame. (It might be good for their art history section but that's about all - hell NAS was hotbed of saphhism when I was there - wot would happen to that under Pell inc.?)

I still think that art institutions work best as porous frames - kind of gathering together students into a loose structure - which they can work within, around or against. to cite that great dead man derrida - utlmitately a good structure should be hospitable to its own subversion and even destruction.

Maybe the open source art school blog is a better place to develop discussion on what an art school could or should be thatn here.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Art and Flatulence - keeping up appearances

Today I was introduced along with the phrase 'arty-farty' - which inspired me to give a long windy plug for Mike Parr. (His etchings are at the MCA for another 10 days and he's gold leafing his arm under a tree outside of AGNSW tomorrow) This was totallly unplanned and spur of the moment. Radio is a spontaneous and unpredictable beast at times.

So right now i'm sitting on a full intestinal lumen trying to maintain the gas. the gas lift chair beneath me swivels in an annoying manner. Arty Farty. Hmmm.

On Friday I rocked up to the chrissie cotter SLY/STONE VILLA show. While doing the elbow leaning act on their weird 1980's laminated bar thing and chatting to Nick Strike, some lady came up to me an commented on my raiment - "ooohh you look so bright and colourful and whacky! you must be an artist! you must be soooo creative!". Thing is, is that, contrary to my plans of wearing my peepshow tie, shirt and trousers - I'd been inspired by a packed lunch of beetroot to go in a classic black ensemble. As my jaw hit the floor my eyes glazed at my chromatic accuser - herself decked out in a bright yellow ladysuit - with flashes of tartan headwear - and possibly some lappets, and accesories in another colour. Words completely failed me so I smiled blankly. I hope I didn't seem like a bitch. She did stand out from the crowd who were mostly dark suited, handycam wielding members of the sydney Tiawanese embassy coterie, with a sprinkling of marrickvillle councillors and some of the stone villa artists.

Anyway - the art featured small photographic printouts and some smaller works on acetate/works on paper. These had been shipped over from SLY studios in Taipei at less expense than stone villa artists exhibits (concurrenlty showing in Taipei)- which included large pannelly wall pieces. still cheaper than a bronze sculpture though. highlight of the show was the box hologram butterfy, and the nice 3 animal cartoon character in some great artists book that was sitting on a plinth.

Shannon johnson had a GREAT SHOW open on saturday night at Sheffer Gallery - which is 34 Lander street Darlington (off Shepherd street). I missed the opening but I can barely wait to see the show which runs till 27th May.

Shannon has done heaps of stencil art and drippy aerosol collage which have an appealing mix of pop/anti pop references with some more painterley plays with graf-art motifs of stencilling, lettering and decollage. Her wall pieces are still aroudn and she's had 'discrete wall object works'(new wank term for paintings) at space 3 - and even at the wedding circle where she was one of the directors.

Over summer she spent 3 months at the Paris 'cite des arts' studio. Instead of mooching around the glossy art haunts within the marais and St. germain (and whingeing aobut how moribund it all is) - shannon hooked up with some really interesting network of community based street artists - and found a couple of great little artist run spaces on the outer arrondissements. she also did some collaborative in situ works over there and furthered her obsession with famous frog tagging icon "Misstal" .

I posted some long whinges about the frightful ennui of the "grande public" art exhibitions in paris - and probably forgot to mention all of the amazing art there is in Paris streets. Lots of minivans are decked out in amazing aerosol art - and there is really great greaffiti - EVERYWHERE - and incredible stencils. The 1960's Asger Jorn decollage (diiscrete tearing) of metro billposters has been taken further with people doing crazy painted detournements of billposters even now. (something almost impossible on Sydey's glass & perspex horrors). It makes a pretty full on contrast with the beige boxes of 'high art', but enuff said.

In short - shannons sheffer show has some of the residue of a tres noice exchange with a quite vibrant visual arts activity in frogville and her own work here.
opening hours Wed - Sat 11-6pm. Ph -61 02 9310 5683

the other plug I gave was for Ian Milllises show at Macquarie uni galllery. Click on "Art School The Open Source" - (3rd blog lingk on the right) for more info. the show opens this wednesday night and goes till early june.

I gave a brief rave about the MCA masquerade show. Its great . Go see it. It closes may 21st. If you go with some joe-average friends - send em upstairs to sam taylor wood's pop photography & they can get their celebrity fix and financially support the cool free stuff downstairs. the film on claude Cahun nearly made me cry. It's free.

I FORGOT to mention the latest cross arts show. Details follow.


Exhibition Dates: 6 May to Saturday 3 June 2006
Talk: Tom Carment, artist, and Pat Geraghty, seaman, unionist and local resident
When: Saturday 6 May at 3pm
Where: The Cross Art Projects
33 Roslyn Street, Kings Cross, Sydney (opposite St Lukes Hospital gates)
Cross Conversation: Saturday 27 May 2006 at 3pm
For more information call 9357 2058 or 0406 537933

May Day Watercolour Studio: bannerette workshop directed by Barbara Campbell at The Cross Art Projects on 6 May 11am to 3pm Saturday 6 May, 11am to 3 May Day 2006: Sunday 7 May at 11am at Hyde Park North. Guest speaker is Sharan Burrow, ACTU President.

Simon Blau, Barbara Campbell, Tom Carment, Tom Nicholson, Raquel Ormella, Jacky Redgate, Emma Rees and Bernie Slater (Artists and Writers' Alliance, ACT), Toni Warburton and John von Sturmer, Jelle van den Berg, Deborah Vaughan, Waterside Workers Federation Film Unit
Curators Jelle van den Berg and Jo Holder

CROSS CONVERSATION: 'May Day, May Day: Rethinking Art & Politics
When: Saturday 27 May 2006 at 3pm
Where: The Cross Art Projects
Speakers: Ann Stephen, curator and author of On Looking at Looking: The art and politics of Ian Burn, Miegunyah Press, 2006; Neil Towart, research director Unions NSW and curator of Trades Hall collection and Craig Judd, curator Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery


The exhibition May Day looks at contemporary industrial relations from a cultural perspective, connecting an interdisciplinary curatorial work and historic moments. It also identifies a strong neo-conceptual critical and aesthetic strain within contemporary Australian art practice that interacts with global concerns and local political topics.

May Day reflects on these sorry days of government manipulation of unions and the introduction of divisive industrial laws, on the curbing of civil liberties and the strangling of access to information. As many have observed, the 1950s and Cold War political posturing have become a metaphor for todays conservative politics. While not a historical survey, the exhibition includes newsreel footage of the 1956 Sydney May Day shot by the acclaimed Waterside Workers Federation Film Unit whose work typifies an art is a weapon style and some related archival material.

In contrast, artists are now maneuvered off the set by the spectacles of art and entertainment and cultural politics is divorced from institutional political culture. However, artists often work with this lineage of modernism and cultural activism. Barbara Campbell, Tom Nicholson and Raquel Ormella use traditional emblems of protestbanners, occupied sites, anonymous poster paste-ups, hand-to-hand materials, collaborative actions. SomeTom Carment is an examplework with activists like Pat Geraghty, veteran member of The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and resident of Kings Cross, to document passing cultural history. Other artists, like Simon Blau or Jacky Redgate, comment in symbolic or abstract ways, often with irony and humour.

The project evolved from discussion of Jelle van den Bergs sketchbook titled Industrial Relations, which juxtaposes notes and views of the old industry suburb of Waterloo with notes and views of the shiny new Waterloo of residential apartments. Gentrification and outsourcingboth processes in the tension of globalization.

The artists of May Day honour the determination and colour of two great workers commemorations: the Eight-Hour Day (renamed Labor Day), won 150 years ago by stonemasons, and the May Day parade initiated by shearers at Barcaldine in 1891. Today the two have pretty much fused into one public event. May Day, associated with rites of spring, May Queens and maypoles, and given aesthetic legitimacy by William Morris and Walter Crane, is undergoing a renewal.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Mayhem on Mayday

Art and mayhem: Mayday

Stuff coming up this week.

Fucking everything:

Legge Gallery has some amazing wordy dark elegant deep paintings by Annette Iggulden and really creepy photos by Alex Craig. This opens tomorrow night at 183 Regent Street Redfern and runs to 20/5.

Mori Gallery has pop goes political opening on Wednesday Night. Adam Hill’s “A sign of the crimes, Sydney city council” shows everything from a history to uranium to everything else. Think of Monica Behrens meets Guan Wei. Or Gordon Bennett gone glam.Stick around long enough and even stylised apathetic posturing (I mean the history of pop not the history of Adam) goes all ironic and becomes deep and passionate and engaged. And quite good to look at. The smaller room has another painterly popist Anton Pulvirenti doing “Less dangerous than democracy”. I had a preview and both rooms are well painted, colourful and punchy. This was almost consolation for not being able to get into LOOSE (after climbing all those stairs too). May 3- June3 @168 Day Street.

ON the same night Sherman has Peter Atkins “Precious Things”which none of the invite or publicity images do any justice to. He’s got a whole heap of quite obsessively gathered and catalogued objects trouves in clean cut looking. Each piece has a pencil label saying the place and date of the collection, and features things like buttons, plastic bags, random noes etc – form Newtown and Jerusalem. The latter is what gives the work its rub really. For Jewish artists – collection and filing of everyday objects can never be a dry random thing, and the show took on some of the resonance of Susan Hiller's stuff a the Tate Modern. Of course, he’s not Hiller, and discrete points of pain on sale have a somewhat diminished poignancy – but the show LOOKS NICE, and its even deep. Sherman is at 16-20 Goodhope Street Paddington and the show runs form May 4-27.

Down the road, Harrison Galleries also has a show of sombre heartbreak paintings by Eugenie Lee opening the same night. (yes, this Wednesday). She does intense photorealist moody interiors. Runs until May 20th.


Chrissie Cotter Gallery (pidcock street - camperdown - kind of behind the bowling club) has an opening of the Stone Villa + SLY Art. Sly art are from Taipei, and Sotne villa are those nice poeple I was raving about at te Art in the park thing in petersham. this runs until May 21, 2006. The two artist collectives are exchanging works and the participating artists from the Stone Villa include; Mishka Borowski, Simon Cavanagh, Geoff Corbett, Joris Everaerts, Michelle Hanlin, Caz Haswell, Stephen Ralph, Nick Strike and Sam Whittingham.

Harrison Galleries in glenmore Road (don't say Brian) just had a great show by Helen Pyrnor called Breathing shadows, but its over now so you’ve all missed it. This got a good bit of PR – but I wish the works could have needed up in a permanent collection. What kind of freak takes single hairs ties them together and knits them into big long loose garments? I really hope Tracey Clement saw this one. It takes an obsessive fabric freak to really understand another one. Helen also had these panels running around the wall of little photographs. They were of the canal St. Martin in Paris so I couldn’t bear to look at them too closely – but the bare trees had a nice echoing thing of the thin hair fibres.

It’s been a good week for recent graduates of SCA, but not for their livers.

Greg Shapley had an opening on Wednesday night at a small and extremely underused and very low priced ARI in Erskineville. Email me if you wanna show there. The sleazeburger repeats involved a really effective use of the space. Greg exploited his conservatorium roots by hammering out a scary ditty on his partners broken sax, and having it on a loop that wafted around the space (which has really bad acoustics btw) and gave a delightful peep show ambiance to the video projections of sleazy burgers. One was a live hook-up to a burger on a turntable on the balcony. The main video projection was framed with nice bits of velvet – and actually did a nice stereo effect between the back wall and the curtain it was projected on. I’m extremely grateful to Dave D for pointing this out.

Ben Terakes – great little watercolours on paper – that were self-portraits of performances he’d done. Think: Cherry Hood meets Mike Parr – with a fair amount of newly grad grunge thrown in. single largish male figures – standing on a blue milk crate while painting face blue, or wearing a pig mask or a paper bag or doing some weird shit. I liked the humility and whimsicality. There was a fun fleshiness of both technique and subject matter.

After gawking gleefully at naked flash and pigs I wandered into Susan Norrie: work in Progress: Black mist blew me away. The moricave was all dark, except for the single screen projection, framed by the two pillars. It takes a lot to fill the moricave, but this was really amazing. If there are any readers who don’t know who Susan Norrie is she’s usually mentioned in high school textbooks with her bright chunky still lifes from the 1980’s. I even had art teachers bemoan “the loss of a great painter to all that post modern installation shit” that she started doing later. You can find her later stuff, kind minimalism/objecty photographicky semiotically dense kind of thing in most contemporary art texts from the 1990’s. I even found a monograph about her in Finnish. She had a great video “Enola” that was at the last biennale. It showed bits from mini world theme park in Japan with “it’s a small world” playing over the top, and it scanned across to the twin towers and was, haunting. In other words, she’s a high profile established contemporary artist. (HPWECA for short)

Now, when approaching a certified HPWECA piece, it often leads to a certain amount of self-consciousness, and a scary expectation of complacent knowingness in front. I always feel very conscious about having the correct levels of glasses sliding down the nose while sneaking a peek at the floor sheet in order to check that I recognise the oeuvre in front of me. This happens a lot at Sherman but is ameliorated by that nice panel thing separating the two main spaces in the gallery. It’s a chronic problem at the Ox, and I’ve found myself having major kinaesthetic dilemmas for days afterwards. (Am I brainy enough? Did I get? Was I worthy?). So, so, so often it’s all too easy to miss the art for the HPWECAs. Yes, its so and so, it must be good.

So maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned any sort of biog for Susan Norrie and just gone straight to the point. But it was good that the room was so dark that I couldn’t see if anyone was in there, and no-one knew that I was there either. And if anyone did see the Enola video – and enjoyed the sub bass thrum during the plane scanny bit – you’ll understand the quiet spooky intensity conveyed by the current piece – which is a memorial to the Aboriginal tent Embassy in Canberra, which, after 35 years got cleared last month.

It starts with a desert scene, and a group of aborigines making a fire. They must be from South Australia coz they mention Maralinga. Then she has shoots of nuclear bomb tests. Annihilation. Got it? Then the spooky slow movements panning across, in, out, and around the abandoned tents and campsites of the old embassy. The camera glides and different speeds, and a slow sub audible soundtrack hovers behind. Think of Wilfred Owen's deafening silence and you’ve got the picture. Slowly, moving around, obsessively marking time and remapping time spent around campfires. Slow bearing witness. Scary chairs and seductive withered tarpaulins. Whoever said that painting and video art are incompatible should be shot. Twice. Or force-fed an endless diet of icky endless overpriced mars violet. In this piece, we become the drifting slow obsessive seducing eye. And the camera has an impossibly long focal length. Fore and far are all deeply in focus, and yet so slow and strange. But it’s over now, so you’ve missed it!

Speaking of HPWECAs, the Good Hope Gallery had a photographic exhibition featuring portraits of the Sherman Stable inc. by Hari Ho. Individual photos were on sale, and I was counting the red dots to see if it would work as some popularity contest but the buyers were way to cool and got sets of the whole thing. Poorer punters can still buy the book. The bigger space had big c-types of the artist posing in their studios, and the smaller space had B&W full body standing shots of each. Nice. Dualism. Etcetera. Play on notion of photography as constructing/contesting/construing authenticity, plus good measures of the romanticist cult of the artist thrown in. Now the thought of staring into the soul of Tim Storrier is a scary thing, but the colour photograph was damn enlightening. Many people have brushed off the Storrier as a reactionary derivative, hideously kitsch pseudo ocker wanker, but this portrait actually showed just why the man deserves the market value he has, and why he melds in the with boho pretentions of Sherman. The B&W shot showed him staring front on with the chubby face and round glasses and looking scarily like an ex-boyfriend who I still quite like, so I walked away. The colour portrait was placed next to the Parr, who had the same pose, same clothes same setting for each. (Guess the message was ‘I am my studio/work/art’). The Storrier shot was composed like one of his pictures, the landscape darkened by the contra jour as a sunset burned across the centre like a flame. Storrier loomed in the wings in a Drizabone. I thought of Marc Hunter from Dragon in the film clip from “Rain” and realised that this was actually a moving comment for Generation X. for a thirty something bright young thing in a black skivvy and Armani spectacles “it s been rainin, Oh so long” counterposed against the fiery image of a burning sunset on a solar scorched scrub is unspeakably poignant. Even sublime. Juxtaposed against Parr, whose latest oeuvre has colonised the position of Australia’s moral conscience, the Storrier actually had the grab. It’s been rainin’ (not), it always rains after a dry spell, it might rain, I’d better wear the drizabone. Bugger, its still 30 degrees in the shade, it’s enough to make a grown man cry. I can’t go on….