For those who just want to see what I'm plugging on the way of free goon - skip this bit and head straight for the "bad wine" post below.
While hibernating with the TOME - mayhem did manage a few fleeting forays into THE ART WORLD - to glimpse space, light, inspiration, creativity, life - and all those things I've left behind in my bid to become some sort of international expert on the subject of art, art education, art practice, and ethnographic art research.
Deleuzian immersion sounds all well and good as a radical epistemology - but the exigencies of PhD production have meant that I've had to fall back on good old enlightenment models of "Me: expert". "You:subject" I will stand apart and above you and I will tell you what you are, and make money doing so.
It's a shite state of affairs really.
But one relieved by the odd delightful foray into an immersive encounter with the stuff - objects, on walls, on floors, in mostly white spaces. all placed there deliberately as some deeply conscious encounter with meaning making structuredom.
coz mayhem is mayhem - I like to check out high roads and low roads, coz both go to scotland or to rome, or to dead end metaphors. I make mention of the friends shows I see - not only coz of my onw sticky imbeddedness in the artworld - but as a cultural capital capacity builder myself - I lke to be clear about just how random, small, minute and arbitrary (and often nepotistic) my selection of exhibitions is actually is.
The luck of the artstar draw - is often about luck, as much as sheer bumcrawling slog of meeting the right connections or making the right shade of shit work, that meets the requirements of frisson generating newness without being too 'outre' for whatever box that we like all newness to come packaged in.
So last week - I rocked up to GLOBAL gallery - to check out a show that 2 art school mates were in Global is one of those many artists/hire spaces, wehre groups of artists band together whatever funds they've got to hire a space in paddington and stick their works on the wall, in the hope of catching the eye of some ACGA dealer on Glenmore road - or evne mkaing a random sale from some random rich person straying past dress shops and looking for a little somehting to go above their latest throw cushions or marble bench top super sinking fund.
The nasty old facts tho - are that most self funded/artists hire shows - also involve the artist bringing their own buyers as well. so the artists do the artwork, do an extra 3 jobs to hire the venue, do the PR, do the mailout, fork out cash for refreshments, maybe mind the space, and do the sales - usualy consisting of coereced firneds/aquaintainces, unable to stand the sinking faces of the artists as the night wears on wiht the only red dots consisting of flecks of red goon consumed and sprayed round the walls.......
anywya- a few of the artist from the current show "figure 8", have studios at lennox street and have been working for a few years in the above manner. Red dots are few and far between. I know Pete Yates and Megan O'brien - which is why I went. I loved aleena Smith's durer-stle hands and feets (intense emotive portraits) drawn onto rubbed back gessoed ply. Some were a bit twee, but you gotta love the lines.
Megan's paintings -almost wooed me from my visceral hatred of shubert's Wintereisse. she had lovely spikey caverns and endless pools (OK so mayhem is a sucker for rocks nd water) all conveyed in carefully worked back aqua monochromes.
My eyes danced inwardly, happily -and it was a nice way to start my segue over to COFA for the DRAWING CONNECTIONS event flagship: the chinese whispers show.
Once again - what dragged me - was familiarity with 2 of the artists - socially - through networks of friends, fellow students, dealers.
I've exhibited with Amanda Robins in 2003(she had paintings of folded fabric and I had fabric and human hair replica vulvas) and the ABC arts program - even mixed up our names. I have a bit of a soft spot for the enfolded qualities of her works -so much so that I even read the entire copy of Gilles Deleuzes "Le Pli" in French. HOWZAT!!! Folds rock. They ain't just about vulvas - I mean, vulvas are like folds...and folds are like mandelbrot sets, and - they go on FOREVER.
Mike Esson who is very much a figurehead of the australian post-post-conceptual 'new drawing movement - curated this show - featuring the drawing STARS of COFA staff and graduates. The right hand space of the gallery is dominated by 3 of Amanda's large drawing, that foorm a wierdly religious trinity and give the gallery an almost religious aura.
Now according to the book of MAYHEM - good art is WAYYY more than a representation - and in fact, good art is uses a representation to take us into a space where meaning is dissolved. I know Robins has a bit of a soft spot for Cixous and Kristeva - so I could use the symbolic/semiotic dichotmoy (Thus representation is part of the symbolic order, and art is the threshold where we enter into the semiotic order - the neonatal/prenatal, sub-linguistic non-phallic 'feminine') and so this is why it would make sense that her work evokes vulvas.....
but I actually think Kristeva is a but sucky, and I get a bit itchy when I think of an art being masculine or feminine, and I get really bitchy about Kristeva - coz she rekconed only men could represent the semiotic - or it's thresheold coz women were just too immersed in that anyway - and that's a damn hard thing to swallow if you happpen to be sitting on a vulva tyring to sew a replica one, or writing a PhD or, doing anything really.
Please bear wih me on this trip to theory land - it will wash out in the end.
Mayhem does not believe in the singular unified subject and reckons ALL OF GENDER belongs in the realm of the semiotic. Even phalluses have their fleeting temporalities and canot be relied apon as a ordering critera of subjectivity. Mayhem thinks the realy bodily remnant of the phallus is not the penis, not even the dildo but THE TURD. Phallocracy is abject.
Mayhem likes Irigaray - because she defies a singular reliable subjectivity. she's more flippo than Germaine Greer - writing is a mad intervention, a swirling that takes us well beyond a nice tight order of things, and becomes an imperative, a destabilising intervention, that cracks open shit. Mayhem also likes D&G (not Dolce & Gabbana and not Dolce & Gelato either - but Deleuze & Guattari) - because they call for an end to the subject - and an opening of multiple subjectivities, breaking down shit and letting it flow.......
so back to Ivan Dougherty - an imposing brick building with some nice stucco bits and nice white walls iside and very clean toilets.
Amanda's drawings are ostensibly representations of an old coat, some diaphanous dress, and some quilted dressing gown hung upsidedown. They have rather prosaic titles reflecting this like "oxfam dress", "ice blue dressing gown". (Drawn in grey so who cares?) that provide a coy nod to the instant naming thing - the nice anchoring thing that we look for in the title of a work. "Oh, that's what it is". that's why "untitled' seems such a posey post-object smark - doesn't it? I look at titles - hopeng to get an 'answer', and t read "untitled" feels like a smack on the wrist. "serve you right for not embracing the enigmatic!"
So. ahem. the works are big graphite drawings on big rolls of expensive paper. so they are physically imposing - and physically impressive - and deeply redolent of our own bodies. Graphite marks become like the lines on our skin, and provide a deeply uncanny visceral reminder - of..... that weird connection of flesh, fabric, marks and hands. the visceral bits are probably scoring points in the Mike Esson school of freaky dead flesh -but if we look byond the haunting beauty thing, there's somehting else quite special - that holds the ambiguity, and the weird affective mix into a tres noice suspension.
a deleuzian could describe the encoutner wiht the works as a machinic assemblage. so mayhem looking at "oxfam dress" is not just art receiver lookig at work but more like:
eye(mediated by thick specs mind you)-grey lines, diaphanous form - diaphanours fabric -retina-glint off graphite-galery light-move head-small marks, eyball meets small marks, looks at own hand, small wrinkles on flesh, hand lifts wine glass, wine enters mouth- eye meets marks, aware of my hand, her hand. eye-mind, hand-hand-body. steb back, soft folds, elephant tusks, ears, imagination, sheer shimmery glaphite, sheer shmmery fabric, must be pink. drawing is grey. I see it as pink, as pearl, s soft fabric, brushing on skin.......
next to this complex assemblage of sensation is the sart of a series of works by Toshiko Oiyama, whihc cover the next wall. Toshiko actively cites Deleuze in her artists staement - and so I say hear hear. these works look like classic exquisite Paul Klee line for a walk pieces - intense soft charcoal madness.
Because the pieces are 'non representational' (ABSTRACK) - the Paul Klee line got cited again and again by the tlaking heads at the opening. "take a line for a walk" coz it's an oldey but a goodey - that works like a signifier itself for 'modern thguhtful whimsical lines" while establishing the considered modernist lineage of the artist.
I'd prefer to say - take a line for a dance, take some charcoal for a spin, take it out for a burn, whack it around, scream it over the page - stop, start, run in the other direction and run back, stop and sing a line in a crzy falsetto, and whacck in some grunts and a bass line too. there's some lovely stuff there that's like the Zen Masters on damn fine phsychoactive chemistry - and provides a jolly eyball fest all round. Exqusite and elegant.
the thing that IRKED me though -and it irked me beacuse of the reference to deleuze - was the stop/start breaks in the works. Apparetly hti ws menat to be a japanses screen reference ( I nice easy orinetalist handle on the artists idenitit innit?) as welll as a conceptual device - a way of breaking up the narrative of each work - the line - into spaces/possibilities where the viewer makes a connection - agai disrupting the signifiying smotthness of the line - creating a jarring sense of our mahcinic assemblage: eye-line-continuation-imagination - and getting us to connect wiht something else.
but oh but - i reckon it just STRIATED the space of the drawings. the stop start, alternance - hindered the flow of meanings - jumping around and generating somehing else. and this is not deleuzain at all. Maybe I'm wrong, its just a thought.
the other delightful surprise of the night was in Nicola Browns work - nealty segued into a little alcove. Her stuff in SLIT and online - loks like careful pencil drawings of buch-ish masculine figures.
but this stuff you actually gotta see live and not on mp3/jpeg. Her drawings are MINUTE - and WIERD - and they feature these freaky chinese style military guards - tat are all self portraits - and its so ezquisitely delicously weird that - it's fantastic - a must see - bloody excellently odd.
Eshya and the farmers
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