Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Interstitial Spaces

the 'true' artist is supposed to help the world by revealing 'mystic' truths about things

This was - scrawled (in jest) byt mathew hopkins, around some target style painted thing on the walls at SCA. If I was on a better computer I'd stick up the mobile phone pic I (illegally) took of Hopkin's socks that he invited viewers to imagine as a pack of ravenous bulldogs menacing them through those scary hallways of the painting block. Am I the only person in the world who finds the SCA painting block COMPLETELY TERRIFYING? Hopkins paranoid sockizo delirium was like blowing rasberries at the boeogeyman of scary pompous graduation show, like 'serious art man' and it made me laugh.

In contrast to the painting wing, I usually find the sculpture performance installation wing deliciously airy and crumbly and it makes me happy. It's hard for work to shake me from this state of contentment - and since I'd gone to see the works of two friends then I was practically BOVINE. I forgot to note the person who did the plaited hair microphone curtain installation, but it looked elegant and seductive, almost as much as the wall of empty frames... which scared me coz I was thinking that maybe I'd been reading griselda pollock too closely and was desperate to find meaning in anything.... anyway - climbing into Nick Strike's tennis racket coffee pot orgasmatron made me really delighted, on a totally embodied level and I forgot all about Lacan and any tumescent angst and just enjoyed the curves and shapes and coffee stains.... and this put me in the perfect mood to watch 'artist and theorist' Melissa Laing's airline blanket performance. Her performance consists in sitting with the work, and visible creating it, whihc in this case consist of window vistas constructed by painstakingly unthreading sections of woven airline blankets. One of the things I enjoy LOTS about textile artists is a haptic familiarity with the sheer neurotic insanity of spending HOURS ANd HOURS doing really painfully intensely minute actions on bits of cloth, and the way sweat, blood and fingerskin get imbedded into the work. Non-sewers probably don't have this appreciation so melissa's daily hours provided an accessable means for eyeballing punters to witness what made the work. time, patience, time, touching, thread, more time, and bloody sore fingers. I love the distracted prsence of studio conversations - while people are engrossed in work, so this was really nice. Meanwhile Nick Strike had some dillemma of someone asking what was the point of conceptual work.... oh... god.... concepts maybe?

Right now however I'm a long way from SCA and having regrets at not asking my dentist for a copy of my tooth xrays from this morning. He was giving me nice clear directives about the phenomenological joys of getting to know my interstitial spaces by a combination of visualisation and touch. I've spent the rest of the day flossing, rubbing my tongue in the newly polished surfaces, sucking air between each tooth, imagining the tear drop caverns between each squeezing molar... no infections, no new holes, I'm releived.

There is a very obscure connection betweent he dentist chair in rural NSW and contemporary art in sydney, and it is via Nick Bourriaud's book on Relational aeshtetics - which was published nearly a decade ago - so I'm not hyping it as the next big thing - just a set of criteria that I happen to like.

the big B - presents an attractive set of aesthetic criteria that incorproate the slick ease of negotiating the increasing squeeze on social mobility produced by rapidly intensifying hypermodernity.... am I using too many big words?

OK, once upon a time there were structures: them versus us: the avante garde versus the rear-garde, the bourgeousie versus bohemia. Artists could be edgy, there were more warehouse spaces, artists were poor, there werent' many dealers. then things got shaken up a lot, and things are still shaking.Bourriaud refers to insterstitial spaces as those slippery little nooks between established cutlurla and commercial isntitutions where creative cultural entrepreneurs slide together - this is WAYYY ore niche than niche - I'm talking extreme sports temporariness; of space, work and subjectivity. The squatspace collective (which sprung from a squatted gallery space on broadway) -which has thrived as a funny nexus of art, agitprop and community action is the best local example of Relational Aesthetics in action.

but relational aesheticis extend further such that local doyens like the artlife straw poll's artist of the year 'DMC' - shift constantly between various identities as academic, performer, writer, 'personality' paid curator, volunteer gallery manager, AND artist - with the straw poll reflecting not only his social popularity but the fact that pulling off all of the above is an art in itelf.

DMC aka Dan the Man has been involved in 2 wonderful projects of late - (of last week). One was the opening of the australiana (not) show at Hazelhurst Regional Art gallery - and I've only seen the catalogue so don't want to comment further. but the show pulled together a lot of nice notable emergings and establisheds to do some thoughtful and provocative eyeball wringing on Australia, the shire and all that jazz. (tho Scragg things Liam Bensons' alter ego might be turning her gay). so this was the serious side. the catalogue is great btw.

the other project coincided with the MOP xmas party where Mayhem DID get out to and did get really drunk and remembered why I avoid art openings.....ahem. the party of course was TOPS - and the best arty xmas party I've been too fer AYGES. the walls were festooned with $50 works by a plethora of notables and non notables, and the space reminded me so much of williamsburg on a good night I almost shivered with glee, and nearly wet myself having extended drunken conversations with some expat nooyorkans..... apart from the fun and funky art, what was tres BRILLO about this show - was the nexus between the space, the producers and the buyers, which shows how damnably delightful ARI's can be. Mayhem LIKES it A LOT when artists can afford to buy their own work and the work of their peers, and LIKE it a LOT when donated work supports a space that supports artists.

The drawcard of the evening was funeral songs...which I like coz it was collective and fun and I got to take something home, and the installation was great, and DMC's dance moves totally inspired me on the dance floor at the colombian later.... but also I really liked the poignant link to like, you know... death. It was not only an excuse for a bunch of artists and arty types to do a bit of facebook style tastemaking performativity - but coz the pretext was funerals, and coz DMC set up the whole thing by referring to the death of his brother - he actually made a really nice space for people to have some conversations about death, and losing loved ones and remembering them... and this is the magic of culture - not the content - but the connections, and making connections that don't exist otherwise.

speaking of connections, my Mum just told me about the latest dramas at the local art gallery, where one of the artists aka the Sappho of BiLo went up to a committee member in the supermarket and loudly declaimed her oringal compositions of lady lust over the loaves of wonderwhite. It's enough to give a girl THRUSH just thinking about it.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Keep Australia Beautiful

(image courtesy of Jane Polkinghorne)

Dear All

I made a quick trip to Sodomy City so Scragg could knife Howard, and now I'm finding it VERY HARD TO LEAVE.

The sydney Sumer Arty Party Frenzy is PEAKING this week, with doubled up events every bloody night. the galleries are for rubbing swety shoulders and sinking swill, and it looks like are has gone out into the open.

If you're looking for ART you can go past Prince Alfred Park - the green bit between Central Station, First Draft and Cleveland street and keep an eye on the fence - coz Matt Gallois is hoping to do some 'scripto-visual' pieces with styrofoam cups.....

If you're looking for a giggle and a perve and free piss and funtimes and cheap (!) xmas presents, and leftover bits from all the commercial gallery shows this year then.......

Tuesday 4th December
Sydney College of the Arts has its Postgraduates show opening from 6.30-8.30pm . It's the one in rozelle. check it out before Callan Park gets converted to Footie Fields and a Carpark for cashed up UCLA college jock wannabees...

Legge Gallery also has it's xmas show opening (oh, how I LOVE xmas shows). BYOG or risk serious illness, but I'm hanging for another peak at Alan Jones's heads

and while in chippo I might swing over to.... nG Gallery for the dreadful planet show

Wednesday 5th December
Of course EVERYONE should be coming to Schappylle Scragg's Keep Australia Beautiful Show at Mori Gallery - if only to check out her new bikini while she pukes in the dunnies with Starella, but if extreme sports Aussie Irony ain't your thing, then there's always......

Don’t Look Gallery in dulwich Hill with
" Siamo Ieri ['We Are Yesterday']" by Greer and Julia Rochford

Thursday 6th December 2006

At The Vanishing Point – Contemporary Art in Newtown
Disturbance by Cornelius Delaney & Sub-versions by Joy Bye and Clarissa Regan

Friday 7 December

I could head out to Hazlehurst regional art gallery and Schappylle Scragg probably should and not only coz it's an opening in THE SHIRE. They have a GREAT show called: Our Lucky Country (still different) and the artists are: Ron Adams, Liam Benson, Maria Cruz, Elizabeth Day, Sarah Goffman, Michelle Hanlin, Soda_Jerk, Ruark Lewis, Adam Norton, Anna Peters, Nana Ohnesorge, Nuha Saad, Huseyin Sami, George Tillianakis and Mimi Tong.

but I'm booked closer to home (ie spewtown) for the:
Stonevilla Fundraiser Xmas Exhibition
at Chrissie Cotter Gallery, Pidcock street Camperdown.

The Stone Vila is a Marrickville council owned building where an eclectic and amazing group of sculptors have gathered to do MORE THAN WELDED STEEL. Kaz Hazwell, Nick Strike, Sam Cavanagh and Simon Calwell are some of my favourite strange object makers in the universe, and they do a damn fine pissup too.

All moneys raised will go towards “Vortex”
The Stone Villa’s first contemporary arts festival in Sydenham Green.

Saturday 8th December

“Vortex” a contemporary arts event to be held under the flight path in Sydenham Green from 11am till 10pm. "Vortex" is a Stone Villa Inc initiative. The festival is open to all out door sculpture and Digital short film. Digital short films will be screened on the outside of our building at sundown. Bring your block out and a blanket and come and enjoy the art.
Corner of Henry st and Railway rd Sydenham. For all inquires email Samantha Whittingham: yannsam@yahoo.com.au or call Stone Villa Tel: 95161787
Stone villa is a stones throw form Sydneham station - which is within spitting distance of Sydney's best seafood wholesaler - so I reckon this is a BYO oysters and champers number....

If you get sick of moving things, 3-D things, interactive things and pretty things with lots of kiddies runing around and eveyrone having aball, then you can teleport yourself to surry hills for....


Currently exhibiting artists Julie Burke (exhibiting as part of Firstdraft's Studio Residency program), Jacque Drinkall and Fatima
Naseer Ahmad will be discussing their work and practice.

ON the Theme of Chinwagging, Schappylle scragg will be putting on her thinking cap on Sunday arvo for...

Sunday 9 December
Tea with… the Critics will be held at the Australian Centre for Photography from 3pm. they are inviting 4 art critics, representing print, web and television. Each guest will be required to nominate one or two of your favourite (and possibly least favourite) photomedia exhibitions from 2007. The guests are Andrew Frost (the Art Life), Schappylle Scragg (who has seen more art than mayhem sadly enuff) and Robert McFarlane. The Host will be Stewart Hawkins from the Financial Review.

Next week, I'll list more of the fabbo events - which hopefully will comprise the last of the years art madness

Friday, November 16, 2007

Art in Heartland

I spent bits of the past month in sydney sneaking out to delicious bits of shows in strange hours of the afternoon or night - when punters were absent and I could just look at work, and not feel the imperative to put words to it.

Highlights were Sangeeta Sandresegars 400 hand doves (this was just after hearing a paper on gloves - so I was in the mood for enfolded shapely becomings of digited pairs.....) and then some amazing performance that I missed but saw the videos and artists afterwards and it was at Don't Look and was one of the most incredible collaborations between a performance artist and an installation/video artist that i've seen since hanging out in deepest France nearly a decade ago.

sorry I can't go on - coz don't have the names or my notes on me... and my internet access is scarily limited, but that incredible little space was used sooo well - as images were reset up into nooks and crannies and the projections and their time worked in with the emerging body of the performer, moving through the space in real time/projected time... peeling paint projected onto her flesh projected onto peeling paint... which made my little phenomenological soul sing.....

*Ahem* the piece was 'Friction' a collaboration by dancer/performer Eleanor Brickhill and video artist Anne Walton. Eleanor works with using her body to explore space and how spaces can be occupied, transformed and used with the body - i the same way that a butoh artist might work with an inanimate object like a chair. So she was dancing with corners, and inside cupboards, and making full use of the multitude of nooks and crannys in the DON'T LOOK space. Anne's preoccupaiton is with time, and representation in the full derridean borken apart, temporally challenging contingency that it can be. So as Eleanor was moving, anne was recording her, and projecting previous recordings onto parts of her flesh and repeating images of the room, of movements into other areas.... and makng use of that great blind window in the gallery to perfect effect.

Apart from seeing art I am proud to say that I did indulge in a Mary Kelly detournement (not) of scripto visual female empowerment in the series of posters of Aussie Icon Schappylle Scragg. They were up at the Vanishing Point Howard Years show - and inspired a brilliant PORN collaboration between the PM , Schappylle and her hubbie Darryll... stay tuned and get ready to hurl.... given that the Scragg work in progress is pretty much a raunched up version of the brilliant Motel sisters pice that was also in the show I'm spewing at missing the latest motel sisters thing which opens in the hills this week...(BeCoz Ur Worf It) but I've already gone far far away.....

First stop was Bathurst where I was there to put my face to a catalogue essay to a friends show - of work that I really love... but was really happy that Viv Binn's retrospective opened the same night and she could explain the elegant and subdued image from the invite - was actually based on a woven flouro polyester crepe DOILY from the 1990's - of which I have about 3. There's lots of things I love about viv binns - vintage vaginas being one of them - but I love her honest approach to acrylic paint - she weilds it as a maestro because of her sculptural approach to it as a specific type of matter - pigmented skins of PVA that can be shaped and layered onto a surface in spacific wasy as felxible plastic... she doesn't try to pretend that it's oil - and her works are some of the few acrylic paintings that I love..... My Friend Steve - was the other headliner for the night - and his work... his work... ahh his work! the best words for it come from Elizabeth Grosz. It's THAT good.... sheer shimmering skeins of drippy stuff singing Deleuzian becoming into the marrow of ya bones.... and the rest of the gallery was filled with pics of the BATHURST CAR RACE... ya gotta love the country

Since then I've headed way up north into the real hills - where men are men and sheep are nervous and the weather is bloody Tasmanian... nothing like wearing a fleecy and uggies in December... or stubbies shorts in the snow -which is what the tough guys at school used to do....

Mum dragged me out to the Local art gallery "archibald" prize... which reminded me so much of the AGNES WALES version that I started to wonder if I'd lost my mind. Well - not quite... I mean the local gallery is TINY, and they had curried egg sandwiches on the buffet table... but basically the process of aesthetic appreciation seemed to be pretty similar...
Scoff goon and gossip.
Perouse work to try and recognise portrait subjects.
Perouse floor sheet to try to recognise artists.
Drink more goon and gossip.
Get introduced to someone from local readio station.
Drunkenly agree to an interview.

so the next day I found myself at the ABC Regional Radio Breakfast Broadcast from The Beardies Festival blearily trying to respond to questions about the tome. I'd been reading some nice book and starting to configure a pheomenological account of embodied spectatorship as a molecular becoming that would sidestep the intractable binarised view of gendered subjectivity into which most feminist and popular accounts of figurative spectatorship are embedded.....

and the interviewer was asking me questions like "can you tell me any stories about the kind of people that would be life models? they must be pretty weird types of people?" Mayhem stuck for words at this point. "Tell me, would you ever move back to the country? Err. No? "why not?" I think I'd prefer Finland - the weather in summer is similar and there's more light...

har har...

there's another art opening here tomorrow night... I've been here for just over a week -and been to 3 art openings! - hell this place is going off more than sydney!

Plugging away at deconstructing gender binaries and coming up with a critically engaged Deleuzian framework for spectatorship is a little bit of a challenge, still. Thing is, I have this crazy belief that even the most banal quasi-art settings - like life drawing at hens nights still need to be engaged with on an aesthetic and critical level...with the same level of seriousness that I'd apply to the wonderful figurative/representative/video/live encounter work that I saw at Don't Look. And I think vintage monolithic labels like "voyeurism", or "phallocentric gaze" do a great injustice to both.....

so, back to my word document, back to mulvey, pollock and merleau ponty....


Friday, October 12, 2007

Steve Kirby: The Joining Run

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.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Taking Leave

This could be taking some time off or taking leave of my senses - and probably is about both.

Mayhem is officially heading for the hills and a temporary retirement from being an artscribe - while I head into the last long trudge of the tome.

Hopefully the thing will be mostly over by the end of the summer... so the hiatus won't be a permanent one...

I've been abstaining from the heady whirl of art gallery opening nights - largely due to complaints from my liver - and am now finding it increasingly hard to get myself out of the greying box on my neck and into big white boxes of fun and optimism and adventure that are art spaces and happenings.

I still hope to make it to the odd show and opening -but it's starting to feel like a duty - and a drain on my overtaxed synapses. Schappylle Scragg will continue to make the occasional and tasteless appearance and is branching into aussie themed erotica - keep yer hands down yer undies for that one!

I'm trying to wean myself off being a noticeboard for new art shows - and think facebook and myspace are doing a pretty good job anyway - and thorougly reccommend artswipe and the artlife for continuous critical engagement.

As soon as I receive a coherent list of works from the greens auction last week - I will - as promised - write a review of all of the pieces donated - many of which weren't able to be auctioned off due to time constraints - and the overwhelming genersoity of artists.

Plus I probably will write regular tormented rants about my life on bodies art and stuff

so for now - as schappylle would say - "i'll be off like sheep guts in the sun"

xx mayhem

Monday, October 01, 2007

Looking for Demoocracy?

Mayhem's buggered off to Melbourne, so Schappylle has taken over for this week

Hope youse are all coming along to me show this thursday, eh?

It's gonna be bloody unrool, eh? Maaayyte you should see some of the art eh? ya know, just ordinary aussies, doing their bit to show what a beautiful country this is, and all those Aussie values and why it's so unrool here eh?

and there's some rool good artists tooo, eh? Like that guy from Mental as Anything, and Susan Norrie, and Deborah Kelly and Fiona McDonald, and Catherine rogers, and Dean Sewell, and Ian Milliss, and Craig Waddell, and Tim Johnson, and all these other people whose names I can't spell...

and there's even videos too, eh?

So thursday night - youse should come down. they''ll even have beer cause Darrylle said he wouldn't come unless they had a man's drink, so there'll be beer and wine - but no bundy but eh?

It's just across from Darling Harbour, ya know Sega world?

Mori Gallery
168 Day Street, sydney
thursday 4th October
6-9pm: auction starts at 7.30pm

see yas there


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Multiple Personality

Mayhem ain't doin a lot right now except trying to cure my ice like addiction to facebook...

ohhhh what a slippery slide into chronic aphasia that is....

apart from my guest lecture at NAS tomorrow - i'll be going to the MOP show on thrushday coz the show is called multiple personality and it SOUNDS LIKE MY LIFE
also mop is an easy stroll form the sandstone castle I call home.

Multiple Personality
Mat de Moiser, Adrienne Doig, Matthew Hopkins, Robin Hungerford, Sari Kivinen, Ms & Mr, Luke Roberts, Pope Alice

Curated by Daniel Mudie Cunningham
MOP is on abercrombie street not very far from Broadway

Hell - I'm in the best pozzie to promote the show! I LIVE SCHIZO ANALYSIS! between schappylle, Nanna Madge, Protodoctor and the virgin mary - I ain't had the time to form a coherent sense of self.... Irigary would approve and so would Deleuze....

constructing a 'self' composed of networks of friends and amis on the platforms of facebook and my space has been an interesting exercise.... and I wonder if I'm much more than the threads of memory, and recounted stories, and connections made between my acquaintainces as well as those with me.....

also feel weird about asking for help... but err... time to bite the bullet.

and even though artists donate too much work and work for free anyway and that really sucks and I shouldn't be asking more from poor people.....


and I don't know how else to raise campaign money, awareness, community goodness fast apart from hocking my hole(s) - and that might not fit in with my facebook profile, and as much as I respect my genitalia - I think art might give more pleasure to more people.....

so dear readers of this blog

If you are a art collector.... DONATE A PIECE OFF YOUR WALL OR STOREROOM and then go and buy some more art.

If you make saleable objects then DONATE ONE

If I have even bought one of your pieces then PLEASE DONATE ONE.

If you make non object based work: and do performance, video, happenings etc... then PLEASE participate in the looking for democracy show..... think what scragg would love and go for it.

I need expression of interest confirmed by this Saturday 22nd September (email: mayhemrox@gmail.com)

and work needs to be at mori gallery by 5pm on Saturday 29th September.
auction is on 4th October.

Just think how much more worthwhile this is than going in some Art competition or Prize.

You don't have to pay an entry fee
Your work will be on display in a well known international contemporary art space
You work will be hung in a reasonably unugly manner
you will get a catalogue and documentation of your participation
you will get an online published review of your work by mayhem
you will get a witty humorous review of your work by scragg
Your work will support a worthy cause

how many open entry group shows can top that?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Nuff and Stonsense

Mayhem went and saw some art.
Lots of it.
Drank lots of goon.
got very drunk.
then got very ill.
Now hiding from world

Writing lecture about blindness: cultural blindness, contoured blindness, visual blindness and the cultivation of the honest eye.... and drawing, and nudity and seeing as touch as impossibility

or something

I'm giving a lecture in relation to a bit of the tome in progress at me olde alma mater

this wednesday 19th October at 1pm at NAS

I'd better get back to writing it.

but briefly on art reviews:

the old fruit show at the tin sheds was TOPS - I think Simon cavanagh's hanging piece did a marvelous job of opening up the space into one of exquisite amorphous play.... my eyes went around the squiggled styrofoam, whizzing past the conduit piped ceiling, enjoying the space ballon around th form so everything became circular.

this process took about two minutes and I hadn't touched a drop of alcohol.

so as the space was ballooning and swirling in front of me, my eyes descended into the delicious shimmering light play of James rogers circles - and I was really glad to see large hollow ones, joined with the disks in a raked construction of pale glints that reminds me of light on water when I take my glasses off.....

And then I turned clockwise towards Sam whittakers bright bulbous forms on the wall bside me - they seemed to grab my forearm and beckon me closer... and THIS IS WHY I LOVE SCULPTURE - coz its all about objects in space that create weird shapes between them and beckon our bodies to head towards and away - and they distort and create spatial conversations that invite us to realy see with our bodies and not just our eyes......

I know most of the artists through the Stone Villa - and it was nice to see their work in a large enough space so that the pieces really were able to set up a substantial conversation between them and into the space.....

big fat smiley sigh

Afterwards I headed over to the whitely to see the brothers of the brush youf art show.... and I was heartily dismayed by the vast amount of greys and browns and beiges everywhere. there was a nice smattering of works from previous winners that was reminiscent of the sulman or something (especially since two whitely winners have become fixtures in the archi/sulman/wynn shows) and then a wall of some of brett's more subdued works..... early ashton's studies (groan) and some small textured landscapes, which were ok - but WHERE WAS WENDY'S BUM?

whatever the faults of the brett, his bright blue matissey buttocks had a vigour and energy and lyrical sexiness that has the same crothc grabbing brilliance of a guitar solo of Eddie Van Halen.... but the current curators have toned everything down to a dreary shania twain......

and so - the current crop of dripspent youf had their wares salonized into a corner enclave.... where each piece jostled and nestled and stared out like a bizarrely pathetic menagerie of a cat, a dog and a seagull - all begging for food.

It was hard to appproach.

None of the paintings were particularly bad - although quite a few were so earnestly boring I could barely look - the others were just earnest, and incongruous.

It's a hard call to hang a show of competing individuals - and, maybe it's a pointless exercise to even be saying this - but the lack of energy within or between any of the works was a tad depressing.

by contrast the Marrickville contemporary Art Prize was awash with screaming cacophanies of colour, form, movement and experimentation in every possible genre - including drip and scribble.

Most of the work was, as one would hope, deliciously bad - and mashed in together with crowds of punters - made for a delightful feeding frenzy of ambitous artlessness.

There were a few gems and prizes were given out for some of the 'serious notables' of the inner west art world.... but I liked the lack of ostentation of both exhibitions - basically they looked FUN - the work - impossibly overhung, impossibly incongruous wasn't trying to be anything but a jam packed eyballl, eardrum, spilly fest of creativity.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

answer to the previous post

Ohhhh I've had long days and longer nights in the bowels of sydney uni's main quad.

But I'm popping my head up very briefly coz....

Marrickville contemporary Art Prize awards night is on tomorrow at 'at the vanishing point gallery" number six hundred and something king street newtown

AND - Don't Look have their first birthday and marricville ocntemproayr art prize show on Friday night

I'm acutally planning to head to the Brett Whitely shcolarship prize for budding boy painters - ohh and the odd girl.... and hope to do a quick squiz of 'youf' art talent in sydney...including primavera...

I feel *terrible* that I missed the Lempriere - but I've had a hard month...

watch this space

Where The Bloody Hell Are You? Spoof

Sunday, September 09, 2007

towing the Party Line

Scragg ain't the only one taking a stand!

Mayhem is on the campaign trail: looking for democracy:

Part One comes courtesy of Get Up

The Prime Minister can now call the election any day, and many think as
soon he's finished at APEC he'll do just that. And when he does, the
gates of democracy will swing firmly shut.
That's because the Government has passed new laws closing the electoral
roll at 8pm on the very day the election is officially called. So click
here -- or forward this email -- to make sure that you and everyone you
know are properly enrolled:
Odds are, you're enrolled to vote -- but chances are you know someone
who isn't. What may surprise you is just how many people you know aren't
on the rolls. For instance, the Government recently admitted more than a
third of all Australians aged 18 to 25 are not enrolled. That's a
whopping 410,000 voters - four whole electorates' worth -- and we're
only talking about young people.

To make matters worse, you're not informed if you've been taken off the
electoral roll for some reason -- such as if a piece of mail addressed
to you from the AEC gets returned to sender -- so many people do not
find out until they turn up on election day, only to be denied their
vote. You may not be enrolled right now, and not even know it. You can
check your enrolment status here.
With all that's at stake in this election, let's all have our say.
Forward this email to everyone you know, because once the election is
called it will be too late.

Part Two comes courtesy of any willing artists to make, paint, shoot, scribble, graff, collect, perform, install... ANYTHING along the theme of Looking for Democracy.

Drop my a line at mayhemrox@gmail.com if you are... deadline is end of the month.

Part Three is where I out myself and my political affiliations - trying to ensure that the Greens stay in the senate - coz this country still needs a parliamentary opposition - even if we get Howard out of office!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Art, Activism, Newness

Mayhem has been seriously ensconsed in thesis land. My mind is currently somewhere between Bristol, Euston Road, TriBeCa and Darlinghurst in the mid 1970's, Rozelle in the 1990's and the lining of my nostrils.....

No don't ask any more - I sent off the 7th and 4th drafts of two chapters today.....

so - ahem I *ain't* seen any art - apart from "pimp my secs" on carolyn teo's myspace site..... (hee hee)

Even scragg had to opt out of her Sandon Point Auction Extravaganza on sat - so didn't get to see ANYFINK AT ALL

At such times of cultural lapse - it's lucky that the print media steps in - in a shock turnaround the SMH Spectrum DEVOTED AN ENTIRE FOUR PAGES TO VISUAL ART. Two pages were a biog feature on a melbourne artist... and two consisted of Frosty's state of the art commentary on great young stuff.... And it was a great piece and made me wish they'd put him on the payroll....

If anyone was inspired by frosty's plug for yours truly then welcome. Please ignore the byline about the 2SER version. Lucazoid and I WERE doing a verbal version of the blog - but our lives both got eaten by PhD's, and I went overseas for 6 months and he's about to do the same. but you should listen to monday overdrive anyway. It sounds NICE.

Usually I rant more better and more misspelt about more art. and usually I see art and rave about it EVERY WEEK. but my life is being eaten up by my PhD on postwar life drawing classes. But only for another 6 months - and I've been blogging on this site for over two years - so feel free to drop back any time.

also THE DRAWING WIFE has just updated her pics of sketches and stitches - so click on 'wifey bits' on the right hand side....

ahem. to the News:

Trajectories of dissent opens tomorrow (wednesday) night at 6pm - at Mori Gallery.
There's more info about it in last weeks post - but it will provide an ideal opportunity t experience the great wall of APEC first hand - and see some serious anti kappo agitprop in the CBD. Head down to 168 Day Street - across from Darling Harbour

Marrickville COntemporary Art Prize opens thursday night at 6pm at 'At the Vanishin Point' - which is at the arse end of King Street Newtown - right down near St. Peters station almost. since Marrickville is the Local Government Area with the highest proportion of artists of any locale in Australia this *should* be good.

and Friday - Life will imitate ART - as ratbags prepare to do lots of out there stuff like exercising democratic right to protest - or walk around in the CBD with balloons, funny hats or - even placquards.

Mayhem's bet is on the 11am peace party in Hyde Park - but what looks even more fun is the "ghost Dance" which is planned for 5-11pm also in Hyde park.

apparently peeps are going to dress up in whacky caspar clobber and whoosh around holding seances..... or something like that.

Art being the exercise of extreme sports genre slides - of activities arbirarily endowed with the cultural mystique of critical contestation or just plain old sublime beauty and wonder - should ideally provide a great umbrella for testing the waters of envelope pushing during the sppectacular security crackdown that is the APEC circus.

oh, and did I mention the fart lighting competition being held at Tamarama? someone thought it might be a good riposte to the sealing off of Festival of the winds....

Monday, August 27, 2007

I'm SORRY Lauren!!!!!

starella with schappylle scragg's nanna at the Sham bowling club.

Mayhem was horribly remiss and failed to publicise the really amazing important things that happened last week

but there were so many everyone would have been too busy attending them all to read up about what they missed eh? between primavera, lempriere and EVERYTHING else...

I did go and see some art: and adored the HOURS exhibition: especially the freaky colombian video, and revisiting Sastre made me happy and Echaverra made me cry again, and a pity the sound was shit in the video room near the stairs and Apprently I fisted the soft sculptures a bit too deeply and upset the attendants, and lucky the tit and anus dress was behind glass or who knows what would have happened and "Socialism o Muerte" is BRILLIANT and THIS IS THE LAST WEEK SO GO AND SEE IT.

but I did wanna give a plug for the Trajectories of dissent extravanganza, and the Sandon Point Stripperama - and I owe it to my inner Scragg to promote imminent appearances of Schappylle....

OK: so please note the following:

On Wednesday 29th the second show for Trajectories of Dissent: the official APEC agitprop art attack is opening and its being joined by the launch of the FLARE in the void Reader to Sydney's APEC. This is where we'll have most of our artists reponses and is at:

Little Fish Gallery, 22 Enmore Road, Enmore (in front of Black Rose Bookshop)
I figure most of you will be able to find this one. Its just opposite Oporto's.

if you hate newtown or wanna do 2 shows in one night then I'd strongly recommend ernest extravanganza opening at firstdraft on the same night....

THIS SATURDAY Schappylle is hosting an art auction to save Sandon Point. she'll be banging the gong to keep sartors mitts off the gong, and laying whatever she can under the hammer, while getting hammered. It's at the Mori gallery from 3pm on Saturday September 1st. The exhibition will celebrate the history of the protest at Sandon Point.

Funds raised will go towards the legal challenge,being mounted by Jill Walker, a Sandon Point local,against the planning decisions approved by Minister Sartor. There will be finger food, drinks, entertainment, as well as raffles and lucky door prizes.

The following Wednesday 5th of September, we be the big Trajectories of dissent blast off. This opening is extra special because we will be joined by guests from the Asia Pacific Research Network who will bring with them their stories and experiences of working (and dissenting) in the Asia Pacific Region. This is at;

Mori Gallery, 168 Day Street, Sydney ( towards Darling Harbour from Town Hall Station, Day Street is the very bottom cross street between Bathurst and Liverpool Streets. Closer to China Town, Day Street is the one that starts in front of the Entertainment Centre, from which its a few blocks towards the CBD)

Schappylle Scragg is also going to curate her own show Looking for democracy: It's gonna be in october, and it's gonna be fun. for more info email:mayhemrox@gmail.com

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

dissent, dissonance, discord

I wish I had more time.

I'd love to write a long meaty rant about the delights of the Howard Arkley show up in Brisbane over the weekend.

Mayhem has long been a big fan of dayglo - but the shimmering intensities of Arkley's scintillating surfaces - moving me bodily in and out of sheer suburban horror - gripping me and my punk mate by the eyeballs was a stomach churning swoonarama delight.....

there's nothing quite like the joys of a live canvas hovering in front of you, burning out yer retinas.

so i'm a bit cheesed that the tome has confined me indoors for this week. Not only will i be refraining from a bit of ladychasing at the slyfox - i'll also be missing the COFA annual student wimmins art show - which opens tonight.

it's called 'dissonance' coz the delightful wenches of paddington have a feisty traidition of realising the problematic contingency of gender on which they are both marginalised and indeed mobilise as critical cultural agents.

IN other words - being a feminist doesn't mean creating a girlie art club or being transphobic - but assembling work that can engender new spaces of problematising, playing and trasnforming practices, identities and subjectivities marginalised as 'female'.

If you don't believe me then go check out the show yerself. Legendary luminary and occasional pornstar 'wife' is giving the opening speech tonight at 6pm. got along to Kudos Gallery - napier street paddington - right next to the Greek Orthodox church. don't forget your straws.

Meanwhile on the same night down the road at DarlingitHurts, Liverpool Street gallery is shocking it's regular fans of drip and dollar, by hosting a series of post pop performances by the romanian rebel, aida tomescue. Called "ceaucescu took my baby" Tomescue's latest show involves a radical departure from her usual two dimensional format as she has assembled a series of found objects and instaled them in the gallery wiht lashings of primary coloured acrylic paint, and text in both romanian and english. Tomescues work involves a poignant references to the Azaria Chamberlain disappearance, with the tragic fate or romanian children under the Ceaucescu dictatorship, and the current plight of central australian aboriginal communities. a Liverpool street press release states that the artist will actually undertake a durational piece confining herself to a corner of the gallery, chained to a live dingo, in homage to Joseph Beuyss.

This should provide a feisty contrast to the series of 'important works' by Gordon Bennett showing at 'the space that will be the sherman foundation for contemporary art - but is still a gallery so we should enjoy it eh'. depsite the show not opening until september, Bennet has already been lampooned by the SMH's esteemed critic for being too strident - and this is even before the show of muted monochromatic oil on canvas studies of immense immeasurable surfaces, has even bared itself to the patronizing gaze of art world luminaries and hangers on, acompanied by quality refreshments and the last chance to wear a black skivvy in 2007.

In the more immediate present, Don't Look gallery is hosting 'the sound of Failure' this saturday at the don't look gallery in dulwich hill (from 11am-5pm), and at Petersham Bowling Club - where from 6pm the titans of the time based process oriented 4D media will slug it out under the witty commentary of schappylle scragg

Thursday, August 09, 2007


to put the following review in some reflexive perspective I'll admit that i'm feeling just a lttle mentally fragile.

OK more than usual.

My major form of stress management consists in reading obscure bits from "the Logic of Sense" and then posting random shit on various people's myspaces – of which the absolute highlight has to be ‘the motel sisters’ – well – my favourite bit is the britney Spears song – and recently I found myself singing along to ‘toxic love’ thinking of evil vicious ex-girlfriends and then I started reciting bits of the logic of sense about alcoholism splitting the eidetic into a permanent fissure from the present……

And then I thought – shit I really need to see some art…..

So scrambled out away from the house and away from the computer and found myself at mop gallery looking at Kathy cavaliere’s ‘home’ installation… which was nothing like my home at all.

In fact I walked straight past it – and found myself in a curtained room with a video that looked like two little girls sitting on the end of a bed and one was stroking the other’s hair softly and tenderly – and the she started smakcking it instead – and it turned out to be her dolly – and I had horrible horrible sinking feelings about nasty little girls and the games they play and this didn’t resolve any of my seething mysogony so I turned away….

And looked briefely at the weird threadlike extruded organ bits…. And then I saw the boarded up wall of cardboard boxes. And the milk crate, which I wanted to kick aside, and spare coins in a cup….

I scanned the surface of the cardboard which was kind of flimsy and kind of solid and then I saw a hole and of course I went up to the hole and bent over and peered through the hole which looked like it had been made with a biro.

And what I peered into was a room – a large dark room – with a central object illuminated…. What was illuminated? glowings orbs of light…..arranged..in a steel frame shopping cart.

Cathy said she’d taken the possessions, the nothing, the deadening detritus of those deemed worthless by their shifting shiftless status, the nutters, the beggars, those ‘outside’ propriety, property… taken their mark of groundlessness – the bags, only bages, and filled them with light.

There was and is an incredible majesty in the simplicity. Delightful alchemy of matter… reminding me of the architect Louis Kahn – who worked on the principle that all beings were made of light and moved to the light and that light was the basis of human techtonics, of shelter…..

So taking the chattels of the shelterless, and filling them with light – makes the absurd bundles into a delightful poetry.

Hell.. and it looked good too. Backlit chiaoscuro elegance. Diamonds of darkness between the glowing plastic orbs…. Art is the alchemy of matter, where plastic becomes light, grey becomes a multiplicity, of silvers, slates, greens, our eyes adjust and our minds can imagine things as moving into something else…

That was the nice bit.

The scary bit was visiting a friends studio to look at a work so I would write a catalgue essay – which is partly being a gun for hire – but also a labour of love and so I went and saw this painting and something about the amber sworls caught in my left eye, and brought a lump to my chest and I started to cry.

Now I’ve read, and I own, and I love “Pictures and Tears” by James Elkins – but nothing prepared me for this. I’ve been close. I’ve had tears in my eyes at rothgo – had strange shudderings in front of Van Gogh, wet my pants over Monet, Bacon, Pollock etc….. But something about this work – induced my eyes to stream tears… I repressed a wail and handed my friend a tube of Russian Carmine……

But words are failing me at present.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Between Schappylle Scragg and Jacques Derrida

Oohhh this is going to be a bit of an angst fest so I apologise in advance.

Readers familiar with my personal - aka suicide blog will know I ain't been having an easy time of late - which may explain the lack of activity on this blog.

I've found the life of mayhem a bit hard to handle lately -and have only survived by escaping into schapppylle's world. Part of me thinks i should forget about being me and just become her forever...... but maybe she'd be less funny if she was permanent.

Skanky Jane seems to keep me happily with feet in scragglands and the culturati blogosphere - so - thank yee kindly....

Online worlds are a funny thing - blogs seem to be getting a bit tired, and apparently myspace is already 'so last year' and the latest thing is FACEBOOK.

i've been invited to join facebook a few times - coz it seems perfectly matched to the thirty something-creative class networking fiends like moi - but then i heard one story about someone with a surname of "Gay" being refused admission - and there's the suual trans/intersex/phobia stuff - but the scariest thing is that it seems to be less amenable to avataritis - ie maintaining a cover identity that is separate from one's realworld identity - coz you can be found and traced and commented on more easily....

Me - i like the gap between mayhem, scragg and the other people I am offline....

anway - the other angst - is me wondering what and how I should use this blog - and yeah - reader feedback (all 3 of you) would be welcome.

i'm not doing the radio show - coz i'm in PhD panic mode.... (explains the need for constant time wasting online)

And i'm unsure if this should remain as merely a postings site - when ACME and other email distributions and even the artlife do that....

and I seem to be fusing long ranty essays wiht bits of art in them - into my 'suicide blog'... and sparing other words for the tome in progress.....

Part of me things I should still force myself to get out and write decent thoughtful reviews of emerging artists especially - coz critical feedback and writing on the visual arts is really thin on the ground - but then I wonder 'who reads this anyway' - and I wonder when I'll get time to see all the show sI want to - in a way that can do them justice... and how often

so if any one has any suggestions or feedback - lemme kno....

aside from angsting and arsing about on myspace i've been reading and attending seminars and stuff - an I'll write something about derrida and hospitality on my personal blog - but it's pretty desperate times when the only reality you can cope wiht is either derrida or schappylle scragg....

I went to the Orlan talk at AGNES
i'm going to the Liz Grosz talk at Usyd Architecture
and I'm going to the Kathy Cavaliere show at MOP

Reviews are on their way

Friday, July 20, 2007

Always Something there to Remind Me....

Thanks to wild man about town bimmelbimmel for the wonderful pic above - showing the motel sisters pouring cornflakes onto the promotor during the Cereal box art degree show last week at where mayhem's nepotism reigns...

Suited up in immaculate teal, the promotor segued elegantly from parody into pathos - maintaining a strangely playful vulnerability throughout.

The reason why i love this image - is it shows HOW BLOODY SIMPLE it is to make work, images and situations that are moving and fun with a few basic materials......

ART SCHOOLS ARE NOT EXPENSIVE - but require a form of intellectual freedom - and space for indeterminacy and play - which is being increasingly squeezed out of hypermanaged KPI'd campuses of late...

Aargh! do readers know that UWS faculties are charged BY THE SQUARE METRE for teaching space? and so those degrees that charge less but use more space get deemed even more 'unprofitable'? this situation is so stupid I could spit.

The promotor's alter ago and others are giving talks today and tomorrow at Blacktown Arts Centre. this should be an amazing opportunity for artists and regional gallleries to get together and work out how to save art education in Western sydney.

Teeth gnashing aside I exposed meself to some art openings this week. It was weird being out in public - wearing spectacles instead of being one. Schappylle Scragg has been taking on my mid-week persona which has saved mayhem from many a hangover...but not this week.

On Wednesday I'd been caroused by the needy students of NAS who'd hungrily soaked up my 2hour rant on feminism, queer theory and contemporary art. Somehow I'd ended up trying to explain the difference between Deleuzian schizo-analysis and the Lacanian order of the phallus using a mandarin peel - and this was probably over ambitious to students who hadn't even done an undergraduate slog over nochlin, pollock & mulvey - but wot the hell - they seemed to like it, and they decided I needed to numb some brain cells while checking out their studios....

I wandered through honours painting and third year ceramics before running (in order to ward off impending hypothermia) down the hill to catch a 426 bus to Don't Look Gallery. I was TOO COLD TO TEXT the wildboys and apologize for missing sonic yootha's birthday - and TOO COLD to note down the names of the artists at the Don't Look... so I drank goon, huddled in the crowd, looked, chatted, listened....

I remember..... the collection of pattern-making paper pret-a-porter garments hanging on a rack in the doorway. And I REALLY liked the matching window display of brown paper rolls.

Brown paper rolls?
ahahhh! no! These are infact instant DIY aesthetically relative agitprop devices. In fact this project is so cool that I'm kicking myself for not remembering if it's by Annie, Anna or Alanna.

anyway, the divine miss A, has taken it upon herself to challenge the VILE JCDecaux streetscape distraction - i.e. those non sheltering, visibility reducing advertising structures they call bus shelters... (grrr! I *hate* them). And run an effective detournement against their recuperated campaign of 'art' on bus shelters.

she does, simply unroll a sheet of perfectly matched brown paper covering hideous lightbox structure... and takes a photo. and she's invited ordinary punters to do the same! (you choose the shelter/ad that most disgusts you, you cover it, you take a hoto, and you send the image back to the artist - who is an archiver/coordinator).

wooo hoo!

this is almost as good as the project from Helsinki - where an artist has made 800 editions of 'feminist' wallpaper - given it out to 800 volunteers who stick it up where they want and send a pikki back - thereby showing that feminism is everywhere! (my roll just arrived in the post - so keep your eyes peeled)

Hell - this i almost as good as FLICKR!

so - that made me happy.

Inside I was disturbed by the most seductive piece - set in a curtain lined room - with airial ambient music piped through... to an edited loop of the fight scenes from "top gun". Ohhh god - I was being sucked into identification/aestheticisation of fascist sludge big time and it was a scary scary feeling let me tellya...

retopupping my goon - I headed for the bank of TV's - showing a series of international video bits. And then got involved in playing mix and match with the headphones. so the spooky thrummy sub bass that went with the statticky smokey figures, got teamed up with the gaffer tape pentagon boy, and his minimal soundtrack (of gaffer tape) went rather nicely with the outdoor terraces..... and then there was a very silly monologue of some guy doing art school angst in Canadian, about the gap, and blankness and the blankness of meaning - to a frozen zooming on Bert and Ernie.... he was canadian so it was ironic. so with the cold, the jampakked art, the funky crown, I felt like I was back in Brooklyn.....

Last night I strolled round to the galleria del barrio nicely called At the Vanishing Point, and consumed a very large glass of red wine. I wandered into their back space and saw something that reminded me of new york, of kiki smith, of petah coyne? of... where had I seen it before? - oh yeah UWS graduation show. Coris Evan's 'melt' is one of my favourite things - OK the wax figures are my favourite things.... the video seemed a little *too* slow and still for me - but that was during the opening which always makes me a bit hyper for some action.

Meanwhile around the corner - Bridie Connell's cat and mouse proved to be a surprise... delicate screen printed hankies..... about and accompanied by pics of her with a nose bleed.... now I really like it when a person takes their physical foibles and turns it into a broader whimsical metaphor that has a nice touch of playfulness and pathos.

P&P were fully at work in Brendan Penzer's mirrored installation - where a video shot of a waterfall was doubled into a face that looked at me, while i looked at it from various angles in the mirror panelled room - seeing my own face distorted across and infront of the waterfalled face behind me.....

Or maybe i've just been staring too long at a computer screen. I really like the SPACE of ATVP - which doesn't scream "blank room full of art" - but has little curves and corners and hidey holes where a body can lurk with the work for ages.....

Thursday, July 12, 2007

It's About a GAP

Aporia is one of those big philosophical words that gets bandied about a bit.

Literally it means GAP - a blank space between stuff. In relation to the big stuff of the world (the grand scheme of creativity and 'the sublime' TM) it's meant to evoke the gap between experience and explanation.

I make it sound so simple.

it's something I experience every friggin day right now. Writing is hell. even for a florid individual like mayhem.

At the moment I've been shutting myself away from art openings, from art, from immersion and experience in order to let myself sink into the gap - and hopefully slide across it into some state of articulated intelligence.

I DID go to the cereal promotor show last week - but strayed away from letting my feelings and joy of the show crystallize into words - ARTSWIPE has done a damn fine review instead.

I wandered past ATVP is it getting hotter in here and gazed wistfully at the video of artists on a ferry and thought of the harbour, and thought of the MCA and thought of THE HOURS, and quite intensely wished I could get down there to see the ECHAVERRA video "bocas de ceniza" which I RAVED about last year and is up there with the ten best things I've ever seen in my entire life for sheer heart-breaking brilliance.

But i haven't been down to see it - coz I'm trying to write a chapter and only interrupt my life for little political demos, little sexual demos, food, conversation, meditation, other essential things like dressing up and dancing...

Enough about me. each time I write - or try to write I slide into a scary gap where nothing makes snese and I can barely string a text message together. this gap - is aporia - and I'm slowly working up to a catalogue essay about paint/bodily extension/aporia and the shudder of contagion and possibility. My mouth waters thinking about it....

In the meantime - back in the ghetto it's all going off!

I've been intrigued by the use of 'underground' lately. My neighbour organised and 'underground' club night on the weekend - which all the neighbours attended. It was in some schwanky place in the CBD - which was so intensely and randomly different to anything I'd experienced that I was really quite amazed at this new culture that I was coming across. but was it underground?

Feeling overwhelmed at my sheltered little barrio life, I headed off back to the ghetto to hear some band with a rather kinky and frightening name and saw a bunch of naked people wearing mutant pig masks thrash around while someone set fire to their pubes.OK more accurately - I glimpsed bits of them - while chatting to lotsa people I ain't seen for ages - and feeling relieved to not be the most outrageously dressed person there. Is this underground? the people I knew weren't trying to be particularly posey and transgressive and we chatted about heartbreak, yoga, firends, family etc. - and mad projects like animating fake foetuses and performances involving shit and painting genitalia.... and it reminded me of that Raymond Williams classic essay, Culture is Ordinary.

Culture is part of the activities that people do as part of their everyday lives, that is a response to and a way of linking ourselves with the world around us. I like when hanging with the muso friends how they'll be strumming or plucking or blowing into something while watching TV or eating dinner - and me - I've always got to have my hands on something - drawing, scribbling, making, folding....

Culture is the stuff that bridges the unmentionable unspeakable gaps between ourselves and the world, between our bodies and other bodies - between experience and understanding.... and how bloody preachy am I today? I just don't seperate 'underground' culture from 'underground' living - and I don't like the thought of either culture or life being 'underground'. I guess my life is a world away form supermarkets, chainstores, consumer culture, gourmet beige product land... and culture is something I create rather than consume, but can't it actually be that way for EVERYONE?

and why would people go out and consume something they don't feel a part of?

that's my opening segue for the performance space's 'underground' fest this weekend: i've promoted it coz I recognise the names of the 'artists' and as lots of them hang doing collaborative stuff in the backyard or each other's loungerooms - I reckon it sounds like a *treat*.

Meanwhile SLOT has an interesting display of Clare Martins detourning "blockbuster of 20th century art" - aka miniature replicas on display in the window on botany road alexandria.

and NEXT Wednesday I'm even going to miss my yoga class to go the the opening of:
Distance Yourself at DON'T LOOK Experimental New Media Gallery
419 New Canterbury Rd (Near Marrickville Rd), Dulwich Hill

WHO: 16 international artists:
Amber Phelps Bondaroff, Erin Bosenberg, Joy-Loi Chepkoech, Andrew
Fisher, Nikolai Gauer, Amanda Griffith, Stefan Hancherow, Bonita
Hatcher, Alana Hunt, Ryan Ling, Annie Macmillan, Gavin Maitland,
Kristy O'Leary, Shaun O'Reilly, Audrey Wang and Anna Williams.

WHEN: Opening: July 18, 6pm, Exhibition: Jul 19-28

CONTACT: Greg Shapley - Ph: 0401 152 434
EMAIL: dontlookgallery@gmail.com
WEB: myspace.com/dontlookgallery

Underbelly: public arts lab
100 Sydney artists and performers collaborating, creating and evolving over 10 days
3rd - 12th July, 2.00pm – 10.00pm FREE!

Underbelly: festival
Indoor winter music & arts festival with projection, DJs, VJs, performance, bars and cafes on Saturday 14th July, 12 noon - 11pm Tickets: $17/$25 pre-sale available thru Moshtix www.moshtix.com.au; $20/30 at the door.

CarriageWorks: 245 Wilson Street , Eveleigh

Underbelly: public arts lab and festival at CarrriageWorks from July 3-14 will bring over 100 of Sydney ’s fringe artists together for a ten-day public-access artist residency, finishing with a one day music and arts festival on Saturday July 14.

A social and artistic experiment of sorts, the Underbelly Public Arts Lab is about creating a space for Sydney artists to collaborate, exchange, rehearse and cross-pollinate in a communal environment, whilst inviting the public to witness and engage in this process first hand. From July 3 - 12 the lab will be open free between 2 – 10pm to watch and interact with works evolving daily.

On Saturday July 14, the Underbelly Festival will transform CarriageWorks into a massive indoor music and arts festival, showcasing an unpredictable collection of performance, music, digital media and art installation. As well as featuring performances and works produced during the ten-day lab, there will also be talks panels, DJ’s, VJs, live music, bars and cafes.

Artists include: Aural Adventures, Entropic, Kate Smith & Drew Fairley, Lynda Roberts & Ceri Hann, Meem, Miss Death & Jay Katz, Pig Island, Pixel Vision, Pork, post, Power Media Industries, Reef Knot, Stephanie Carrick & Sumugan Sivanesan, Tesseract, Tetronomicon, The Synaesthesia Collective, The Vespertine Project, Token Imagination, Trevor Brown (The Distillery) and more TBA!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Greenhouse Daze

Mayhem apologises for the lack or recent art updates or reviews.i've been blithering about art on my other blog and writing a PhD and even doing some ART.

In an effort to promote things that I'm NOT exhibiting in or performing at and are not associated with or held at Mori Gallery, I'll hereby offer up the following art delicacies:

Briefly for your diary:

Tuesday - UTS Gallery - the trouble with the weather
Wednesday - don't Look gallery - Dulwich Hill DayZZZe
Saturday - - at the vanishing point - Is it getting hotter in here? forum

(PS: click on titles above for directions & opening hours...)

and now for the extended rants:

tomorrow night Dulwich Hill DayZZZe is going to open - but you can pop in an visit the artist ANYTIME over the next few weeks as he does an extended sit in at the gallery.

Matt Rochford (AKA 'Rochy' from the current season of 'Nerds FC')
needs somewhere to live for a couple of weeks. I've offered him the
gallery window. He will, of course, be furnishing it to his liking;
installing his bed, TV, the odd pot plant or two and anything else he
can fit into this very modest living area.

The downside to this arrangement is that he will be on constant
display. He won't be able to scratch his butt without the whole street
seeing. Further, seeing he's getting this space rent free, Matt will
become my circus animal, my freak show. At least eight hours a day a
commentator will provide thrilling updates on Matt's every move. Every
itch, every scratch will be analysed and replayed in slo-mo for the
public's edification.

I will also expect Matt to play to the camera and the transient
audience. He will put on little performances to get the attention that
he craves. He will try his best to communicate to the passing traffic
with hand gestures and scribbled signs. Matt will also have
houseguests. Come join the show, have a chat to Matt on his
laissez-faire talk show. Have your 15 minutes of fame in Don't Look's
front window.

Join us for Matt's house warming on July 4. American Independence Day
will mark the end of Matt's independence for the next couple of weeks.

EMAIL dontlookgallery@gmail.com

If the hothouse theme gets you warm then you'll LOVE the show opening tonight at UTS gallery...

The Trouble with the Weather: a southern response hass got an allstar line up of amazing artists and should offer a thoughtful, interesting engagement with the phenomenon of climate change.... as it is happening.....

Participating artists:

Isabel Aranda (Chile), Peter Bennetts (Aus), Vera Bighetti (Brazil), Elizabeth Day (Aus), David Haines (Aus) & Joyce Hinterding (Aus), Niki Hastings-McFall (NZ, Samoa), Jonathan Jones (Aus) & Jim Vivieaere (NZ/Cook Islands), Zina Kaye (Aus), Dani Marti (Aus), Maria Miranda (Aus) & Norie Neumark (Aus), Jason Nelson (Aus), Regina Pinto (Brazil), Janine Randerson (NZ),

Te Vaka (Tuvalu, Tokelau, Samoa), John Tonkin (Aus) and H J Wedge (Aus)

In order to match their current amazing show,
Is It Getting Hotter In Here? - which runs till Juy 15,

At The Vanishing Point – Contemporary Art presents a forum outlining the work of artists concerned with issues pertaining to climate change: this saturday from 3-5pm

the show features another impressive line up of local talent, such as Jenny Brown, Anna Chase, Amanda Hills, Thomas Hungerford, Mitra Jovanovic, Daniel Kojta, Tom Loveday, Tony Nolan, Adam North, Masaaki Ohno, Brendan Penzer and Pickafight Books

Temperatures Rising:Art and Climate Change

*be introduced by special guest keynote speaker;

Dr. John Kaye, Greens MLC in the NSW Parliament

*illustrate examples of artistic projects that are happening globally.

*introduce networks and forums for artists to engage in.

*present projects and practices of the exhibition artists and other local artists that engage with climate change issues.

*provide a platform for an ensuing discussion and debate.

RSVP by Friday 6thJuly. (02) 9519 2340

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Country AND Western Mayhem

Mayhem don't actually know much about the burbs - migrating swiftly from the deep north (and I don't mean Lismore) to Newtown about 18 years ago (tho I did live in randwick for about a year - *shudder*).

So I'm an ex-country gal at heart, but still ain't that parochial. In my globe trotting travels over the summer/err winter or whatever it was- the stuff about Sydney that struck me as dynamic and new and fascinating - all - OK - not all - but LOTS of it - came from artists connected with Western Sydney and UWS - either as ex-students or part time staff - or residents, or whatever.

Western Sydney is not some scary region beyond the red travelpass zone - but is actually a central part of the Ozzie art world and the stuff that makes sinney inneresting. UWS graduate form an integral part of some of the amazing projects and collectives such as the squatspace collective, the Wildboys, Lempriere Winner Ben Denham, various members of Loose Projects, plus At the Vanishing Point and Don't Look galleries. and that's just off the top of my head..

Inspired by The artife's focus on suburbia as a site of meaning - I've decided to take the bull by the horns and jump on the Sari Kivinen Serial Promotion bandwagon -and start blabbing about how great western sydney art and culture is and how much greater it could be if it is able to keep and expand a decent university art school.

Ben Denham's current work has taken DRAWING to such astonishing levels that the guy deserves a bloody logie. and he's not from COFA or NAS but UWS. the SMH and other press trumpeters of 'back to basics' view of drawing as ye olde necrophilia seem to overlook that it's an incredibly dynamic and challenging practice.

Ben has written a great and reflexive account of his art education at UWS - and I reccommend it as a critical source of consideration of what art education can be and why it's so important.

so: in this spirit - I'm going to plug the Serial Promotion show at Mori (yes, again, call it nepotism but why isn't patron of contemporary art Gene Sherman taking this stuff on?). Organised by Sari Kivinen. opening is July 4th and their looking for contributions. for more info click here

Serial Promotion is not just about 'saving UWS' but is a demonstration of the interdependency and necessity of a VARIETY OF ART SCHOOLS IN SYDNEY. Having at least 4 different art schools with distinct pedagogical cultures produces a variety of graduates that CAN and DO depend on the diversity of our education and influences to feed off and stimulate each other's practice.

Sari and Mayhem are part of a BROAD ALLIANCE of artists, community groups, galleries, academics, researchers and others out to prove that WE CAN Save Arts Education in Western Sydney!!!

We have an email list, and are having meetings and are going to start a big media lobbying campaign... SOON! It's big, and it's getting bigger. Even Schappylle Scragg is getting involved

And we want yer support and interest and input. so drop a comment on this blog - or email: autonomouspromoter@yahoo.com.au

Thursday, June 14, 2007

suburban mayhem

I saw the film during my flight back home and I was SO INSPIRED. I really just want to BE Katrina!!!! (finally a brunette evil twin to scraggg)

but I digress. This week has had some delightful synchronicities.

Over the sodden weekend as I trudged into the rain in my mukmuks and trakkie dakkies and hoodie and brolly and snapped the pic that appears on my other blog..... I had 2 experiences: one good and one bad.

the good one involved wandering into the well arranged splash of colour that is at the vanishing point.

To be brutally honest i wasn't crazy about everything. Peter Mcguinness's brightly coloured tiled collaged canvases were attractive, punchy but a bit too heavy on ideas and lite on slow ponderous work and the collages on paper by the trio of Louise Brissenden, Mitra Jovanovic and Simona Jovanovic seemed a little too... art school?

but - o but the Springtime of Salad Days presented a nice combo of eclectic works - I loved the soft sculptures and the wall piece worked in REALLY well with Mccguinness's canvases and I adored the puppet theatre and it paved the way nicely for Naomi Olivers's ghost train video in the back room.......

and hell - here is a gallery in south spewtown showing a canny combo of all works (paintings), sculptures, installation AND a video piece in a manner that alllows each to breathe and they are fun and engaging and not trite or commercial and what a bloody miracle that is! hooray!

the bad experience involved a desperate rainy day lashing out on the weekend SMH. After ditching the 60% of retail based advertorial for wageslavery, planetfukking mobiles, compulsory gambling (investment) and property speculation - my eye spied aida tomescue on the cover of the good weekend.

'inside the studio of 61 australian painters' promised the cover! hooray! i thought. but no. hell no, writing about art IS too much for the herald - and they had to confine themselves for a gushy advertorial for johnny mac's latest arty mates coffee table book. after a few cliched quotes from some nice ACGA stalwarts (the storrier, the shead, insert other broad midriffed genuine aussie bloke - coz we don't wanna think artists are sheilas or poofs do we?) well the poor little SMH scribe decided that johnny mac's 'studio' would be more interesting than any of the artists....

was she perchance scared of getting paint on her sass & bides if she ventured into a real artists studio? or even if she put words to the weird drippy stuff that didn't come off someone elses cliched pres release? I don't want to strictly bash the Mcdonald - coz to a certain extent I'd like to believe we share a love for the same thing - nice well placed, serious bits of colour and gesture on a well mounted bit of flat. and most of the artists in the tome - are genuinely interesting and engaging and accessible individuals with work that is also interesting, engaging and accessible....

which is why mayhem spits blood and has head rolling fire breathing fits when writers, journos, publications, academics, who bloody ever - do things, publish things, say things, divert things in such a way that it makes looking at painting, or looking at art seem HARD. It's not. It's an odd thing to do, an unsettling thing, but it's not HARD or yuk or awfully difficult or mysterious. art appreciation involves looking and letting ideas and associations form in the minds eye as they bod's eye does the staring. or otherwise.

So it was a damn delight to see aunty roll over and give some air space to THE ARTLIFE on tuesday night. and it was damn nice of THE ARTLIFE to invite various rifraf to watch the show on a big screen. (mayhem doesn't actually own a telly.... I sit around the loungeroom watching paintings.... seriously!)

the show was the official 'outting' of artlife doyen andrew frost - in the frame on the box, walking, talking, revealing his 'personal' view of art. Actually it was more than that. As the latest ARTLIFE blogpostings testify - it was a very conscious attempt at a populist approach to ART for a general STRINE audience.

ohh god such moments make me cringe for the days when aunty could send up provincial crass middle ozztrayyanism in 'the channel nine show' instead of having to reduce arts coverage to reality TV or game shows. day by day the ABC is having to dumb itself down into a broadcast version of that scary canberra holden/mower/clothesline museum they have on that island in the lake. this means that my chances of enticing my friend at the BBC (who works full time researching mediaevel campanellas for yet another earnest british musicology documentary) onto these sunny shores are getting slimmer and slimmer. this then means I spend more time on gaydar and less on this blog. Everyone suffers.

I digress.

the bits I really liked about the ARTLIFE on telly were seeing lots of brick veneer. I liked frosty's self deprecating humour - especially with the sofa paintings pulling a joke about some generalisation about 'australian art' (TM). and I REALLY liked the repeated and reflexive links between different experiences of how suburbia is represented (seeing arkley's paintings in venice - then hearing about his suicide) and then personal little asides and reflections.

the nearest I've ever been to suburbia is probably hanging out in Paris banleiu - which I was reminded of in Rachel Scott's video pieces - the scene of her dad walking through her studio reminded me so much of painting for my last show (about tasmania) in the garage/car workshop/cellar of my former inlaws in paris.(also made me realise - TV is a GREAT medium for critically representing/engaging with video/performance time based art innit?)

and it made me realise that suburbia ain't strine at all - it's an international condition of expanded affluent anomie - like cheese singles - but something that only australians try to claim as a national identity.Scott's lovely piece - miming to the pussy cat dolls and then stopping, going .... err. shit, no.... was wonderful- and reminded me of the delightfully tragic possibilities of always trying to be someone/somewhere/sometime that we're not.

I think TAL has done a nice little detourning movement - mobilising the 'aussie-ness' (TM) of suburbia - taking a neighbours view of art - in order to open up 'the art program' as a nice space for a bit of De Certeauian musing.. on the everyday on the minutae of what surrounds us as being a meaningful site for questioning. I thought it was elegant and impressive and a nice way of shifting an 'art program' through the cracks of what TV should be in the same way that ART (tm) also can and does slip through funny little spaces between an autonomous sphere of sanctioned cutlural performance and something else a little more unsettling. ONYAS

so, suburbia, dreaming spaces of postwar nostalgia. bake-a-lite and t-bone steaks. vinyl records, brown beer bottles and brown knitted cardigans. Nick strike has deconstructed grandad fixtures into something exquisitely postduchampian at first draft and made suburbian fragments into something wonderfully odd.

'drunk in the sunken cinema' was meant to be a complete projection machine - but has instead evolved into a discretely sensitive situation of some rather strange possibilities in space and time. Strike has walked the line between using found objects as found objects and transforming thin them into something else. Brown cardigan becomes frecnh knit cord passing through a brown bottle, transorming into old electric cord - a chain link of associations and suggestions that are infintiely intimately subtle and delightful.

I hope my friend simon sees this. how can mad mayhem screeds convey subtle beauty? Remember Mary kelly's 'post partum project'? the stained nappies? Strike has reperformed these - not with an infantile anus and ideological dissasociative bludgeoning but with a much stranger machine based on a pressing vinyl turntable coffee squelching processing automatic painting delight. they are not abject or inviteng- but very very inviting - we get drawn in - like arm of a turntable.... and then there's the weird hole at the centre winking out against the blobs. It'sn john cage meets mary kelly meets beuyss. only better. the tableau of framed 'nine records of an afterimage' have an incredible humility - they just are, and encompass a delirious tribute to the world's finest drug.... coffee.

Overall mayhem enjoyed first draft a lot. Teo Treloars fine weird post-war pop sketches on nice fragmented ink stained paper remannts reminded me of my favourite ever belgian 'bande desssine' but that's another story... and out the back... conductors 'template' made me very ver glad to be alive.

Conductor - a collaboration of drawing done wiht a pick-up: drawing as choreography, as accoustics, as composition as divine live synaesthesia made me so damn glad to be back in sydney right now that I could shout....

HOORAY!!!!! this is as good as anything anywhere and it's happening here1

they are actually doing a performance of the drawing this saturday the 16th june from 4pm. that's at first draft, chalmers street surry hills.

go. if you can. and don't whinge about the lack of art in this silly town. just the lack of decent media coverage.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Back in Orange

I've been back for a week and I love it.

I've been posting long jetlag ridden rants about paint and stuff on my other blog which i used to call my suicide blog last year coz I was so depressed.

I'm not depressed - so readers, relax and enjoy the screeds.

Havne't got the motivation to declare the word about sinney art seen

Jo frosts bright balmain made me smile, Anton Pulvirenti's inredible colleciton of suitcase pictorial fragments made me smile a lot- - and also ponder.......

yep. they are really good.

anne kay's intimate installation at loose also made me smile. It was a very small viewing booth - ie a telly wiht a hood - for a video of crinkled plastic unfurling - whihc reminded me of long myopic hours spent on my bed alone, glasses off, crinkling up splastic and watching it unfurl. (this was before I bought the wonderwand adaptor)

I'm pissed at missing Melissa Laing's airline hostess performance at china hieghts on friday night.

Melissa's work is all about the exploration of international travel and contemporary artists - so it's a bit fucked that my jetlag prevented me from getting out and seeing her work.