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.