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....



and

2 comments:

Elly Brickhill said...

Dear ...
That was a lovely comment on me and my friend Anne Walton in Friction, at Don't Look Gal. Sorry, don't remember to whom I speak. But really, I can't think of a nicer thing to have said about it. We worked quite hard, but the whole thing was a fabulous experience. Probably more routine for Anne than me, as she's done heaps more site specific stuff at a number of spaces, globally even. And Greg was a great back-up too.

May I quote you for my writing and/or CV?

Thanks again,
Cheers
Elly Brickhill

mayhem said...

Dear Elly

thanks for such a great comment! and yes - please feel free to quote my review on your CV - that's one of the reasons why I write this stuff! for the purposes of adequate referencing then - cite me as: Margaret Mayhew 'Art In Heartland' weblog post on Art and Mayhem Friday 16th november 2007.

all the best and thanks for a great piece.....

Cheers
mayhem