Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Milky bits and Pink

On the theme of Mates.... err, well... here's another plug.

Mayhem's partner in Crime - aka Schappylle's hubby darryll has an astonishing project about to gush forth onto the streets of dulwich hill

don't Look Gallery are hosting 10 days of nonnomrative lacto-madness by the performance artist and evolutionary humanoid Zoo who will sit in the shopfront making milk and doing all sort sof poetry/performance/collaboration and play with it

Her words are better than mine so check this out:
Exhibition title: Curdle
Artist’s name: Zoo

Exhibition details: Don’t Look Gallery, 419 New Canterbury Rd, Dulwich Hill, NSW, Australia (a block back from the corner of New Canterbury Rd and Marrickville Rd)
http://www.myspace.com/dontlookgallery or email dontlookgallery@gmail.com
Opening hours are 11-5, every day for the duration of the exhibition
Opening night: Wednesday 9th April 2008 6-9pm. Small informal launch, statement of project intentions, few beers.
Closing night: Saturday April 19th, from 6pm. This is the big one- art created during the installation will be on display, and I will have more to say about it!

Contact details: Through the gallery or www.galactablogue.blogspot.com

What it entails: Curdle is an endurance-based installation piece, where the main activity performed is inducing lactation. This is achieved by regular pumping and the ingestion of a variety of herbs including fenugreek, fennel and milk thistle. I have done this before, but not to the same degree, so one of the main focuses will be on seeing how much milk I can produce. The first part of the piece will concentrate on the process of inducing, documenting the changes to my body and what milk I produce. The second part of the piece, once lactation has been achieved, will involve myself and other artists creating a series of milk-based pieces, by using the lactation process and the actual milk itself as inspiration, as material, or both. Already I have photographers, painters, sketchers and musicians taking part, and am open to any other suggestions for collaboration. Artists can just turn up as they wish, but for larger, longer pieces which involve serious input from me it is best to contact me and schedule a time, or at least discuss the nature of the work. The public is invited to visit at any time during opening hours, to record their responses, stories and ideas about the work in the journal provided, to ask questions, to observe the work in progress and engage with it in any respectful way they wish.

The main point of the installation: This is part of a larger body of work that has previously centered on other body fluids and processes, most usually blood and bleeding. It has its roots in body modification practice in that it is concerned with altering the form and functionality of the body. Curdle, and the entire induced lactation project I have undertaken, grapples with questions of how bodies (and more specifically, body fluids) are gendered, how they communicate with other bodies, and what happens when bodies and embodied practices are allowed to drift loose of their traditional boundaries. Clearly, lactation is traditionally the preserve of mothers and their babies (and the odd lucky husband), but breastfeeding is not the only context in which it exists or the only function it performs. Lactation and breast milk can be used to cleanse the body of toxins, to inhibit fertility, to access new ways of thinking, to gain sexual pleasure, to nurse a partner, to comfort oneself and others, to transmit cultural knowledge, to cure or to contaminate. This installation is also largely concerned with investigating milk as language, a text, and the lactating body as producer and conveyor of meaning.

For the record: This is not positioned against maternity or breastfeeding, but rather an attempt to consider what knowledges and experienc
es lactation and breast milk might offer when allowed to speak freely outside of patriarchal, heterosexual discourses.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Spinning Out

Ahh the joys of AGNES!!!! (aka AGNSW)

Sadly nerddom has kept me confined to the quad this Mardis Gras - and I'll probably miss out on the great painters piss-up too - next week at the Archibald, Wynne And Sulman opening.

I rarely go for the wine or the art - but definitely for the buzz - which is somewhere between sloshy goonfest of a scupture opening, and something off the social pages of the telemirror - it's all stemmed glasses, LBD's, crowd spotting and name dropping and goon splashing. all under the pretext of big name drip stuff. a delight.

By sheer chance, one of my favourite paintings *ever* has actually made the walls of AGNSW - in the Sulman show. It's by my mate steve - who I've referred to casually on this blog before. I thought I'd chuck in a more serious and considered reference tho - ie a copy of the catalogue essay for his show in Bathurst. I hope this ain't too nepotistic - Bragging about my friend's work -and posting up an essay I put somewhere else.... but it is an amazing piece -and I'd hate to think of punters missing out on something amazing just coz of a straightforward phobia about bad photorealism celebrity mongering....

so Review is here:

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.