Everything is quite surreal at the moment. As well as being manic at work, extremely happy where I'm living and quite excited about what I'm about to begin doing; I’m also going through a period of intensely missing the people and the places, the experience of my time in London and Europe last year. I know that, in the whole scheme of things, I wasn’t there all that long, but I miss it as though I was there for years.
The people who I miss, I only knew for a short time – the lanky midlander for 6 months, the crazy bedouin, 4 months, the german girl for 3 months, and the aussie girl and german boy for just 1 month each– not even, really. [Not to mention the loads of other ace people I met]. And for some reason it feels like I’ve left some soul mates over there. And 'over there' is such a long way away.
And in terms of place, as the weather turns cold and blustery, every corner I turn in Melbourne reminds me of Hamburg, or Paris, parts of London and sections of Vienna. It drives me batty.
Dan Hill and I were recently discussing Australians’ pride in the tyranny of distance, as such a huge part of our psyche and I’m starting to understand an element of it: that which is an almost physical craving of places elsewhere. Kind of like when you get a song stuck in your head and you just have to play it and play it until you exhaust it. Right now, I've got the geographical equivalent of the intro to Slayer's Raining Blood going around and around and around.
And then, in organising a mix cd swap, lord of the ad-pit, rob mortimer, asked me to describe some of the things I did while I was over there. Obviously, in the interest of providing him with some material (and not as some self-indulgent outpouring), here's my list:
Shit I miss from my time in London and Europe:
• dancing to the kooks, pidgeon detectives, the holloways and other brit-pop indie kids in nina's bedroom, eating dumplings, while getting ready to go out.
• megabus. several journeys up and down the M1: leeds, manchester x 2, plus a trip to cardiff to see the arctic monkeys - you can't make those kinds of journeys for so cheap here.
• €1 for an espresso.
• H&M. I didn't discover the true joy of H&M until i was on my way out, but it's something I wish we had here: clean, simple, basic.
• speaking in languages other than my own. there's something really satisfying about having to use a whole other part of your brain - to have to think completely differently. Perhaps that's why I feel like I've changed, because I had to think completely differently and according to Cartesian Philosophical Theory, it means I was completely different.
• The National Gallery (and the regular cups of tea in the Cafe) and the permanent collection at the Tate Modern.
• The number 19 bus and the Victoria line. (Which is why I packed it in my suitcase, but it's not much use here, unfortunately). And my Oyster card.
• Coffee mornings at the Breakfast Club and the Berwick St Markets.
• "Die nächste Haltestelle, Ramersdorf"
• Non-alcoholic beer in Germany and Austria and the baklava in St Germain in Paris and near Perrache Metro in Lyon
• The Lourve, The Pompidou, The Castello Di Rivoli, ArkitekturZentrumWien and the MAMOK.
• Running up Crouch Hill to the sounds of Banquet by the Bloc Party (the perfect running song).
• Reading properly famous people in the newspapers: Tracey Emin in the Independent, Antony Gormley in the Guardian, Nick Hornby in the Observer and I think even someone like Van Morrison in the paper one time. Oh, and Time Out.
It's a weird list, but hey, that's the nature of the beast sometimes - general and specific, expected and unusual.
but some good ones this time.
When i started my new job, I made a decision to follow cynical rob's lead, kind of, and up my magazine reading/buying.
In the last little while I've bought Modern Painters and the new Art World mag, got Poster for free, plus received another issue of my Parkett gift subscription. i thought i might give you the low-down on them 'cos they're really intriguing me.
Modern Painters, December 07/January 08
When i was a first year art school swat, creating Thelma, a short-lived college zine, I used to spend a lot of time in the DOME bookshop, overlooking Ken Unsworth's Shit On Sticks (or whatever the real name of it is), reading lots of magazines and lusting after the really expensive artbooks [and the A2 Helmut Newton book which was $350]. I swear modern painters was a thick, chunky mag back then, kind of like Artforum and Flash. Whatever, nowdays it's a B4 format, down to a manageable length, but still quite solid on the content.
This issue's top 5 highlights are:
Seven obscured(d) artists in profile (giving the Design Conspiracy kids a run for their money) including Trevor Paglen and Nicholas Hobo.
Art is the New Religion essay by Matthew Collings
Ed Park's article on Media
Diller Scofidio (+Renfro) book review (with interesting insight "+" as "more than a graphic tic", which made me think about Wieden+Kennedy)
Massimiliano Gioni and his article on the clandestine career of Gino De Dominicis
Art World February/March
This is a new Australian version of the UK art publication and quite frankly, it's the first time I've been quite so excited and almost proud of an art mag in a while. I know that it's a syndication, but between this and the new un mag, things are starting to look up.
top 5 highlights:
Germaine Greer writing on Louise Bourgeois
Tracey Emin interview with Claire Armstrong (Trace looks so awesome and relaxed, it's great)
10 Contemporary artists interviewed, including Mitch Cairns and Cao Fei.
The cover: hot chunky square serif typeface, no image, silver foil.
An almost 'international' feel to the mag and enough content to sustain me for a fortnight already.
Poster, Summer 07/08
As sponsors of the L'Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Program, I picked one up the other night at the launch. I've not seen it before, but loved this issue. Light on text, but quite direct when it was there. Imagery was quite luscious.
top 5 highlights:
Fashion shoot inspired by Joy Division and the Anton Corbijn film Control
Profile of work by Front, hot swedish all-female design studio
Su Blackwell article and folio
Review of Miranda July's No one belongs here more than you [remember that really cool promo site?]
Beauty product feature with direction by Colier, with the products shot underneath on glass, looking like their anti-gravity.
This is only a recent arrival and I haven't had too much time to check it out, but that's OK, Parkett is wonderful. Full stop. So I'm sure there will be lots more goodness to be discovered.
Top 5 highlights so far:
Ai Weiwei article by Charles Mereweather.
Discussion between Ai Weiwei and Jacqes Herzog (as artists/designers/architects for the Beijing Olympic stadium)
The fold-out cover with three nice glossy images from all three collaborating artists.
Editorial in German - I'm trying to keep my german ticking over and manageable parallel text like this is supreme.
Two covers comparison between Artforum and Frieze, both of whom featured the same Bruce Nauman cover image for their September 2007 issues during the massive Grand Tour season on Venice, Basel, Documenta, Munster.
So, tonight I went to see the film Helvetica. I first heard rumours about the film early last year, then when I was in London, Ben was talking about how and where to get a screening there. I made a half-arsed effort to get it screened at the Rio cinema in E8, but no luck. I kind of gave up after that and figured that I would probably stumble upon it in a video store sale bin in 10 years time on obsolete Blu-Ray.
So, when I got the Rooftop Cinema program and saw it there, I booked a ticket, pronto. Geek!!
And what a blissful geek-out it was.
Helvetica is a documentary on the history and influence of the Helvetica typeface over the last 50 years and the move from modernism, through an anti-helvetica phase, back to the neo-modernism and probably another neo-anti-helvetica phase too (judging from some of the discussions over at NDC).
I did my trade in Graphic Pre-Press and a subject on typography. Which means I have a huge type book, can discuss the history of moveable type and its impact in modern communication, I understand the terms kerning, tracking, ascender and descender; I can tell you what the purpose of a serif is and while I’m no expert, I can still pick the differences between similar fonts. It also means that I laughed at the subtle humour in the movie and reveled in the type-based design chat that went on.
The all-start cast included Michael Beirut, who was hilarious, as was Erik Spiekermann, [both of whom I fell a little bit in love with]; David Carson and Stefan Sagmeister, who were just ace in the anti-helvetica corner; and modernist kings Wim Crouwel and Massimo Vignelli. The greater proportion of Helveticans (I made that up, can you tell?) seemed to be Europeans (including the English), but perhaps that’s just my bias.
Some drunk dude shouted out in the middle of the movie: “what a boring fucking movie!”. The poor sod must have come on the wrong night to see the Breakfast Club, but seeing as the session was sold out and there were drunken designgeeks trying to scam their way in, I think it was a great program choice by the Rooftop team.
michaelangelo was famously quoted as talking about his sculptural process in terms of "getting rid of everything that isn't the sculpture". as i hit my first panic phase with this next show, a very lovely lady reminded me tonight of mr buonarotti's quote.
in terms of installation and conceptual work, this is kind of an interesting idea.
i'm spending a lot of time 'sourcing' elements for the work at the moment. in fact i feel more like a set props buyer from a film than any kind of artist, but that's the way life goes sometimes. but i guess, rather than seeing it as a sourcing process, it's interesting for me to look at it in terms of discovering what is not the installation and the process becomes something pro-active towards an anti-matter.
each time i get a knockback, or a postage problem, or a timing issue, specification glitch, financial hiccup, it's actually a positive element of the process: a not-sculptural piece of the puzzle. and, as i get less and less obstacles, less and less not-pieces, i slowly arrive at the final installation.
for some reason, this changes my perspective of the creative process and makes the idea of process less about less and more about more. or is it less about more and more about less. either way, the final content becomes less of an entitled product and more of a resulting product. i kind of like that idea.
to solve a riddle, guess what i got in the post last week. all wrapped up in a gorgeous yellow DHL box (not pictured) and minus the little pencil case (that's mine and just for skullduggery effect).
i got it from my favourite german creative, seb, otherwise known to me as oehmchen. and there's a story involved. which of course i have to tell you.
he is seb
firstly, seb and i got to know each other through the bloggersphere - i hassled him to write a post about culture jamming that he was thinking about because i was writing one and i wanted to see what he thought. i didn't even know him. he was very gracious and didn't tell me to fuck off.
then when i was living in london, i met him IRL (in real life) when he had the interview for the WKSide project in london. we got on like a house on fire, so when he got the gig and lived in london for 3 months, we hung out while i was still there. it wasn't actually for all that long, but you know sometimes that doesn't matter.
the cap (and bands)
when i was in hamburg (where seb lives), i was staying near the reeperbahn (kind of like the 'cross in sydney during the 80s) and i bought myself the obligatory st pauli cap.
and then i promptly lost the fucker on the train to venice. i lost a lot of stuff on that trip.
and now that seb's back home, he and meike tracked one down as promised ('cos they're not in all the tourist shops or anything) and sent it to me! and added those wrist bands - 'cos they know how much i love that kind of shit.
that's love innit...
regular readers will know how much i love a good mix tape. i love hearing from my friends through music - the lyrics, the tunes, the transition from one song to another, the vibe. and seb loves music as much as i do, so of course he made me a mix tape. filled with new goodness, plus old pavement (which i had lost). and not just any mix-tape, but one with a custom-made cover, featuring little references and lovely stuff.
i can't articulate how much i love this stuff. but it fills my heart with such joy and reminds me that while the world is smaller than it used to be, hamburg is still so far away. i just had to share it with you all.
eine dicke Schmatz für mein Schatz!
every day i walk down ridgeway place, past the old establishment - the melbourne club, and my current favourite building in the whole word:
i liked it... and then this turned up.
then i positively loved it.
yesterday morning, i walked past and there was a couple of a well-dressed chaps with clipboards outside it. so i asked them what the building was: consulate for monaco. of course!
so, my favourite building is now officially the consulate of monaco in melbourne. there you go.
UPDATE: I found a great post on richard's blog here and some more info here. i also stole this pick from richard's blog. i hope he doesn't mind too much - it's a much better view than the crap one from my phone:
ok, so christmas is done, both kinds of new years are done and dusted, the new job is not-so-new and full of fabulous deadlines, and the new house is still great, but officially old news - now that i've cleaned the toilet, burnt the bamboo steamer and had to clean up cat shit.
which must mean that it's time to start artwork again, make some serious headway on the abracadaver exhibition at allan's walk in may. funnily enough, that involves spending a helluva lot more of time on the computer: the old art of seduction, rather than production trick is in full swing.
i've been drawing plans for the fabricators of one of the major pieces; researching a source for another basic material (and it's looking like amazon may be the treasure trove - who would've thought!). not to mention the inevitable grant application that comes with needing more money.
this is a bit like the beginning of the third trimester of a pregancy really. the application process being a bit like the conception process - all fun, excitement and possibility. the honeymoon period after you get the go-ahead is like the first trimester: a bit nervy, but it's still too far ahead to stress about. between 3 and 6 months out from the exhibition, you do a few things to get stuff happening: research, a bit of promotional stuff, organising, making sure that you're on track - but mostly preparation work - mentally and logistically.
and now that it's under 3 months until the opening, it's on. deadlines happen, last-ditch efforts for more money, time, space, ideas happen. there's a starkness about what's going to end up, it's way too late to abort and a mild panic sets in (even if you've 'given birth' a few times before) that your partner-in-crime is going to decide to just pack it all in. you end up just hoping that it will all work out OK.
yes, with this analogy, that means i've just compared the installation and opening night of an exhibition to childbirth, but am i really that far off?
kyoto splash, büro north
ok, so despite every intention of getting to dorkbot and pecha kucha in the last couple of months, i finally made it to an informal presentation night, a là pecha kucha and interesting! woo hoo!
and thanks to arkatekcha's tip-off, it was process at loop bar in meyer's place [between bourke and little collins] on monday night. unlike the speedy gonzales taste-test of the afformentioned socialinfo things, this one was just two designerish types who spoke for about 20 minutes each. that's it. with some time for beer and skittles in between.
if i'm brutally honest, soren luckins' piece was more informative, well-illustrated and clearer than martin bird's, but i enjoyed being challenged by his boundary-pushing and found them both utterly engaging talks to listen to. especially because the focus for the evening was multidisciplinary practice, which floats my boat to no end.
it's all about coming up with a creative solution, specific to a client, no matter the media. and in terms of a studio practice, it's a focus on collaboration and sharing of expertise. which, as an artist, i'm always excited by (although i hear that architects aren't always so..)
like at interesting, i scribbled away at my notebook. and in it i found a couple of points which i kept jumping out at me:
• the tree form (including beanstalk) kept appearing in büro north's stuff and i found that incredibly interesting. when asked, soren was pleased to hear it, but it wasn't intentional. i'll be interested to see if that comes up in the next creative meeting.. ha!
• "rework scale to create imaginary spaces" - martin bird, from studio bird.
• it's more about seduction than production. the reality of spacial design practice seems to be more about the art of seduction than anything else (at least up until a certain point in your growth) with those early years spent mostly developing a way to chat up a client into realising a project. all using sumptuous textures, beautiful rendering, clear planning and a shit-hot presentation.
all that thoughtful goodness, coupled with rob's hassling me, has inspired me to get drawing and doing stuff again (not to mention the looming deadline of a may exhibition). more on that later.
january is gallery wasteland time: everyone's on holidays, there is hardly any stuff to see. the artlife sensibly took some time off over the summer break; but no, here at she sees red, i blather on about fridge magnets, books, cartoons and mix tapes.
and i didn't really go and see that many galleries.
ok, so some of them were closed. but mostly i was being lazy starting a new job and moving house. slack bastard that i am.
however, here are a few little tidbits of stuff that i have seen since the end of last year and i promise that i'll be back on board next week :)
australian galleries: works on paper
summer stock show.
I’m yet to see an absolutely outstanding show at this gallery. that’s not to say that they’re not capable of it, i just haven’t seen anything yet. and don’t worry, i haven’t given up hope (just in case anyone from the gallery happens to read this shite).
the summer “all-star cast” type show is a good way to get a bit of a taste-test of what the artists represented by the gallery are doing. Some highlights of the current show include theworks on chairs, kitchens, domestication by katherine hattam; the beautifully strong and analytical, yet fabulously loose watercolour works by graham fransella and the almost-sculptural cut-outs of tree drawings by rosalind atkins.
my personal low-light was seeing a work by GW Bot which so closely represented a work by old-school italian artist alighiero boett, whose work featured in the UBS Drawings series at the Tate Modern, that I was shocked. i hate it when that happens. especially because GW Bot is a great printmaking/draftswoman, as seen in her work, glyphs [a graphite drawing on Colombe paper, which resembles the texture of a sanitary pad – awesome!], that now it's all a bit mucky. i know that nothing is original, but when something is so close it hurts, well, it hurts.
rob bartolo, graduates 2007 group show, natasha carrington
i popped in to this opening with a friend, quite looking forward to seeing rob bartolo's work - he's a friend of a friend and i had quite liked what i had seen of his previous paintings: a little ed hopper feel, a little geoffrey crewdson light. so when i walked in to see a ring of fire. well, a ring of lightbulb barbed-wire bird cages, looking a little felix gonzales-torres, i was shocked and a little bereft. thankfully, the cages were a solid work: they were well-made thoughts about choice and incarceration, as well as throwing a beautiful shadow on the gallery wall, giving the space a sense of being within a cage itself. noice.
the other works were all a little, well, same-old-same-old. you know: the mashup of medium to look as unpretentiously un-put-together as you can possibly muster, while still appearing that they're work. that seems to still be a 'thing'. the main work i liked was quiver by jacob weiss: video work of breast implants jiggling. very simple, nicely shot and a slight barb at the silicone set. perhaps a bit of insight into what is now accepted as 'breasts' in contemporary visual culture and the difference between a pair of breasts in an artwork now, compared to, say, the impressionists. 21st century olympia?
carlton hotel & studios
i was kind of looking forward to this opening. it wasn't far from work and it was a lovely melbourne summer evening.
and so of course, the place was fucking packed, hot and full of kool things (which i am most definitely not), all of which reduces my patience and capacity to enjoy a show.
i did, however manage to pop into 3 of the rooms and although i'm hoping to go back and check out the rest of them.
glen walls is doing some really interesting stuff. and when i say interesting, it's something that i can smile at, something that comments on deeper/wider issues than the latest vice magazine, and well made. the works in broke are a distortion of the disco ball and of sport culture. there is a fantastic soccerball skull - a la ricky swallow/damien hurst; a great skate deck: less is a bore, consume more and his disco modernist building on wheels. i love his site and you should check it. even if it's just for the great typeface he uses.
i really wanted to see this show on friday, so after work i raced down flinders lane and up the lift of the nicholas building. only to stand facing a shut door. that's what happens when you don't check the art almanac and assume that the gallery is open until 6. i'll pop in later in the week.
i did, however, get to see the great little toaster kinetic work centre for electrical philosophy (above).
fuck your heros: michael ciavarell, ross coulter, deven marriner
landscape; a space to think, aimee fairman
the room that was (mnemonia), cameron bishop
on the way back from the market on saturday afternoon, i popped into west space to check out their first show for the year and i wasn't disappointed. well, i was, but only a little. more on that in a bit.
fuck your heroes is an hilarious look at iconography in the modern age, especially male iconography. focusing on nu-masculinity seems to be a running theme with quite a few aussie artists at the moment, and these boys have done it with a healthy dose of humour. my favourite being the video image of the artist standing naked in the CBD, as though a monument, with carrot stuck up his arse... literally. brilliant.
and then those wooden sculptural knuckledusters were an object of such beauty, i would love to own them. tough stuff.
i love it when artists totally take over a space and cameron bishop did this to an amazing level: you walk into the gallery [gallery 3], shut the door behind you [it's probably not the nicest if you're claustrophobic, but it's not too bad] and follow a mini-corridor, up a couple of lovely carpeted stairs, sit down on the chair (which trips the lights off) and you watch a movie through a peephole in the wall. the whole action of it was fantastic. i hate being 'controlled' by a piece, but this one led me by the hand in a way that i was utterly obliging. the only thing that was slightly disappointing was the video work was a little, well, slightly anti-climactic. which is possibly the whole premise of it, but given that most people don't have the patience to watch an especially long video piece [well, i don't anyway], the fact that i could easily have sat and watched a whole lot more than 15 seconds of loop seems a missed opportunity. but it's a forgivable missed opportunity, so go and check out the work anyway.
and the work that was in gallery 2, by aimee fairman was visually fantastic - in many senses of the word. crates, housing peep-show dioramas of dark forests, swirling in [dry ice] mist, they were beautiful to look at. the only kind of disappointing thing was that the crates were jacked up on scissor lifters, to give this whole bare-bones factory/process appearance, which was completely unnecessary and a bit naff. hany armanious does great work with that 'show your workings look'. this stuff was engaging and stunning enough as it was without having to justify with a particular visual code that seems to be 'acceptable' to a particular set.
all in all, though, it was a fabulous show and the reason that west space is king in this town, and i can see why i didn't get a show there - my idea was shit, compared to these :)
and for those 3 regular readers, who are feeling the distinct lack of capitals in this post; i've been really good lately, making sure that use them. but i've decided to go back to my more comfortable lowercase ways for a bit. sorry, but you'll have to deal with it