I usually ignore these kinds of emails when they flick through from my less-cynical friends, but this one made me smile. A bit like rob's post about his cat, rosie, i just needed to have one of those 'awww' moments.
So, in the spirit of halloween, here's some funny shit that kids say about love...
'When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love.'
'When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.'
'Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.'
'Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.'
'Love is what makes you smile when you're tired.'
'Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.'
[although if my child's daddy makes me coffee, there won't be enough coffee to sip, but he'll know if it's good from the smell..]
'Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more.
My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss'
'Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.'
'Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.' ha!
'Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.'
'My mommy loves me more than anybody - You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.'
'Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.'
'Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.' (ha!)
'Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.'
'I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.'
'When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.' (what an image)
'Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross.'
'You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.'
And... A four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said,
'Nothing, I just helped him cry'
UPDATE: and here's one of those 70's 'love is' illustrations to go with it. thanks stan
I usually ignore these kinds of emails when they flick through from my less-cynical friends, but this one made me smile. A bit like rob's post about his cat, rosie, i just needed to have one of those 'awww' moments.
this was one of the headlines in last month's YEN magazine. being a bit of a conceptual art wanna be, i got all excited that the term was making an appearance again in more 'mainstream' media - well, yen's not exactly exclusive art/wank territory.
however the article, written by their new york editor, was such a pile of fucking shite that it put me in a bad mood. fortunately, or unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a copy online to link to but i'm still looking...
the premise for the article was to discuss art that pushes the boundaries of what audiences (and the mainstream media) can handle - citing two works which people were 'up in arms' about, both of which turned out to be unsubstantiated claims. the first, a work by a student at [some American University], in which she proposed to have artificially inseminated herself on a monthly basis, aborted/miscarried 9 foetuses, preserved them in flatwrap plastic bags, which were going to be displayed hanging from the ceiling. oh so damien hirst, but human foetus instead of dead lifestock and school gallery, not white cube.
the second absolutely shocking contemporary work she sited was the starving dog works, in which an emaciated dog was tied up in the gallery, with the words [something] spelled in dog biscuits on the wall. no gallery visitor chose to feed and/or try to release the dog, but made sure they complained to Animals America, especially after the dog 'disappeared' - apparently dying from malnutrition. They caused a big publicity hoo hah about it and then found out that the dog had actually been fed each day of the show, and taken back to its home.
for good measure, our trusty art journalist cited the animal rights 'sensation' caused by both Maurizio Cattelan Novecento - the 'hanging horse', and Mike Parr's video of a chicken being decapitated recently seen in the Sydney Biennale - her source, no doubt the same one i found through google - the trusty SMH, where the above pic is snaffled from, wrongly attributed to Attila Csorgo. And both works which have been in the public domain for, ooh, 10 years. Shocking.
and in terms of 'going too far', why didn't our indignant editor get up in arms about the intense and quite violent videos of Parr's, in which he stitches his own face up with thread and piercing needles? or his work in which he is dressed in the suit of guantanemo bay detainees and is willingly electrocuted by the audience? isn't that controversial? what about his pain and suffering? and the discomfort of the willing viewer? surely
April O'Neill our reporter needs to stand up for the rights of the viewer! it's an outrage I tell you....
having made wild, eratic, finger-point gestures at some of the worlds most established artists, of course, our lovely editor mentions the whole debacle with Bill Henson (who isn't a conceptual artist at all - he's a fucking photographer) as some kind of evidence of conceptual art taking such extreme liberties with the innocence of
unsuspecting gallery goers and paparazzi alike the public. will somebody please think of the children??
shocking. all of it.
and i don't mean the work cited. in fact, all the works that our investigative journalist-cum-fashionista used as proof that conceptual art is evil, were all works that were developed into a controversy by the media.
wow. who would have thought.
the foetus/dog works' complaints were false, the horse/chicken works are just proof that australia is 10 years behind the rest of the world - given that both works were made 10 years ago and for the most part, the controversy has passed. And the Henson? Well, like i said, he's a fucking photographer, not a conceptual artist. and if you're going to talk about the role of pornography/sexuality in art, etc, etc, talk about it. But probably not in a fashion mag that has 14-year olds with their tits out in a vice mag pose..
*i realise that this is the second time i've taken someone else's published article to task on this blog of late, but you'll just have to deal with it. sorry.
As i mentioned, i popped over to christchurch to check out SCAPE, the public art biennale. i figured that i hadn't seen enough art festivals in the last 2 years and needed to see more.. phew!
Actually, the real reason i did it was because i had a bad case of the travel bug and needed a hit of hostel-dorm-room-smell and sound-of-communal-dining again.
I’ve seen some great stuff over the last couple of days. More today, when the sun was shining and things were open (like the gallery) and i had a bit more of a sense of the city (as well as a very capable guide).
Highlights were easily Endeavour – the work by Japanese/German artist Tatsu Oozu, interacting with the James Cook statue in the civic centre park - it was fun and poignant and engaging and meaningful, all at the same time. Other pretty cool works included the silver bikes - although i think they should have been part of the festival, not artworks. Callum Morton's meteor Monument #19-Sexy Beast was pretty cool, although it would have been better at night and not so fucking far to walk (i know, whinge, whinge)!
The evening light works on the Avon by Aaron & Hannah Beehre were a bit ho-hum (sorry mirabel)- nothing i haven't seen as permanent urban design before and the REAL PEOPLE neon by Carmela Gross, above the Bus Exchange overpass was a bit ho-hum at first sight, but on the bus at night coming down the street was pretty cool, actually.
The Demo Kits by Nasan Tur for sale in the qwik-e-mart (or whatever they're called) were great, although i felt entirely intimidated by the staff constantly asking me if i wanted to buy one, the literature available at the gallery was superb and although i didn't see any of the Ayşe Erkmen shopping bags around, but the idea is pretty sweet. And, on commercialism, the Maider López billboard/signage works were pretty cool (a photo/performance/action hiding all the signage in the main square).
Plus, of course, [AVL] Joep Van Lieshout's Giant Sperm was great fun - a giant, purple sculpture-cum-studio-bedroom-pod-thing in the middle of Cathedral Square... with all the kids playing on it... tee hee. In fact, the best part of the exhibition was wandering around with Grant, checking out the works. That was the most public thing about it.
But for two year’s worth of work, the whole thing could have had a bit more presence. During the day was fine, whilst the gallery was open and you could see it kind of radiating from there, but after 4pm, it’s a bit, well, unknown.
In fact, it was a bit crushing that I seemed to be the only one who knew that SCAPE was about – even the hostel staff, 25 metres from the Lopez billboard work, had no idea what i was talking about.
Given the interesting spaces in Christchurch – carparks lit with the most beautiful ambient lighting, spectacular destruction/construction sites – and an apparent street art scene (not huge, but there was stuff), there could have been a lot more around. Performance, graffiti, small interventions and the appearance of people engaging with the work on a much larger scale - 50 works, not 28.
I know that it’s a big much to expect the same level of finances/resources of much bigger and more evolved euro/asia cities, but even This Is Not Art kind of takes over that little town when it’s around. Actually, SCAPE could do with checking out Ars Electronica next year and see how they do it – they have a great mix of everything in the public (and private) domain and can make a small town like Linz really come alive with intrigue, delight and public engagement.
Christchurch, however is a super-cool city. I’d love to come back here in a couple of years and see it ‘overrun’ by engaging and delightful works. With more of those SCAPE bikes (which were an artowork) so you can ride around and check out the works and at least feel like you’re part of an event of sorts.
Oh, and for anyone organising a cultural event in the next little while, how’s about you try a twitter-type mobile stream so that you can find out who’s in town, where people are, what some of the interesting things are that are happening, in real time.. you know, try and connect people.
yes that's right - i'm popping over to christchurch on Sunday morning for 2 days to check out the SCAPE public art biennale. it was an impulse decision, after feeling a bit, well, un-travelled, but i'm glad i'm going. i'll get to see a few cool bits and pieces, check out how the other half live and see what the south is. is up to.
if any one who reads this (all 4 of you) happens to be in christchurch and can suggest any hot spots - namely a good coffee and a place to go on a sunday/monday, feel free get in touch, would love to catch up with some kiwi artist-types.
i'll update you all on my return.
and i've also got a probably-get-sued-for-libel-i'm-so-cross rant planned about bad art journalism in shit fashion mags. glee!
Art in the public realm has gone through a series of concentric cycles over the last 50 years, with changing relationships to the object, commodity and the ‘spectacle’. Artists have had waxing and waning relationships with the politic of working in the public realm and this brief discussion primarily focuses on artists whose works is grounded in the political and experiential act of occupying it.
The practice involves the occupying public space and consciousness is invariably influenced by both situationism and phenomenology. The situationist rejections of spectacle and object-based commodification of art brings an influence of action and process, while the use of ‘artist as body’ and ‘body as harbinger of spiritual, spatial and political power’ has its root in the theories of Merleau-Ponty and phenomenology.
The definition of ‘occupation’.
The definition of ‘occupation’ referred to here is largely focused on the derivative of the verb, to occupy1 , based on taking up space, settlement, presence and with slightly tactical, or event military overtones 2 - as opposed that related to labour, although obviously the entendre is not entirely unwelcome.
Similarly, this analysis of artist establishing occupation in a public place is also distinct from performance, focusing on the artists’ presence or evidence of presence in the space as a key element to the work: “working in a public, rather than in front of a public”3 , dropping in on daily life, rather than a prescribed or prepared action 4.
This kind of action and concept has its beginnings in conceptual art from the 1960-70s and, it is helpful to track the range of artists ‘occupying space’ since then, through the 1980-90s object-based movements, to contemporary artists, and to place its use and popularity within the aesthetic and public/political contexts over time.
Early occupations, actions, performances and conceptual practice
Art practice where artists’ presence is the work is firmly routed in the beginning of conceptual art in the 1960s, whereby process and action are impressed as vital artistic requirements. Obviously the gallery works and happenings of the fluxus movement at the time are influential on the development of ‘occupations’; however, there is a distinctly different purpose, method and outcome when occupying the public realm. It is in this instance that the relationship with political occupations and strategic warfare begins.
UK artist Richard Long’s A Line Made By Walking, England from 1967 is a major work utilising the public/accessible environment and rooted in concept of process and action. He repeatedly walked a path across a field, tracking his movement and his presence in the space, ‘drawing’ with his walk. This work set up the importance of the artists role as an occupier of space, within which artistic work is conducted, and also looked at the political effects of the work – enabling the work to be created by ‘anyone’ thereafter and encouraging experiential and spatial action as a way to effect ones environment. These considerations, based in the politic, have since influenced a range of artists in varying degrees, across a range of concepts.
Work like Long’s helped shape the tide of conceptual works created at the time, and with most artists were challenging the role of the institution, the gallery and the keepers of art. Joseph Beuys’ theory about the political nature of art, whereby each person is an artist, therefore all action is artistic continued to provoke the public and political actions of artists.
Similarly, Bruce Nauman and his coffee/studio works focused on this process of presence, action and occupation. Whilst initially in the private space of his studio, Nauman often referred to the political or public application and theory behind these conceptual works, which went on to influence his later Art & Language works.
Collaborative team ASCO, working in East LA and raising the awareness of the ‘Chicano’ community, operated specifically in this conceptual realm – working only in public and creating works that sought to reclaim public parts of LA. Their motives were simultaneously aesthetic and political, rooted firmly in the poor conditions and discrimination of displaced Latin American and Mexican people of East LA.
Working during the times of the East LA riots, the ASCO group would commandeer traffic islands, declaring them for art5 , or blocking off the centre lanes of bridge for two hours with a performance and only a series of spray cans left behind as a ‘mark’6. Unlike the gallery-based installations from the time, these ‘actions’ and pieces were scarcely documented, reflecting the intention of creating an experiential work in order to change the perspective of the viewer, rather than an image for posterity or commodity.
These artists were forerunners for a lot of the occupying, active work to come. However, their greater influence and place in public aesthetic would have to wait a generation.
In the face of objectivism and the spectacle
During the 1980-1990s, the primary context for art in the public place was postmodernism and the general feeling of big is better. The Americans - Andy Warhol, Julian Schnabel, Keith Harring, Jeff Koons and Claes Oldenberg’s influence on art – both private and that in the public sphere was exciting and challenged other preconceived notions about art and celebrity. But it left little room for non-objective, action-based work of a grass-roots, political or public nature to really take hold. In fact, in her survey of art in the 1980s, Alison Pearlman refers to “neo-expressionism as a rejection of conceptual art."
Interestingly, while the cult-of-personality was taking the western art world by storm, smaller occupation works were being lead by artists from emerging political environments: after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Eastern Block at the end of the 1908s, a group of Russians and East Germans, Collective Actions began creating works in Germany and Russia: their Field, which saw a field of artists, drawing with red thread served to highlight the new open spaces, reflect on the role of labour (note the third definition of occupation) and to, in a way, create works of beauty for the sake of it.
In Europe and the UK, aspects of artists 'occupations' began to emerge from the body/gender-based performance work and the feminist art movement: Cosy Fanni Tutti's Prostitution performance at the ICA, in which they inhabited the gallery. The political furore about the public nature of the funding and institutional support certainly brought those works into the realm of the public. Whilst that work didn’t present the other hallmarks of occupation – its strategic/warfare-like action - Katherine Hammnet's guerrilla fashion works certainly did. Her oversized 58%-Don't-want Pershing-wear whilst meeting prime minister Thatcher made front-page news and reflected the Punk/Vivienne Westwood-inspired design trend for clothing and fashion – the public personal façade - to be political, anti-establishment and certainly military in its influence.
During the boom of the YBA period of the 1990s, process, presence and occupation began to creep back into the discourse around art, even if the works being produced were still largely objective. The concept of ‘taking up space’ was a hallmark of many YBA artists and perhaps the reason for their sensation. Whilst still primarily for the purpose of commerce and private output (supported by media aristocrat Charles Saatchi), Emin’s Bed, and her collaboration with Sarah Lucas, Shop, Rachel Whiteread's concrete Untitled (House), Anya Gallacio's room-sized ice block (Intensities and Surfaces) and Martin Creed's crumpled paper/tiles/lights/doors in rooms and galleries all looked to occupy space, establish art as a force and a presence. Only Gillian Wearing's Dancing in Peckham really established art in a place amongst the people, in a ‘political’ setting. Yet this work marked a gradual return to artists occupying public space, as a political and aesthetic statement.
Renewed political statements and reclamations of territory
Perhaps as a result of global concerns about territory, a rise in general political engagement within the arts and a general return to more conceptual works, the last decade has seen a return to artists occupying public space, in various ways, as an artistic process and political discussion.
Global arts practice and the political context of operating in a global community has become a feature of contemporary practice, and as such, is reflected in the public and political nature of works by artists like Francis Alÿs and Santiago Sierra – both of whom have worked within Occupied Territories7. Alÿs’ Walk With a Paint Can through Jerusalem, reconfigures the concept of border/territory/geography as he walks the streets of Jerusalem, tracking his process with a dripping, painted line reminiscent of Richard Long’s Walk in a Field. Sierra’s work in Korea’s Demilitarized Zone [DMZ]8 similarly works with occupying borders, and in his 2005 work, transferred a set section of soil from each territory to the other, only witnessed by those part of the project.
In less politically charged environments, other artists working with the presence of people in public space for the purpose of playful, yet meaningful occupation of space include the Austrians Guerrilla Disco 9 and Cie Willi Dorner, who create public urban ‘sculptures’ from intimate piles and configurations of people, often spilling into the street, or wrapping around public infrastructure 10 . And of course the rise of the absurdist and subversive Flash Mob around the world reflects a common need for people to take up public space in an aesthetic, yet politically meaningful way, disrupting public mindlessness by a large-scale game of ‘Freeze’ in places like Grand Central station 11 .
Occupation of public institutional space, as continuation of works from the early conceptual artists like Yoko Ono and Beuys continues, mostly in the UK and its large public art funding. Ironically, works like Antony Gormley’s Fourth Plinth project 12, in which the ordinary person becomes the public monument, or even Martin Creed’s Turner Prize-winning Work No.85013 in which runners sprint through the hallowed halls of the Tate Britain Gallery are at once focusing on the importance of the politic/person within the public institution, and supporting the spectacle of production, not necessarily process artistic. However, the general acceptance of works like these indicate a change in acceptable public art practice.
Contemporary Australian occupations.
While the practice of aesthetic-political occupying space has largely been driven with European and UK artists, Australian arts practice has a growing number of artists utilising this process as a reclamation or political statement.
Mike Parr, as Australia’s foremost conceptual artist, traverses presence and politics, largely within a gallery setting, but increasingly within the public institution. And, whilst still mostly focused within the interiors of public institutions or facilities, works such as Ross Gibson's Conversations, seen in the Sydney Biennale, the RMIT UI research group’s recent Occupation at Craft Victoria, and even my own occupation of public toilets in shopping centres show a continuing trajectory of consideration of this area.
In Australia’s greater public realm, work that seeks to occupy space as a process is still largely ground in a combination of performance and relational aesthetic works, however Perth’s PVI Collective TTS bus, Zanny Begg’s politically-loaded Checkpoint ‘soldiers’ occupying the streets of Blacktown and Lucas Ihlein/Squatspace’s projects traversing of Sydney streets and suburbs in the name of ‘ownership’ are all works which have a common need for the presence of people to form and inform the public realm. The role of occupation of land within Australian cultural and political context has been an uncomfortable one, only recently discussed with a level of openness seen in other countries. With subversive indigenous occupation of land being largely based at the Tent Embassy in Canberra, the effect of changing perspectives on land, territory and ownership on contemporary public art practice is unknown, as yet, but will be an important one.
Most of the works and art practices mentioned above are largely temporary/transient works, with reference to Aristotelian peripatetic practice14. However, with associations to shifting politics and possibly the overkill of 'stuff' - the object has ceased to be political, just consumptive and part of the spectacle. And whilst aspects of performance are obviously part of the spectacle, the person - citizen, in action has the power to reclaim the political, civic and public space and it is this lean towards action, towards collectivism, to the true meaning of the politic which is gaining momentum, in collaboration with contemporary conceptual art.
1. Occupy. v. 3. Take control of (a place, esp. a country) by military conquest of settlement. Enter, take control of, and stay in (a building) illegally and often forcibly, esp. as a form of protest. Oxford American Dictionary.
2. Also refers to the “ethics of combat”, which relate to the tactical/strategic concept of space, common in warfare, or combat mindsets, but influenced in artistic ‘commandeering’ of public space. Ref:, The Emergence of Social Space: Rimbaud and the Paris Commune, Kristin Ross, within the essay Internal Exiles , C. Ondine Cavoya, in Space, Site and Intervention, edited by Erika Suderberg. Interestingly, Michel De Certeau also refers to ‘tactics’ of relating to the public realm/everyday life in his Practice of Everyday Life.
3. Credited to Vito Acconci, op.cit, Chavoya.
4. Willie Herron from ASCO, “.. we would just drop in on everything in its normal pattern”. Ref: op cit, Chavoya p193: Brown and Christ, Interview with Willie Herron, 1985
5. First Supper (after a Major Riot), 1974. Ref: op.cit, p195.
6. A performance known as Last Rites in the Left Lane, on the Fourth Street Bridge, in which members of a local Chicano gang discover plutonium in cans of spray paint and so begins a nuclear age of atomic gang warfare. Ref: op cit, p196.
7. “Occupied Territories” being nation states whose political and geographic boundaries are contested through “military conquest or settlement” – Oxford American Dictionary.
8. The patrolled, controlled and technical nation-free space, which signifies the border between the Republic of South Korea and North Korea.
9. A pirate radio event, which broadcasts a DJ set to the public through a series of free headphones – a simultaneous public and private space.
10. http://www.ciewdorner.at/; http://swissmiss.typepad.com/
12. Supported by both the National Gallery and the Mayor of London. And although Trafalgar Square is technically a public space, the Fourth Plinth is managed by these public institutions and, as such, has in itself become an art institution.
13. Supported by the Tate Gallery and Turner Foundation.
14. Referring to Aristotle’s practice of walking to and fro whilst teaching, in and of itself about discourse and occupying a space.
Conceptual Art, Tony Godffrey, 1998, Phaidon, London.
Practice of Everyday Life, Michel De Certeau, 1988, University of California Press, Berkeley.
Space, Site, Intervention, ed. Erika Suderburg, 2000, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.
next week i'm in a group show at craft victoria, called making sense.
here are the deets
thursday 30th oct - saturday 29th nov, 2008
opening night: thursday 6-8pm
lauren brown (that's me),
ed janssen and
at craft victoria
31 flinders lane, melbourne
here's the premise
Making Sense explores the intersection between craft process and the everyday, featuring the work of artists who use hand facture to re-cast, re-scale or replicate benign objects and spaces. Why is the everyday thing, whether object, environment or articulated space, a point of departure for contemporary craft practice? Why is the concept and gesture of the 'handmade' increasingly important across a number of artistic disciplines and how is it being used to critique the nuances of everyday life?
and here's a little bit about he work i'm doing for it.
cities can be walked or cycled through as a way to experience them on a personal level. but how do we have a humanist-psychological experience about the places we're in? one of the ways which we can measure space and know it in this way is through touch - through a more craft-based, hands-on approach. once you have traversed a corner, or the north-east wall with your hands, in some way, you know the space intimately and can come to terms with it. you see it as it really is, blemishes, scuffs, bits of plaster coming off where the blu-tack holding up that poster was. this space is personal. and your place within it can be determined through your place within it - not through more stuff, more objects, more resources, more waste, more money.
would love to see you there!
ok, so i have an essay to write. due on wednesday. and i'm quite interested in the topic - have found a few reasonably interesting examples, have yet to draw a conclusion, but i'm on my way. except for that all-important bit: motivation. holy crap, i haven't procrastinated this much in.. ooh...weeks!
anyway, so i've decided to subject you all to a cruel social experiment, and i'm going to plot out my essay on this blog here. as i said to a friend the other night - 2000 word essay? easy - only about 5 blog posts! yes, that's right kids - you get the plan, each paragraph, conclusion and the intro... heh. so, here goes.
THE ROLE OF PUBLIC 'OCCUPATION' IN ART
incl. definition of occupation (esp: difference from performance - namely gallery vs public context) and relationship to political occupation. aesthetically political/ethic of warfare/colonial history (esp. australia).
incl. relationship to situationism and phenomenology
incl. outline of chronology/trajectory -
1960s - 1970s
fluxus/richard long's walk:"if an artist traditionally draws with a pencil, ;
bruce nauman studio works
ASCO East LA/Chicano - 'aesthetics of strategic warfare'
beuys (as inspiration, - all art is political when every person is an artist)
in the face of objectivism
1980 - 1990s
hardly any. who's talkin' about sitting in a space in public, when there's multi-million dollar painterly and shiny things to sell. the cult of personality and celebrity. "neo-expressionism as rejection of conceptual art." - alison pearlman.
eastern europeans: collective actions (Monastrysky) - field of artists with red thread.
brazillians - sierra/miereles
western 'occupations' became body/gender-based performance in 1980s: cosy fanni tutti's prostitution, katherine hammnet's 58%-don't-want pershing-vs-thatcher-wear, hannah wilke, vito acconci, mike parr.
...and objective/architectural with YBA in 1990s: whiteread's concrete; gallacio's ice, creed's crumpled paper/tiles/lights/doors; gillian wearing's dancing in peckham a gradual return, although based in photomedia/performance, than 'occupation'
renewed political statements/reclamations of territory
Santiago Sierra - DMZ transferrance of soil, only witnessed by those part of the project - occupied territory;
Francis Alys - Walk with paint can in jerusalem - occupied territory;
Gormley - Fourth Plinth (occupied territory?)
Guerilla Disco - austrian (through fun/music not manifesto)
people in urban environments: slinkachu and cie willi dorner
flash mob (still on the performative side, but using the concept of just dropping in - not prescribed).
Creed's Works No. 850/570 - movement and occupation/public institutions
Ross Gibson's Conversations,
UI - Occupations (interior, but based in public institution),
me - in a toilet somewhere.
PVI collective - on the edge of performance
Tony Schwensen's BBQ - same. but still tied in political/occupation of space.
Tent City, Canberra.
zanny begg - soldiers (cardboard people)
online: lucazoid (lucas ihlein) the 'sham
Largely temporary/transient works. Links to Aristotlean peripatetic practice. Links to shifting politics and possibly the overkill of 'stuff' - the object ceases to be political, just consumptive and part of the spectacle. performane is also part of the spectacle. but the person in action reclaims the political, civic and public space.
[actually, if i was going to attempt to make this interesting, i might have made it into a slideshare thing. but i can't be fucked. instead, go and check out marcus' guides to global finance and global financial catastrophe instead - it's much better. next time i have an essay due, i'm going to commission him to do my outline slides.]
mr gower, my urban-art-lovin'-partner-in-crime, sent me this article by wooster's marc schiller. i replied to him with a huge rant about it and then realised that i should probably post my rant here, not in his ear.
So, go on, read the article, 'cos i'm going to rant about it and it won't make sense otherwise.
Firstly, this kind of dynamic has happened with art since the renaissance – it's called a 'movement' - you have the superstars who get all the commissions and then the sub-standards who get a lot of the backwash by people who either can't afford the real deal, or who are hoping that they'll become big name and they can cash in on it. Greed has been a feature of art for that long... Hmmm.
The other thing that pisses me off about this kind of discussion is the adherence to 'unique is good/copy is bad'... I thought we'd been through post-modernism. I thought we already established that there is nothing original – ads are ripping off artists all the time and making a packet from it, what's wrong with artists doing the same? Not that I condone mindless money-whoring, but if there is nothing original and there are a group of people doing the same thing, together – stop pitching each other against one another. If you're all not as good as one another, change that – collaborations, collectives, politicise, etc.
And although Schiller seems to be cynical of Steve Lazarides' (of Lazarides' Gallery) business practices (perhaps rightly so, i don't really know), he does thankfully acknowledge that he a) sells a lot and b) pitches the market at the market ie: holds events in warehouses, run-down spaces, uses blogs and online media, as opposed to the trad ad contexts for contemporary (and pricey) art: art forum, frieze, galleries in piccadilly and chelsea.
As someone who has had an interest in street-based work for a long time, the shark-like market of this 'scene' disturbs me. But it's the same thing that disturbs me about other visual art forms (like the nouveau-naive) and the music industry and other commodified creative industries. The problem, i believe, isn't street art, or even just gallerist like Lazarides, it's the whole fucking thing. Greed is part of human nature and digs its dirty little fingers in the most vulnerable of places.
UPDATE: if you've come here from businessweek looking for a blog that talks about "Street painting art business discusses how street painting is being applied by companies to present their messages with a traditional 16th century art form in a 21st century environment. Perfect for public relations, marketing, and advertising campaigns, many companies have used street painting in product launches..." ... you've got the wrong sinatra. go home parasite.
i can't stand bono. i think he's a nauseating, self-seeking, aggrandizing superstar with a distorted sense of his own importance.
i can't stand the charity [RED]. it perpetuates the need for consumption, under the guise of helping others, rather than seeking to change behaviours. i know that you can't change self-centered people and this is utilising the fact that people are selfish, and turning it into money for people who need it, but i still don't like it. it leaves an awful taste in my mouth.
having said that, i'm finding myself siding with bono and his grandstanding do-gooders, in relation to this amazing financial vortex that is encompassing the western world at the moment.
how is it, that 8 years ago, when bono asked the american government, and other G8 governments (those same G-peeps who are putting together a bail-out plan as we speak) to contribute $20 billion dollars to wipe third-world debt and make a huge chunk in the weight of world hunger, that it was impossible. that 'economics just doesn't work that way', that it would not help them help themselves, that that kind of money wasn't available to just 'give away', etc, etc, etc.
yet in the last fortnight, we've seen $700 billion dollars being given to private banks, the responsibility of the most-privileged and affecting the least-privileged, in order to 'save' them and the economies of the countries whose econoomies they support. surely this isn't how economics works? surely that kind of money isn't available to just 'give away', surely it doesn't hold them accountable and help them to help themselves?
you know what i really hope? that the US becomes a banana republic and that the rand and the zimbabwean dollar become the strongest in world currency, giving those in abject poverty access to decent food, shelter and medication as they deserve.
As long as Im walking,
I will not repeat
I will not remember
Francis Alÿs, from The Walker
[thanks to eddy for sending it to me, not once, but twice AND posting it on her blog - just in case]
Here's my list from my occupation at Knox.
When i'm in the toilet i will not:
Think about buying stuff
Worry about money
Worry about whether I’ve bought something I shouldn’t have
Wonder if my husband/mother/friend/child will like what I’ve bought
Feel bad about myself because the jeans I wanted to buy were too small, even though they were a size 12
Support sweatshops and slave labour by getting those Nikes.
Drive around for 30 minutes trying to get a park nearest the door, then forget where I parked my car.
Shoot up smack. I’m not a heroin addict.
Smoke. I gave up smoking years ago.
See sunshine for a couple of hours.
Make myself comfortable
Have some time to myself
Interestingly, i'm writing about the role of occupation in public art/art in the public space and it seems that in any kind of occupation, what's not being done is just as important as what is being done - that the negative space of action (inaction) supports and equally defines the positive. Who would have thought that such formalist ideals as postive/negative space and form could translate so beautifully to post-modern manifestos about process.
oh, and take this as a warning - there'll probably be a post about occupation soon. tune out either tomorrow or wednesday if you can't be arsed reading more art/political rhetoric.
i know.. it's so 2007 to write a blog post about the nature of blogging, but i promise i'll be quick. i recently listened to the most excellent interview with the lovely marcus and faris (both well-spoken and slightly mad brit expats) about all kinds of things, including the vortex of the US/global economic 'downturn' and the changing 'volume' of blogging.
marcus and faris both agreed that all the hoo-har about blogging has died down quite a bit. and the general chit-chat, back'n'forth - conversation - has died down a bit. [so much for the Age of Conversation]. there's theory that RSS feeds may have killed a bit of that comment action - to which i'd probably agree - given that i now read from about 30 feeds every day or two, extending to 100 on a weekly basis, leaving not much time for banter.
however, i've noticed that there are still a small number that i continue to check manually, still comment regularly on and consider a huge influence on my day.
last year, a couple of memes went around and we all had to pick our top 5 blogs ever. what i'm finding fascinating is that 18 months later, after the hundreds of most excellent blogs that i have discovered and discarded, my top 5 remains largely unchanged.
for a while there, marcus wasn't blogging, so NP stole his spot, then colman wasn't blogging and seb stole his spot, now seb is hardly blogging and colman is back, so it's all back to, pretty much back to square 1:
plus seb, northern planner, dan hill, stan and swiss miss making up the top 10 of must-reads
this isn't to say that i don't have a slew of other awesome blogs that i read, or that i'm not constantly finding new stuff, but i've just realised that consistency matters. those 5 are the ones where i usually have something (lame) to say, where i make sure i check in and the volume is high. the others i keep an eye and get excited when there's new content, but the volume just isn't as high - either they're quieter or i don't have anything to say really. and i find it infinitely interesting that, despite a few more artists blogging more regularly, it's still the ad/comms/design blogs that i engage with. opinionated bunch maybe?
many have mentioned that blogging has merely returned to the influence of friendship and not into some greater über democracy that was being predicted. not sure whether that's the case, but i'll be interested to see who my top 5 are in another 18 months. i have a sneaky suspicion it will be much the same...
ok, so today one of the weirdest and coolest things ever happened to me.
as you know, my bike got nicked last week. i was a devastated and changed person and faced the idea of looking for a replacement with dread and a touch of adolescent sulk.
well, tonight, on my way back from the pool (yes, that's right kids, carlton baths are open again. lauren has a season pass and she's not afraid to use it), i stopped off in rathdowne village to get catfood and toy with the idea of getting a nocciola gelato, when i spied a bike that looked like mine, tied to a bike rack. i looked again, and it was the same make, it had crappy handle covers, chewing gum on the brake casing and two types of locks.
yes, kids, it was my bike!!
i asked the people dining al fresco if it was their bike, no one owned it. i could have stuck around to see who put it there, but i had a sneaky suspicion that i wasn't going to find them - they'd tied the bike up with my lock and left it. for me to find.
while i have my cynical moments, i still genuinely believe in the goodness of human beings and this whole thing reiterated it to me. i can imagine our little pissed thief woke up with a rogue bike in his yard, wondered where the fuck he nicked it from, couldn't remember and decided to return it to the main street closest to where he imagined nicking it from*. i think this is what is called comeuppence. i'm sure that our petite thief is carrying around enough guilt, which i hope will be part of a lesson learned. and i'm sure that, once he sees the bike is gone, he'll feel a whole lot better. i might go back and leave a sticker note, just to let him know:
dear lovely bike thief,
you really upset me by nicking my bike,
but thank you for returning it as best you could.
i hope you get the help you need.
* i say 'he' because my flatmate's boyfriend remembered hearing some dudes hangin' outside the house hella early in the morning, thinking nothing of it, until my bike disappeared.
Posted by lauren at 10:00
dear ms smith,
i know that you probably don't have expectations when you walk into a room - it seems that you take each moment on face value, but i wouldn't be surprised if you left the post-doco Q&A wondering what godforsaken country den you had walked into. and i would like to apologise for us.
i'm sure in every Q&A session, there's someone gushing, quivering 'oh, i'm your greatest fan, thank you so much!', but i want to apologise for our lack of stoicism.
i'm sure you've been asked much more offensive questions about your appearance and your gender, but i want to apologise for words like androgony, mess and 'interesting'. perhaps what we wanted to know was about the role of appearance in your art and music. you've managed to glide through all manner of 'fashions' and 'trends' by sidestepping them.
i'd like to apologise for our lack of ability to think before we speak, when we ask for song requests at an evening about a documentary made by an artist, with another artist. although i loved the live performance of blakean year.
i'm sure you've met many more self-serving directors, but i'd like to apologise for our waffling, aimless and self-seeking artistic director. she's done a great job on the festival so far, but we really should have had a better MC - one with a little more control over the audience and a little less control over her own mike.
and i'm sure you've been part of worse-organised festivals, but i want to apologise for someone not letting you know that in 2 days' time you'll be playing in front of about 800 people, for two nights in a row, in an amazing concert hall with fantastic accoustics.
i'm sure you won't be able to answer this question, but i also wanted to ask both you and steven something. a lot of artists are multi-disciplinary, but quite often they run one after the other, or there are gaps in between: you paint when you're not writing and you write when you're having a break from lugging a camera around, or you take photos when you're not editing. but what's it like to be on for all aspects of your creative practice while you're here: writer, poet, singer, painter, photographer and muse? can they exist simultaneously, or is space-between a pre-requisite of multi-disciplinary practice?
funny how a prank can become an interesting piece of social insight.
last night, out of a warped sense of humour and blatant cheekiness, i changed my facebook relationship status to married. it's pretty easy to get married on facebook - just a drop-down menu really. nothing to really take all that seriously. in fact, when friends who had been going out for ages went from 'being in a relationship' to 'x is now engaged to y', i doubted it and texted, just to make sure, even though it was the reflection of fact.
i kind of knew a few people would look at it and laugh, but i didn't expect anyone to take it seriously. in fact, i was genuinely surprised at the responses i got! thankfully a couple of friends went along with the gag - congratulating me on my marriage to doddsy - the guy with a great art guide to NYC and a complete lack of tact.
interestingly though, what surprised me the most, was the number of shocked reactions! some people i haven't heard from in a while, some reasonably close friends, some who've become strangers - but still, lots of reactions. like getting married still rates as a vital point in a radar for these (mostly) women (ahem, ben?). i have posted all kinds of weird and wonderful messages on facebook over the year that i've been part of the cool kids, but it weirds me out that the one that gets the most reaction is marriage.
it throws up a couple of questions, doesn't it? like what does that say about us as modern women? what does that say about me, as a person? what does that say about my friends? i'm not going to generalise really, but i will say that getting married is still, far and away, obviously a BFD - big fucking deal for people. even on facebook.
and then, what does it say about reality? and ceremony? and truth? is it enough to change your facebook status to signify marriage - will this be the new marriage rite? is this a sacred status that should only be changed with proof of a marriage certificate (seeing as people treat it as gospel). what does this say about belief? how much are we still willing to believe in what we read on the internet? these friends of mine are not stupid, i'll have you know...
can you imagine if magritte had a facebook profile? i'd be his friend, that's for sure.
as many of you regular readers will know (all 3 of you), i spend a lot of time on my bike - it's the way that i traverse the city - on wheels with music on in my headphones.. it is the one activity that brings me joy, regardless of what else is going on. even arsehole drivers don't phase me that much.
i always said that if my bike got stolen, i'd be devastated, so i always make sure it was chained up good and proper. and i kept the mudguards, the chain guard and the bell rusty so it would look like a pile of crap that no-one would want. little did i think that my dear lawrencia got stolen from my OWN HOUSE! it was on the front yard, with 2 other bikes, belonging to my flatmate and the cunts stole mine.
it's probably some drunk fuckbags who couldn't be arsed walking home (because the only value is sentimental - it was my best friend's mum's bike). and they probably woke up this morning and wondered what the fuck a bike is doing dumped on the lawn. which is even more crushing.. lazy fuckers.
it sounds dramatic, but today i felt like my legs have been cut off. i rode everywhere! even when i was accompanying friends on their long walks home, i was riding at walking pace. and my bike was like my pack-horse! i carried a roll of underlay and carpet from a dumpster mission home on that thing! boo hoo!
and while this is mostly just a whinge, it has proven to me my point about psychogeography (through movement) - that my environment, locale, place, space is actually different, based on my bike-riding. insofar as, in not riding, i have a completely different experience of life. sounds like a given, really, but i'm surprised at how palpable the change is.
wow. i'm kind of in shock that it has finally happened, really. it's been such a long time coming - NAVA were lobbying for close to 20 years for this and all that work has paid off! 5%..
ok, for those who have no idea what i'm talking about, australia has been severely lacking in a royalty-style on-sell scheme for artists. as a recording artist, if you sell your work, and somebody profits from the playing/on-selling of that work, you get a cut. if you're a literary artist, you get on-sell royalty when your work is reproduced for educational or commercial purposes.
up until now, if you're an artist and someone buys your work at your grad show, you make it big-ish, the work sells at auction later-on and your $250 work now sells for $25,000 (thanks to all the hard work you've put in by having a gazillion other shows and hauling your arse around the place), you don't see squat. ok, so in theory, you get a slight flow-on from increased prices, but the reality is that the conniving investor/dealer pockets the $24,750 profit. and then some.
now, after 20 years of lobbying and lobbying and lobbying - developing models based on the successful UK/European Droite du Suite system, and more lobbying, it seems that the government has finally had the sense to pass the legislation, despite all the fussing from the auction houses.
given that they make most of their money from this kind of on-selling, the auction-houses have been the biggest and loudest opponents to the system, as they suggest that it shouldn't be the poor collectors, with their thousands of dollars to spare, to forfeit the cost of a thriving arts industry. actually, we all know that this is just a smoke-screen for avoiding the kind of auditing which has already started to expose the dodgy dealings of some of the big guns like menzies. allegedly menzies would buy, sell, buy and sell works all by himself, upping the price each time and generating a huge market! [wow - that'll get the prices up... err... sure.]
anyway, thankfully all that ridiculousness has passed and we can now have a little extra fairness going around. And to be fair, it's not perfect and not going to suddenly transform artists' bank balances into bulging cofferes. in fact, as a generalisation there are really two types of artists it will benefit the most: indigenous and superstars. And you know what? I'm OK with that.
There is a shocking, shocking industry in this country of buying indigenous artworks for a pittance (if they bother using cash at all, instead of a tin of petrol or a slab of beer) by taking advantage of either their ignorance, their addiction or their remoteness, and selling the works for huge amounts. hopefully with a new code of conduct, the lecherous aspects of the indigenous art industry will be reduced. and this legislation will provide for those same artists and their communities to continue getting funds from their works. considering the size of the indigenous art industry here, this is not just a boon for artists, but for indigenous rights and conditions. now, hopefully the systems developed to outlay the law will stay true.
And of the superstars? Well, we all know that the Nolans, the Streetons, the Olsens and the Whiteleys (or their estates) already get stacks of money from the sale of artworks. And, to be honest, this will increase the stacks. However, what i expect to happen (expect, do you see that estate managers/families?) is that a tradition which has already begun will continue - using (dead or über rich) artists' extra money, to support younger, up and coming artists. The Whiteley estate and the Olsens already plug money back into the development of younger artists. The Henry Moore foundation, surely supported by the UK's resale royalty scheme, supports up and coming artists. This new legislation will enable the big superstars to use the money to support the future artists, who will in turn use their resale royalty coffers to support others, etc, etc, etc - a trickle-down economy.
Well, at least when i'm a rich and famous artist, earning brazillians from the resale of my early work, that's what i'll be doing :)
For more (professional) info about resale royalty for australian artists:
i know i promised to not keep going on about them, but of course, the more i'm researching, the more cool stuff i'm finding. and, it's their 10th birthday, so there's a lot of cool stuff happening..
here are a couple of things worth checkin':
back to the future
10 to the power of 100 [actually this last one helped me lift myself a little out of my the-world-is-so-crap-and-nobody's-ever-going-to-make-a-difference morbidity.]
over the last couple of weeks, i've had the fantastic opportunity to hang out for a few days at my parents' place. it's an amazing place, overlooking the victorian coastline and just oozes calm and rejuvenation. especially when my folks are away. heh. having recharged on some good, old-fashioned fresh air, cups of tea and a whole lot of doing nothing, the payback is a grating against the futility of contemporary urban life again. that old question WHY? has started hanging around again*.
*the artnews blog also mentioned it tonight, which i'm glad about, 'cos the last couple of days have been particularly murky.
on the way into town this morning, i noticed the enormity and quantity of truck-based freight zooming in and out of melbourne and felt the weight of modern consumerism sitting at my throat. yesterday i was enjoying a quiet coffee in my favourite cafe and noticed the overbearing amount of ignorant, oversized-car-driving, middle-aged, aspirational mothers kicking around the seaside town, when there are people starving for food on the other side of the planet. i've been feeling the futility of being a fucking conceptual installation artist working on projects about cities, imagination and mapping technology when there are so many people whose daily life is focused on important things like eating, earning enough to support a family and love.
"with great power comes great responsibility"
Spider Man - Stan Lee (Uncle Ben to Peter Parker)... although i thought it was a more politically motivated statement.
"And yes, I recognize the irony.
The system I oppose affords me the luxury
Of biting the hand that feeds.
That's exactly why privileged fucks like me
Should feel obliged to whine and kick and scream,
Until everyone has everything they need."
Resisting Tyrannical Government, Propagandhi.
these quotes have always been important to me, and never more than at times like this. not that i have a whole lot of power. and not that i'm especially privileged (i never had a horse growing up, that's for sure). but i'm from a white middle-class background in a pretty wealthy country, with a good education and the desire to make a difference.
and sometimes it's still not enough. sometimes the weight of 'there's so much shit to sort out' gets to me. i'm sure it will pass. i'm sure i will meet someone/read something/work on something that will right the balance of my world. but for a while, please bear with the grouchy old woman with the ideals.
Posted by lauren at 13:12