yesterday was the amazing SLAM (Save LIve Australian Music) rally in Melbourne.
there has been quite a bit of press and lots of pics about it already, but of course i need to put my 2c worth in. [which, with rounding is fuck-all really]. it has thrown up a wealth of things for me to think/write about, so bear with me.
photography: sarah barber
if you're new to the scene, or slow on the uptake, there's a bit of a background whinge here. basically, the state govt have been trying to curb violence in the CBD clubs through the liquor licensing system after a death outside a club one night by a guy who had drunk a whole bottle of wild turkey. which he had bought as a takeaway from the club. a shit event, but hardly the right brush to tar everyone with.
most venues that serve liquor, that have amplified music (ie clubs, pubs. and maybe shopping centres and airport lounges) are deemed 'high risk' and now require a higher licence fee, two security guards for any 'event' and the stigma of 'high risk'.
and, as mentioned yesterday, this is all fine and dandy for a decent number of venues in melbourne, it is crippling for those in the country towns, which only have one venue. and, as also mentioned yesterday, these are the places that employ a music industry: musicians, sound engineers, music technicians, events managers. these laws are crippling the distribution networks for these businesses.
now, when the supply chain for the banking industry went pear-shaped last year, the bankers used the media outlets to have their whinge. yesterday, musicians and music-lovers took to the streets and made it a very public affair, reflecting the very public nature of the issue.
thousands of us made our way from the state library, the site of knowledge, cultural heritage and civic research, to the steps of parliament: the site of democracy, public governance and civic responsibility. it was a fitting track and the way was packed with people and some shit-hot placards.
dell has some great pics, including my favourite one: psychedelic freaks vote too.
i wanted to make a placard saying 'how am i supposed to procreate if all the music venues close?' but i never got around to it.
and of course the best one was 'it's a long way from the top if you bury rock'n'roll'. naturally it's not just about rock'n'roll - one of the speakers told a great yarn about the fabulous reclamation night out with her greek friends, where they went to a greek taverna, then went on to dance to gypsy, australian folk and latin music - all on the one night. ace.
i also got thinking about the actual sounds of the protest. as we walked, you would hear the faint rumble of a cheer and you would cheer - it was the sonic version of a mexican wave at the cricket. a beautiful thing.
and then the crowd clapped. in time, to a harps player. what group of people can clap in time without live music? ever been to the football? heh.
and of course the way the air in melbourne changed with the different music styles. the crowd became equally gooey and restless when wilbur wilde and his jazz crew soothed us into the late afternoon.
it was amazing to hear sound in the city on such a grand scale with an experience usually reserved for a small scale. and to have music quieten a crowd that is usually loud and boisterous and chaotic. it was a special moment and i do wish that i had documented it in a more profound way.
10 days since my last post.
holy crap. 10 days?! where did the time go?
actually, i do know. i was ill for a few days and then last week was a bloody mammoth week. on monday i had to see a man about a dog (read: scumbag about a bike accident), tuesday i was part of yarra city's arts and cultural advisory process*, wednesday, masters gilbert and george were in the hizouse and i went to see them at the NGV, thursday there were 2 fab art openings that i had to attend - nauru elegies at blindside and then, where the bewdiful schappylle scragg reinacted carolee s schneemann's interior scroll work, friday night saw jenny holzer in town at capitol theatre and then i spent saturday afternoon/evening in the studio. holy moly.
i want to talk specifically about gilbert george, schapylle's performance and the jenny holzer talk. i've got lots to tell about what i've been working on in the studio, but that will have to wait.
george the cunt and gilbert the shit
gilbert and george were great. they really were - they always are. but if i'm honest, i left feeling slightly crestfallen.
virginia trioli really didn't know anything about her audience (who were mostly artists/arty types well-versed in the art of G&G), so she really just skated the surface. disappointment #1.
i'm ashamed to say that i felt more inspired, joyous, enlightened and challenged by the supremely excellent video interview by hans ulrich obrist, the lives of gilbert and george. he probed their processes, left room for quips, but kept plumbing the depts of their practice. virginia just tittered.
and the second major disappointment was as a result of that lack of rigour in the interview, when she asked about the germain greer incident. gilbert's answer about her being a grumpy old woman was seriously unsatisfactory, as was the response that their work displays the kind of sex most women like. i happen to love sex with boys, but even i was offended at that.
and rather than pushing a little and discussing gender/sexual politics, she flippantly mentioned that she also sleeps with girls and faded off. sorry - that left a bad taste in my mouth.
here's my fantasy version of it, which wouldn't have left me feeling that some of my favourite artists are actually misogynist and downright mean:
"germaine greer quote", etc: oh, look we do love germaine and her quaint ways, but she's barking up the wrong tree here. when we say 'we make art for all', we don't intend that to be a singular prescription based on gender. we can only ever make work from our experience - which happens to be a white, male, middle class, homosexual one. we'd like to smash the patriarchy with her, but we prefer to take naked pictures of them instead.
and speaking of cunts, it was super, super, super awesome to see schapylle scragg (aka mayhem) perform at the margaret lawrence gallery. i've been craving some art that is 'fucked up' and seeing her in all her scraggy bogan glory, replete with blonde curly murkin was a relief! her australian flag cunts are just fuckin' fantastic and i want one for my wall.
watching her re-enact carolee schneemann's interior scroll work (pictured above), filled with refereneces to beer slogans and terrible boganisms was glorious and painful at the same time. in fact, the highlight for me was watching a room of hipsters raise their glass in toast to a 'big cold beer' automatically, before they realised what they were doing with this blonde mole and by then it was too late. the performance finished and there was a palpable sense of shame and remorse at being complicit in the act. oh god it was awesome!
i don't have the schutzpah to get up and do what she does, but i'm bloody glad she does. you should all go and see the show, if you can. and buy a cunt. they're beautiful.
jenny holzer at the capitol theatre
ok, well, i did want to talk about the jenny holzer show, but i'm tired and need to go to bed.
suffice to say it was ace. image-heavy, but an enlightening travel through 40 years of text-based practice that weaves between renegade/permission, inside/outside exhibition. jenny rocks. she has so much integrity and grace - she is so articulate, in a very humble way, that it almost made me cry.
'til next time...
most of you who know me know that i'm not very stylish. i do my own thing, but if i manage to look well-put-together, it's by accident, rather than design.
however, i have always had a secret love for fashion. of a particular ethos. i love the stuff that pushes the boundaries of form and function. of shape and image. of wear and wearable. and, now more than ever, i'm interested in the action of fashion - the behaviour of wearing and the codes of the industry.
and the reason that i've had this very small, but burning love is because, when i was 18, i saw a short interview with alexander (lee) mcqueen. vivienne westwood may have been the godmother of punk (and she still is, really), but it was young alexander who showed me that fashion and clothes, and sculptural form could be as seditious as a bar chord and a molotov.
sadly, his suicide has taken another shining, flammable beauty from the world. and, as a friend said today, 'if an amazing and beautiful genius like that can't make it in this world, what hope is there for the rest of us?'.
vale alexander mcqueen.
**old fogey whinge warning**
i'm so long in the tooth, i'm as old as jesus. yup, 33. turned it yesterday. it seems i should have got it together by now.. had a rip-snorter of an art career: snorting coke off the tits of babes and hanging my extended phallus in the long halls of the establishment.
last year i wrote about wanting to find a mentor - and was pleased to discover that the australia council has just announced a national mentoring program: jump.
yay! excitement! i could use some direction, regular contact, advice and cameraderie from artists who have skills to pass on and experience to value.
oh, wait, i'm 33. that's too old.
turns out you only need those things if you are under 30 and in the first 5 years of your practice.
goddammit!! the gene pool of good artists in australia is small enough already isn't it? why you wanna make it any smaller? it's like i just found out my husband is leaving me to fuck yet another young, blonde secretary with fake boobs and a brazilian.
i'm thinking of possibly doing a road trip from melbourne to alice springs - get back to country, check out some of the central desert arrernte/walpiri area and maybe making some works on the way.
but i'm a naive white gal from the 'burbs and don't wanna go blazing in there with blinkers on. anyone got any suggestions? [apart from 'take plenty of water and never leave your car if you break down'..] do artists even do trips to the centre anymore?
it seems that every commercial gallery in melbourne is opening their doors tonight after the summer hiatus. there are a stack of openings on and i can guarantee that the inner city will be a masse of clammy hipsters (and me) in the humidity doing the rounds of galleries and getting their artfix on again.
here are the top 4 that i can reasonably attempt to get to this evening:
sarah scout presents: bryan spier
neon parc: canadian pharmacy group show
the narrows: renee cosgrave and merryn lloyd (one i'm particularly lookin' forward to seeing)
anna pappas gallery: in order out group show (which i'm also super-keen to see).
other shows i'm going to have to see after-the-fact include the risographica print show at lamington drive, and secret files from the working men's college at RMIT's project space. d'oh!
all images from the respective gallery websites.