last night, whilst popping in to art melbourne 10, i heard the devastating news about the death of cath mcculloch, editor/manager/all-round-awesome-chick at art-almanac.
i had heard about the passing of jan mcculloch - her mother and editor-in-chief of art almanac last year and it filled me with sadness. jan was an amazing figure in australian art and there have been many tributes to the work she did since her death in november.
i had hoped to catch up with cath this weekend to extend my condolences and see how she was doing so when i walked past the off the wall stand, with its dedication to both jan and cath, i was confused. and bloody shocked.
apparently cath died just 6 weeks ago and i'm sure that all the staff at art almanac and the rest of the massive mcculloch family are still in shock.
my first dealings with art almanac were as an artist running an ARI in the cultural backwater of wollongong. it was rewarding, but tough - financially and otherwise - so the support of cath, on a monthly basis was amazing. she would extend deadlines (even when she wanted to throw a palette of magazines at me), give us amazing deals on advertising, feature our artists and curated shows in the magazine for free and always, always ask about how i was and how the gallery was. she fucking cared it felt like, as an artist and involved in a gallery, that i was important to her and the world at large.
being able to continue that working relationshp with both women - especially cath - through a number of arts jobs was a pleasure and i always felt a sense of allegiance towards the publication. i believe that art almanac is absolutely vital to the core of art in australia - as an archive of the millions of exhibitons, as a key promotional tool, as a record of the relationships and the dynamic of art and art spaces across the country.
and cath was a specific identity to my relationship with that publication. both keen collectors, cath wore her love of contemporary art on her sleeve and her frustration with artists and their poor timekeeping skills behind her smile.
and she was a total spunk - dreadlocks, tattoos, a love of the four letter word - she was a welcome antithesis to the pompous arrogant wankers that can hang out on the periphery of art.
my heart goes out to her family. and to the art almanac crew - the fact that they have the courage and determination to keep producing the publication and to front up to art fairs is a testament to the guts of the terrier-like organisation and the family.
i love john cage. i derive a lot of my practice from what he speaks of and this video just made me fall in love with him all over again. AND he's a cute boy with a cat.
the listening to the city project that i did last year looked at a whole bunch of these ideas: the act of listening without judgement to the city, the actual sound of traffic (although i think cage's experience of traffic as silence is from behind the filter of 6 floors up and behind glass), and an engagement with the desire of silence and the means to obtain it.
his definition of sound acting is exactly what propels me to respond to sound through performance, action, occupation and installation-based works. my relationship with sound is a verb, not a noun.
just as a heads up, i'm giving a lecture on sound, listening and silence in the built environment next month, so don't be surprised if there's a few cage quotes in there.
thanks to nella for this one.
i thought that it was maybe an april fool's joke, but kevin and sutter, the superest team have sadly put away their pens and laid their amazing blog to rest.
completely devastating. and completely understandable.
i'm sure they've gone on to do the superest of things. maybe they had a hand in the awesomeness that is kick-ass. or not.
either way, thanks to them, for making my day over the last few years.
ps. this blog turned 4 years old last friday. whee!
i like pretty things.
i like pretty things even more when they are produced upon sound principles.
these are ace bags, made by tanzanian HIV+ women, who are paid fairly and the profits going back into the project, which destigmatises these women and their disease.
and, as a beautiful match, i also love readings book store in carlton (actually it's an evil place where i spend far too much time and money. but i digress), which is where these bags are for sale.
thanks to the design files, via angus
after that burst of blog activity last week, i dropped off the posts for a bit because there were a stack of shows i had to squeeze in. i'm now working full-time to earn some cashola, so my free time has been streamlined. which of course = less blogging time.
anyway, there are a stack of great shows on in melbourne at the moment, which you should all go and have a look at. and there are more this week too!
grant nimmo and julia robinson
anna pappas gallery
it's quite exciting to see some of the new kids on the block at anna pappas. grant nimmo's paintings from if you are a big tree, we are a small axe are part of a new crew of artists making work that collages chronic colour symbolism, landscape and portraiture tradition with ITC language. think delaunay, and yahoo groups.
some of the works in the show i fell in love with immediately. others are really not my taste. and maybe that's because i'm too closely attached to language and symbols from online communication to have detachment from it (and therefor be able to see the beauty/irony/message/meaning in it).
julia robinson makes sculptural work that stylises the animal form by creating it using textile techniques. although i appreciated the work, i couldn't help but think about the work of melbourne artist natalie ryan who is currently making very similar work, albeit with a style and material (that deep, lush flock/velvet) that i like more. i felt like i had done julia an injustice by that instinctive comparison, like instantly comparing muse to queen, so i left feeling une petite remorse.
nellie castan gallery
in the back project space, iz has a selection of subtle, but carefully selected series of photo and print-based work that map out the litoral edge and the point at which the place meets the urban architectural experience. the three projects are so quiet and clear and graceful and yet manage to pick up on a really interesting reflection of line: the line of the rushing canal, the line of the almost-dormant creek and the line of hardened ice and/or snowfall.
i've not been to this gallery before, and it was well worth the cross over the river, that's for sure.
sarah scout presents
simone slee's action works have a similar process to my own and an obvious relationship to the difference between architecture and art practice and critique. are you true to your materials? is a modernist question. and a painter/sculptor's question at that. it is the question which plagues generations of artists and a question that seems to be justification for critique (as opposed to 'are you actually saying something interesting?'). simone has placed this question in front of a series of modernist residential architecture sites, apparently asking the same question of Architecture and highlighting it as a question that is, in my opinion, completely irrelevant to art.
i love the idea of this process. i would love to see some images of the actual process of these works and i was excited to see the signs in the gallery space. as i mentioned on the night - how much fun would it be to hire the signs out for the night and encourage the audience to ask that same question of whatever aspect of public life they felt needed critiquing.
as a whole, this show is fantastic. curated by kelly fliedner, i was instantly impressed with the breadth and quality and stoush of this show - a real range of works by melbourne artists who are all doing some amazing things right now:
damiano bertoli, lou hubbard, sanne maestrom, deborah ostrow, daniel price, matthew shannon and jackson slattery (who i keep calling slattery, jackson - channeling the teacher from ferris bueller's day off)
ok, so the whole idea of having a bunch of artists that sews a theme together is nothing all that new, but i still thought it was reassuringly cohesive.
my favourite work in the show was, unsurprisingly, the damiano bertoli video work, continuous moment: andandand - a video montage of empty residential/architectural spaces. i'm pretty sure it's cut together from other film works (i reckon there's a slice from the german film 'die fettern jahren sind vorbei' in it and a piece from a chantal ackerman work. but i'm probably totally wrong). it creates an almost-narrative, full of suspense from all that possibility, all that just-before-the-action context and lead-in. and the use of colour field had me literally ooh-ing and aah-ing. i think i gave my fellow viewers the shits very quickly.
other works of note (for me) included:
deborah ostrow's photo/video portaits (pictured), which - aesthetically speaking - surprised me into loving them. in fact, they have a similarity with the grant nimmo works (you know, the ones at anna pappas) - with their dutch renaissance, colour symbolism, nu-tech language mash-up.
lou hubbard's ET. nothing mind-blowing, in terms of concept, but still fuckin' fun. bring back art with a bit of fun on top, i reckon. of course, it doesn't hurt that i am immature and have a deep love for sue webster/tim noble. my first thought was, i wonder whether she figured that out by accident - like maybe someone through something at something and it made a shape that eventually became ET.
and of course sanné mestrom's a door opened and almost closed again conceptual work in the doorway of the gallery. the whole imagination/action/text overlap floats my little boat.
this is the opening group show for utopian slumps in its new form, as a commercial gallery. including a load of well-known hip young thangs:
sean bailey, dan bell, nathan gray, michelle hanlin, matthew hopkins, rob mchaffie saskia leek, toby pola (pictured), tom polo, tim price, mark rodda, gemma smith, masato takasaka,jake walker and amber wallis.
there are a couple of good works in this show, but if i'm terribly honest, i wasn't really taken with many. nor was i really in love with the new space. i haven't given up hope, but it might take me a few returns before i can really get in the groove with the new space.
now, you must forgive my lack of names in this mini review - all the room lists had disappeared and i couldn't jot any of the names down. you'll just have to go and see the works and match them to the room sheet when you get there.
i loved the sculpture piece on the shelf as you first walk into the space - i was like a bower-bird. all taken with the bright sparkly objects and the colour co-ordination.
and i also really liked the pair of paintings on the wall opposite the entrance - muted palette utopian cityscapes. like egon schiele mixed with gemma smith and danila vassilieff. he also made the work that was on the laptop on the floor - an unexpected joy for me, with surprisingly great combination of image, depth of field and selection of materials.
in the hype of the evening i missed out on seeing rob mchaffie's drawings, but i just know they would have been stunning too.
all in all, the new commercial version of utopian slumps will be a fascinating trip and i wish all the peeps involved a stack of success.
*just for the record, territorial pissings - the song by nirvana - was the song that turned me onto the joys of punk music. you can take that how you wanna, but goddammit, it's still my one of my alltime favourite songs.
I didn't see this show when it opened last week and finally got to see it yesterday. it is such a perfect match for the show at west space that, if you are interested in either show, you must go and see both. it's like they are an echo of each other. the nothing and the something, anything. it is the lack and the desperation. the emptiness and the need to fill it. it is the wax and the wane of art making, of thinking, of doing and of the driven.
a quarter turn on every screw
another exhibition, based on a theme, with a stack of excellent artists from melbourne and beyond. a few more interventions into space, a couple of works that made me laugh out loud for real and this show is easily of my highlights for the year so far. and the essay by curator kel glaister is fantastic. sorry, it's FANTASTIC!!
this show is about the reasons - the compulsions about making art, or making something. filling in the gaps, filling up spaces and how/why/when artists make art: brad haylock, anthony johnson, yvette king, sanné mestrom (again), sanja pahoki, kiron robinson, jackson slattery (slattery, jackson - remember?), nedko solakov and lee walton.
i laughed myself silly at sleep transcript by anthony johnson - a record of an artist asleep on a laptop, i was flooded with thoughts about the irreverence and potency of this absurdity: challenging the weight of critical theory in publication with the weight of an artist's slumber, i was reminded of the highly inspiring text my cat produces when she decideds to parade across my keyboard and also loved his reflection that, even asleep, artists make work.
patti smith said, when she was here a few years ago: "artists are always artists. i could be taking a crap and i'm still an artist!". i loved this quote and have it written in my diary as a constant reminder. the sleep transcript connects me back to this idea in a way that encourages us to have a sense of humour about the dumb shit we do under the guise of art too.
sanné's signage and text-based badges were a great touch and, i guess in counterpoint to the omnipotence of artists production, her idea of artists and art as pawns (as opposed to kings) was poignant. this cynicism keeps us honest, although i guess articles in the herald sun damning art as a waste of money do that too, right?).
and i also really liked the video works of both lee walton (pictured) and nedko solakov.
the former - minor adjustments and personal modifications to public space was stunning. my mother, whenever we go away, rearranges the furniture of the hotel if it doesn't feel right and this work was reminiscent of that. the artist adjusts and intervenes into the objects of public space if they don't feel right.
the latter - the violent and open and not-subtle-at-all modifications to objects in public space was thrilling and exciting in its brazen display. and, in my opinion, the aesthetics of public space need both methods to produce great works and pleasant spaces: bold gestures and attention to detail; swinging mallets and 10 cms to the left.
image credits: all images pinched from the respective websites, except the one of the balloons. i took that.
ok, i promise this is the last cut'n'paste thing for a while.
darling eddy showed me this and i think i'm officially in love with this video clip. if you can be in love with a video clip. i want to cry, squeal, dance and fall down when i watch this!
i don't feel that way about the mos def on yo gabba gabba video, the ipad on will it blend? segment, or even this too shall pass by OK go.
here is 70 million..
thanks to the hussein chalayan blog, i've discovered my new favourite blog: fashematics.
it's not really a mashup between fashion and mathematics (that would be too much for my poor little heart right now), but it's at least basic arithmetic on the catwalk (1 + 1 = 2).
UPDATE: this one is especially for raphael, simon and dunjatello.
here are a few hot ones from march:
ok, so this is a slightly leftfield post about how ace iceland is.
and this has been prompted by a couple of things:
firstly, my ace friend, sarah mosca (who took that pic up there) and her partner tim bruniges are over there working their arses off and having an ace time. by all accounts from the mosca project blog, the place is ace. if you're in iceland, reading this, and you have the chance to work with these peeps, do so. it will change your life.
secondly, clare rae and victoria bennett - the gals behind the feminist project (next wave 2010) - posted the fabulous news (via the guardian) that iceland has started to challenge new zealand in being the country with supreme feminist credentials. they have a female prime minister (hello? australia? you're in the 21st century now. it's ok to trust people other than white middle-class men), who is openly gay AND who has taken the bold, but totally righteous step of closing down strip clubs and criminalising the sex trade.
the article is here, for the full story, but my first reaction was 'like whoa.' and i read a cracker of a quote: "i guess the men of iceland will just have to realise that women are not for sale".
this feels very different to criminalising prostitution from a law and order point of view.
i don't know whether it will make a difference or not, but how awesome would that be if a whole (albeit small) country decided that women's bodies were not commodities and that the industry shut down. cut out the supply and the demand shrivels up.
even more interesting was to note her acknowledgment of the hard work that feminist lobby groups have done to bring about the change. politically, i've never heard anyone say that shit before. wow.
don't get me wrong - the whole thing challenges my feminist ideas about the unionisation and decriminalisation of prostitution - which, in my mind, always sought to empower the women who decided to take on that profession. but perhaps that's resigning to the inevitability of an awful role for women in society. and men, for that matter (as poor dears who can't manage their urges). i don't know right now. i think i need to hit the books again.
and of course, this whole decision is based on the old-school idea that it's men paying for sex from women. but i wonder, in terms of queer sexual politics,whether this will be a massively awesome overhaul too.
either way, iceland [up].
more blatant self-promotion! shock!
light projects have launched their projection night-screen program, silent nights - a series of video works that reflect the medium and process of video/production and my work .... to get a bit of bloody peace... has been included.
it follows the process of a woman sealing a public stairwell in order to create a 'cone of silence' for some sonic solitude and acoustic privacy. those of you who saw my installation at first site will recognise the 'set'. and some of you may also recognise the title - pinched from the words of one miss penny modra, who wrote about Cone of Silence I in the press as "the crazy things we do to get a bit of bloody peace nowadays". she said it was ok. promise.
over the next 10 days, they're running a couple of video works that reflect a rotating theme. clare rae, kate woodcroft and I are part of the action theme. the next two themes are time and narrative, featuring plenty of ace artists.
it's all starting tomorrow night (april 3) and runs until april 12 at 176 high st, northcote. my work will run 3-5 april, so pop over and see it, if you're in town.