i crossed a line in my practice last week when i lay naked in a gallery for the first time. ok, so i was covered with a teensy blanket, and kept my knickers on (oh my mother would love that sentence), but for all intents and purposes i was naked.
the work was about that public/private divide and how sound plays into that - i slept through both my alarm clock radio, which was playing 'a perfect day to chase tornadoes' by jim white, and a massively noisy soundpiece by tim bruniges. but i was able to create the kind of internal silence necessary for rest.
i can't say exactly why being naked was important to the work, but the work was definitely better that way - it defined me as a person out of place, and vulnerable within that place. besides, lots of people sleep naked.
on a personal level, it definitely placed me within the work and i really entered into a state that was separate from myself as a person. kind of what costume does for theatre/film actors.
it also reminded me that, in terms of performance, there's not a lot of naked so much these days. back in the 70s and 80s, everyone was naked. the body and its place in art was shocking and performing naked made statements that couldn't be made clothed. it kind of seems like people have stopped making those kinds of statements maybe.
maybe i'm just out of the loop.
maybe we're all just over seeing artists with very unordinary bodies doing extraordinary things.
maybe we'd rather just watch chatroulette.
maybe we rather like the vanilla, one-size-fits-all image of what it means to be a human these days, as dictated by my friends in advertising and media circles.
i don't know. but there was something about having to just be in a body, whatever its form, that had me wondering....
berlin is now starting to pay off. i've been really busy and am in a group show coming up soon, which is exciting.
here's a little sneak peak of some stuff i've been working on
listening to the city
the LTC blog is now public and i'm hoping to be as rigorous with posting to it as i have been in listening.
the lists themselves are going to end up as some beautiful prints.
garments for listening
following on from the crossover of headphones being a fashion-based, wearable space, i'm working on garments that accentuate the poses of listening.
this is new territory for me. i kinda failed textiles as a kid. i was a naughty 13 year old and mrs capel was an easy target. now i'm having to learn sewing stuff from scratch again.
here are some early car-crash marquettes. all cardboard, paper and starchy fabric while i get my head around them.
i've also been doing some fun silhouettes about those same poses of listening.
and here's some documentation from sunday's performance.
i'll post a little more about that particular work later in the week, promise.
and, in hilarious news, i've been beaten to the punch by the urban speaker.
it's a whole lot like public address, a work i had planned for electrofringe, but had to pull out because of unfortunate circumstances.
the annoying thing is that it's awesome. maybe even better than what i had. hmm. not sure what to do now. maybe we could have a public speaker-off - a battle of VOIP loudspeaker access. heh.
Posted by lauren at 00:03
For those of you in Berlin this weekend, I'm doing a little intervention/performance as part of SuperKaleidescope's exhibition, A Perfect Day to Chase Tornadoes (White) at the Kunstquartier Bethanien in Kreuzberg.
It's the final day of the exhibition and let's just say that the work will be a goodnight and goodluck gift.
The exhibition is open from 11:00 - 18:00 and i'll be there most of the day. Come and say hi.
can i just preface this with the caveat: i'm having a good time, really i am. i'm making lots of new work, feel good (apart from brief illness) and have excellent choices for visa situation.
oh my god, london. what are you doing to me? there are 4 major exhibitions that i need to come and see in the next 4 weeks - i'm trying to be frugal, can't you see?
christian marclay's clock at white cube (mason's yard).
this is a fantastic a real-time clock (projection) made up of scenes from movies showing the time. pity to have missed the full version at the private view - i would love to have seen 3 - 4am in real time via marclay's film snippets. but, given that it was impossible, a daytime viewing or 5 will have to do. imagine a sleepover at white cube to watch the whole thing - that would be awesome. either way the soda jerk girls and i are already plotting ways that we can get there without spending any money. hmm.
rachel whiteread's drawings at tate britain.
i'm a massive fan of this woman's work, have paid homage to it in my own and only ever seen a few bits and pieces. i'm stinging to see this major exhibition, which features her workings and beautiful drawings - the basis behind any good spatial practice, i reckon :)
ai weiwei's sunflower seeds at the tate modern turbine hall.
all those porcelain sunflower seeds... swoon. sadly, we can't walk on them anymore, which means that the work isn't really as awesome as it was before (sorry, but it's true). but, i would still go and see it. yes, in a heartbeat.
james turrell bindu shards (perceptual cell) at the gagosian.
light, experience, perception, time. joy. an immersive installation that you have to book in for. i'm in heaven. here's a quote from the site (where that image is from too)
"Through light, space can be formed without physical material like concrete or steel. We can actually stop the penetration of vision with where light is and where it isn't. Like the atmosphere, we can't see through it to the stars that are there during the day. But as soon as that light is dimmed around the self, then this penetration of vision goes out. So I'm very interested in this feeling, using the eyes to penetrate the space.
see? there's 2 days in london right there. peeps - beware. i might just have to skip over the channel and back.
image credits: tate website, gagosian website and the economist websites. all deets, re artists rights are on those sites.
don't they know we already have too much information? maybe it's some kind of ploy where if you blast a stack of data at people, whatever sticks is worthwhile remembering. like i mentioned in another post, there were six art fairs on this weekend. i only managed three because i went to berghain until 7am and couldn't manage more than one on saturday.
sunday was devoted to dancing in the streets, so i didn't attend any art fairs. and, because there was so much to absorb, i'm only going to talk about two on here: art forum and preview - because that's the kind of girl i am - binary. and, i'm even going to review them in the reverse order that i saw them.
well, it's my blog and i'll do what i like.
my understanding of preview was that it was the emerging art/gallery fair, so i was quite suprised at the prevalence of painting and digestible sculpture. not really a lot of boundary-pushing. in fact, i saw more of that at art forum, really. my summation from preview was that the only thing that was really 'new' about the fair was the economy behind it; without long histories or financial support/investment/weight behind them, there was no risk being taken.
i saw more 'risk' from artist being supported by the bigger galleries. in fact, it reminded me that risk is actually the privilege of the privileged - with art, collecting, setting up a business, gambling, eating.
a few notable exceptions, obviously.
this is a gallery i love in london and check them out whenever i can. if i'm completely honest, i don't think they showed the best work that they have at this fair. i spoke to one of the staff and it was their first time at a berlin fair, so perhaps it's a little bit of putting feelers out for them. but they did have some good work by artists anonymous, who i haven't seen in a while and a beautiful paper-based animation from a rotary contraption by juan fontanive, whose bike film i saw a while back.
galleri maria veie
the only gallery, in both art fairs, to really deal with the site and to take control of it. maria (who was super-nice to talk to) and her artists built an amazing ante-chamber within the small booth space as a space to view the excellent video by and also as a work of art itself. it was like a unicorn mixed with high math geometrical sculpture. super-nice. and it crowded out the space in a way that made it attractive - you had to line up to get in (almost). for me, this shows a boldness and a level of engagement that is not only attractive in an artist, but in a gallery. go team.
galerie leuenroth - daniel behrendt
these paintings were a.mazing. i literally gasped when i saw them. almost sculptural paintings of super-flat post-war architectural facades - walls, with a simple window. or just a wooden window, they gave a life and a stickiness to these utterly depressing spaces. and it's pretty much the only way i would ever spend more that 0.12 seconds looking at such a space. they were so divine. and a combination of matte fine finish, with thick, lush, trowel-finish. seriously, if you buy painting, buy these. they're amazing.
foundation for promoting contemporary art - michal smandek
a nice, simple work: model for a sludge leak made from glass and concrete, then the documentation of a larger version done in an old industrial space - a constructed black ooze coming out of the wall. always poignant (hello gulf of mexico, hello hungary)
actually, most of the eastern european galleries were killing it - making the most interesting works/exhibits overall. i guess it's unsurprising, given the history of eastern-european risk-taking in art, but i will still a bit intrigued.
a few other things i noticed: a surprising number of amateur signage. boo. not a lot of women artist. boo. not a lot of politics. boo.
so, that's my review of preview.
overall it was just OK. a few excellent works, some nice chats with peeps i already knew (from australia and london) and interesting to see the focus away from painting and more towards everything else.
just a small photo-based work, but after seeing his daad exhibition and now this, tim lee is now one of my new favourite things. a diptych recreation of the merce cunningham poster from 1953 with tim as the solo - in his trademark grey button-up shirt, black jeans, thick geeky glasses and salary man haircut. hot.
one of the only other galleries to really deal with the space well - a combination of aluminium geometric shapes and video/sound work of a ballerina en pointe. a beautifully dichotomy of soft/hard and understanding of space by Jen DeNike and Sarah Oppenheimer.
as one of the consistent big guns in australian art, unsurprising that the artists that rosox had on board were great. hany armanious, mikala dwyer, michael parakowhai, newell harry and his palindromic neon. awesome.
häusler - fred sandback
i know he's been gone a while, but the guy continues to float my boat with his site-specific geometric/spatial works and diagrams. they had a small red work between the two walls at häusler that made my heart skip a beat.
yvon lambert - douglas gordon
excellent conceptual works - especially the two wall-text works - both abandoned mid-sentence: one of graphite i am the director of my own downfall and the other carved into the chipboard, i am the author of my own addictions. i liked the form of the latter, but thought that the words were a little overstated. and vice versa.
he added his name/birth year to the top of list of saatchi exhibitons, entitled my life and the saatchi program, he added a purple strip of colour to an image of ellsworth kelly minimal paintings, and a photo of a john baldessari image with a post-it note as an echo of the plain interrupting the plane. see? art geek stuff.
and i also really liked the sector focus intiative in the middle of the grounds, which had a series of emerging spaces who invited another emerging space to join them and both of them had booths that backed onto each other. it acknowledge the community aspect of independent spaces and made for an interesting study.
i did come away from the forum a) feeling like australian artists still match up with the best of germany, especially when we're rigourous. and b) that an art fair is an art fair is an art fair. having said that, i've not been to the biggest three: frieze, basel or the armory, but i wonder how different they really are.
image credits: ralf ziervogel installation at arndt, from the art-forum-berlin site. newell harry reverse missionary (nerveless rats hesitate/as venereal theists rest) from the roslyn oxley9 site.
today i spent the afternoon pretty much back at the start of my masters research: in a silent gig in public, dancing to music with a bunch of people in headphones. public/private/public.
the first time i did it was at ars electronica 2007 and it kickstarted my investigation into sound in public, the role/symbol/place of headphones in public and the ensuing 2 years' masters degree on all things related.
today was a silent parade for climate change, organised by 350 org and it was mad-fun.
what better a place to dance on the streets as part of political action but in berlin! berliners LOVE their electronic music and LOVE dancing (i should know, my club-induced sleeping patterns are getting ridiculous). it was awesome.
the vibe itself was fantastic - i dipped in and out of different shared experiences with it, giving it a diversity of engagement that really floated my boat, and made for an even more enjoyable and thought-provoking afternoon.
of course, each of these points of together/alone with the parade had slightly different aspects of public/private/public politics:
through the media
i had to join the parade halfway through. so with twitter and their hashtag, i connected with the parade halfway through. connecting as an outsider to the crowd using social media + political engagement, easy - media studies 101.
then, i joined the party. i danced my arse of for a while in a group of others all dancing and enjoying themselves with a cracking soundtrack and lots of clapping, w00ts and smiles. we were all in this together, for a common cause and enjoyment. and we were surrounded by a bunch of people who weren't sharing, but engaged with curiosity - watching and wondering and maybe feeling a bit like outsiders. [more on the 'outsider' aspect of such a situation in a minute].
as the parade moved, i grabbed my bike, headphones still in range and rode on ahead, physically separate from the crowd, but still sonically and technologically engaged [wirelessly]. it was pretty special - i was riding in my own space, listening to music on my own, unable to see/hear others, but just knowing that they were there. i think this experience is exactly why the internet works.
and i had the fuckin' coolest extra little public/private/public moment - i'm riding away from the crowd, passed the polizei van escorting us and one of the officers has the headphones on (so he can keep track of what's happening, i guess). and HE'S DANCING TOO!! i gave him a mega smile + bodacious wave and kept riding.
private citizen + public representative togetherness moment. swoon.
separated, but with one other
another lone bike-rider with headphones caught up with me and together we were riding, dancing, w00ting and throwing our hands up in the air, having our own little private/public/private dance party. in fact, i think that confused people outside the 'gig' even more - just two crazy girls dressed in black, on bikes, wearing headphones, dancing like maniacs with each other. but it was another one of those moments of sharing an experience with another person, as part of a wider crew, that was just priceless.
i decided to do a part of my listening to the city project as part of the parade, so once the crowd stopped at the park on spandauer straße, i turned the radio headphones off and became an observer. my observation was largely based on what i could hear (which is hilarious when you're hearing what everyone else cannot), but it was still as an outside observer. there were lots of people also observing what was going on - some knowing a little bit about it, some not knowing and quiet alienated, others unknowing, but fascinated, or nonplussed. interesting levels of understanding and public engagement.
one thing i noticed is that having 'outsiders' is an important dynamic to an event like this. it generates curiosity, a point to engage, thought and 'difference'. the alienation is not didactic, or perhaps even intended, but i did notice that because people couldn't (or didn't have to) engage, they stood around and watched, thought and perhaps envied the process. i know that the advertising peeps crave that juicy experience a lot, but as an artist and activist, it was the first time i understood how it could be used for good.
full engagement again.
and, right at the end, i put the headphones back on and danced with the crowd for another little while. the level of dancing reduced by the time we got to the park, some just opting to lay back in the glorious autumn sunshine and listen, but the sense of common and einheit was still very strong, without a harsh word, or forced action in earshot. brilliant.
if you're a little bit into the art thing, this weekend is INSANE in berlin. there are
at least 3 six(!) art fairs (art forum berlin, preview, stroke), a stack of other new shows starting, events, openings coming out of your ears.. it's fucking madness.
i wasn't quite cool enough to get invited to the opening night of art forum last night (er... ), so i thought i would be a good artist girl and prepare for the onslaught of viewing this weekend, by bringing y'all up to speed with some of what i've seen this week.
as i mentioned, i'm going to a gallery a day, which usually coincides with part of the new work i'm making. i've found a new rhythm with it and it's been pretty easy to find some pretty good shows to go to.
in fact, this week has been a cracking week of shows. highlights:
aando fine art
choi jeong hwa - in the mood for love.
named after the wong kar wai film [you know the one with all that romantic suspence, the endless cheongsam action of maggie cheung and those amazing corridors], this series of works by korean artist choi is actually spread across a couple of spaces in mitte, around august/tucholskystraße - one on the front of a building, another in the platoon containers, a giant pile of cabbage at kimchi princess (excellent restaurant in k-berg) and then the two aando spaces.
i often feel like i don't really know a lot about asian art, but when i walked into the show and found myself relieved at the colourful, gaudy-but slightly reserved aesthetic, i realised that asian art plays a huge part in my art palette. strings of decoration, trinkets, flashing spinning flower sculptures were a welcome play on tacky/cheap and OTT. i think this is bad, but it reminded me of every $2 store i've ever been into, and i kinda got homesick.
oh ed, your parking lots drive me wild.
that is all.
a separated, moving version of her image+text aesthetic, this 4-channel work was about the spoken language, more than the written. a stand-up comic makes jokes about stereotypes, a voice-over externalises fear of stillness/darkness, there is 'dialogue' between drivers from within the car, and there is the silent/voiceless experience of a psychotic episode. they are all really powerful images/audio with interspersed impact text, in her usual style. oh, and the space is hu-uuge!
tim lee - streichquartett Op.1
this work really appealed to the stuff i'm looking at currently. tim lee learned the classic piece of music he plays in the work, but filmed the process as a collage of sounds, or short sequences for each instrument - in effect creating the work as a modular configuration. it was beautiful to watch. and, with my back turned, i listened to see if i could tell that it was all chopped up and reconfigured. i couldn't, but that could have just been the style of music too.
the sculpture of him listening atop a massive phallic monument was a bit weird, but actually just the kind of image i have been sourcing lately, so i appreciated it for that.
daimler collection: contemporary
i currently share a studio with south african painter, daniel popper, and as a result, this show popped up on the radar. i've always liked a lot of south african artists, but this was a chance to see a stack all in one place, mixed with some current european artists from the daimler collection.
mercedes benz (current owner of daimler) has a plant in south africa and so invests money back into the country and its cultural identity through ongoing support of its artists with a sizeable yearly award for art and culture. [the things you learn when you're away from home.]
i don't know much about the interests of the company and how well-behaved they are, but i can tell you that it was obvious what money, time and 'investment' does to art. there are some shit-hot artists coming out of south africa now, ones who perhaps wouldn't make quite the quality or intensity of work being shown here without the level of support from the collection.
there were three works that really stood out for me: lerato shadie's performance video Mmitlw . it was fucking mesmerising and yet, you could also leave and come back for a few views.
with a nod to bruce nauman's art paint works and to marina abramovic's bones scrubbing, shadie sits cross-legged on a plinth and wraps her naked body in white masking tape, contorting and constricting her figure - making some interesting statements about race, art, history/ties that bind, sensuality and femininity. then, in the second half, she rips the tape off in a frenzy. i'm not sure if the level frenzy was originally intended, but it was real - as her constriction and panic rise, it becomes an amazing metaphor of desperation, oppression, release and determination.
i have been thinking about this work all day, wishing that i was half as poetic as she was. it was amazing.
two other powerful works i liked: zander blom - a black'n'white installation using paint, fabric, dot matrix printers which really owned the space like none of the others and actually made this beautiful silhouette that almost replicated tundra, which i only noticed when i was sitting down to hear the willem boshoff artist talk [which was also mind-blowing].
and the final work that has stayed with me was by lawrence lemaoana. i don't actually really like the works per se, but the didactic panel mentioned the link between the textiles and their social relevance to the rape trial of president zuma, which has had me going back to the work since then.
south africa is a crazy place and the work in the show speaks about some of that craziness. it's going to be interesting to watch how the nation rights itself, and how/whether art helps or hinders that process.
erfolgereich geführtes real life/ successfully felt real life
curated by the crew at general public, the show was primarily about perception. i only liked a few works in it, and missed the performance, but i was a bit cold/hungry/tired, so that's probably more the point. shintaro miyazaki's logic-based philosophy posters were instantly relevant, four bespoke newspapers were great - each with a single word in half a centrefold to say something simple and meaningful (although i can't find the image i took, so can't remember what that phrase was, dammit). it reminded me of the newspaper club kids anyways. and an intense red sound box was unnerving, but i wanted to have it anyways.
plus two shows i've seen through the windows only, thanks to random acts of not being open when the opening times say they should be:
D12 [dirty dozen]
excellent show, curated by - i could only see her paintings in the front space, but they looked pretty spanky
featuring a stack of great non-objective artists, including gerwald rockenschaub and the most-excellent john nixon.
see - not a bad stack of shows.
from the ever-fabulous tom gauld
Ballpen and whiteout on paper.
Image size approx. 8 x 13cm.
Signed in pencil.
ordering details at www.tomgauld.com
despite some good times seeing exhibitions, discovering cool things about berlin and catching up with friends, this week has actually been really hard. i've re-discovered how anxious a bunny i am and how much i do like being attached to my things and my set ways, including my sense of place. i found myself doubting, again, whether i really had what it took to move to a country where i only understand half of wtf is going on and if it's really worth it. turns out i rather like my assumptions and preconceptions.
i remember this happened to me when i moved to london for 6 months - i had to lose a lot of preconceptions about the world, and in some weird metaphysical referred process lost a stack of material possessions. well, same thing is happening this time around. [maybe i should have read my own blog before i came, hey.]
i could quite easily go home and feel comfortable and safe, knowing my place in the world. i could make work pretty easily and not have to think too hard about how to express myself. i would be comfortable.
then i thought about my friends back home. i miss them dearly. i thought about a few friends who have never lived outside of australia, who have a comfortable life and who, at times, can get stuck in a conservative view of things. i also remembered my dear friend age, who had a similar time in another country and went home early. i imagined what he would say to me.
i also realised that, actually, maybe you do have to suffer for your art. not for the sake of melodrama, but so that you regularly have your eyes peeled. that you make sure you really do take stock of your viewpoint, that what you have to say is not just from a tiny little black dot in the middle of the pacific ocean. that you come to art from a place which has reduced assumptions and preconceptions.
today, at some stage, i realised that i don't want to always be comfortable. i do want to be challenged and changed - to become the kind of person that is teachable. i want to have to work hard for what i do, but to do great things. and it's hard to do great things when you like staying in your own living room with the curtains drawn.