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cold and icy. yes.

being back in melbourne for 10 days, it was nice to see stuff again.

like, I had to miss exhibitions* because there were clashes, too many things on at the same time. and of course quite a bit of that time was spent putting together, performing and invigilating my own show.

i feel like i haven't written about other people's shows for ages, so here are a couple of shows i saw, with a strangely icy theme:

this is before that
kiron robinson and sanja pahoki at sarah scout

it felt like the first time I have seen more than one artist per show at SS and i liked it. there was a polarity and/or synthesis that was art of the show that hasn't been before.

the simple concept of kiron's used hours/wasted hours prints were OK: coloured block prints with scratch marks - like days of labour are tantamount to prison term or gallery visitor numbers.  they're short, sharp and to the point.

however, the sentiment of the work was really not my thing -  I prefer to subscribe to the pollyanna view that 'time wasted is never wasted time'. perhaps i'm losing my cynical edge. perhaps i'm just feeling quite grateful for being able to spend all my time on my art practice at the moment.

I did really like sanja's icy photographs of frosty scando landscapes and cold, empty stares of portraits, mounted on the wall around cool, white neon text 'i have loved' 'i have been loved'

this tableau, or scene, actually, was in balance and still edgy without wanting to fall over itself. tick.

my personal tip of the iceberg would have been a sculptural ice-based work in the gallery - even just for opening night. i imagined a big block of ice melting, or even stalactites dripping down the windows. this may have been influenced by the condensation on the windows of the gallery that night, but I couldn't shake it.

kim jaeger at seventh

I may be biased because i think almost everything kim does rocks, but this little work was properly BEAUTIFUL. yes, i said beautiful.

nothing like that image above, it was a diorama created in a blacked and blanked out project space with a large-ish peep-hole at a low eye-level, to create a dramatic and mystical landscape. the landscape was filled with large, white, iceberg-like spikes, appearing to rise up out of a still, dark water. this 'grotto' was perfectly and cool-ly lit, with the scale of it just right. it was like being on a boat, making my way through the floes of scandanavia, or the dark arctic.

it was so succinct and so clear - it actually took my breath away. for real.

sadly, the show finished on sunday, so you can't go and see it anymore. but hopefully there will be images online somewhere that will come closer to doing it justice than this little blog.

*like christopher hanrahan's show at tristian koenig, the vienna show and those egon schiele's at the NGV and the shaun gladwell extravaganza at ACMI.

image credits: sanja pahoki and kiron robinson from the sarah scout site 
kim jaeger you geysir crazy from the seventh site

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listening and being live

hey peeps,

here are some links to some live channels i've set up for the listening performance today (28th june).

it's the first time i've done anything like this, so please forgive tech difficulties or straight-up operator errors that may occur.



Live streaming video by Ustream

but you can video call me


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listening and being thoughts


my exhibition is open at bus now and i've done two small performances there. and i feel OK about it so far.

after opening night and a two-hour intense performance amongst a packed room full of artists and art-lovin' hipster-types i felt fantastic! i thought the work looked good and conveyed something of what i'm trying to say about the place of listening in public.

and then in the few days since, and after a second performance on friday - a four-hour durational task cut short due to pain and logistics - there's been the ubiquitous doubt creeping in around the edges. it's so boring -  the nagging question about whether the work says what you want, and the discovery that sometimes it says things you don't want it to.

but, here are some of the little surprises, ideas and snippets of something-or-other that have been raised in the long hours of listening to my own dialogue, some of which might be interesting to you guys. and, if you've seen the show, i'd love to get your feedback.

things about listening i considered
what am i really listening to?
am i thinking things in order to have something to listen to?
listening to oneself is a frightening concept for many. under the guise of "not understanding", many people are afraid of what the work asks them to do.

things about being i considered
if i wasn't here, at this time, doing this work, could i exist?
being didactic and direct does not necessarily achieve understanding. and neither does being loose and aloof. can art ever purport to give understanding?
is listening the action between the nothing and being?

things about art and performance i have since considered

1. tino sehgal makes work in which movement and energy (including singing/sound) changes the dynamic of a space when a person enters it, creating a situation.
i noticed that when i am sitting and listening in the space, and someone enters the space, a situation is similarly created, in a subtracted way: stillness and the sound being absorbed by me changes the dynamic and the nature of the space and their relationship to it.

invariably people quieten themselves and become aware of their own sounds.

2. a lovely elderly painter came into the gallery the other day and whilst the work reminded him of happenings from 40 years ago, his criticism was that the work was too reliant on text. we discussed the lack of imagination in audience and the academic nature of art. and he suggested that artists who were doing those happenings in sydney all those years ago, were doing them because they found it the best form of expression.

i took it to mean that i am not performing these works because it's the only way to express what needs to be said, but that i'm doing it this way because i'm responding to written work. ouch.
i can see his perspective, but i have to say it was nice, at midnight last night, sitting up in the bath and saying out loud 'no, fuck you, listening IS the only way to talk about listening. and text ISN'T a substitute - it's just the next best thing.

listening and being 24th june

i've posted the list of what i heard (recall only, not direct transcription) on the listening to the city blog, which i have started updating. i'll upload some pics there too.

on tuesday 28th june, i'll be doing an 8-hour performance at the gallery, between 7am and 3pm. if you're in melbourne, you're welcome to come and join in.  i'm also going to be setting up a video stream so that you can 'come in' to the gallery, even if you're not physically there.

it will probably via skype and ustream.

keep an eye out and i'll be spamming the networks on monday with the links.

sarah barber
jared harris

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blatant self-promotion #243

for those who are heading to melbourne any time soon, i have a solo exhibition at bus gallery. listening and being is a simple installation and a series of performances about the act of listening and reflecting.

i will be doing a performance on opening night, plus on the 24th and 28th june. and it's the kind of installation that i encourage gallery-goers to interact with. it's a massive mirror that disects the space, and expect loads of ear-prints on it.

you'll see what i mean when you go there.

there'll be a little catalogue you can pick up at the gallery, but if you can't make it, and would like one - leave a comment, or email me lauren [at] sheseesred [dot] com and i'll send it to you.

here's a little reference material [heidegger warning]
and an earlier version
and a map of where the gallery is


listening and being

where: bus projects
673 bourke st

when: 21 june - 9 july, 2011
opening: 21 june 6 - 8pm
gallery: wed - sat 12 - 6pm
performances: 21, 24 and 28 june

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how to do things with words

HTDTWW invitation

last friday night, my flatmate leigh and i put on an art event in our house: how to do things with words.

it started with my whinging about not really being able to find that many places to have exhibitions in perth, to which leigh replied: "why don't you just have one here?". of course!

so, we made it a joint effort, with all the works and activities about text and art.

the evening went a little something like this:

first light, last words
a wall-work by me which now lines our Victorian hallway. a series of six painted rectangles, mostly yellows with one blue which are symbolic of what i wake up to see each morning. i have a window above the doorway that my bed faces and each morrning, when i awake in a darkened room, all i can see is the refraction of the sunlight (or cloudy light) that comes in from the front door window.

underneath these 'light' works, is a string of words. these are the last words i heard before i fall asleep in the weeks leading up to the show:

first light last words

library of annotated books
a work benjamin forster and i did, in which we found and collected only books that were annotated - where people had underlined or made marks in an effort to remember, or determine important ideas or valuable points in a book. We rearranged leigh's shelves in the loungeroom and the kitchen, making them into a library. having only books that were annotated surrounded the room with meaning and important information. none of those books were superfluous or ambivalent.

both of us made further notes about the notations on the wall. benjamin created a poem within the notation, by directing the reader to sections of each book. like a choose-your-own-adventure novel, except benjamin already chose it. and it's more narrative than adventure. my notes grouped the books in which sites were described by sound, referred to texts of previous works and highlighted the meta-notation of two books. ie. notated books that contained imagery of notation (by bruce nauman and claes oldenburg).

12-hour reading club
lead by leigh, the 12-hour reading club chose somebody to read an excerpt, or a work, on the hour, every hour, for twelve hours. with general discussion session starting at 7 and our first solo reader was robert cook, who read some of roland barthes' the fashion system. i kicked off the final session at 6am on saturday morning, reading the introduction from j.l. austin's how to do things with words (see what we did there?) and in between was a variety of poetry, silliness and seriousness.

when each reading started, the room full of people was quiet, then there would be some questions from the 'audience', which would kickstart well-behaved discussion. which would then generally descend into hubub and chit chat for the rest of the hour, slowing down just in time for the next reading.

the evening was a great mix of formal, critical readings - those ones we always mean to read, but never quite have time - and hilarious pop-culutral humourous pieces, revealing more about us than we perhaps like. we had a loungeroom and kitchen full of people, with wine, chai, hot chocolate and leigh's home-made soup. it was warm and cosy and a fantastic atmosphere.

there were waves of guest who arrived too - some who came right on time at 7pm, those who filtered through after dinner at about 9, then the late-comers - the young whippersnappers who turned up at midnight. one of them, joanna, stayed all the way until the end! what a champion!

during the evening's proceedings, visitors were encouraged to create their own catalogues, using leigh's collection of vintage typewriters. few did - more interested in the active discussion and chit chat about words than creating them. similarly, we set up a print station from which people could choose a section of annotation to have transcribed and given to them. it wasn't so popular. but that's OK - the excitement and camaraderie of the evening was fabulous enough as it was anyway.

HTDTWW running order

when leigh and i finally rose, after midday the next day, we chatted over a champions breakfast and were quite pleased with ourselves. we had a house full of intelligent, interested, erudite and amiable people who enjoyed each other's company and had the opportunity to think and talk about interesting things for an evening, learning how to do things with words.

NOTE: there are more images coming. i just left them at the studio, it's late and i really wanted to just post this tonight. stay tuned for illustration soon.

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CIA term one

today is the last day before a two-week break for the CIA studios geeks.
steve is heading off for some paternity leave.
I'm heading back to melbourne to install a show - childbirth of a different kind.

this seems like an appropriate time to give you an update and overview of the things we've been working on to date.

even though the chair of the board suggested we focus on one deep project, we decided to stick with our matrix approach and do lots of small-ish things, with a focus on two decent-sized projects. one each, kinda.

this method was because we felt that when there are lots of new, exciting, manageable changes, it was easier to engage with the residents across a diverse range of practice, commitment, timing, finances and relationships. and, looking back on term one, i think we went with the right approach.

in the seven weeks we've been working together as geeks, we've started 14 projects, including two major projects that are ongoing:

major projects

wiki (this is my baby)
screen (this is steve's baby)

*we'll go into these next term, as we haven't really 'released' them yet

minor [but important] projects

facebook group
facebook page
resident morning teas
starting online networks (skype, posterous, instagram, vimeo)
geek party

works in progress
more of those online networks

overall ideas

Building each other the world is the ethos of our project - where we're all helping to build and support each other a world of interdisciplinary awesomeness. It is a gradual, compound approach in which we're 'empowering' (for want of a far-less self-help term) the residents to focus on helping themselves, which flows into helping each other, which flows into helping the whole studio, which flows onto helping the rest of the sector.

And we also acknowledge that this 'flow' is also two-way. The sector's contribution influences the studios', which influences the residents as a whole, which influences each individual practice.

informal feedback so far is proving positive - there is definitely a sense that residents are more engaged with each other and each others' practice, they are sharing information and there is an external interest in our workshops and informations sessions.

report card

i made a little report card, even. as a nice, simple matrix-type way to get a sense of how we're tracking. is that too geeky?

each project or 'thing' we've done is on the x-axis and our 'goals' on the y-. Building Each Other and The World are the three concentric areas of interaction that is underlying our strategy. The other six items are the six points of provocation that CIA gave us when we first arrived.

like any kind of 'box-ticking', this doesn't necessarily cover quality well, or assign any kind of weight to particular projects, reflect the time spent developing them, or the value given by the residents, but it's small and petite and easy to capture quickly.

we'll be back in two weeks to start on the next stage of the project, which is to introduce the major projects to the residents, do some training, play a little more and to set up a workshop on some vital digital stuff: hosting/servers/email/websites.




good to know.

from learn something every day. excellent, as ever.



why i want to be a man

... there's a post over at my friend rob's blog about the usual fucking gender stereotypes. i've already said quite a bit over the years on that blog about the marketing/capitalist attitude to women. i'm sure that everyone is sick of hearing about it.

good, in a way.

and just as i was about to press 'submit' on yet another long rant, i realised that i didn't want to vomit all over his blog again.

but i did have a fair amount to say, so here's what i would have said over there, here:

rob, i know that it's your blog, but bring on the can of worms. seriously. you guys have probably more power to make changes about the place of women in the world than anyone else i know. and if we have to have ugly, crawling arguments on the state of women and their continued disadvantage, so that maybe one day, some marketing manager from a global corporate company you guys keep decides that they're going to go with a different tack that can of worms will have been fucking worth it.

i'm with peggy on it being fuckloads easier being a man because i'm sick and fucking tired of piping up every fucking time the age-old gender assumptions, or disadvantage come up. i'm sick of reminding everyone that women exist too and, wow, we're human beings too.

i know that every time i do, a guy who is sick of the stereotypes also benefits, but fuckin' hell - how about you blokes chime in some time.  

all you guys feeling boxed in by having to put up with the big tits blond bombshell "sex sells" line pipe up. 

or how about, if you're feeling claustrophobic because you're likely to be paid more, or promoted earlier than the ladies in your field, or that they're more likely to be intimidated and harassed by their male superiors, go right ahead, talk to HR on their behalf -  i'm sure they won't mind.

or fuck, if you feel like it's getting a bit hot under the collar because 2 out of ever 3 women you know have been raped or sexually abused by a man they know - jesus - don't let me stop you shouting about it. i mean, it must really fuck you off, right?

it's not just the boring, insulting stereotypes as mothers, homemakers and neurotic latte-sipping lovers of the colour pink that is wrong with this kind of marketing. it's that it's all part of  making women feel bad about themselves as women that really fucks me off.

and andy, i love you, but 'tell that to the man who can't get access to his kids'? really? you have GOT to be joking.

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in the black box

i don't really have a good command of the language of performance. for those that do, please forgive my smushed-together, ham-fisted attempt at talking about some performances i've seen recently.

i haven't had too much of a chance to see much static art in perth lately, as i seem to be surrounded by much more performance/music work happening. it has, actually, been a nice change to see movement/sound works, a chance to reacquaint myself with the nature of experience.

i did have a little realisation, that i'll perhaps unpack on here soon, that as someone who works in conceptual/intervention/action works, i don't really have a place that elevates my work to a professional level. the way that the gallery and the black box do for a lot of artists/performers [even though i have exhibitions too]. anyway, i'll save that for another time.

Etica - Scale Variable 11.2 by tura new music

A three-part musical showcase including a solo flute piece and two small ensembles works - one with a mezzo soprano and both with a syncopated, non-traditional rhythm. 

The sensual nature of Brett Dean’s Demons flute piece was quite intense. i guess breathing heavily into an instrument for 10 minutes is pretty taxing on the body, but it was obvious to watch. and the piece was seemingly focused on broadening out the method of delivering the breath - a combination of traditional tone/pitch and atonal amplified breath-like sounds.

John Adams' Chamber Symphony was a crazy and elaborate work that zipped across the Ensemble - no clear 'section' focus and a nutty rhythm. it's little wonder that the percussionist was particularly focused on the conductor jon tooby for direction. I quite enjoyed the nuttiness of it all, even though i'm not trained in classical music at all. I found that it messed with my need for rhythm, in the way that improv jazz from the 80s did.

Sofia Gubaidulina's Hommage à T.S Eliot was not quite as frenetic, but certainly not a traditional ensemble piece. It was a smaller group of instruments, with a soprano (Penelope Reynolds). I didn't enjoy this work quite as much, but it did prompt the spark of an idea, which i think will be quite interesting to see through. Admittedly, i spent much of that piece observing the piece (rather than properly listening to it), thinking about my idea. Sorry - i guess that's not quite ettiquette.

Overall, I enjoyed the night. As you all know, though, i'm a bit of a lightweight and appreciate pretty much anything on a stage that's a bit different.

Prime Cut by strut dance

Another three-part showcase, this time contemporary dance from WA. I'm even less versed in the canons of contemporary dance than I am classical/new music, so it might sound a bit short and sharp. Again, mea culpa.

Emma Sandall's Crossing Satie was a contemporary dance piece that I didn't really like too much. Maybe i didn't understand it. Even i could tell that the dancer was a ballerina and her body was just too intense and sinewy for the work. I always find it difficult to watch dance work that is solely about the body, because I feel like i'm just watching someone exercise. i would have liked a little more attention to costume, lighting, design, or something. I know, i'm a philistine.

And almost the same for Brooke Leeder's Iron or Gold. This time i did find some interesting dynamics between the dancers, and the gesture of being 'stuck' to each other. There were some sequences where the dancers would shimmy low across the stage that i found strangely compelling - in an amphibious, or even generative systems way. And they used large elastics hung from the ceiling, which were interesting in terms of the elastic and stuckness of the dancers' dynamics. the music choice was pretty naff and the costumes were also super-naff [in fact, i would loved to have designed the whole thing for her], but - even in my ignorant state, i could see that there was something to work on.

Bianca Martin's Bikini Eye Short Show (dress to kill yourself) was, as a contrast, exactly what i have been craving in Australian culture for a while: something with a bit of political crunch. Sam Fox from Hydra Poesis called it agit-prop panto, which i thought was not as derogatory as it sounds. And it was fuckin' ace. It was a critique of drunk aussie chicks, footballer jock mentality and the prone state of women in australia. all with a fanatstic sardonic wit and tongue in cheek cultural references (collingwood football club, surf-life saving club, aus-flag bikinis). The orgasm of a footy call by the mezzo soprano was sublime - the two dancers performing acts of clear sexuality in the kitchen and the bathroom were appalling and enthralling. And i thoroughly enjoyed the in-house protest of the national anthem our little band of three performed. It was all in the spirit of the evening, and I left feeling quite charged and excited by life again. Huzzah.

Later this week, i'm off to see Lily Hibberd's performance Take Me In at Fremantle Arts Centre. We went to see the work yesterday and i'm reserving final judgement (and writing about it) until after i've seen the performance it is associated with. The work is supposed to be able to stand on its own, without the need to see the performance, but i have a feeling that I can only make that call once i've seen it.

i've not ever seen Lily do performance or installation at all (only beautiful paintings) so i'm interested to see what the final outcome will be. If the staging, lighting, and seating are anything to go by, it will be an intimate and intense piece about incarceration, that hopefully plays with the relationship between audience and performer. But we'll see. i'll update you all later in the week.

image credits:  bianca martin bikini eye short show from the strut site


it's all in a name

so, you know what else i've discovered geeks and artists have in common? naming stuff.

the title in an artwork has become synonymous with the work, even if it's Untitled, it means something. Postmodernism has seen the naming of a work as its framing, and Dale Frank takes the cake of the coolest artwork titles in all of history.

Whether you think the title should explain, perform or confuse, you have to admit that the moment in which you title an artwork is a 'thing'. It plays a part.

Talk to any geek that hasn't named his harddrives, or other electronic devices, and i'll show you a geek i outta hassle. Part of it harks back to that conceptual fun idea i was chatting about earlier. But i have a feeling that it's motivated by the same relationship with one's 'offspring'.

Naming our stuff, or our projects, or our systems makes them personal. It customises them. And it sets up a dynamic between them and us. They belong to us, and we have power over them.

I give all my devices old-fashioned ladies' names: Ethel, Mabel, Mildred, Betty. My hard drive's name is Annabelle, which is not quite so old-fashioned, but is the name i would have liked to name my daughter, if i had ever chosen to have kids. a HD is close enough.

steve, my geek partner-in-crime, names his devices after breakfast cereals.

and way back when I was an apprentice in the printing industry, one of the tradesmen used to name his drives/discs after characters from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: Trinian, Zaphod, Marvin.
that opened up a whole new world for me.

see? it's all in a name.

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