london: wednesday.

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the last couple of days have been like a dream come true, really: art, coffee, art, coffee. as a result, my reporting is a bit behind.

on wednesday, with my inimitable art-pal, john dodds, i took in the V&A, the saatchi gallery and a weird place called chelsea futurespace (which i’m not going to go into, but it was kinda weird and all display-home).

V&A: 1:1 architecture spaces.

this was the exhibition highlight of the day, really.

a series of 1:1 spaces designed/built by architects as investigations into small spaces. there were 2 in a designated area for the show, with the rest dotted around the collection, perfectly responding to the various galleries and sections*.

all of them were great – you can see them here:
and here

but there was one in particular that totally floated my boat people and i’m going to devote the rest of my laptop battery to it: the bookshelf space.

the space, called Ark, by Rintala Eggertsson Architects is kind of a well-made, solid, ikea open bookshelf x 4, facing in on itself. the ‘walls’ are enclosed using books, the ground floor opens into the bookshop, whilst the roof meets the floor of the library upstairs. in between is a spiralling space of booky goodness! oh my lordy i almost fainted with overwhelm of all the books. i find going into book shops and libraries hard enough – i often need a chaperone in readings.

of course, john and i took the opportunity to do a quick little intervention into the space, rearranging the books to make a whole shelf of the conqueror by jan kjæstad – a massive paperback with a distinctive cover.

i loved the obvious idea of a place of literature, where knowledge is the foundation of space (something that john latham would have gone a bit goo goo about).

i also loved also the idea that this situation – a site and non-site of shifting space as the same time. and that small spaces were being created and filled in by books. and that no book was more or less important than another.

the whole colour palette of the place also had me gabbling – the exterior, with the exposed pine beams and then the out-facing pages were all the same colour, because they were all the same ‘stuff’. wood and paper together again.

and then on the inside, the colour explosion was so pleasing to the eye – in a way that something more contrived would just make me wanna vomit. part of me wanted to spend hours in there, organising all the spines by colour. but then the whole bottom floor would probably be orange 🙂

the smell of the place was so comforting and homely. it reminded me of all my favourite bookstores and the times i’ve spent with friends just wandering, head tilted, perusing.

if you’re in to books, in even the slightest way, go see this space at the V&A.

saatchi gallery: newspeak.

newspace too – i didn’t get a chance to pop in last time i was in the hood, so i’m grateful for the opportunity to do so. for the most part, the show was frightful. i haven’t had such a violent opposition to works in a while – there was some real shite there. but, there was also some excellent work, and some obvious themes being investigated, which was intriguing and enlightening. even if i didn’t like the particular works investigating those themes.

new british artists (still mostly painters, according to the saatchi kids – maybe because painting is still the prime-market) are mostly looking at human disfigurement and apparition.

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not part of this show, i loved two works in the two large project galleries: richard wilson’s 20:50 – a beautiful, reflective space made from the gallery filled with oil. the reflection was slightly disconcerting, the smell even more so. and as atmospheric and moody as the work was, i also ended up feeling angry that it somehow vindicates the disaster of oil-space c/- British Petroleum. I felt the need to make the work political by chucking a stack of animals in there to float and then see how beautiful it looked. not that it has anything to do with mr wilson’s formal concerns, i guess.

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the other beautiful work was john wynne‘s pianola composition for 300 speakers – a stack of various speaker boxes, mostly beautiful old ones, with a pneumatic automated playing system that cardiff-miller and meireles would have been proud of.

there were a few other good works, namely the pixel rug and guillotine by rupert norfolk and the boys in the corner by littlewhitehead.

it was great to see the gallery in the flesh – i hadn’t ever seen it. i expect it will be a fairly regular visit for me when i’m in london town now.

*almost funny anecdote about the studio mumbai work: you have to remove your shoes for this exhibit, and while we were putting them back on, we were accosted approached by education staff from the gallery to survey our response to the show. she kinda messed with the wrong sinatra, ‘cos when she asked about how i would describe the show to a friend, little did she know that my friends are all pretty well-versed in architecture/art vernacular and i started rattling on about interstitial spaces and textured experience. ha! what wanker i am.

ark images are from the V&A site and REA.

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hot in the city

i’m sorry if you don’t live in melbourne right now. there is SO much on for anyone who is mildly interested in anything other than the lost finale (which, for the record, i’m not).

firstly, the next wave festival is on and although the first week of stuff didn’t really get my heart started*, there have been some excellent works on and this week i’m finally having that ‘oh crap i need to see 5 things in the one night’ moment. PLUS the emerging writers festival has started!

if you haven’t been down to the meat market to see the structural integrity pavilions and scott mitchell’s smoke machine, for god’s sake brave the cold and do it. it will make it all worthwhile.

and if you’re whinging about how out-of-the-way the meat market it is, i understand. really, i do. but it’s worth it – just get off the 19 tram at queensberry st, it’s pretty easy from there.

the other thing you need to do is come to west space and see the feminist project exhibition, the view from here. and you should buy/read the catalogue. it is the hopeful beginning of the next wave of feminist discourse (see what i did there?).

interestingly, the introduction to the female eunuch could easily be the introduction to this work, whereby we’ve sat on our laurels again got all caught up in raunch culture and fake tans/boob/lips, forgetting that we STILL need to loudly remind ourselves and everyone that exploitation of any kind based on gender (or race, sexual preference or creed for that matter) is not OK.

it’s pretty shit, but i’ve already missed out on the parachutes for ladies’ i thought a musical was being made and tape projects’ 100 proofs the earth is not a globe. if you’re going, i think i might hate you for a while. and if you’re not – join the philistine fan club.

things i will not be missing out on:

great heights 2 at melbourne central tonight, featuring kay abude, sam george, michael georgetti, tegan lewis, andrew liversidge, amy + claire spiers and paul wotherspoon.

the infinity tube near the neck face piece off meyers place (now that it has finally arrived!)

and estelle tang‘s 15 minutes of fame book launch extravaganza, as part of the emerging writers’ festival. estelle’s blog 3000books is one of the best lit blogs going around, so you should read it and come to the events this week. super ace.

two other shows you should see:

glenn walls’ show at john buckley, projects for total urbanism (pictured above). i think it’s in the last couple of days, so you should run to richmond. (yes, lauren. ahem)

and owen leong‘s show, birthmark, at anna pappas. SUCH beautiful photographic works. but you know, i’m biased as he’s a dear friend.

PLUS there are a few things i’ll be missing out on because i’m giving a lecture at RMIT.

so, if you’re not going to grace us with your presence, one of the things you should go and check out the soundkilda music vid competition on at the palace george in st.kilda – showing the hottest music vids on the big screen, which i’m totally into as an idea.

and…actually i can’t remember the others – i live in a purely need-to-know timescale at the moment. ha!

if you’re not in melbourne, i’m sure your week is great – you’ve either got waaay more interesting things to do, or you’re watching re-runs of the lost finale. either way, i’m happy for you. really.

* except the taking it to the streets forum with lucas ihlein on sunday. i’ll talk about that another post.

image credits:
estelle and her facebook page
next wave site
john buckley website
owen leong website
dell stewart and her flickr stream

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shows, shows, shows!

a quarter turn on every screw

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.

“hooray!”

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.

izabela pluta
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.

simone slee
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.

the nothing
west space

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.

territorial pissings
utopian slumps

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.

epilogue

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
kings ARI

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.

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répondez et inserez

just to interrupt our flow of reviewing others’ works. i have some works in a couple of group projects. both have produced beautiful posters, so i think i’ll just save the words and post them instead [click to enlarge].

come and check ’em if you’re in the hood.

UPDATE: here’s the page from the ICH blog on my stuff: jack

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OE

i just got back from a roaring trip to sydney and brisbane. sucking in as much art catch-up as i possibly could in two days for each city. easier said than done.

olafur eliasson at the MCA was a massive drawcard and, thanks to sydney’s terrible public transport, and my awful time management skills in the face of such chaos, i didn’t get to the gallery until friday morning.

funnily enough, it was exactly the kind of exhibition i expected it to be. usually i like surprises in my blockbusters, but there was something extraordinarily comforting about this sense of familiarity.

the mirrored window extension as you first walk in, with its tunnel of one thousand reflections, was perfect for the vista over circular quay and his spectral mirrored architectonic passageway into some of the main galleries was just beautiful. that colour reflective acrylic is an amazing material that seems to be made for OE and his light/colour spectrum schtick.

on either side of the entranceway were two moving light-based works, both reminiscent of film history (especially hitchcock) – one created spaces using the angles of 7 massive quartz light cans and the other used the combination of filter and refraction to create a revolving light/colour installation.

i have seen the lego room before, so didn’t participate, but i wasn’t surprised to see it filled with teenage boys, building their koolhaasian architectural monuments to the phallus. it was so cliche, that it took the glee out of it for me. although i was pleased to see the one asian boy building a great wall-esque extension – going for span rather than height. interesting ethnographic studies in that room abound!

bracketing the lego room were two spaces that investigated pure colour and light. the circular reflection cylinder was dreamy – on a slow time-loop which graded the colour from one end of the spectrum to the other, slowly moving through from violet to red and every shade in between. as i overheard, at no time, were you ever a witness to a single pure colour – always moving from one to the next.

the other colour-light room was all pure colour. yellow (which, strangely, is the single colour i have always associated with OE. probably because of his sun work, but maybe even before that..). whilst loads of visitors were all freaked out by the purple compensation sensation, i enjoyed the strangely flattened depth of field. it was beautiful to just watch the human form in an altered palette – all nostalgic and dreamlike. i could have actually stayed in that room for a really long time, but sadly i had time constraints.

tracking back through the gallery, past the entrance to the southern wing i flicked past the photos of geological colour samples. i kind of found it boring, although it certainly put his practice in to context. and i went straight into the model and print room, where i fell in love with his 3-part colour wheel/palette prints. they were embossed and layed over each other so that the colours were in a wheel, created by an overlapping triptych of prints – with a perfect triangle of space in the middle. oookkkaayyy, so it does sound pretty simple, but my colour/shape/math geek self went a little weak at the knees.

which was backed up by the part of the show that made me go quite silly with love. i call it the tessellation station.

the first room was lined with his moss wall. by this stage of the show, it was whitey-yellow, all the chlorophyl having been drained out of it. in fact, it reminded me of how the great barrier reef is going to look in the not-too-distant-future, will all the coral being bleached out of existence by the lack of ozone.

in that room was the coolest kaleidescope object – aluminium cones joined together to create a myriad of facets and reflections that produced such simple, but beautiful shapes of reflections. these were visible either through being inside the space and looking out through the cones, or from the outside, looking into the cones. even the structure itself, with its quasi-industrial connections and materials. and, at the same time, the whole thing reminded me of something out of Dragonball Z. or something like that.

the final space was the water-room, which was preceeded by an earthenware brick corridor, floor to ceiling, which modulated temperature, insulated the space and acoustically deadened it. although most treated it as an interstitial space, i loved that in and of itself.

so much so that i forgot to go back into the cloud room. d’oh! if you’re going to the show in the next 4 weeks, don’t do that. go all the way to the end and into the cloud room. especially if you don’t have the chance to go back. like i don’t. boo!

anyway, the OE show is fantastic. i was a little concerned that the show might end up being an extension of ego and i would end up hating mr eliasson, or at least feel slimey afterwards. not so – its timbre is so perfectly weighted that i could go back again and again and again.

bravo!

image credits: all pinched from the mca site.

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art date!

owen and i have been going on a regular art date – taking advantage of our flexible hours and keeping up the enthusiasm for seeing shit. it has been che gorgeous to share spaces and artists with each other – to have some perfectly timed discussion about art, the universe and everything. and always starting with coffee at brother baba budan.

we’ve been making a point of going to galleries that either of us have never been to before and it has been a helluva lot of fun. oh, and we’ve seen some good works too.

i’m hoping to start posting about the stuff we see regularly (and put a halt to all that self-referential hoo-har from this year), but in the mean time, here’s a quick ‘digest’ in 140 characters or less.

tolarno: patricia piccini
divine space. welcome return to her beautiful and grotesque visceral sculptures: cronenberg-esque. scored a fabulous free poster. huzzah!

murray white room: judith van heeren
dramatic space: echo chamber goodness. paintings were reminiscent of zavros, minus the majesty. sadley, they were completely lost in the space.

anna pappas: vipoo srivilasa
jury is still out on this one: old, bold works intrigued. this style: not so sure, but interested in learning.

C3: OMFUG group show
great to see the gallery really establishing a mark. missed the hit and miss performance, loved simon’s sign and adam’s hoax.

C3: nicky wynnychuk
nicky conceptual scultpures/installations are going to be amazing in a different setting, but here: dark, broody boy art. heart-broken.

kings ari: december shows: tai snaith, jade walsh and the video battle b/w insight, kings and first draft.
3 toptastic shows: love jade walsh! video battle: ace idea, lacked ace content (FD #1!). tai’s work ‘kawa-i ne-‘: some yay, some nae.

this week we had to postpone, but for our last date of the year, we’re going to go and see jenny holzer at ACCA and probably hang out in the NGV International. I haven’t seen the Bill Viola yet (shame!) and i think it’s a great opportunity to lay about out underneath the leonard french stained-glass.

image credit: chris and sanne at the Beelden aan Zee Museum in NL. via jumping in art museums

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