it’s all about the planes

so, if i’m going to generalise wildly and irresponsibly about art, then i’ll say this:

london is all about totty, berlin is all about the planes.

in the last week and a bit, i’ve seen a creepy amount of artworks here about airplanes, airports, travel and flying. i don’t know whether it’s just me, or whether it really is a ‘thing’.

last week i caught the last day of the most-excellent exhibition at the deutsche guggenheim by roman ondàk: do not walk outside this area. the exhibition was primarily about constructing narratives and realities from slices of life, using sculpture, text, found imagery and a fucking big airplane wing.

i vaguely remember seeing his postcard works before; in which he and his wife sent franceso bonami from the fondazione sandretto re rebaudengo postcards from around the world with the same stamp: “we are still alive”, and i like the combination of faux optimism, cutting commentary on the privilege of travel and safety and the process of continuing to send these things from around the world.

and, the rest of the works in the show were way better than these (including the brilliant ‘newspaper clippings’ of eastern european news with all the leading images of people queueing or waiting).

and, the two rooms of the gallery were bridged by the wing of a domestic airplane. complete with the words: DO NOT WALK OUTSIDE THIS AREA.
the audience were invited to walk the wing to get to the other room, although not outside the area.
i was excited. how often do i get to walk on a plane wing? never. and especially as i had literally alighted a plane not an hour prior to attending the show and i had seen those words on the wing outside my window, as we flew into berlin (although they were in french having flow air france, natch).

a few days later, i went to tempelhof to get a bit of open air, check out the crazy airport (having recently finished lights out in wonderland) and i stumble upon the raumlabor berlin exhibition the world is not fair. whilst i liked the idea of having an exhibition at tempelhof, for its peculiar space as a public recreation space that still very much looks like an overgrown public transport space, the works that i did see on foot were a little bit shit.

they were all super-open super-relational communal spaces. which, in theory is great. but i feel like a whole lot of art and architecture at the moment is going for the Occupy ‘aesthetic’, for community’s sake and missing a bit about what art actually brings to people. i’m not down with it. as i said to a friend yesterday ‘a shanty is a shanty, regardless of whether its in an art exhibition or not’. but that is another rant.

Then yesterday i go to TANAS/Edition Block (another amazing, consistent gallery in Berlin with a fantastic show) and there’s another work about planes and airport. One in which a group of artists try to make a ‘tattoo’ of a plane at Tempelhof on the grass, so it’ll be seen from Google Earth.  yes, well.

I spent a lot of my childhood in airports and on planes, discussing flight schedules, maintenance plans and the politicking of australian airports, thanks to a father who worked in the airlines. Sometimes i get nostalgic about that whole travel/engineering culture.  But if i’m honest, I’d rather see works about sexy bodies at the moment.

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public institutions

love

Often my work about art in public space has more of an art leaning – sound, performance, space, etc.

Lately, it’s been focused on the public bit. The bios politikos seen in hannah arendt‘s the human condition.  Gender and sexual identity are a massive part of what drives my high horse, especially when it comes to public insitutions and, unsurprisingly, i’ve been supporting recent pushes for marriage equality across sexual orientation.

As it stands, i think the institution of marriage is in a bit of a state – it needs to be reconnected to the reasons for having an area of law that governs relationships between people that combine emotion and posessions and effect how succession is legislated (ie: families).

This is a little something of what I wrote to the Senate for their inquiry into the issue:

I have family who have been afforded protection by the Marriage Act who have been violent, abusive, financially negligent and hold complete disregard for the rights of their spouses.

I have family and dear friends who are in loving, committed relationships – who uphold the human rights of their partners, who participate in their communities, who value love, support and financial stability, yet who are not afforded the same rights when it comes to participating in the institution of marriage.

In every other way they uphold the responsibilities of their entitlement to being protected by the Marriage Act. And yet their sexual orientation (something for which their employment, education and citizenship itself cannot be discriminated against) is the only quality which continues to exclude them.

This is not right.

What it says about Australia is that our Marriage Act, and the institution of marriage is only for the protection of a certain percentage of our population, many of whom we allow to continue abusing it and corrupting it without recourse.

I support marriage equality, as it will realign our institution of Marriage with the kind of values it needs to continue: love, committment, participation in the community and upholding the human rights of our loved ones.

I would like Australia’s politikos to be as robust as possible.

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all the sydney ladies*

last week i popped over to prahran to check out the luscious ladies exhibiting in a bunch of spaces there. apparently people live south of the yarra, and if you’re one of those people, you should get yourself to see some of these works – they’re most excellent. triumphant and non-heinous, even.

michaela gleave

i first came across michaela and her work when i was in sydney – she was on the board at first draft and made an amazing cloud room. more recently, she and kate mitchell hit headlines with their wall work for next wave (which i missed), so i made sure that i went to anna pappas to see her persistent optimism installation – another interaction with the form of water, but mostly through the system of irrigation and perhaps the waste of it that the western world puts up with.

it was such a delightful piece – i giggled with glee as i ran my hand under the spouting silver ‘shower’ – the joy of having a mess, a generator and a working, mechanical, loud work in a commercial gallery also filled me with joy.
i also appreciated the similarity, in parts, of her work to michael georgetti (another anna pappas artist) in the ‘spurting’ of material, which then makes the mark. georgetti spurts paint or wax, gleave spurts silver paper, but they both leave this art-based ejaculate as both the mark and the trace of the process. i think the expressionists would love that shit.

sadly, the work came down on saturday, so you’ll just have to take my word for how rad it was. and if you collect art and didn’t buy it, then bully for you – i hope you missed out. when i make a squillion, i’m going to buy a work by michaela, that’s for sure.

raquel ormella

some of you may remember me salivating over raquel’s electronic whiteboard work at the sydney biennale in 2008. i still remember that work vividly. anyway, she’s currently got work at uplands gallery – 2 video pieces that document a walk through a heritage-listed forest, walking through clearfells.

it sounds a bit dull, i know, but as i sat there and watched the 2 pieces/3 screens concurrently, i was struck by the immense beauty of the landscape, the intensity of the walking and the altered spatial viewpoint. i was also captured by the relationship between the birdseye view of the landscape seen in her videos, and the indigenous relationship to country represented through painting.

it was almost like she had adroitly transferred traditional dreaming dot-painting into video format.

i hope that doesn’t insult raquel or indigenous painters, but i really valued seeing the works that way. and through seeing them that way, i was transported to the lands she was walking through. i felt what that forest was like – its damp, cool and pungent fertile cover. and also the fracture of the widespread clearing that is happening.

one thing i was disappointed with was (i’m assuming) uplands attention to the space. in order to darken the front room, they had plastered newspaper across the streetfront windows. it was pretty slapdash and i almost didn’t go in, assuming it had closed up. i don’t really like the new space at at the best of times, so i felt like this was such a dishonour to the space and the work itself. and if it was part of the work, well, it was a bit of an add-on and i would advise against it next time.

however, you have 5 days left to go and see the show, so do. just ignore the closed-up look and soak in the lush atmosphere.

abbey mcculloch

paintergirl has done an excellent review of abbey’s show, cabin fever, over at the vine, but i just wanted to quickly add something to it because i think it’s a superfantastic exhibition.

friends have a stark, black’n’white linear painting of hers in their loungeroom. it’s a beautiful pouty girl with long hair over one eye, and the dark outline is bang-on. i’ve always loved abbey’s line.

so, from that, imagine my surprise and shock at the vivid colour and relatively painterly images that almost hit me in the face when i walked into helen gory.

sometimes i don’t cope with change very well and my first reaction was disappointment – disappointment that her beautiful disegno line had flipped over into the colour tonal range.

thankfully i flipped back pretty quickly. in this series of hostesses, mcculloch has just upped her skills as a painter and has been able to combine the melding of colour, with the detail of line (especially her awesome way of doing teeth and pouty mouths) to make works that ooze the right amount of everything.

in terms of technique, there’s something a little bit francis bacon about them, mixed with an enthusiasm and intense colour palette that bacon wouldn’t have been able to muster even if he ate turquoise.

unsurprisingly, the works (and the drawings in the project space) were completely sold out and i can’t tell you how pleased i am about that. i have a difficult relationship with painting – i love it with all my heart and hate the arrogance which the field continues to display. but painters like abbey mcculloch (who are so over the discussion about painting and just make beautiful works using paint) restore my love in it all over again.

if you have the chance and you don’t go and see this show, you’re a bigger fool than i am.

*i know abbey isn’t from sydney, but i bought a cheap poetic licence for the occasion.

image credits: all images courtesy of the artist and the galleries who represent them. i pinched them from the gallery websites, except michaela gleave – i got that from live guide whilst the anna pappas site was offline.

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as easy as

SCARY

when i was in london last time, i popped along to help out at an opening for the east end arts club in shoreditch. EEAC are as close to an ARI as london has right now and it’s such a relief to go to a gallery where things are not in absolutely pristine order. i like my regularity, but please give me something that’s a little loose every now and again too. i know that sounds like a backhanded compliment to helen and the gang, but i promise, it’s all love.

anyway, their next project is about the alphabet.

anyone that has ever been within coo-ee of the east end should have a relationship with the alphabet. between eine’s shutter door alphabet series, the myriad of art spaces, graphic and/or design studios and book shops, the east end loves its letters.

so, obviously it makes sense for the east end arts club to have a group exhibition about those 26 adorable figures. featuring 26 artists with all kinds of interpretations of the alphabet, ‘said, why eggs?‘ is going to be ace. there’ll be an installation by Swifty, which should be interesting, and a bunch of lovely LtdEd prints on sale too. [i’m lookin’ at you, mr gower…].

the deets:
“Said, why eggs?”
Private view: Thursday 7th May 6-9pm
Saturdays 12-4pm
Sundays 12-6pm Until 31st May

Swanfield Yard
2b Swanfield Street E2 7DS (Just off Redchurch Street, top Brick Lane) [ooh, and grab a bagel on the way.. heh]

Swifty/Catherine Aguilar/Helen Lang/Mark Perronet/Tate Sisters/Phil Sheffield/Jess & George/Trent Siddharta/Anthony Peters/Chu/Ben Allen/Angie Crowe/Lucie Sheridan/Art House/James Brown/Bangkokney Belle/Michael Vanderson/Hennie Haworth/Jennifer Camilleri/Owen Tozer/Alan Dempsey/Amy Wicks/Elliott Wilson/Ben Eine/DrD

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new 09

last week i popped in to see this year’s ‘new’ show at ACCA, new09 – it was awesome. and it was awesome for it to be awesome, given that the last couple of been a bit, well, un-awesome. almost to the point of meh. (translation: it was good, thankfully as previous exhibitions have been disappointing)

while a fair few of the artists this year are hardly brand-spanking new on the scene, the show itself was a pretty tight snapshot of some hot young thangs:

simon yates

new09 girl robot

simon yates makes awesome ‘matic’ works – i remember that i loved his robot and drawings from primavera a few years ago – and his interactive robot type things here are fantastic. tissue over a wire armature, on wheels and radio controlled, the boy and the girl appear to interact, but then it’s a bit random. and you’re never quite sure if they’re responding to you, or repelled by you. nice metaphors actually.

they’re a great start to the show and it’s nice to see works activating the (newly refurbished) foyer space at ACCA. in fact, it feels like a place to actually sit and read books/drink coffee. unlike before, when i always just wanted to get the fuck out 🙂

justine khamara

“father, i have sinned. i have used adolescent pop-culture as a frame of reference in viewing art. please forgive my shallowness.”

“say three hail marys and give up television for a week.”

my first impression of justine’s work was, sadly, holly from red dwarf. in fact, the first words that popped into my head were “hello dave”. i know. i’m sorry. it couldn’t be helped.

but, having got that out of the way, these works are beautiful and elicited a sense of curiosity about the human face in 3D that intrigued me. i was able to really check out the detail of this photo-sculpture version of a man, up close and personal. in a way that i would probably never do. even towards my husband – i just walked up and analysed his face. which was strangely sexual and scientific at the same time. and it carried forth the idea about interaction and engagement with works, which the yates’ robots had started.

pat foster and jan breamans

given the amount of love for these two about at the moment, i’m afraid to say that their work excites me not. and it’s not like i haven’t tried – i’ve been to see them/their work at MAF08, SCAPE08, Gertrude Studio 12 and now New 09 (numbers, numbers, numbers) – but their broken structures and interventions into ‘institutions’ leave me a little bored. zero desire to interact. maybe i’m not trying hard enough.

benjamin armstrong

i’m used to benjamin’s organo-creatures.. brightly coloured visceral-type things and was looking forward to seeing what he had for new09. and, as much as i loved the forms, there was something not-quite-the-same as the white sculptures that inhabited the room. it’s almost as though the alien was there, but had died and gone to some kind of matrix-esque purgatory.

matthew griffin

i didn’t get a chance to hear a whole lot of these conversations, interactions between mattehew and peter stringer, but i loved the concept and the way they were displayed – singular screens of each ‘participant’ and then one for the conversation as the sum of its parts. i’m well into the subject of discussion/discourse in art at the moment, so i’m looking forward to going back and sitting down to listen.

marco fusinato

new09 marco fusinato

i’ve been a fan of marco fusinato’s work since i read a conversation between him and sean gladwell in an artspace publication years ago. i’ve always loved his relationship with sound/signal/rhythm/code and am trying to figure out a way to go to the artist talk tomorrow.

unsurprisingly, i loved this work. and it may or may not have overtaken any feeling i had for the other works in the show. the installation is a huge x-like lighting rig with sexy silver scaffolding, a fine mess of leads, couplings, bolts, sandbags, amps and a sensor.

it is rock and roll.

the sensor is delayed and sets off the work, which ends up in a blast beat of light, sound and intensity of experience. it is brilliant. in fact, when it went off in front of me, or actually, behind me as i was facing the corner, i had to yell out ‘thank you london!!!’ it was straight out of stadium rock – a musical experience that is Spectacle101 and the ‘highest’ point of performance that you can get, when it comes to the 4/4 beat.

and even in its ‘off’ state, the work is impressive without being gradiose or arrogant. it states its place firmly and with a quiet dignity – which is something that i’ve always found about fusinato’s work.

brodie ellis

the sky-cam construction by ellis was an interesting antidote to the full-on light works by fusinato and probably worth revisiting when i go back. i always find ceiling-based works intriguing, in terms of the viewer’s gaze and obvious change in perspective, and did with this work too – especially the whole ‘looking up at looking down’ kind of perspective. in fact, i remember thinking at the time, of all the hours i spend in the pool, looking up at the sky. and wondering what it must be like to spend hours looking down. sadly, the sculptural work in the room wasn’t something i connected with – perhaps in a different context i would, but thankfully, it didn’t detract from the work as a whole either and i left the gallery feeling buoyed and excited.

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in the galleries

i’ve been rather busy lately with my own stuff – making work, being part of exhibitions, writing [successful-ish] proposals and doing uni presentations. with all that, i haven’t had too much of a chance to really absorb other shows, other than any that i might be involved in somehow. the right segue would be ‘and so, in the interest of being non-biased, i went out and saw a bunch of shows not connected to me, my uni, or my friends’. unfortunately, it would be an out-and-out lie, so you’ll just have to put up with it.

urban interior
occupation 1
craft victoria

for the last 2 weeks to saturday, various members of the RMIT design research cluster have been occupying craft victoria, using it as an art/design lab of sorts and researching what the true parameters are of an interior space within this ever-growing urban environment. so far, i’ve been to:

opening occupation, tuesday 9th september. the gallery, usually full of objects, was completely devoid of them, making room for people to define the space. there were just people in there, talking, drinking, discussing stuff and finding out about the range of ways that the occupationists are going to be working with the space until the 27th.

nomadic archive, wednesday 10th september. moving some of the archives from the frances burke textile library, the works including textile swatches,

visualising air phase, thursday 11th september.
if i’m really honest, i thought this was going to be lame, but went because, well, i’m an open-minded kinda gal sometimes. turns out it was fucking amazing! it was a cross between a rave cave, tron and a 3D digital visualisation exercise. it was quite amazing to see ‘air’ in the form of CO2 being highlighted with lasers, shaped through various perfomance-based movements and the creation of space with the horizontal lines from the beams. it was hella trippy, but in a good way.

stockhausen: nachtmusik für zwei and the ephemeral urban room, thursday 18th september
the huge projections by rochus hinkel and ian de gruchy completely transformed the space from the relatively sparse place it was last week. the exterior of craft victoria was projected within the gallery – producing the inside outside, outside inside. it also took up the whole space and as a result gave you an experience of a building, up close. the added projection of the view up flinders lane added a moving image element to the room, which was great – especially the times when huge delivery vans would drive across the back wall and fuck with your sense of perspective and space.

the stockhausen performance by michael fowler and collaborators was amazing and ended in me having a cut eye: schmerzen für stockhausen! in an attempt to contribute to the performance, my friend and i ran to the mic situated outside the building, on the fire escape. in carrying my bike up the stairs, in order to ‘play’ the turning spokes, i bashed it against a down-pipe i didn’t see, which in turn bashed itself against my head. result: blood and bruising. mission: only half accomplished – the outside mic had been turned down during the performance and we weren’t as part of it as much as we thought! ha!

colloquium and closing occupation dinner, saturday 20th september
this was a bit of an extended wrap – each of the occupationists spoke about their particular occupation, amongst a group of invited guests, their peers (and 1 gate-crasher, ahem). ross gibson was a guest presenter and he spoke about his ‘occupation’ as part of the biennale of sydney, in terms of a series of ‘co-‘ words: complexity, conversation, complacency, cosmopolitanism and conviviality. i found it quite interesting to hear everyone speak, although i was a bit confused as to the purpose of the presentations – whether they were academic, or intended as a more audience-based artist talk. they seemed to be a little in both camps, and thus a little alienating.
after the presentations and some interesting discussion about everything that came up, we had a lovely dinner, made by the same peeps as the ride-on dinner crew and a chance to chat with everyone. it was such a nice way to finish a pretty intense ‘residency’ and something a little different to anything i had seen previously at craft vic.

belle bessin/natalie ryan/rob mcleish/
west space

i mostly served people drinks at the opening for this show, but i did get a chance to have a quick peek, thankfully. natalie ryan is my new favourite thing this year – i think i’ve now seen her in 3 shows this year: Kings and in 2 at West Space. her show here was the flipside to the black works at Kings – a white light room, with a strange museological installation of 3 animalesque stuffed figures, covered in flock. strange, distorted and slightly frightening creatures, they reminded me of something in between a matthew barney prop and something that michael zavros might paint. it was eery and beautiful at the same time – which i think is surely the definition of grotesque, right? in fact, it’s work like natalie’s that completely supports the theory going round that we’re now in a phase of the neo-baroque. perhaps i will write on that another time.

i liked rob mcleish’s works, his boy humour still holds its weight with great works, and i love a good chunk of melted plastic in a work, but unfortunatly it suffered from the swarm of i-read-three-thousand-and-i-wear-oversized-shirts-and glasses-with-undercut-hair-hipsters. i’m getting too old to have a high tolerance of the 80s again.

belle bessin’s work was OK, although it didn’t really engage me personally. the drawings were exquisite, but, well, meh. sorry.

niels oeltjen
makingdoo
lamington drive

i think lamington drive is going to be a regular haunt for me. it’s not far from work and the shows they’ve had there so far have been pretty tight. i think the thing i love most about the place is the display case in the middle of the show, which has ‘support material’ related to the show, but not objects for sale. it’s the artistic version of ‘showing your workings’. the paintings by niels are beautiful – nothing too complex, but not simplistic or naive either. niels is part of the letterbox crew, so it was nice to see another side of his creative work.

within earshot
first site gallery,RMIT

this was just a small show, based around the idea of sound. and, actually, i wasn’t there long – but it was a good show and sometimes a quick game’s a good game. having said that, a large reason that i wasn’t there for long is that i was starving. the other reason i didn’t stay long is because there was a work there that fucked with my head. literally. a series of fibreglass pregnant ladies emitting a high frequency and my ears and brain just couldn’t stand it any longer. Not that i didn’t appreciate the artistic merit, it was an involuntary reaction. The other works there were pretty cool too – a great mixture between sound and ceramics: tapes playing out of mini amps made from broken pots and sound equipment mushed into towers of fired clay. then in the little room a cute little installation about architecture/place – a bit of a leaning homage to the bits and pieces that make place, especially in terms of memory. formally, it looked a little like a rem koolhaas pisstake, which i’d give extra props for.

that’s it for the moment – but fringe started last night, so expect a rash of reviews about cool shit i’m seeing over the next couple of weeks!

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