after a discussion with a director from another gallery yesterday, i feel the need to jump on a bit of a soap box, and plug my upcoming project at the same time. the discussion began about the work at Campbelltown for the Sydney Biennale and how it’s slightly tokenistic, and a long trek for sydney-siders to head there, for 6 artists, one artist talk and a lot of wide open space. i can kind of see where this is coming from and i’m all for making a much bigger deal out of shows in the regional areas in general, however, there is still that Sydney-centric attitude that comes with that idea. firstly, those from the outer limits trek for over an hour each way to see crap shows in Sydney all the time and although we complain about the train timetables, rarely do i bitch about having to have a ‘bigger deal’ about the show to go and see it. i don’t expect an artist talk for every art exhibition i see, in fact i’m pleased that i don’t have to deal with that each time! a spectacular takes the artwork away from being part of the vernacular, which is what we want (and that kind of rhymed nicely, don’t you think..)
and back to the Biennale.. as a very outer suburb of Sydney, I think it’s great that the Campbelltown show is as understated as the rest of the satellite venues – there is almost 3 months to check this work out – an extra hour on the train isn’t going to really kill anyone and the fact of the matter is, it’s about inclusion and not being patronising or condescending about the distance between the metropolitan centre and the outlying suburbs/towns. “Oh, the poor gems don’t get much good art, so we have to really spruce it up a little”.. OK, so we may have a much smaller percentage of decent contemporary art in these areas, but it’s still up to us to produce the gritty artists without the constant reliance on the city centre. it’s called sustainability.
Aaron Hull,Corroded Memories – Tainted Vision (video still)
which segues nicely into the plug for the show i’m co-curating with moira kirkwood: liminal personae. opening night is on Friday 30th June and it features 11 diverse artists: Susan Norrie, Laurens Tan, Anita Larkin, Aaron Hull, Megan Sproats, Jade Pegler, John Massingham, Joanne Handley, Luis Trujillo, Iain Whittaker and May Barrie.
Laurens Tan, Dance of Trucks
the exhibition is partly about investigating these same issues of attitudes towards artists from non-metropolitan areas, both from the satellite town and from the metropolis point of view but the exhibition itself doesn’t have a singular theme, per se. instead, we chose a selection of artists who personify liminal personae ‘threshold people – who live on the edge, who are on the outer, who walk the line or who flaunt it in various ways. and most of those artists happen to live in wollongong, because we live here, but the idea applies to anywhere or anyone that isn’t part of the sydney/melbourne art fashionista enclave. that all sounds a bit spiteful, but it’s really about creating the sense of possibility. artistes sans frontiers maybe?
Anita Larkin, Terra Firma
in having such an open premise for the exhibition, it’s been hard to categorise, summarise or pin down, which reflects exactly the nature of the show and the artists themselves anyway, so i’m pleased about that. and i’m really excited about the collection of artists who are on board, as well as our fantastic essayist, shivaun weybury who has gnawed on the ideas and ramifications of the show, and come up with a fantastic essay in the really spiffy catalogue. and although it’s going to wreck me, i’m actually loooking forward to installing on the weekend. there are bits of walls being pulled out and lights being flashed all over the place, huge paintings being hung on specialised pulley systems – Project is going to get a real working over and that in itself is really exciting!
John Massingham, Untitled 4
and after it’s all over, i’m going on holidays i tells ya!