surprise, surprise, surprise!! GoMA and the APT5

OK, so it may be a severe case of Emperor’s New Clothes, but honestly, i don’t care right now. I’ve just touched down in Melbourne town after 3 days in Brisvegas and i spent half that time at the new Gallery of Modern Art and checking out APT5 and i’m going to rave about it. and no, i can’t wait ’til after xmas ‘cos there are other shows to see and blogger have got me on time & a half over the holidays! lol!

However, I can’t be bothered spending time crafting a well-thought out introduction, conclusion and a body that flows, so i’m going to go point form. if it works for the art life, it can bloody well work for me ๐Ÿ™‚

lauren’s top 5 for the new GoMA

Rachel Whiteread25 Spacesthanks to the QAG website

1. Rachel Fucking Whiteread!! Rachel Whiteread is one of my favourite artists and on my trip to London next year, it’s already my mission to check out as much of her work as i possibly can, so imagine my glee at seeing one in the flesh. there it was, Twenty-Five Spaces in all its resinous glory.

parochial reaction? you betcha!!

i saw it there, up on the top floor of the contemporary collections galleries, almost fainted as i’d already fried my brain from going through the other 3 floors of the gallery, did a little excited dance and then had to leave, so i wouldn’t actually faint.

i came back the next day and was able to hang out with the twenty-five spaces for a while. i drew one of the blocks, sketched an aerial perspective, crafted some of my own space-based ideas and left, begrudgingly. it was love at first and second sight.

2. Vernon Ah Kee. This man is.. This woman is..

Dear Mr Ah Kee,
You bastard! In the many years i have spent in front of artworks, in galleries around Australia and around the world, i have never cried. I fucking cried in front of your work This Man Is.. This Woman Is. Yes, cried. I bawled my eyes out and instead of watching Tracy Moffat’s work, i stood in the projection room sobbing. and instead of just glancing at your work, i read every single fucking piece. and i wrote as many as i could down. and i got cranky with anyone who couldn’t give a fuck enough to read the pieces. so thanks a bunch. i couldn’t just let the injustices of colonisation be swept under the carpet. i had to fucking feel something. you’ll be hearing more about this later.


Yayoi Kusama, Soul Under The Moon

3. Yayoi Kusama Soul Under the Moon.
Kusama’s silver balls in the watermall was the highlight of my last APT, but getting to experience the breadth and sheer vastness of the Soul Under Moon piece was fucking awesome! I do it any justice in describing it, but if you have the chance to step out in to the ether and gaze at infinity +1, do it. And make sure you’re wearing at least some white ‘cos it’s all under blacklight and you’ll look hot!

4. Liu Xiao Xian The Way We Eat.
Such a simple piece, but so clearly proving the superfluosity (well, it’s a word now) of western culture through the basic symbols of our cutlery as the system of our consumption. On one side of the red velvet-lined cabinetm, made from slipcast porcelain is a full ‘silver service’ spread of butter knives, table knives, salad forks, desert forks, soup spoons, servers, etc, etc, etc. The other, two chopsticks.

5. Yasumasa Morimura Blinded By the Light
I really like Peter Breughel‘s Parable of the Blind, so i was so pleased to see Morimura’s appropriation and comment on the power of western commercialisation on Asian culture

other works that rate a mention include Kentridge‘s Zeno Writing, Ah Xian‘s heads, Rosalie Gascoigne‘s street signs and Jon Cattapan‘s Passage Set 2004.

APT5 2006, the triennial on a leap year. to be honest, i was more blown away at the last APT, but this APT is solid. And what i liked about it was it was well-rounded. there seemed to be less artists, but more opportunity to explore some of the ideas of those artists, rather than a theme-based, biennale type thing where it’s all about the token and squeezing everyone in.

the ground floors of each gallery featured work from the APT, which had a whole bunch of great works. here’s the list:

lauren’s top 5 for APT5

1. Anish Kapoor. Oh my goodness, this UK/Indian artist is the king of contemporary sculpture in my book! the extremely fragile pigment works that are in the APT are divine and i could have spent way more time in the cordoned area, except i was wary of all the people lining up to get in waiting for me. His 1000 Names steps were so luscious to my she sees red eyes and the womb-like tunnel of red love was so, well, yummmy! The book was $135, so unfortunately i couldn’t take some Kapoor lovin’ home with me, but it will be mine one day ๐Ÿ™‚

2. Tsuyoshi Ozawa
Ozawa had several works that were really successful in this year’s triennial. The first series, which was from the Vegetable Weapons series, initially reminded me of Simryn Gill’s work from the 2004 Sydney Biennale. However, i felt that this work was far more poignant and well-presented. The arrangement of food to become weapons was fantastic and also challenged stereotypes of the images of fear that we are often exposed to.
As well as the vegetables, Ozawa curated the Nasubi Gallery: a collection of milk boxes as small galleries. Based in the Ginzu district of Japan and a piss-take of the Nabisu Gallery there, he invited all the artists from the APT to create works in these “galleries”, my favourite of which was the Medicine Cabinet by Justine Cooper. The whole concept of Nasubi Gallery (translated as Eggplant Gallery) is right up my alley, appealing to my sense of cheekiness, and up there with Wrong Gallery in terms of turning gallery spaces on their heads.

Tsuyoshi Ozawa,Seafood Hot Pot

4. Yuken Teruya.
The Notice Forest by Teruya was such a simple display but filled with poignancy about commercialisation, globalisation and the disposable nature of western culture (yes, even the arts). The japanese artist creates these amazing tree paper sculptures in and with disposable paper bags from the likes of McDonalds, Hungry Jacks, Lush and even OzCo get a guernsey! Craft-wise, the works are exquisite and conceptually, they’re sharp and witty as well. I loved it!

Yuken TeruyaBlue Tree
Thanks to Saatchi Gallery

5. Zhou Xiaohu
Part of the Long March Project, looking at the Cultural Revolution in China and the rise to power of Mao Tse-Tung, Xiaohu created an amazing diorama in the round of power and dictatorship in clay. It looked like chocolate (which was a fantastic aspect of the work) and the enormity of the piece, combining ceramic works and DVDs of sound and basic clay-animation was really engaging.

Zhou XiaohuUtopian theatre (detail)
Thanks to

so, if you’re umming and aahing about whether to make the trip to the APT, just do it. There is some great stuff there! I didn’t even get a chance to go into the new State Library, which has a really snazzy new building, even if the cafe is a fucking rip off. I also didn’t get to IMA or Rawspace, like i wanted to, so make sure you take your time there when you go!

Have a great holiday period everyone! For those who mourning the lack of blog action over the xmas break, don’t worry, i got plenty coming ๐Ÿ™‚

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

i know i said i wouldn’t, but…

.. i went to the opening at first draft on wednesday night.

it was fucking great though – bit of xmas theme happening with striped candy canes and other coloured lollies, the 1/2 dozen boys were selling their 2006 catalogue, which i can highly recommend, and there were some really great artists on show.

in the front room, michael moran was showing not here (to make sad songs sincere)ink works on paper that were damn cool – text based works with just enough angst to be spicy, but no so much that i wanted to vomit. my favourite was the one attached to the front window of the front space. not a traditionally easy place to install a framed work, it actuallly fit perfectly and conveyed a bit of a philosophy in a way – it is what it is, because it is.

emma van leest, whose work from a homage to a private place i had previously seen in her studio (as a sneak peak walking past with her fellow studio buddy), was skating out the doors. they were beautiful cut paper dioramas, with a really oldy-worldy type feel. something about them reminded me of rudyard kipling and the jungle book, for some reason. maybe i had a pop-up book version that looked like one, but anyway, they were so delicate and inviting and cheap!

and to go with the jungle book theme (well, my jungle book theme) in the back room was the riki tik tavi installation. with a pile of rubble in the middle of the floor – the result of a performance of the smashing of huge bits of rock, some paper works and small video works. the video works were the strongest and my favourites were cabin fever and woodstock wood, featuring kate and marley playing ‘games’ of sorts – the friendly rivalry type. the first one was within a brown wooden bird-house type-thing (which, according to the room sheet is a dog kennel, but i prefer bird-house) which you peered into, and featured them piercing a can of woodstock bourbon mixer and skulling it. you didn’t see them throwing up, but boy it was close. the one prior to that, (cabin fever) which i think was better viewed second (‘cos that’s how i viewed it, and it was hilarious) was them, in a sauna, with sailor hats on, saluting for as long as possible before one person faltered. thankfully i was able to talk to kate and got the low-down ‘cos i didn’t realise that they were in a sauna, or what the deal with the game was, but you still got the essence of competition and the fun of it all. it was all quite amusing.

it was a great way to end the year for sydney shows and a nice vibe, with lots of people, lots of chat, good art, good sales and nice weather. i left at exactly the right time, and as i was heading back to the country terminal, everything kind of felt right with the artworld. just like a rudyard kipling book.

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more biennale and alumni sentimentality

After having to deal with ridiculously toxic fumes seeping into our building yesterday, we all scampered off from work to save what was left of our vital organs and I found myself with an opportunity to catch up on some more of the biennale.
I decided to catch up on the ACP to see the work by Olga Chernysheva and to wander up to the National Art School to check out the Ranjani Shettar, a work I had seen a preview of in the ‘comfort zones’ intranet terminal at the MCA and was busting to see it. I popped into the other gallery space at NAS first, to check out the other 2 works as a token jesture. The space itself was amazing – it was where i used to spend many an hour – where the library got moved to in my 2nd year and rightly so (or perhaps coincidentally, although i like to think not) the Emily Jacir book works were there. Both aspects of it looked amazing and the story behind it was great as well, although I really was just there for the Ranjani Shettar.

Ranjani Shettar Just a bit more

Now I’ve been banging on about the Antony Gormley Asian Field since the first day of the Biennale and thought that nothing came close to topping it. Well, Ranjani’s work has marching in to a very close 2nd on my list of alltime favourite works from Zones of Contact, as I knew it would. The work is exquisite to the same degree that the Gormley is grand. The beads of dyed wax held together by jute are amazing and are almost stellar in their composition. The huge nets of colour gradation are set out in waves, which relate to the theme of water (according to the interview on the afformentioned intranet), and although i saw that aspect and was impressed, my own personal joy came from the idea of these works being constellations, mapping out stars, planets, universes, peoples, systems, souls. The whole thing seemed quite cosmic and a non-hippy kind of way and it made my spine tingle. That’s 2 works that have made my spine tingle from this festival – that’s not bad. And because the Shettar was a single work in an amazing gallery space, previously the gaol chapel, it was given the reverence it required. I know that not quite as many people will see it as if it were in the AGNSW, but I think it deserved the quietitude and solitariness of the NAS Chapel, over and above marrauding hordes of school kids and pensioners on bus tours.

Hanging out at the National Art School, I caught up with dear friends, Sarah Mosca, Damian Dillon and Paolo Iarossi, great artists who work there, who I’ve previously worked with and who I went through the school with. It was fantastic to catch up on the gossip, discuss our dreams for the future, what we’d be willing to put up with as far as constraints on our work and what we’re working on now. And I realised that I have become incredibly sentimental about my old college! I missed seeing these guys on a regular basis, I missed aspects of the campus, I even want to exhibit in the new spaces once they become available (note to the new curator of the NAS galleries) -can you believe it?! If someone had’ve said to me 3.5 years ago that I would be having lunch with ex-classmates and TAs, I’d be cooing over the campus and wanting to exhibit as alumni, I think i would have spat in their face! Now, I’m realising how important it really is in my life. Now I don’t think I’m going to go out and sprout about the place or get all bombastic about it, but it’s kind of nice to think that I have a whole resource of ex-students and teachers that I can still use and that having that sense of ‘family’ or companionship in the mire that is the local art sector, is worthwhile. Now that I come to think of it, it was probably one of the reasons I went to art school in the first place!

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ketchup and inspiration

it’s been ages since i’ve written a blog here and i’ve had so much to catch up on! last wednesday was a day of inspiration for me: went to the preview of the Sydney Biennale and saw some great stuff, but the Antony Gormley Field was fucking amazing. It’s been a really long time since I’ve stood in front of a piece of artwork and had goosebumps, and this piece gave me a serious case of them. It was sublime. Standing in front of it, i almost cried with the expanse of it all as well as, for me, a sense of history about the work. I felt like i was looking at a historical movement of a population for a greater cause.. may not have been the intention of the work, but it sent shivers down my spine nonetheless. the other highlight from biennale stuff is blatantly egotistical, but hey. when Fiona Tan came into town last year, i lent her some of my photo albums with which to do her vox populi work. When i rocked up to AGNSW, i had forgotten about the work and when i stumbled upon it, i found 2 images from my albums in there, neither taken by me. the first one is a hilarious photo of my stepfather with deep red lipstick on in a gaudy stylised smile shape.. it is both hilarious and awful at the same time! and then an image of me, taken by my ex-boyfriend, with my huge blue mohawk in the back alleys of Stanmore. it was a nice little treat for the day.

there were heaps of works throughout the other 2 venues i saw (MCA and AGNSW), but the truth of the matter is, i can’t remember a whole bunch of them. that, i think, is the reason that the biennale is on for 2 months. time to revisit and absorb so much. i’m really looking forward to going back to some of the venues i’ve already seen, and to venture to some of the smaller venues as well.

other major highlight for the day was the talk by Mike Parr. As part of the SafARI fringe contemporary art festival, Mike was speaking about the beginning of inhibodress, one of the first ARIs in Sydney as well as his own early practice of that time. In the SafARI zine, I’m quoted as saying Mike is ‘the best thing since sliced bread’ and i stick by that. He’s managed to continue creating thought-provoking, inciteful and insightful works for the last 35 years and when he spoke, i was captivated. Now, when some people contradict themselves, i’m the first one to tune out, but hearing Parr talk, i didn’t care that he did that. I didn’t care that I’d heard some of it before, like a mantra about not getting sucked into the lottery of government funding. I really needed to hear what he was saying. I loved hearing how important it is for ARIs to push the boundaries, despite it being impossible to do so these days, but that at the same time, it’s important for us to show works that will never get shown in a commercial gallery because its, well, not really gonna ever get there. I had also been driving myself nuts with the fear that i have all these ideas, not enough money and not enough time to get my artistic career where i want to go, and I heard the word ‘longevity’ that night. It was like a bright light in a dodgy park and seems to have been the salve for what was ailing me. It’s about continuing to keep plugging away, do what you do with as much integrity as you can muster in this cut-throat world. Perhaps a little dramatic, but hey.

I was so fucking inspired that within 24 hours, i had come up with 3 new ideas for projects about rhythm and time that i thought i was going to burst! This is, in and of itself, not a new phenomenon, but it felt different this time. I felt like i had been given a huge kick up the ass, with a lunchbox and swag with which to move forward. So watch out world, here i come. Even if i only arrive in 30 years’ time, it will have been worth it.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx