sydney biennale 2008

i know i promised that “tomorrow” i would give you the extended version of my biennale trip, but well, i’ve been snowed under with paperwork shit. and running around like a blue-arse fly.

OK, so here’s my headline: BIENNALE OF SYDNEY 2008 IS THE FUCKING BOMB!!!

As a whole bunch of you may know, I saw a lot of biennales/art festivals last year. in fact since the last biennale of sydney, i’ve been to sharjah, venice, athens, lyon and ars electronica. plus i went to 150 galleries last year. this doesn’t actually mean that i know anything, but it does mean that i have a reasonably decent base for comparison. And i can categorically state that this year’s biennale is world-standard. Yes, kids, world-standard.

It’s shitloads better than the last one, better than Hans Ulrich Obst’s at Lyon and better than Robert Storrier’s at Venice. In fact, I would say that Athens is only slightly better, simply because of the context of the theme within the city. But only just. The way that Caroline has grouped artists with absolutely relevant approaches to the idea of ‘revolution’ was fantastic. She disected and deconstructed the spread of the theme with such alacrity that sometimes i almost wept with excitement. That sounds rather dramatic, but it’s true.

And either despite of perhaps because of this, the Australian artists absolutely held their own against the créme de la créme of contemporary art. I know i sound more surprised about that than i should, but please forgive my parochial cynicism. Special gold stars go to Mike Parr, Shaun Gladwell and Raquel Ormella as my personal favourites for stickin’ it to ’em.

Day 1
AGNSW: Top 5

Joseph Beuys/Adolf Luther/Raquel Ormella
It took us fucking forever to get there, but we were able to spend a couple of hours at Agnes Wales. not enough time to really see everything, but enough time for me to fawn over the Beuys/Luther/Ormella room – fantastic grouping of artists and these works illustrated Beuys’ process of revolutionary philosophy sooooo much better than the Beuys/Steiner exhibition at the NGV last year, simply by having some better descriptions, the video of his speeches and 1 blackboard. And Raquel’s revolving/interactive political landscapes on whiteboard were gold. i hoped for a print out. Not to be.

Fischli & Weiss
My dear friend Seb was blagging about how he got to see the Fischli & Weiss show in Hamburg the other week. Well, this was a hella cool close second. All 80 Equilibres photos – the bits and pieces balancing in a state of equilibrium and/or tipping point. The titles are great, but i just loved the sheer volume, the survey of the nuance of balance. Like the difference between The Time At Our Disposal and The Secret of the Pyramids. I think my favourite was As Far As It Goes – a series of objects creating a ‘trajectory’.

Gianni Colombo: Elastic Space
I freaked out over this one. It is gasping! It’s a black-lit dark space, mapped out with a grid of white string, which glows in the dark. My first impressions were that it was pretty cool, if not slightly reminiscent of Yasoi Kusama’s Infinity of the Soul from the APT 4. I thought it could be really cool if the viewer could move the string and change the nature of the grid and therefore the space, but left. Then, on wandering into Dan Graham’s piece, I noticed the winch attached to the outside of the space, realised that it was winding the string from Colombo’s space, pulling it slowly to and fro. I ran (literally) back into the space to watch it ever-so-slowly morphing and changing into a distorted structure, an elastic space. It was brilliant! I was so delighted and could have sat there for days. And days.

Yoko Ono‘s phone.
She didn’t call. She promised she would. I don’t even know if she even will or has. But i promised myself that if the phone rang, I would be unashamed to rush that damned telephone to talk to the Fabulous First Lady of Fluxus.

Michael Rakowitz: Tatlin’s Tower
So many reasons to love this work: I love the original. I love Michael Rakowitz (I saw his work at Sharjah and ICA, London). I love architectonic works and I love anything that responds to the political climate. The physical structure is beautiful – made of recycled wood and flying the aboriginal flag as the new revolutionary state. my only pedantic problem with the piece was that the “two tiers of parliament” – the square and triangle – were originally intended to be transparent and revolving, representing the principle of a transparent, revolutionary and rotating (dynamic) government. these spaces in the Rakowitz piece are closed spaces made of rusted corrugated iron. i’m not sure whether this was just an aesthetic and material consideration, whether he’s conceptually suggesting that the australian government is closed and rusted, or the aboriginal leadership. perhaps i’m reading too much into it. loved the piece anyway.

Day 2
Cockatoo Island (or Cock Is): Top 5

The Island itself
This venue is the most like the Arsenale at Venice than any of the other venues for the Biennale that I have ever been to. The ferry ride over, the industrial landscape, the buildings in a state of slow degradation. And to be honest, i don’t think that’s a bad thing.
What i absolutely loved (and kept going on about) with Cockatoo Island is the fact that, relative to a gallery, the place is pretty unsafe – there’s crap falling off walls, old stairs, smell toilets, puddles, broken bits, etc. And, while there were some safety barriers and a fair few volunteers keeping an eye on things, it wasn’t the constricted panic about public liability that plagues australia as a nanny state. and you know what, the visitors were careful, no one slipped over or cut themselves or cried litigation! which shows me that if you treat people with dignity and respect, give them the responsibility for taking care of themselves and having some accountability, they act like responsible adults! how’s that for a revolutionary idea…

Shaun Gladwell
warning: this content is unabashed fan-do. it has a lack of critical objectivity and may be unsuitable for some readers.

Shaun Gladwell is fucking king. I know he’s darling of the artworld. I realise that he may, in fact, be an arsehole, but based on his prior work, and the work at Cock Is, he gets an A+ from me.
As some of you may know, i’ve been doing a lot of thinking about moving through the city on a bicycle and the effect of movement on the rhythm of a city. and, you may also be aware that i’ve been investigating the role of sound within space and architecture. well mr gladwell has created works that touch on both these aspects (in a way that i could only hope to) and a small work which made me laugh out loud.
his film features guys on downhill bikes popping monos through the back streets of darlinghurst. the cycle and the revolution of time/space tracks past the old jail, the mental institution, the law courts, the health centre that gives out fits and the place where the mob hang out. interesting places to intervene with movement.
Gladwell’s pipe organ, made from the tubes of the Specialized bikes was also fucking amazing. An amazing foray into sound vs space vs movement. Also amazing to use those bikes, obviously used by whomever is sponsored by Specialized these days. And still with the markings of their owners: gaffa, stickers, marks and markers. I haven’t been that close to a DH bike since I busted my arm at Thredbo, but I almost drooled, remembering the almost-fetish nature of being involved in the sport – where each part of the machine was as collectable as the whole.

And for me, the piéce de resistance was actually the model piece of three upturned DH bikes, alongside three white wooden stools: a contemporary deconstruction of duchamp’s readymade. fuck it made me giggle.

Mike Parr
Well may you complain that Mike Parr gets almost a whole pavillion, that he has appeared in the last 3 Biennales, or whatever your gripe is. But you have to admit, his work is phenomenal. Seeing it all in the one place, surrounded by the degrading sailor’s quarters and so charged with pathos, it was really powerful. And apparently i missed a whole swag of it, so caught up with writing about the importance of his lips being sewn up. I may just transcribe my garbled notes [next post], just because it was so inspiring. I think, in terms of australian politics, mike parr reminds us to not get complacent either. just because mandatory detention has been revoked and that indigenous politics is being discussed, doesn’t mean that freedom of speech and civil liberties are guaranteed and that we must continue to protect them.

The facade at Jannis Kounnelis
OK, so it wasn’t made by Kounnelis, (and i did find his work quite beautiful), the facade which made the entrance to his work was exquisite. a throwback from hollywood blockbuster set, it perfectly replicated the chipped brick, steel girders, bolts and rubble. in fact, i only knew it was a facade when i saw one of the volunteers knocking on it.

Jeremy Deller
I didn’t get to see the whole thing, but i really enjoyed watching Deller’s documentary on the re-enactment of the english miner’s strike in the 80s. it’s a piece of political/military history that i know hardly anything about (the diary of adrian mole, billy bragg and brassed off being my primary sources of information). i was fascinated with the strategy of allowing the miners a place to process their experience of the strike through recreation, and also as a training ground for riot police in dealing with future strikes/demonstrations. there’s something slightly perverse about the whole idea. but it did also switch my perspective to thinking that political action is on the same level as warfare (in terms of re-enactments). i’m looking forward to the miners stirke warhammer figures to come out.

MCA: Top 5

There were loads of awesome works at the MCA this time (unlike last time). I’m only choosing my Top 5, but it’s not to say that there weren’t a shedload more.

Helio Oiticica‘s Hammocks
I saw Helio Oiticica’s survey at the Tate last year, so it was fantastic to see his work again: room with a series of hammocks and projections of jimi hendrix clips and music. surrounded by music of the ‘revolution’ – 1969, the year that ‘changed the world’ supposedly. knackered after trying to absorb all the artwork, i lay in a red hammock for about half an hour. i’m sure some of you were in the queue, waiting for me to fucking leave, but i’m sorry, i didn’t care. i just enjoyed the time to absorb and stop. i did wonder how revolutionary laying around in a series of hammocks could actually be. but perhaps that’s the point, right?

Allora & Calzadilla/Tony Schwensen
Both these works reminded me about the value of art, in a monetary sense, and the value of a statement, in a conceptual sense. Allora & Calzadilla, when asked to make a work for the biennale for nothing (is this standard practice?) decided to auction off the whole biennale through sotheby’s auction house. according to the wall text, sotheby’s agreed and then cancelled at the last minute. the result of the process was a drawing of a cheque addressed to the sydney biennale from sotheby’s (or the reverse, i can’t quite rememember) and an interesting thought about assuming that artists will/can create work for nothing. in fact, it kind of reminded me of my friend sam ismail’s response to m&c saatchi’s task to turn an A4 piece of paper into a job (sam auctioned it off on ebay and they didn’t like that very much).
Tony Schwensen held a barbeque to raise funds for the 2010 Biennale of Sydney in front of the MCA in june. sum total raised for the next Biennale: $732.19 (or thereabouts). I love this acerbic whit and and poignant critique of the truth and committment of arts patronage in Australia.

Olafur Eliasson
I wished I could have seen Eliasson’s Weather project at the Tate last year – the images i’ve seen on flickr have been amazing. And his waterfall/sound projects happening at the moment have been really intriguing, so I was really looking forward to seeing his work in Sydney. Like the rising/setting of the moon, this oscillating light/fan work takes you into cycles and rhythms of earth, from an unexperienced point of view – maybe like google moon, or something.

Geoffrey Farmer
I love a good spacial intervention, so Geoffrey Farmer’s hollowed out collages of space were fantastic. Taking advantage of the interstitial spaces, the in-between places of the MCA, Farmer collected the detritus from the venues of the Biennale and other found objects, posting them up, like a collage, into the niches. I think the first one was the best one: it was filled with bits of paper, like graffiti in the girls’ toilets, showing a side to art exhibitions that aren’t often seen. Then at the end of the space, there was a block and rope with the warning: CLOSED DUE TO SOCIAL REALISM. heh.

His three-part play, cockatoo clock was also a major highlight [click to enlarge]:

As was the brief flirtation I had in the space with the beautiful french boy. Heh.

Guy Debord: Society of the Spectacle
More than any other time, I wish I spoke French. I am really interested into the Society of the Spectacle and Guy Debord’s Situationists. I was looking forward to seeing the film version of his theories, but it was largely a grouping of images, with a voiceover. In French. I loved being able to absorb it to the best of my ability and i love the fact that his work was included – it has given me the impetus to learn to parlez française.

And they were just the top 5. there were loads of other awesome works and as a whole, a great festival of contemporary art. If anyone is umming and ah-ing about going to the Biennale, just go. It’s bloody briliant.

• I might save my rant about sydney for another day ‘cos i’ve got a rant about transport brewing, and i can tell you that public transport is 90% of what was wrong with the city.

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

art bender weekender


Well i’ve just returned from 4 days on an art bender in Sydney and what a helluva 4 days it has been! I’m still catching up on all the stuff I have to do, plus I went to the first of the Blindside Networking Nights tonight, so i’m knackered.

The short version is:

Day 1.
Jade Pegler at WCG

Day 2.
Biennale at AGSNW/Simon Collins at Frances Keevil/Catch up with Dave + AJ

Day 3.
Biennale at Cockatoo Island/MCA/Catch up with Sarah Mosca

Day 4.
Catch up with the kids at NAS

General rave: The biennale was amazing and it was so great to see some of my dear arty farty peeps.
General rant: Sydney city is in a fucking sad state of affairs and I won’t be going back for a while.

The longer version comes tomorrow. It includes blatant, unbiased fawning over Shaun Gladwell, Mike Parr, Jeremy Deller, Joseph Beuys, Fischli & Weiss, plus unabashed ranting over public transport and rude bastards.

Schlaf gut.

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a list of exhibitions i loved this year

sam smith – grant pirrie, sydney
anne landa award – agnsw, sydney
sneakers – ngv international, melbourne
light sensitive – ngv ian potter, melbourne
migrating within – first draft, sydney
emma van leest – first draft, sydney
ben quilty – grant pirrie, sydney
michael zavros – wollongong city gallery
david shrigley – kings ari, melbourne
helena leslie – mop
damian dillon/phil wilson – mop
sharjah biennale – various locations (sharjah)
the artists’ dining room – tate level 2 gallery
idea & object – tate modern
…light reflecting booster technology – vinespace
jake & dinos chapman – tate britain
giacometti, twombly, serra, fontana – gagosian london
permanent collection – wallace collection
northern renaissance room – national gallery, london
wrong gallery – tate modern
rothko room – tate modern
surreal things – victoria & albert museum
john maeda – riflemaker
anja niemi – riflemaker
mahony – austrian cultural forum, london
zaha hadid – design museum, london
permanent collection – imperial war museum, london
panic attack! – barbican, london
alice neel – victoria miro gallery, london
two feel in one show: armen eloyan – parasol unit, london
permanent collection, musee du louvre
post-impressionist room – national gallery, london
leon kossoff – national gallery, london
joseph beuys’ felt room – centre georges pompidou, paris
monument to the iraq war – ica, london
antony gormley – hayward gallery, london
damien hirst – white cube(s), london
helio oiticica – tate modern
play yourself – gimpel fils, london
medicine now – wellcome collection
the end begins – the hospital, london
banksy vs warhol – the hospital, london
heart – wellcome collection
titian room – national gallery, london
gilbert & george – hausderkunst, munich
susanne wagner/yong seok oh – zk max, munich
von rembrandt bis picasso – hypo-kunsthalle, munich
seestücke – kunsthalle, hamburg
group show – helium cowboy, hamburg
goodbye privacy, ars electronica – linz, austria
egon schiele – leopold museum, vienna
8th floor – momok, vienna
traum & trauma – kunsthalle wien, vienna
a_schau – arkitekturzentrum wien, vienna
held together with water (sammlung collection) – MAK, vienna
great britain pavillion – venice biennale, italy
french pavillion – venice biennale, italy
korean pavillion – venice biennale, italy
USA pavillion – venice biennale, italy
italian padaglione – venice biennale, italy
australian pavillion – venice biennale, italy
turkish pavillion – venice biennale, italy
destroy athens – athens biennale, greece
silenzio – fondazione sandretto re rebaudengo, turin
arte povera permanent collection – GAM, turin
san lorenzo, turin (ok, so not technically an exhibition, but still blew my mind)
permanent collection – castello di rivoli, turin
institut d’art contemporain – lyon biennale, lyon
fondation bulukian – lyon biennale, lyon
la sucriere – lyon biennale, lyon
louise bourgeois – tate modern
doris’ crack – tate modern

*supported by my trusty offline blog, check out ben terret’s nifty way of doing a yearly re-cap, thanks to

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onwards and upwards

another weekend of fun and frivolity with art and music kids, and now she’s exhausted!

on saturday i went up to the last first draft forum for twentylove: onwards. there were some great speakers.

highlights of the afternoon included Reuben Keehan speaking about artspace and the increase of contemporary art spaces and ARIs working collaboratively thanks to not having to fight quite so much for cash, thanks to the Myer Inquiry money. I’ve seen this happening most recently, with 4A being able to use equipment from MCA and artspace easily. Seems that the CAOs are beginning to take a leaf out of the ARIs books 🙂

revisiting soda_jerk‘s reign over the remix was great and i loved their pirate patch style of marketing, with the maxim from dan: “remember that your’e a curator (or artist), not a party organiser”. and being able to speak with aaron seeto was great – aaron had exhibited quite a few times with project and then moved on to bigger and better things (proof again how tops ARIs are) so it was great to put face to name for both of us.

and then a major highlight for me was the 25 predictions for the future from the art life. in true TAL style, it was irreverant, poignant and beautifully executed, despite a case of cottonmouth, which seemed to affect most of the speakers. i laughed my ass off! even when i knew that i had been guilty of number 14, meaning that i’ll probably be up for 25 years imprisonment for a recent post, i loved it! the thing i especially liked is that it was a nice tongue-in-cheek balance for some very in depth and serious discussion about ARIs, contemporary art, commercial galleries, etc.

and then all that seriousness and introspection was highlighted again by our architect swimmer guy, who introduced himself to everyone and made everyone re-introduce themselves, but for the life of me i can’t remember his name. so for the sake of this post, his name is george. george is a regular visitor to first draft, so he’s a persistant civilian, but he was an excellent reminder about contemporary art and art in general being relevant to the general public. we were all exposed as the bunch of haughty snobs we are, and it was fantastic!! favourite quote from george came after anthony whelan re-introduced himself: “sherman galleries hey.. i’ve never heard of it…. ha! just kidding” lol!!

so, after that, it was time for more frivolity at the runway launch at MOP with a trash theme, there was lots of haute plastique, trash couture, karaoke and a few second appearances for some of the forum kids, including Soda_Jerk in runway and Reuban Keehan in the Low show and fantastic Low catalogue interviews. But back to the karaoke. for all my fun and games, i can’t stand karaoke usually. i have a very low cringe factor (see, i’m a snob, i admit it and proud of it) and people singing trashy songs with a variety of talent makes my skin crawl, it’s not personal. however, on saturday night, i managed to stay in the main room for most of the time and even had a quiet trashy boogie with my gorgeous dancing friend Dave [although our best dancing was done in the corridor outside the loos to echo beach by martha and the muffins!]

with jelly shots, champagne, sour lollies and cheese rings, it was a classy night all round and damn impressive. and the issue is just as rad! i’ve only managed to read a few things since having it bought for me on sat, but it’s been delicious. i’ve read the extended remix of the interview by Pete Volich with Christopher Hanrahan, the Chocolate Manifesto by Benedict Ernst, (which i had read previously) and Vicky Papageorgeopolous‘ work is really quite amusing, although i like the work i saw on Shut Up and Follow Me instead, where she did some collaborations with some great artists, like Gerhardt Richter (ie, she put her balls near a Richter painting.. was great!). Am looking forward to reading the other articles in the next couple of days.

I love that an ARI like runway exists: a non-space-based initiative and one that honours the ability of contemporary and emerging artists to straddle various creative forms – writing and printed work. I love that it’s supported by various funding options and i hope it lasts a long, long time! are you listening Arts NSW and Ozco? Probably not, but it’s worth the soap box. and besides, they put on a great party.

After lots of schmoozing and grooving, we then topped the night off by checking out a band called the Kill Devil Hills at the Hopetoun Hotel in Surry Hills: very Nick Cave/Dirty Three/Geraldine Fibbers. In fact it’s the kind of music that makes couples want to fornicate! i watched 3 separate couples swing and sway, start making out, then leave! If there’s a baby boom in 9 months’ time, blame it on the Kill Devil Hills!

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“bite off more than you can chew, then chew it”

Quote from Ella Williams.

And that about sums up my life at the moment. There is so much happening, so this blog is going to be a mash-up of crap that you all need to hear about. I could have separated it into clearly defined blogs, but i can’t be bothered, so here goes:

Simon Collins, Mine!

This is shameless plug #1. My good friend, painter Simon Collins is having a solo show at Canvas Gallery in Surry Hills. It opened last night and having been sick as a very sick thing, i couldn’t make it. Which is really annoying actually ‘cos he’s a good painter and i was looking forward to going to a show of solid work, minus the sweety dahlink factor.

It runs until 21st October at Studio 47, 61-89 Buckingham St, Surry Hills in Sydney and i’m looking forward to popping in there. I haven’t been to this gallery before so it will be great to check out yet another gallery.

Liminal Personae at Gallery 4A
For those who are regular readers of she sees red, you will know that she, i.e me, has also dabbled in a bit of curating this year, namely a huge project which we got Arts NSW funding for, called liminal personae.

Well, now the show is touring to Gallery 4A in Sydney, which is pretty darn exciting!

A bit of a blurb from the media release:
“This exhibition celebrates the idiosyncrasies of these artists – their particular practices, ideas, concepts, materials, living arrangements, physical or mental circumstances, histories, or lack thereof. The artists involved span a range of disciplines and experience: the curators have rejected the usual practice of showing work by only emerging artists, or only those who have been artists for 20 years or more. This reflects a tradition at 4a of showing the known and the unknown side by side.”

Joanne Handley, one of the artists has a great set of images on her home page

The opening night is next Friday 20th October, 6-8pm at Gallery 4A. For those of you who are in Sydney and couldn’t be assed making it to Wollongong for the first exhibition, you now have no excuse.

early stages of the decay

Update on Entropy at Platform 2: more red stuff
OK, so it’s about 3 weeks now until I head back to Melbourne (again?!) to install at Platform 2. Following on from Benedict Ernst‘s Chocolate Manifesto, the cabinets at Platform 2 will be transformed into a mass of red chaos and degradation for your viewing pleasure.

All tests so far have been successful and i’ve started a collection of red corn paste detritus. Maybe I should donate some of it to Ella Dreyfus’ red exhibition in a few years’ time!

What will be happening is that Sarah Mosca and I are going down to install, which will be a barrel of laughs. seeing as i have to cook my ‘paint’, i’m hoping to film a mock cooking show as part of the installation too! Coming to a recently sold YouTube near you!

Plans for the closing party include an intimate party like ‘room’ at the end of the space and i’m crossing my fingers that i can get hold of a red carpet for the night! Seeing as the exhibition will have come to the end of its cycle by then, i’ll be displaying the remnants of entropy in small frames and they will be for sale. A little souvenir of death and degradation, say.

I’ve also got a bit of a public mischief project up my sleeve for the weekend of installation as well, so if you’re in Melbourne, keep at eye out!

Culture Jammers Rule OK
And speaking of public mischief, i’ve recently become reaquainted with some cool-as-fuck culture jammers and have decided that when i go overseas, i’m going to go into training to become a fully-fledged culture jammer! i’d do it here, but i’ve got no time, and what with these draconian sedition laws about to come into effect, i’d prefer to not spend time in jail.

cool shit i’ve been checking out includes:
graffiti research lab
wooster collective

CutUp’s handywork, lovingly pinched from

Match Makers
Being in Melbourne last weekend I missed First Draft‘s Porcelain Ball and the first round of forums for their Twentylove celebrations. I had a rad time in Melbourne, and i wish that i could’ve been at the forum – sounds like it was a fantastic time!

One great publication that has come out of it is the ARI Match Makers.

Produced by Invisible Inc (those responsible for Runway, in case you’re unaware), it includes interviews with some of the key ARIs around Australia (MOP, Bus, Inflight and Rawspace), nuts’n’bolts info about exhibiting in an artist-run-initiative (which i would like to pass onto as many artists as i know!!!), a map of the Sydney ARIs (it finally got up off the ground, no thanks to the defunct Artport!) and which i’m hoping that gets reproduced a bunch of times, (although i’d like to see it give a shoutout to the regional kids, Project and Field) and a little bit of a description about what ARIs are, for the uninitiated, or the uninitiative.. ha! get it?.. ouch.

she came, she saw, she conquered. now go check out all that stuff!

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

a visit to agnes

While waiting for the Helen lempriere opening to open, I trotted up the steps to ANSW to check out the Giacometti exhibition and the Adventures with Form in Space – The Fourth Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Project (which everyone has reviewed, but hey – i’m gonna jump on the band wagon too)

Two vastly different shows, but equally as captivating.

With my NAVA discount, I got a concession price into the Giacometti and after paying almost $20 for the Picasso at NGV last month, $7 to get in was a treat!! It was a lot smaller than the afformentioned blockbuster, but the difference with this one, there was no filler. The byline for the show was ‘drawings, prints and sculptures from the Maeght Collection’ and the only thing that didn’t come under that heading was a print from Margaret Olley’s collection. But I forgive the slight deviation.

I’m exposing my absolute geekness, but the works were all amazing! The pencil drawings and mostly lithographic prints of his analytical drawings were largely that which I had studied most of my degree and used his technique in a lot of my drawings. It was amazing to see the sculptural quality to them plotting out the figure in space, or the object in space. He is the master of making an incomplete drawing look so complete that it was done before it was started.

His drawings and paintings were all about structure. Provide the structure and the form will appear. What a dream boat. Well, actually, I’m not that much of a formalist, but I good smattering of structure and form will really float my boat

I wished that his paintings were on display. I would love to see his amazing plots of figure in space in brush stroke upon brush stroke that eventually a figure appears. Similar to the way a Frank Auerbach figure emerges from the material, a Giacometti figure emerges from the structure.

The show was clean, concise and succinct. Exactly what I needed. no fucking bullshit. Not too much wall text and NO audio guides! yess!!! exactly what a show like that should be. It’s not rocket science kids – if you want to know more about the artist, check him out on the net, go buy the book in the bookstore, or borrow a book from the library, don’t expect a spoon-feeding – you gotta think for yourself sometime!

After the joy of the Giacometti show, I popped down to the café and treated myself to a chai latté and lemon tart. And boy were they good. But about 2 minutes after getting my treat, fire alarms started going off in the gallery! It was all quite bizarre because I wasn’t sure if they were alarms to start with.. they were quite musical compared to the blare that my work building has to put up with every now and again. So they battened down the hatches and we were kind of stuck in the café. The fire doors were shut off at the start of the downstairs gallery, so I couldn’t check out the Balnaves show, and the other door was at the top of the escalators, so there really was no way out, except to wait.
Or bitch and moan if you were the spoilt teenage princess that was flouncing her way around nearby.

Once all the drama was over and we were informed that it was a false alarm from the kitchen on level 1 (Barry, you burnt the toast again!), I was able to check out Adventures and it was fantastic! Another who’s who of top Australian emerging artists.

Jonathan Jones’ wall of fluorescent lights was actually quite comforting and mesmerizing, John Meade‘s work might have been OK to someone, but didn’t really kick start my heart, Nick Mangan’s work was not nearly as interesting as the one in Uncanny Nature at ACCA and same goes for Hany Armanious’ work: the ‘machine’ looked as though it might have worked, and I liked the allusion to possibility and suggestion of machinery/industry, but the rest of it was kinda.. eh. I did try and make it exciting for myself and blow the candle out on the CC work, but being made mostly of wax and a strong wick, didn’t work. But ultimately, I was kinda bored with his work. And given than I’ve mentioned work by Hany 3 times in the last month, I think I need to see other people.

My favourite works from the show were Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro’s Self Storage. I’ve liked their work for a long time, despite having serious professional jealousy of them, and was stoked to be able to see the work in the flesh. Their garage of stuff was awesome and invoked all kinds of experiences for me, which I think is a fairly mainstream experience, but you can’t get away from it. I loved checking out the detail, the little clues into their life. I noticed the Will Self book and the big can of Polyester Resin and the milk crates of spray cans. I couldn’t help thinking of Matthew Barney when I saw the Centaur mannequin. (Is is still a mannequin if it’s half mann, half horse?).

I did read in the catalogue how the work was devoid of museological reference – no official catalogue, label, numbering system, but was more like a game of tetris and I liked that idea, although I did feel like being facetious and pointing out the labeling system on the frame: Front End, Bott, Top Right, Top Left.

I had 2 other favourites. Damiano Bertoli’s Continuous Moment sublime appropriation of Caspar David Friedrich’s painting Wreck of Hope. There may be a whole bunch of theory behind it, as indicated by the catalogue, and I appreciate the 3-dimensionality that Bertoli added to the idea, but I just liked the work ‘cos it’s a beautiful appropriation.
Simplistic? maybe, but the first time I saw it at the National Sculpture Award (RIP) at the NGA last year, it actually put the idea of ‘sublime’ into context for me. It made it a contemporary idea (which I guess it is in the current political and social climate) and something I could appreciate the beauty of and come to appreciate the original. That in itself is a worthy pursuit (in moderation).

Damiano Bertoli Continuous Moment

Nike Savvas Atomic, Full of love, Full of wonder

And lastly Nike Savvas’ amazing installation of coloured balls Atomic, full of love, full of wonder was rad as well. The gallery guide kept telling everyone it was ‘the highlight’ which I would dispute, but it was pretty cool. While I was there, the fans were on and the back section of the piece went mad with agitation. It was OK, but it just made me want the whole piece to do that and I actually preferred the stasis of the piece. The chasm of possibility, like the whole piece could move at any moment. poised. Similar to the Ranjani Shettar piece from the Biennale, I could have stood in wonder for ages. And I love a piece that does that for me. When I can, for a brief moment forget about the context of a piece and have some fun with it, see it as a child sees it and drink it in.

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