Wednesday, December 3, 2008
UNTIL NEVER Gallery
19 November- 20 December 2008
We've all picked up a shell, put it to our ear, and heard a simulation of ocean noise coming from within. We act out this little, clichéd performance to momentarily be alive in the moment, a free spirit, a hippy, a beach bum, for a fleeting moment, listening to sound sound of an endless ocean coming from deep within a tiny shell, we are no longer ourselves but higher beings, beach-Buddhists, free of worry or anxiety, completely at one with the sand, the shore and the universe. Unfortunately it’s a pile of fishcrap: we know its not true, but we delude ourselves for a moment because of the perceived inner peace it brings. We aren’t surf-shamans, we're escapists and malcontents searching for a deep, holier connection, but after we've taken the shell away from our ear and wiped the stupid grin from our face, we're back in the "real world", the depressing reality we know all too well. We trudge back to our hotel rooms, perhaps eat a meal in a restaurant, and give little thought to the small, saved fortune we're spending on decadent luxuries that would ordinarily be out of the question when working the 9 to 5 and catching overcrowded, poor public transport in order to make the most of every cent. We realise there’s plastic and rubbish on the beach but we only notice for the first time when the shell has been moved far enough away to not hear the impossible ocean within it anymore.
Sad but true.
McNeil taps into the spirit of the sea but not in the pseudo-truistic way already mentioned. He taps into the whoooooole thing: the ocean in the shell, the plastic rubbish strewn in the sand, the rhythm of the universe, the commercial nature of the culture, the beautiful melding of human being and mother nature, and the immature drug humour of the surfers. Psychic, cognitive eel-like tentacles reach out from McNeils consciousness, absorbing the collective mind space of surfer, jellyfish, great white, seadog, tourist, lout and barnacle alike, channelling them all at maximum volume simultaneously. As a surf-shaman McNeil also uses the power of icons and symbols, sometimes doubling or tripling their inherent visual power by combining them to form a single more powerful image (swastikas combine with anchors and marijuana leaves, another anchor has two eyes added to it so that it becomes a nose and a grin with hooked ends). Similarly he does the same with words and text: two old words create a new one, words of opposite meanings take on a new one when placed next to each other- McNeils insight to the specific and surprisingly adaptable meanings of these words comes from an intimate knowledge, use and familiarity of them.
What McNeil is NOT doing is: clinically observing and replicating for the viewer. He is very much involved in the subject matter, it’s a personal diary of pictures that tells a history, in both text and image, of danger, euphoria, materialism, land developers, great times, death, commercialism, big hits and near misses. Not all the information of all the stories and indeed the nuances they hold will be immediately accessible, but like the seashell with the impossible ocean, spend time with the work, get into lazy holiday mode, let your eyes wander slowly over the anthology and listen to the soft roar of the sea.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Daniel Dorall, Ruth Fleishman, Cecilia Fogelberg and Tim Silver
27 November- 13 December 2008
Blindside invited past exhibitors Daniel Dorall, Ruth Fleishman, Cecilia Fogelberg and Tim Silver, back to the gallery and asked the participating artists to create "B-side" work from their current practice. Traditionally, when a band released a single on a vinyl record, long before the advent of file sharing and peer-to-peer, one side of the record contained the then smash hit single and the opposite side, the b-side, often had an instrumental version, maybe a a novelty polka rendition or perhaps other songs the band deemed werent worthy for release on their own.
B-side conjures ideas of failure and novelty, often viewed as not being serious and lacking of emotional or intellectual investment from the creative mind responsible, so why explore the b-side when by its very nature is is to be fundimentally lacking? Perhaps the answer to this can best be answered by detailing the work of a couple of the exhibiting artists.
Daniel Dorall whom usually reserves his work to using 1:100 scale miniature people and mazes made out of card enlarged his small, almost hand held sculptural work a hundred fold, creating an actual maze in the space that gallery visitors were forced to interact with and traverse as soon as they entered the door. The maze though larger was still made out of Dorall's maze construction material of choice, cardboard, but we the figures interacting with the maze changed how his work is usually experienced. In this case it becomes a social work of spatial-navigation as opposed to looking down on the work, being above it quite literally, and removed. In fact I was lucky enough to witness a poor soul trying to leave the gallery on the opening night, making his way back through Doralls maze to the exit, only to come up against a group of friends standing within it blocking his escape and because of a few opening night drinks, abusing their new found power as gatekeepers with cheeky requests for a password and claims that he'd have to go back the way he came when that clearly wasnt an option.
Another artist in the show, Ruth Fleishman, whose work ordinarily consists of the generation of digital environments but given the opportunity in this show, she constructed an installative work composed of mostly readymade, common, plastic objects. The commercially avialable objects allow her to have seemingly cloned objects in the work, existing in different places of the bright, coloured, little world but more importantly needing a barrier to keep the small ground based objects and their pecarious positions in relation to eachother safe and undisturbed from viewers potentially clumsy feet. This barrier is a real boundry between the punter and the work, the inticingly playful work looks back at the viewer, safe from being upset by the viewer whilst still inticing the viewer to interact because of its implied sense of fun, albeit static appearence.
Both works possess a sort of power over the viewer that the artists ordinary practice does not. They exude a certain type of control over, or at least, denial to the viewer. The works are b-side, they are a secondary preference for the artist, an unused strand of thought or materiality and it is somewhat aware of this as it desperatly bites back at the viewer, having nothing left to lose. In short: dont trust the b-side. It may be a failed form but in being so it inherits a certain amount of forcefulness, almost a kind of defence mechanism thats synonymous with novelty and difference, in order to protect itself from being forgotton.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Until Never Gallery
15 October- 15 November 2008
The gallery’s walls push forward Locust Jones work into the centre of the space. Violently. Towards the viewer. Along each wall, panels of white paper span from end to end. At first the panoramic pieces only reveal tortured black ink on thick Italian paper, the surface of which bends and warps as if its been assaulted, a result of either the physical weight of ink on the page or an after-effect of the drying process, changing the density of the affected areas surface.
This brazen attack of ink on paper is emulated in the forms created with the ink, which seem to become more recognisable and detailed the longer one looks. No more does the work appear to be an exercise in replicating monochromatic, expressive splatter paintings of the 1960's as it did when first entering the room. The vertical lines become buildings, skyscrapers, no, more like... monuments on charcoaled landscapes, burnt to the ground, precariously angled aircraft in anxious flight patterns, blackened skeletal wire bridges, men, dogs, gasmasks littering the ground. Each mark earning more respect with every passing second as more detail becomes apparent and as such becomes recognised as a deliberate process as opposed to leaving it to being a random aesthetically fortunate accident.
Looking back across the work, familiar elements that were thought to be known deliver a little more visual information than they did before and change again for the viewer: the wire bridges become rusting hulks in disrepair, the men fascist soldiers, the dogs suddenly rabid- feral, and the gasmasks become the genocidal remains: the skulls of innocent men, women and children. In this way Jones lets the viewer in on a prophetic experience, seeing through his eyes at governments falling, turbulent economies and the age-old anger man can have for his brother. Jones has only foretold to a certain point though, making the aftermath of this very real mantic vision proposedly bleak but altogether unknown.
(for additional text there is a limited supply of brochures about Locusts Jones work from a previous show, enquire with gallery staff for a copy if they are available)
Until Never Gallery:
2nd flr 3-5 Hosier Lane, (Enter from Rutledge Lane), Melbourne CBD
Gallery hours: Wednesday to Saturday 12-6pm
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Karen Woodbury Gallery
15 October- 8 November 2008
Dead men don’t talk. Sam Jinks new exhibition of work now showing at Karen Woodbury gallery is no exception. His work, lifeless but incredibly realistic sculptures of people (flesh, hair, faces), laid out on white slabs for the viewers voyeuristic pleasure. The frozen human form is captured by Jinks (in part, or in whole) for our eyes to become lazy, to wander, and drift casually over the shells of people we don’t know. This priverlige the viewer is granted is by way of a few different factors, one of these reasons is the subdued and demure of the sculptures own eyes which are either politely closed (as is with the ‘wallwork’ faces) or looking downward, seemingly defeated (as is with the two full body sculptural works).
The scale of the work doesn’t overpower the viewer either. The work, and the space it consumes inside the gallery does not threaten the viewers own scale. Even the presentation of the work allows the viewer comfortable viewing of lifelike, intimate details. The faces, which are almost like studies are hung at a easily observable height, much like paintings and are viewed similarly, despite their dimensionality whilst the full body sculptures lay both below us, pinned to the plinth via a combination of exhaustion, gravity and judging by their expression a significant state of apathy. All these nuances within the work do cultivate an atmosphere of guilt free observance, looking upon the flaws and exposure of flesh but there is one overlying, greater cause that gives the viewer this freedom and it was difficult to pinpoint because it is so evident and that is the soulless, lifeless nature of the sculptures.
Despite their triumph of being an uncannily realistic representation of the human shell, they are dead to the viewer and don’t have or establish any personal connection. Which is good isn’t it? If that personal, intimate connection was there, strung between the viewer and the work like an invisible thread of empathy and understanding: we would be embarrassed of our gazes, looking away out of respect, not wanting to pry, one would not be able to view the detail, and skilled handiwork Jinks has to offer us.
(there is a fantastic, FREE, full colour, 8 page, folded panel, catalogue available with a written article by Mark Feary on the exhibition titled: “Coma”)
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Art criticism, or perhaps the attempt to indulge in art criticism is “neither a recreation of nor a substitution for artistic experience”[i]. So what the hell am I doing trying to critique art? Being a supposed practicing artist, a post graduate student in a diploma of education course and now, attempting to maintain a constant critique of local artists run spaces and their exhibitions, I feel I am not really succeeding at any. Reel Big Fish echo my lament in their song “Don’t start a band”, informing those of potential not to begin anything creative, nobody wants to hear it or see it[ii]. I cant help but feel that there may be a degree of truth in this contradictory and obviously cheeky tune. I don’t even want to hear myself, why would anyone else? (bare in mind its also not my intention to write an article of self loathing but merely explore my dismay and creative block to write at present).
I have seen a lot of exhibitions and galleries in the last two months but haven’t felt either inspired enough to write of anything seen or that which I have written I feel hasn’t been any good. Obviously I do not want to make an enemy of every artist which has exhibited in the last two months in Melbourne and must inform you that these two observations are not fact: I’m sure what I’ve seen has been fantastic work and the problem lies with my inability to engage by asking the right questions of it and myself in order to form a half decent analysis of the work[iii]. When it comes to art criticism to be able to apply a series of higher level questioning is essential[iv].
The answer to getting on with viewing, enjoying and writing about art may be connected to another problem in my life. Perhaps there is a subconscious disappoint about never getting that NERF gun for Christmas as a child or the fact I’ve never had sex with maple syrup and table tennis paddles. Hmm… both are entertaining possibilities but I know they are mere untruthful distractions to seduce me away from focusing on the topic at hand and prolonging the inevitable truth as to why I cant sit down and write (which I don’t think I have the confidence to acknowledge to myself let alone divulge so publicly by writing it here).
I want to swear, Im frustrated. I want to unload a barrage of F--k’s, S--t’s and maybe even a few C--t’s but I know it would be futile. Pointless. Barbaric. All I've done is succeeded in sounding, no, writing, like a selfish, pretentious, opinionated, little twat. Maybe I should break something instead but again, a barbaric action is probably worse than screaming profanity. Best not to do anything I guess. I feel like I cant do anything, like Rivers Cuomo, I don’t do anything, I like to think that punching or swearing will not make any difference in the scheme of things[v]… not like uncouth, stupid people who know who to act and are satisfied through their impulsive yet purposeless actions. Destructive actions, in all fairness, are about as useful as art criticism.
[i] Hamblen, K. A. 1984, Studies in Art Education, Vol 26, No.1, National Art Education Association.
[ii] Reel Big Fish 2005, “We’re not happy ‘til you’re not happy”, ‘Don’t start a band’ 3:18.
[iii] Gall, M. D. 1970, The Use of questions in teaching. Review of Educational Research
[iv] Krathwohl, D. R., Bloom, B. S., & Masia, B. B. (Eds.) 1964, Taxonomy of the educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook II: Cognitive domain. New York: David McKay
[v] Schuftan, Craig 2008, “triple j: The Culture Club - Weezer's fanfare for the underground man” (http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/triplej/cultureclub/cc_weezer.mp3)
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Metro 5 gallery
21 May- 08 June 2008
Skulls, still life flower arrangement, bust portraiture. All classical, painting, subject matter. These catergories of subject matter are in fact the earliest, simplest, building blocks of painted works subject matter. Artists would spend hours, capturing light, pattern, attempting to reproduce every possible iota of detail that they could seeof the real world and put it into their work. These artists relied on their eyes to see this visual data and their skilled hands to try and replicate it.
Skulls, floweral compositions, people; these are all classical examples of the temporal and fleetingly mortal nature of this world. Staniak is interested how the visual information of these objects and subjects can be stored as an image produced by the painter, existing long after the real representative of the sign on the canvas has died, withered or turned to dust.
This is compounded by the fact these images exist in a black void, which is either the unknown information of the environment that each object is within, or the negation of the information of the objects environment. They float in the black, ungrounded studies, egotistically, the only thing in existence within the picture plane.
These are not paintings that are in the business of storing information, they are only suggesting it. The images are not hyper-real, they contain the mark of the brush and the nuances of paint on canvas, another suggestion in the direction that the works are more about indicating how information can be captured with a painting rather than being actually paintings of captured information.
Lasers scan across the surfaces of the subjects, filling each minute crack they flash upon, picking up detail unseen by the human eye. Information so rich that it is incapable of being seen by even the most observant or of being produced by even the most skilled artists’ hand.
I can not help but feel that Staniak may be suggesting that painting is truly an inadequate and redundant method of representation or documentation in this contemporary world within which so many other and more efficient technological means for doing the same job, with greater ease, are available to us. This is okay though, the painting itself admits it and accepts it as it relays its own shortcomings in this area to the viewer. So where to now for painting and antiquated subject matter? Endless self analysis into the void no doubt, as places for it in this world are fast becoming scarce.
Artist's Statement at Metro 5 gallery: http://www.metro5gallery.com.au/work%20in%20progress%20Staniak%202008.htm
20 May- 07 June 2008
Bonnie Lane is becoming quite proficient at combining her minimalist video work with sculptural or installative elements within the gallery space. In an exhibition earlier this year at Seventh gallery, Lane projected a video of her bust onto a white bed which created a ghostly double of herself, composed of light and restricted to existence inside the bed. This poor soul can never feel the sweet release of sleep, instead she lays conscious, looking up at the ceiling and the viewer, eternally living the works title: “Sleepless”.
Both “Sleepless” and “Over Here, Over There” feature the play of very selective and specific video and installation. Lane seems to prefer to create video that encompasses a minimalist ideology in the sense that, at first, the videos appear to be static images until the viewer notices the subject move ever so slightly. Lane projects both herself and he partners faces, lying sideways in bed, on two walls that meet in a corner. The figures look at eachother across the gap of the corner, the audience also getting caught in the large width of the gaze, privelidged to be involved in such an intimate connection. The floorspace between the projections, is that of an oversized bed surface, doonas and pillows repeated like it an organic bedded growth protruding from the corner and mirroring in 'real-space' the beds that form the grounding element in the video component of the work that the lovers lie on.
Lane described the work as an exploration of “longing to be utterly and entirely connected to another person” and as predicted, Lane has focused on the more pure elements of an intimate relationship. The ‘gaze’ here is the unspoken connection, a shared understanding through presence without words. Findlay (seemingly more genuinely tired than Lane) looks forward, meeting the viewer and his partners eyes, despite his heavy eyelids, to be comforted in Lanes clam, large, doe eyes. Each are both lost in eachother, serene and inviting the viewer to share that connection with them.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Until Never gallery
14 May- 14 June 2008
"Throw off your shackles, slaves! We are no longer servants to this history, this economy, these laws, these false idols. Wage-less servitude is over, where’s our backpay b*****'s!?!"
Overall, there is something subversively degenerate about Kitchin's "Take the Long Road Home". He doesnt make images for his work, he takes them. He doesnt pay homage to or elevate their respected status, he desecrates them. Expressionistic, visceral, paint-dripped lines, trap the image behind its suggested bars of imprisonment. Energetic, frenzied, unfamiliar icons, signs and symbols are drawn over the top of the authoritarian images of power: idols of gods, statues of holy men, photo's of shamans and instructional diagrams for life preserving procedures.
Within the four canvases along the opposite wall, Kitchin has enslaved once powerful icons and god's of ancient cultures in the sterile unforgiving prison of the white surface. Futhermore, once entrapped they are stripped of their power and humiliated by being worked over, degraded. Their once fear inspiring image and names, forgotton and reduced to a print in a magazine or a book, and now, stolen by Kitchin for the canvas.
Kitchin has been busy indeed and will be showing in the upcoming "Graphein" curated by Peter Daverington at Lindberg Contemporary Art and Ash Keating's "2020?" a large-scale, evolving installation at the Meat Market. In the mean time however, get a glimpse at these ultra-slick, resin coated gallery works, fortunately on show for a month thanks to Until Never's generous exhibition lengths.
Until Never Gallery:
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
One point to be raised, in regard to this instance, is of the specific spatial nuances of the subway area that the 'offending' images were displayed. That subway space is a very public area and I doubt that most of the multitude that use it to get from point A to point B would not necessarily consider it a 'platform' to display art, but more of a thoroughfare.
“Piss-Christ” (Andres Serrano's controversial photograph of a plastic crucific submerged in a container of the artists urine) was physically attacked with a hammer whilst on display at the NGV in 1997. This attack by zealots I feel is unjustified because of the works anchoring within an institution, coming from a strong idea base and an area of research and development for the artist. Even publicly known Catholic Nun and art critic, Sister Wendy Beckett said in an interview that she didn’t find the work blasphemous but more of a social comment on "what we (modern society) have done to Christ". I have more respect for Serrano and his work within a cultual placement than that of a guerrilla street artist who works with explicit imagery or text and places their work without any sensitivity to possible viewers in the public environment (ie: children, the elderly et cetera).
I am not pro-controversy but I am in no way advocating censorship, just personal and situational appropriateness. Perhaps Melbourne City Council has in this case reacted rashly and prematurely; a simple, discreet warning (so as not to attract additional attention to the offending images) would have sufficed, as it would have been noticed by anyone purposefully viewing as opposed to the legions that walk through the space without issuing a glance sideways. I can also appreciate and sympathise with the fact that those that do find the images offensive and take a route past them daily should not have to be subjected to their presence or feel so uncomfortable as to have to adjust their pathway at their own inconvenience.
Censorship is always rocky territory and differences of opinion will always remain. Neither viewpoint, the culturally open-minded or those of a more moralistically stringent disposition, are necessarily more right or wrong than the other as times, trends and viewers continue to change. Regardless of who wins the battle of the ‘now’, if we were able to develop a live and let live policy, neither would be subjected to a choice against their will or bear the burden of subjugating their view on an unwilling party.
Please also see Mark Holsworth’s culture notes on the same article:
The original article:http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2008/05/10/1210131335180.html
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Santina Amato, Ross Coulter, Amelia Johannes, Kiera Brew Kurec, Ben Millar
Alliance Francaise gallery
08 May -04 June 2008
“Playheads” is a group exhibition of artist’s producing video art selected from the 2007 VCA graduate exhibition. Their treatment of video as a medium varies greatly between them and “the artists have each developed a distinctive language, and the coexistance of their work in the same space is an experience in itself” (Patrice Pauc 2008).
The video work can act as a recording device, evidence of objects in space and time. Ben Millar’s work examines this but extends on this concept further by employing more objects into the ‘real space’ in which the video is being shown, thus creating more folds and dialogues between both the real objects in real space and those captured within the recording.
Amelia Johannes puts the focus on a number of different forms of video utilising the projection of stills and running film with both the superior, digital, video projectors and their out-dated, predecessors, the humble slide projectors. She incorporates objects into the work but unlike Ben Millar’s almost field-study type arrangement of objects, Amelia uses more emotive objects: old, wooden drawers, overturned cupboards and broken, obsolete TV set’s.
The drama of the common television set is Ross Coulter’s medium for his own self-stared video work. We follow Coulter from scene to scene in which he is always on the phone, informing the unknown caller of his current (and soon to change) location. Through the power of editing the journey we only see him at a destination, forever being chased by the caller, never meeting.
Live drama played out s performance to accompany video saw Kiera Brew-Kurec wearing white fabric dress continually washing and hanging indescript laundry in a viscous pepetual cycle of the mundane chore outside the window of the gallery space. Her work erring in-between a space of being of either a suggestive nature or a little disturbing. In one of the two, she washes herself from a bowl with soap, performing directly in front of the camera, before attempting to eat the soap with water whilst singing in an operatic style. The result, her gargled singing and inevitable spewing forth a thick soapy mess seems to bare an uncomfortable connection to the torturous nature of niche, oral-sex pornography.
Santina Amato’s, work draws the view into the drama that can be produced with video and the employment of the space. To view Amato’s work the view must engage with it by viewing through a keyhole, forcing the audience to physically enact a popular action of curiosity repeated throughout film history. With this kind of limited view space, the audience has a unique and personal connection to the work, being one-on-one, one-at-a-time, even though everyone see’s the same thing.
The show with the variety of works succeeds at not being just another “screen-show” and legitimately explores the possibility of video art highlighting considerations of display scale, method or medium of display, viewer interactivity, and the combination of accompanying theatrical elements such as props (objects) and live performance. Seeing “playheads” is made very easy as the gallery’s opening hours are generous (Mon-Thur: 9:00am-8:30pm, Fri: 9:00am-6:00pm and Sat: 9:00am-4:30pm) as opposed to the limited opening hours of some volunteer-dependent ARI’s and student galleries.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
20 May -7 June 2008
Bonnie Lane graduated from the VCA (painting department of the Art school) at the end of last year and proving there is life after 'art school' she has been in a number of exhibitions and competitions, exploring personal and relational qualities within her own life. Bonnie walks a fine line between being, in essence, an installative artist and a sculpture/object maker. He work focuses closely in on one of three people orientated subjects: herself, her boyfriend Matthew Findlay and/or their relationship together.
Her work in the graduate show was a timber, boxlike structure, in which life size photo’s of the walls of Matthew’s home were hung to give the impression of being in their space. It was personalised further with an audio component: a recording of ‘live’ homely conversations between the two. Some of his furniture also included in the space and a pile of their laundry next to the couch, gave the impression it had been pushed aside, evidently unfolded.
More recently she took out the 2008 Moreland Sculpture Show Ephemeral Award by reconstructing a lounge room again, this time it was one that focused on the objects within by not including walls and placing the furniture within an invisible floor plan in the outside area of The Coburg Leisure Centre. The work also hints at sustainability as all the suggestively personal items were collected from street side hard rubbish.
Bonnie describes “Over Here Over There” as being: “a video installation that creates a multi-sensory experience of sight, sound and touch that explores the longing to be utterly and entirely connected to another person”. Whilst “entirely connected to another person” sounds a lot like she’s suggesting intimate, sexual closeness, don’t be disappointed if there is nothing in any way sexual when the work is revealed. Bonnie has a penchant for exalting the more sweet, pure and demure aspects of a loving relationship rather than the cheapness of the act itself.
Bryan SpierSeventh Gallery
06-17 May 2008
Bryan Spier presents a series of hard edge, colourful, abstract paintings… Look Closer. The paintings come into being through an intuitive process as opposed to the strict, authoritarian rules of “art as art” that our favourite abstract art-fanatic, Ad Reinhardt, laid down as commandments back in the Old Testament days of abstract painting. However, Spier’s work, whilst unplanned to begin with, is formed via intuition. As the title suggests, ‘rules’ permeate the free-process in which he works.
Arbitrary guidelines and frameworks come into play, considerations happen instinctively, decisions made automatically, flying under the radar of the censoring mind. Each colour used, each form created on the picture plane informs what will be put down next. Even though these processes happen outside of a planned awareness, the finished product authenticates that the end result in Spiers case is the same. The work is harmonic, balanced and excels in fulfilling appropriate use of other aesthetic elements even though they were not purposeful employed.
Spier hasn’t gone out of his way to prepare, plan and develop forms which follow the principles and elements of art but he has indirectly adhered to them through his own innate, naturally-instilled, aesthetic considertory processes.
Tyrone Renton (curator), Makiko Yamamoto, Mutsumi Nozaki, Ayako Oshima, Tess McKenzie, Darren Munce, Lucy McNamara.
George Paton Gallery
06-16 May 2008
Camus recognised that as humans our life experiences can mirror Sisyphus and his terrible task. We, ourselves in this modern world, often also get stuck in uncomfortable endless cycles: bad relationships, dead end jobs, grocery shopping, the mundane, the ordinary. Within The Myth of Sisyphus (curated by Tyrone Renton), each of the artists invited to explore the banality of existence and the crux of the sisyphian concept, embrace the cruel nature of repetition as experienced by a conscious entity.
Mutsumi Nozaki technologically imprisons “Mr Hopeful” within the screens of the common television set. Even though Mr Hopefully circles from one screen to another (very much like a goldfish) looking for a way out, it soon becomes obvious that there is no escape, only the search for escape. I couldn’t help but recall the few times in the last year in which I’ve sat down hoping to watch television but in vain have been ‘captured’ by the screen, channel surfing continually, looking for a good program, an escape from banality, but not finding one. Mr Hopeful’s imprisonment is also reinforced in the way the TV’s are composed in the space, facing each other so that the spatial area inbetween the four screens becomes akin to the inside of a box.
Tess McKenzie’s “Rock’n’Roll” emphasises repetition in a number of different ways within the one work. McKenzie’s “Rock’n’Roll” is a polycarbonite record containing 4 different “rolling stone” songs from popular music history that have been edited in a John Cage fashion by eliminating any audio that does not quote Sisyphus’s “rolling stone”. Subject matter and lyrics within popular music are repeated and regurgitated ad infinitum, the spinning nature of the record when being played physically mirrors a rolling stone and the records, like a lot of collateral from the 60’s is fashionably cool again. Even if the record where to falter and start skipping during the course of the exhibition, the work would still be operating within a Sisyphian context.
One conclusion I reached from the artwork which acts as research into Sisyphus’s punishment is that the repetition really isn’t that bad, that it is not quite the punishment we expect it to be, because as Camus stresses: as human beings are incredibly adept at adapting, the punishment is in the stopping.
Do not stop and you will be fine.