Monday, December 7, 2009

Caring is the New Sarcasm- Simon Pericich

"Caring is the new Sarcasm"
Simon Pericich
Block Projects
3 December - 23 December 2009

The title and nuances in the spelling give the best, most accurate view into the concept behind the work in the exhibition. Within the title, “caring is the new sarcasm”, the ‘c’ in ‘caring’, and the ‘s’ and second ‘a’ in ‘sarcasm’, are replaced with a copyright symbol, a dollar sign and a ringed anarchy symbol respectively.

The ‘caring’ mentioned in the title is that of a social nature, a sense of social responsibility, usually left on the shoulders of the protesters and anarchists working at cafes, living in share houses and completing arts and left wing politics degrees, but Pericich, using only the title, proposes that these traditionally extremist viewpoints of equality and justice are not only part of the norm, but a part of a copyrighted and profit making system: Che Guevara is an icon of fashion, stencil and graffiti artists are popular commercial money makers, water wise and recycling are everyday facets as opposed to 10 years ago, every party in today’s political arena has a pro-environmental agenda (whether they follow through with it is a different story).

Pericichs prints in the exhibition take community enagement and education of social injustice and responsibility to a whole different level, beyond the traditional propaganda flyers handed out by activists. The large editioned woodcuts are for mass education on the construction and use of tools and structures to be used by protesters and demonstrators. The social conscience and anarchist, renegade knowledge are now purchasable commodities. Available to all. Breaking down the exclusivity of the radical and unfortunately undermining the original passion of revolution.

What was once seen as fringe ideals is now widely accepted, so much so that it survives as a cliché, a parody of itself. Even terrorism is becoming cool: Osama is one of the most watched video bloggers on the planet; whenever he makes a video it doesn’t get uploaded to youtube but gets circulated worldwide by news networks. The most popular videogame at the moment is also the one most fraught with moral ambiguity in the fact that the player can play either a member of the military or an armed terrorist and in cases there’s opportunity to kill unarmed civilians. Capitalization has upped the ante and just made the extreme, a little bit more so. Or less. It depends on how profitable it’ll be.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

ToonaParstaBongMyst- Simon McGlinn

Simon McGlinn
West Space
6 November - 28 November 2009

How it all works is a big joke. On entering the gallery to view McGlinns ‘ToonaParstaBongMyst’ at West Space, the viewer encounters a seemingly minimal installation of three video works shown on TVs sitting (meditating? drug affected?) on the floor. Each different, seemingly without connection despite sharing an off-beat, slightly bleak humour and that each video is named after its duration in minutes and seconds. The three video works are all short, almost seamlessly looped, and convey their message regardless of whether they’re viewed for a second or their entirety (perfect for our generations attention spans that have been raped by 30 second advertising, bite-size youtube clips and sugary, gurana infused energy drinks). McGlinn uses the repetitive nature of the videoworks, which is usually common in works of this type, to highlight the bleakly humourous nature of the redundant, incessant echoing actions of a satirical, Sisyphean nature.

Each work features a single focus or feature: Wide-eyed eyeballs floating in a black void, the planet earth spinning in outerspace, and the coming and goings of urban dwellers in a street over 24 hours. The featured subjects can be simplified to be representative of: god (or some divine being who exists as crazy excitable planet sized eyes darting around in an abyss), our planet (as spaceship, home, vessel, bio-sphere), humanity (temporary, mortal, creatures of habit and familiarity). Humanity habitats the Earth, Earth exists in space and god is all. McGlinn makes a mockery of all three. The all seeing eyes, gods embodiment hover peacefully in a starless vacuum, without warning they become comically frenetic, darting about, crossing each other’s paths, no longer respected but certifiably idiotic. The earth itself is viewed from afar, an indeterminate speck among the stars and as we zoom in on this life harboring vessel turning on its axis we realize it is a charade, a cheap parody of our planet, a plastic dime-store globe. Not even our existence is spared from the cynicsm of McGlinns observation, he depicts us in a generic pixilated town akin to an 80’s video game, coming and going, seemingly without purpose, day in day out, trapped in a futile existence.

A lot of McGlinn’s work (including that which he does with collaborative ‘Greatest Hits’) seems to be about taking a format, a blueprint, a procedure, an underlying structure of how a certain system, tradition or concept works, goes by and then subverting it, debasing it, either by highlighting its simplicity, mocking its authority by representing it in low-fi reproduction and or materiality.

There is a subtle fourth work in the gallery, an installation work that can be easily missed because of the dominance of the video works, a single nail at average viewing height in the middle of an unused wall, rotating slowly in the vast white painted space, mirroring our planet, hanging in a black abyss, turning fruitless, seemingly without purpose, as meaningless as an illogical god, a planets orbit or our own limited mortal lives.

Friday, May 1, 2009

ON NOW- to boldly go where everyone has gone before- Rachel Ang

"to boldly go where everyone has gone before"
Rachel Ang
BLINDSIDE artist run space
30 April - 16 May 2009

Gees, I would like to be like Gombrich. Gombrich sounds like he has the story of art sorted. He knows the dates, names and years, “its comprehensive, lucid, (and) authoritive” [1], he’s already worked every thing out in advance so that it is the best, the most accurate, it can possible be. Unlike DangerDoom, Gombrich knows the formula, he speaks the language and has done the math.[2] I don’t think that knowing is the answer though. Or at least, ‘knowing’ is only part of the answer.

Rachel (that’s right, first name basis here homies) boldly goes where everyone has gone before, or so she would have you believe but the difference between Rachel’s trek and everyone whos gone before her is the recognition of going there, and the purposeful nature by boldly going there. An infinite amount of information exists within the most humble of objects, cardboard boxes, drinking glasses, cheap plastic toys, tape, sticks and light. The information and knowledge contained in the all text, mathematics, diagrams and illustrations that exists in all the libraries, museums, universities and galleries all around the world is evident and in existence all around us everyday, contained in mundane situations, conversations, coincidences and the unaware minds of strangers that pass you in the street or are seated at the opposite end of the same train carriage as you.[3]

This is how information and knowledge exists ‘in the wild’ and it is always growing, changing, evolving and mutating in a state of flux with its environment. As your body moves through space (which is a pompous way of saying: “as you walk to the shops for a pack of cigarettes…”), you displace, sorry, not displace, move, you move the air around you, you breathe and by doing so convert the (approximate) 20.95% of oxygen in the air to carbon dioxide, you apply an amount of pressure to the concrete footpath beneath your feet, you increase the strength of earths gravity ever so slightly and over a million other actions which change and adjust the percentages, weights, volumes, energy etcetera of the environment around you.

Our quest for knowledge and documenting what we ‘know’ is shallow at best, we know enough to realize that what we do not know far outweighs that which we do know. Knowing is dangerous to knowledge, in the sense that as soon as we assume that we know anything, we stop questioning or looking in that direction, even though it may only be a fraction of what is to be known. Like an iceberg. Knowing is like an iceberg to Knowledge, a great mass of ice capable of sinking an unsinkable ship, well not a ship, but sinking the possibility of learning more, attaining more knowledge.[4] When an idea is giving a name, jotted down in a book, given parameters and specific details, it is limited, and even though it may be unknown at the time of writing, there is most likely infinitely more to know than what is known. It is like trying to know a person through a single photograph of them. There are no absolute truths, there is luck, fate, coincidences, accidents, gods will and the synchrony of mysterious forces (or at least there is just as much as there is electricity, air pressure and latent energy), there are never complete answers, or if there is an answer it should only serve to remind us that there is uncertainty and it (uncertainty) is good because it enables us to discover some thing new.[5]

Art is a medium, which makes representing this kind of view of natural phenomena and experience of the world around us possible where science fails because it is not bound by the same rules. Ang (seriously now, no casual first names anymore) doesn’t need chemistry tubes, computer programs, graphs or numbers to show us how light travels in between objects and can be blocked by others: two cardboard boxes, a desk lamp, a mirror, a glass bottle and maybe a stick of balsa wood will suffice. The objects are ultimately inconsequential. Representation is kind of pointless; a child’s crayon drawing is no more the real thing than an oil painting by a Dutch master. Diagrams are fine, there’s no need to overwork an image if it communicates the message, the miracle life grows in the work as sprouts break the soils surface in tin cans and potential energy is stored in objects in the way they are placed in relation to one another. ‘To boldly go where everyone has gone before’, goes consciously, both knowingly and unknowingly, boldly and uncertainly, weighing and measuring, stacking and dissembling every step of the way without taking notes, finalizing, totaling or answering.

[1] Sir Hugh Casson, President of the Royal Academy, 1976-84
[2] Danger Mouse and MF Doom, “Sofa King”, The Mouse and the Mask (CD/LP), Epitaph, 2005
[3] Rupert Sheldrake, “The sense of being stared at”, 2003
[4] James Cameron, “Titanic”, 1997
[5] Amy Tan, “where does creativity hide”,, 2008

Monday, April 6, 2009

ON NOW - only from the perspective of an observer located upon the surface of the earth does day and night occur - Bianca Hester

"only from the perspective of an observer located upon the surface of the earth does day and night occur"
Bianca Hester
The Narrows
02 April - 02 May 2009


An eclipse is only viewable by someone standing on the surface of the earth. The same goes for the more common phenomenon of night and day... and anyone wishing to view Bianca Hester's exhibition, "only from the perspective of an observer located upon the surface of the earth does day and night occur" at the Narrows. Be aware that this isn’t only just Hester’s show, its gravity's as well. It’s a collaboration.

The door of the gallery is kept open by two forces: large, heavy, grey cinder blocks on the floor and a strip of tape passing across the space of the open door from the frame to the door itself, making the gallery space, directly interconnected to the world outside. This idea is reaffirmed as the viewer notices that the installation exists outside of the space as well, penetrating the wall of the gallery and into the hall through a newly cut hole and, out of the office window, and into another second storey window across the laneway. In this inclusive act of the outside wall in the installation Hester is making the public statement that the laws-o-physics apply inside of the gallery just as much outside, specifically gravity.

The floor is paved with the large grey cinder blocks that keep the door open, another reference to gravity, this time through weight, a couple of sparse lengths of fluoro orange rope pulled taut dart at all angles across the space and outside of it, imitating beams of light or the uninterrupted path of matter invasive particles soaring across the universe, and lastly a strip of tape gently meanders the length of the space via the walls (the height presumably limited by Hester’s reach) like a far off smokey whisp of a barely visible horizon; all phenomena unique to an observer standing on the surface of the earth. The real gold in the installation is Hester's glass of water and the lighting, but I'm not going to tell you why, for the same reason I didn’t tell you that DiCaprio died at the end of Titanic: spoilers aren’t very considerate.

"only from the perspective of an observer located upon the surface of the earth does day and night occur" is in part art-povera melded with aesthetic-pseudo-science but mostly it’s a great example of Hester’s ability to see common materials in new ways, ways in which these common materials take on new qualities and also reflect non-physical ideas and thoughts, both of which were apparently inherent the entire time but not seen.

ON NOW - Drawing Folio

"Drawing Folio"
Curated by John Nixon and Justin Andrews
02 April - 25 April 2009


'Drawing Folio' is a real gift. Really. Honestly. Its exciting and fun and it doesnt need batteries. I'm not lying. John Nixon and Justin Andrews have put it all together (no assembly's required), its ready for viewing. Its enjoyable. Its huge. Theres 36 exhibiting artists. Its great. Its not great just because theres so many participants, its great because theres so many and all of the work is great also. Bonus. I was genuinely awestruck; I feel no embarrassment in saying so because it is backed by truth, even though its usually the social norm to be distanced, detatched and, even in the most exteme circumstances of heart felt wonder, only mildly impressed regardless of your true feelings. I'm sure the fever I was suffering from when I saw the show aided the viewing experince as well.

What the curating duo have done is gathered both preliminary and finished abstract/conceptual drawings from a broad span of Melbourne artists that work in this manner. The work is form, line, space, layers, distances, and being. Its dupilicates, singularities, webs, accidents, systems, rules, coincidence, hierarchies, order, and chaos. They are ambiguous diagrams, conveying ideas (mostly) without words, relying on the power of the image. They are a dichotomy of simplicity and complexity, and in that they scream with honesty without a hint of grandiloquence. It was fantastic to see so much free work (speaking of both the prepatory drawings and the finished) of both this nature and subject matter by such a large number of artists all in the one space, side by side, not in competition, but support, support of similarity, ideas and style.

I do have some criticisms of the show, only a few though (can I even say I have a few criticsms? Especially after so much praise in the opening paragraph? Wheres my intergrity as a writer?! Pfft, as if I care, I'd rather write this article like some common, opinionated blogger than an unapproachful, magniloquent (and delusional) art critic). Upon first entering the space and seeing the overall hang from the distance of the entrance, I was a little dissappointed that everything was clinically at eye level, without a single deviation, despite the common subject matter addressing scale, space, composition and or balance. These ideas could have been taken from the work and used in planning the exhibition layout: hanging the drawings in the space in a similiar way to composition used in the images of the drawings themselves. Furthermore, I understand that the show is called Drawing Folio and thus the participating artists were requested that all works be a maximum size of A2, but i felt this rule was a little dire, especially after seeing some of the works and being left to imagine the rousing possibillities had the artist been given freedom in the kingdom of scale. These two criticsms are of little consequence though, in comparison to everything that is amazing about this show, so by no means give them any more thought than they deserve. Which is very little. Definately don't dwell on them... the criticisms that is. Instead, dwell on the work, and the exhibition as a whole, its a gift and we have John Nixon and Justin Andrews to thank for organising it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

ARTICLE- "art is full of :-) at the moment"- Ace Wagstaff

"art is full of :-) at the moment"
Ace Wagstaff

Is it just me or are there less and less people attending gallery opens and art events at the moment? Its a little bit sad. I thought it might be just me or my overly imaginative paranoia assuming that as soon as I turned up to an exhition, everybody left, mainly in fear of having to socialise with me. Thats not the case though. Thats rediculous. I'm a fantastic conversationalist. Ahem. Personal social insecurities aside, I can understand why gallery attendee numbers may be down at the moment, what with all the bleak news (bush fires ravaging half the state, a colossal death toll, the country sinking into a recession and the world economy imploding), it wouldn't be very considerate if we were enjoying something as socially inessential and lavish as the arts, especially in a time that calls for us to be collectively frugal and solemn. However, I feel (notice the emphasis on the "I") the melbourne art scene has been pretty full of win at the moment. I havent been to many openings, which is hazardous in an industry like the arts, which is more like a social arena that requires individuals to see and be seen, but I have seen many shows the day after, after the wine spills from the night before have been cleaned up and all the obnoxous, heavy, hot air that was issued forth from superficial conversations the night before has dissipated, which is a much more pleasent way of doing things to a degree.

Welcome to my fave's from the last month:

At Craft Victoria on Flinders Lane, the Chicks on Speed are exhibiting in the gallery space. On second thoughts, they aren't really exhibiting, they arent really using the gallery as a plinth to show their work but more as a communial space for people to interact and engage in the creative act, keeping true to the Chicks one Speed DIY ethos. The girls are running a variety of practical workshops throughout their stay in the space and invite visitors to try their hand with some needle and thread on a massive banner collaborative banner thats covered in all manner of sewn on media varying styles of stitching any time during opening hours.

"Cock and Bull" curated by Kate Daw and Vikki McInnes at the Margaret Lawerence Gallery is all about the boys. And lies. And the lies boys tell. And its about art. Its is art. Woah. The title of the exhibition ties in nicely to the all male cast, John Beagles and Graham Ramsey (Beagles and Ramsey), Jon Campbell, Tony Garifalakis and Matthew Griffin, as well as being a reference to a fictional autobiographical novel in which most of the humour comes from exageratedly complex explanations and epic, chapter-length explanitory detours ("The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman" by Laurence Sterne). Beagles and Ramsey have a zillion video works playing on tables which is a feast for square eyes. Matthew Griffin's video projection in the back room is a highlight that features Griffin playing as a small handed potter, the artist as all concept and small skill, reapeating the same action to created the same object in a sisyphean loop. Jon Campbell has converted a false entrance of the gallery into a brightly coloured, circus like doorway, complete with offical looking signage above it loudly exclaiming "INSUFFICIENT FUNDING".

Dale Frank's exhibition "The Big Black Bubble" at Anna Schwartz is colour. Beautiful, big, glossy, sublime colour. The works size is awe inspiring, the shortest edge on any of the works being two metres. The largest work dominates the space at two sixty by five hundred, a mass field of black, varnish on linen, titled "Ryan Goslyn" after the movie star (from such films as the irratingly romantic "The Notebook", feel-good american high-school football and racial issues "Remember the Titans" and indie flick "Lars and the Real Girl"). The dried surfaces hide liquidy pools of varnish and oil, oozing away beneath the lush coloured gloss facade. Like I said: beautiful, big, glossy, sublime colour.

Westspace has a hatrick with Ieuan Weinman's "The third wave of Stupa building", Nicki Wynnychuk's "A flag and a flagpole" and "A life Quite Ordinary" by Charles O'Loughlin.

Weinman combines the the method of painting through layers into a method from which to create a video work. This duality of mediums, painting and video, is strengthened by exhibiting the painted image on canvas as an installation, tacking it directly to the wall, as oppsed to stretching on a timber frame, which lets it flow down and over the floorspace and also places the screen of the accompaning videowork within the canvas, each giving the other strength in the combined concept and message of "The third wave of Stupa building".

"A flag and a flagpole" divides the space with invisible borders, boundries, between four impromptu made flagpoles and flags in seperate areas of the space. Each constructed from found materials from in slash near the exhibiting site, bringing the normally superfluous collateral of the community outside and around the gallery, into the space and elevating it from common, invisible debris into a symbol, nay, a bearer of authority and power... but whose? The community inadvertedly responsible for the materials? The artist for the act of creating the idea and the object? The gallery which temporarily owns the artifacts through the act act of housing them? I foresee the answer being a much more complex one than these propositions and those greater answers probably belonging to an intellectually loftier idea relating to society, power and government. Good. It gives the work more weight than I can give it here in this article.

In "A life Quite Ordinary" O'Loughlin has timed and recorded his daily activities and who he's interacted with, then redusced that information to numbers and colours and mapped it out, exhibiting the graphs as images without keys or legends. The idea that these multicoloured lines are true recordings of what their title suggests is quite convincing even though there is no real evidence. That is perhaps my only lament with the work, is that they appear to have such mathematical exactness, and I sort of prefer a little ungrounded magic or mysticsm with my science.

How very blessed we are to have all this fine work on display all at the one time, and the exhibitions coming up in the next few days promise to be grand: "Us Vs Them" an exhibition featuring Tully Moore and Taree Mkenzie at TCB Gallery, "Drawing Folio" group show curated by John Nixon and Justin Andrews at BlockProjects and, the upcoming "Hamstrung: Creativity Within Constraints" at Platform curated by Anusha Kenny. Yep. Melbourne is rockin socks aye tee em. Now I should really go as my 'cold-and-flu-day-and-night-relief' nighttime tablets are kicking in and wakefulness is fading. Yours Sincerely, Ace.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

ON NOW - Look Hard - Tim Andrew

"Look Hard"
Tim Andrew
12 February - 07 March 2009


Kiss me. Talk to me. Love me. F-ck me. I am Tim Andrew. Okay, no, I'm not Tim Andrew, but that was the first impression I got from his exhibition. If Harrell Fletcher has taught us anything, it’s that human beings are complex and interesting. Andrew is no exception. I used the title of his exhibition, "Look Hard", as some sort of vague instruction for deciphering the enigma that is Tim Andrew. I looked at Tim Andrew. I looked hard. He writes honestly, and earnestly, addressing the reader directly, from which I guessed he'd be the stereotypical "sensitive-yet-tortured-artist"... yet some of his work is quite brazen, confident and crass. He’s doing a Masters of Fine Art so he must have some high, academic ideals... yet he does illustrative work for a men’s booby magazine (some articles being: the dodgy guide "how to make your crap car look a million bucks" and the classy "how to piss your name in the snow"). His work in the exhibition is hung salon style yet the work is stencilled and painted in bright colours. Like some sort of over eager self-promotionalist, he had three-fold, colour printed card booklets for free but also included a 'special gift' inside each one (a signed and numbered postcard size print of one of the works) which backed up his claim: "I like the idea that the work is slightly less exclusive when there is more than one, I really want everyone to own something I’ve made" printed in the booklet... how sweet is this guy?

Don’t let that last note fool you though. Sure, what Andrew writes can be, is, very sweet and endearing, but that’s just one side of him. Do a quick visual scan of a wall covered in his paintings and you'll see the crude Andrew, the horny Andrew, and the sarcastic and sardonic Andrew. Yes. Tim Andrew is anything but one sided. This is refreshing in an art world that promotes signature-styles, exclusivity, and rarity. Andrew turns up his nose, blows a raspberry, flips the bird (depending on which Andrew we're referring to of course) to these ideas and is evidently quite comfortable in his artistic and personal self to do so. He is human. His text isn’t the drivel of self righteous, pretentious up-and-comings, nor is it the soulless words that artists so often regurgitate from the well known tomes of art theory and history: Andrew is the human voice on the phone help line when you were expecting a series of computer controlled, pre-recorded, automated responses.

Andrew isn’t crude like the uncle who'd tell a grossly (in both senses) inappropriate joke to complete strangers whenever he was introduced, no, Andrew doesn’t offer other peoples uncomfortableness or awkwardness as entertainment, he offers his own. In several paintings he paints himself not only naked, but also in a series of embarrassing situations. In some of these situations Andrew is being taken advantage of, physically debased and degraded whilst being vulnerably naked, but who would do that? Who would take advantage of him whilst he was naked and physical and sexually abuse him? Of course the answer is obviously clear when looking at the image: Andrew is both the villain and the victim, the violent instigator and the fearful innocent, the devious sex fiend and the cowering, unfortunate causality. It isn’t just his own psyche we think we're privileged enough to glimpse in at through the paintings, but our own. We, however don’t want to, nor will we, admit it, and we're quite happy and thankful to Andrew for both being the monster he is and the hapless sucker, mainly so we don’t have to be that person but also so we can see what we've only thought about.

If only we could live out "you bastard, you ruined me life...", and ‘take care’ of that pesky procrastinator, lazy son of a bitch we all have inside of us, holding us back, preventing us from ever truly accomplishing greatness... or we could always threaten them with a thick black marker and ask "do I have to write it on your fucking eyeball...", that would put that good-for-nothing, deadline-misser in their place. Even the concept of masturbation looks equal parts entertaining, embarrassing and pathetic-failure in both "hey ladies, you could be one of these lucky men..." and "one man party" and furthermore, the spirit expressed in both works is sadly all too familiar. Freud would have a field day with Andrew although I'm sure it'd only be because Andrew has made these usually, inaccessible, subconscious notions of self and other public.

The back of his exhibition booklet features a dating-service style profile of information which includes his star sign, what he’s currently reading and pets along with a nice little colour photo. He’s banking on the fact you’ll feel like you’ve been long friends and know plenty about him by the time you’re walking out of the gallery after seeing the exhibition. Tim Andrew wants to be your friend. He finds you interesting and you, no doubt will find him interesting. He’s a little bit like Tyler Durden from Fight Club. Except Andrew isn’t going to make you fight anyone or blow anything up. He definitely has a similar sense of humour but in terms of similarities, that’s about it. He’s a lot like you in fact. More so than you could possibly realise and yet at the same time he’s completely different because he’ll write you only think, make visually real what you can only imagine and whilst he might appear to be a lot more immature and disgusting than you, he’s probably a lot friendlier and more loved than you. It’s okay though; he painted you a picture to make you feel better.