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.