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Monthly Archives: August 2009

Greg Pryor 2009

Gregory Pryor 2005

HEAT – Art and climate change
Curated by: Dr. Linda Williams
12 September – October 18, 2008
RMIT Gallery, 344 Swanston St, Melbourne, 3000

The trajectory of public consciousness is often governed by the wave of discourse which surrounds a particular issue or cause. The very real and foreboding spectre of climate change has generated considerable discourse in the public field both at a macro and micro level. It seems pertinent and timely that Heat – Art and climate change explores the themes surrounding degradation and decay and the very evaporation of the ecosystems which create, support and renew life – systems that are in dire threat due to post-industrial expansion. Held within the awkward confines of RMIT gallery, Dr. Williams has curated a suite of works that point to an incredibly bleak and unsustainable future.

The notion of maintaining a delicate balance between the multi-layered and complex ecosystems that surround and sustain our ways of being is explored in several works. Janet Laurence’s Carbon Futures (2008) is a small, spherical biomorphic-looking orb of blown glass which nearly becomes lost within the gallery space as dramatic statements and apocalyptic endgame visions of the future appear to dominate. Laurence responds differently by exploring the inherent renewal processes that occur as a direct result of decay. By placing plant matter into a molten hot glass orb, seeds immediately spring forth signaling optimistic new beginnings. The orb is then hermetically sealed creating a mini self-contained ecosystem – delicate, unencumbered and in balance.

The direct effects of our destabilization of finely balanced ecosystems is painstakingly documented in Gregory Pryor’s Black Solander 2005. Entering the guise of botanist, Pryor has produced five thousand intricate ink and graphite drawings which are individually numbered, cataloguing the botanical species in Western Australia that are extinct or at risk. Drawn on black sugar paper, these small rectangles of botanical documentation fill up an entire room, wrapping around the viewer in a mausoleum-like display. There is an overt sense of despair as the work acts as an ode to flora that has been lost through human ignorance and over-consumption.

A change to our physical environment is also a consideration in Philip Samartzis and Michael Vorfeld’s installation Black Habit 2008. Samartzis and Vorfeld look into the before and after of energy use and the raw materials that are required for the production of everyday objects – objects such as a light bulb, often taken for granted, but an everpresent piece of rudimentary technology that provides us with invaluable illumination. Vorfeld’s large black silhouettes detailing the inner carcasses of old incandescent light bulbs are exposed onto large pieces of translucent paper. The black silhouettes themselves look like they are outcomes of scientific experiments, aesthetic and mesmerizing in their own right. This is overlayed with Samartzis’ sound work, a field recording of a coal extraction plant in rural Yallourn Valley. The noise that is created by the mammoth-sized trucks and machinery of the coalmine ruptures the relative calm of the space, drawing attention to the vast requirements of carbon fuel that is needed to sustain our fast-paced lifestyles. This recording is followed with a collaborative composition that uses high frequency microphones to record the omnipresent hum of electrical current that radiates from a light bulb. The incessant whining, and haunting buzz and crackle reminds us that they are indeed in use, critiquing the apathetic nature with which we use energy – a finite resource being consumed as if it was infinite.

There are several works that engage with the issue of climate change with subtlety and a sense of hope – most notably Ken Yonetani’s beautiful and textural porcelain tiles of otherworldly coral and Ash Keating’s large-scale project 2020? which reuses and reconfigures urban detritus into artworks exploring environmental sustainability in collaborative art practice – however I could not help but walk away with the feeling that I had been effectively hit by a sledgehammer. It may be my own predilection towards being an optimist, but there is an overwhelming sense of bleakness that flows throughout the exhibition. Instead of providing a contemplative and reflective space where the viewer could explore their own contribution to the slippery downhill slope of climate change, Heat: Art and climate change is a call to arms – where time to consider and ruminate is thrown out the window in the race to make a telling difference before the climate change tipping point is reached.

Copyright Leon Goh & Art&Australia 2009

http://www.artaustralia.com/article.asp?issue_id=186&article_id=170

Malmo

Malmo

Great design can often reconfigure our ways of being, informing and changing our sense of place in the world. Aesthetically resolved, considered and with exceptional design detail, Malmö is a brand that creates personal and functional design pieces that enhance your everyday wardrobe. The garments themselves are a carefully thought out forms of self-expression – never loud or abrasive but refined and subtle, Malmö clothing becomes embedded as part of your identity never redefining it.

Malmö’s stylish contemporary silhouettes and affordable yet desirable garments shun disposable fashion-based trends. Instead, there is an emphasis on classic tailoring, impeccable finishing and quality Japanese fabrics. A functional button hole on a jacket sleeve, a hidden tab on the underside of a shirt cuff all form part of a cohesive design process which results in a garment that feels immediately lived-in and effortless.

Malmö’s focus on an effortless style that is inherently minimal in its aesthetic but ultimately wearable is what sets it apart. The subtle design elements become statements in themselves – never immediately visible to naked eye but always present for the wearer to feel that the garment has been produced with great craftsmanship and attention to detail. Malmö is a brand that radiates subtle luxury – a luxury that is ultimately accessible but never pretentious.

Copyright Leon Goh & Malmo 2009

http://www.malmo.net.au

This is an extract from my short story work in progress:

…….

My heart sank a little as she walked into the room, still waddling along but taking one incredibly small step after the other, making sure of her footing as she came to greet her visitors. She was walking with a lifetime of stories, struggles, hardships and love on top of her shoulders and this seemed to have weakened her. She no longer had the alacrity and forcefulness that she had when she bargained for the cheapest priced kang kong for dinner, she no longer had the strength to sustain the long gossip sessions with Auntie Chiu at her coffee shop talking about her kids and their respective futures as doctors or lawyers. She was a pale comparison to what I had known – a withered and tired old soul occupying her final days with whatever she could. Trying to rediscover fading memories, people’s names and a diminishing sense of self.

…….

David Rosetzky 2008

David Rosetzky 2008

David Rosetzky: One in Five
Sutton Gallery Project Space 230 Young St. Fitzroy
& Obüs, 4/289 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
February 28th – March 30th 2008
L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Program

David Rosetzky ruminates on identity and disaffectedness in his suite of portraits in One in Five, part of the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival cultural program. His exploration of hybrid identities and the rules and systems of personal relationships, contrasts with the emphasis on surface and heavy engagement with the hyper-real systems of advertising and contemporary
consumerism that we associate with the fashion system.

In a continuation of his series Without You, Rosetzky has collaborated with Kylie Zerbst of Melbourne label Obüs to produce photographic collage works whose impassive subjects exude a contemporary ennui. The collages are intricate, yet retain an air of the homemade. Rosetzky has layered a series of portraits over Obüs designed geometric patterned backgrounds, strategically
cutting out organic shapes to reveal different photographic layers below. This peeling away of surface, of skin, not only critiques the modes and structures by which we construct our identity, it also alludes to the in-between spaces – spaces where hybrid subjectivities can break down barriers between the self and other.

However, these works are also ambiguous. On the one hand, Rosetzky actively critiques the systems of the fashion industry – its emphasis on surface and consumerism – but on the other, the works are themselves embedded with the signifiers of such a system. All of the subjects used in this series are clothed in Obüs and almost act as amateur models for the label’s new collection.
They are all pretty, young and nubile, displaying a distinctly youthful air of cool. The fact that some of these works were shown at the Obüs store in Melbourne’s CBD and were also actively promoted as part of the fashion festival’s cultural program suggests that Rosetzky’s technique of peeling away the surface of his subjects and exploring a merging of identities becomes a critique
of the fashion industry from within. But, when these works are hung in a retail environment they can also be read as beautiful portraits realised at part of the store’s visual merchandising strategy. Was this ambiguity and shift in meaning intentional? This remains unclear.

However, Rosetzky has produced works that transcend this ambiguity and succeed in being both uneasy and aesthetic. In a heavily staged portrait titled Adeline the subject is dressed in an Obüs geometric print blouse. Instead of a highly stylised and themed fashion shot based purely on appearance and exteriority, there is a distinct sense of tension and awkwardness in her pose. It is as if her feelings, emotions and arbitrary anxieties are much closer to the surface, unfolding in front of our eyes. We gaze into the cut out shapes, which act as voyeuristic viewing holes, or portals, into a personal struggle in-between the private and the public, elation and despair. The collage is both candid and contemplative, responding to the artificiality of the fashion industry. Indeed, as advertising imagery and the media continue to consume our daily existence, where can
we seek refuge in a world that is increasingly out of our control?

Copyright Leon Goh & Photofile 2008

http://www.acp.org.au/issues/photofile-84

2020? Ash Keating 2009

2020? Ash Keating 2009

2020?
Friday 23rd to Saturday 31st May 2008
Arts House, Meat Market
5 Blackwood St, North Melbourne
Part of the NEXT WAVE FESTIVAL 2008

As the NEXT WAVE festival spread its long reaching tentacles over Melbourne’s diverse artist run initiatives, urban open air spaces, people’s lounge rooms and peculiarly its strip clubs, we were invited to embrace its overarching theme Closer Together. As the thematic string that links the projects and performances of the festival, the notion of being closer together sought to solicit out of the festival viewer an emotional and critical response – an intense physical shudder, a yearning for something better or possibly a reflective exploration of one’s sense of self in an increasingly hyperreal world. NEXT WAVE 2008 has successfully shed light on Melbourne’s emerging artists, curators and writer’s practices whilst also engaging with extremely relevant cultural discourse surrounding globalisation, environmental sustainability and our continued dislocation from the world around us.

One project which reflected the breadth and diversity of NEXT WAVE’s programming was Ash Keating’s ambitious 2020?. This project makes an underlying statement on society’s never ending and ever increasing production of material waste whilst also exploring collaborative practice in art. Raiding his local tip yard, Keating appropriated an overwhelming amount of detritus and hard rubbish re-assembling it into an uncanny and pliable sculptural pile of trash within the bowels of the Meat Market in North Melbourne. Acting as both artist and curator, Keating invited artists such as Susan Jacobs, the collective Inverted Topology, Bianca Hester and Ardi Gunawan to intervene in, re-use and re-assemble the trash into fluid, protean and ever-changing works.

Viewing the project during its first few days, there was considerable activity within the cavernous space of the Meat Market. The main space is framed with large billboard size advertising posters subverted through a canny play or removal of words from advertising slogans, foregrounding Keating’s own history of culture jamming and activism. In one of the old stalls there is video documentation of the various stages of the project – creating a closed loop of imagery – while on either side of main space, there are work areas set up with trash carefully audited and segmented into various material types and colours.

Sitting in the centre of the main space in a sprawling display of geometric form and structure, Inverted Topology have assembled an intricate, abstract and modular sculptural work resembling a children’s playground of times past. Displaying an architectural quality unseen in their previous works, Inverted Topology have used planks of recycled wood, brightly coloured milk crates and old steel buttresses to assemble a structure which juts out and encroaches on the space. The work’s strong geometric lines and inherent materiality is contrasted by a sweeping and languid sheet of white plastic tubing which flows around and within its various nooks and crannies acting as a visible link or open invitation to other artists to extend upon. The modularity of the work allows for the easy addition and subtraction of material, almost embedding the sculptural form itself with the conceptual ideas
surrounding collaboration and the free-flowing nature of the 2020? project.

There is an awareness of the materials and ideas that already inhabit the space as new sporadic entries and exits take place. In a work that creates a visible link between Inverted Topology’s geometric form and Campbell Drake and James Carey’s aesthetically beautiful wooden waterfall work which drapes elegantly over the edge of the scaffolding in a dramatic display of shear scale, Chaco Cato has deftly created miniature tangled biomorphic looking blobs with old black and grey telephone cords. As these
blobs spew out of an opening in the plastic sheeting, a diagonally patterned mesh of fishing wire shades them in an exploration of space and perspective. It is a sublime intervention – due to its subtlety – in an already crowded space.

By emptying out the material’s initial use value and re-assembling it into aesthetically arresting free-flowing and collaborative sculptural forms, the 2020? project is informed by post-modern tropes and strategies. Not only has the collaborative aspect facilitated a project with dramatic diversity in work and mediums but it can also be viewed as an exploration into traditional forms of self-expression and authorship.

2020? has succeeded in generating invaluable discourse on the role of art and its ability to draw light on and inform the wider social body on impending sustainability issues. For Keating and his band of collaborators this is an incredibly pressing matter, and in this regard 2020? has been successful in bringing us all ‘closer together’ in the utopian hope for a sustainable future.

Copyright of Leon Goh & Eyeline 2009

http://www.eyeline.qut.edu.au/home.htm

Simon Pericich 2009

Simon Pericich 2009

And the Difference Is…

Gertrude St Contemporary Art Spaces

200 Gertrude Street

Fitzroy Victoria 3065

May 22 to 20 June 2009

The second incarnation of Gertrude St’s The Independence Project series, And the Difference Is… is a coming together of Australian artists with Singaporean artists from the National University of Singapore Museum. Proposing cultural, ideological and interpersonal exchanges this exhibition sought to actualise the aspirational gestures of engagement made between the artists. It endeavoured to breakdown the cultural specificity that often shapes an artist’s practice ultimately demarcating it from a critical and social understanding of different cultural contexts.

This idea of cultural understanding is played out in Danielle Freakley’s work Forcing English. Made up of a short audio track accompanied with a storybook of mythologised Chinese tales, Freakley explores the genuine and often humourous language mis-translations that emerge out of cultural exchanges. The audio track in Mandarin narrates the stories that are outlined in the book and is intermittently overlayed with Freakley’s own valiant attempts at replicating the pronunciation. This heteroglossia of narrative voices creates a curious interplay between what is written and between what is spoken, resulting in a work that uniquely captures the moments where these mis-translations occur – moments where new hybrid forms of language emerge in the midst of cultural difference.

Charles Lim’s work also explores this notion of difference by looking at how it is contextualized in ethnographic representations of the east’s perceived exoticism. The work is a reproduction of E.J. Banfield’s account of the first durian plant to be grown in Australia. Written in chalk it fills an entire wall of the main gallery space whilst directly underneath, a pile of durian lollies is sprawled over a small white plinth. The text in itself reads as a botanical fetishisation of the exotic fruit, as it describes its bulbous but spiky exterior and its cacoon like interior that encases nodules of pungent flesh. It displays a frightening similarity to the west’s ethnocentric and fetishistic representations of an eastern ‘other’. The work is incredibly poignant, as it acts as a visual statement of how these representations are evidently imbued with inherent prejudices.

A critique on representations of conflict and the hyperreality of the modern image industry informs Simon Pericich’s work, INTERNATIONAL MAKE-OVERS & OTHER CATASTROPHES. Taking fifteen newspaper images of victims of disasters and hardship and embellishing them with commercial make-up and stickers, these bricolages create miniscule vignettes of profound narrative. Framed with small rectangular black frames that display crystallized globules of melting condensation, this aesthetic gesture can be read as a metaphor of the slow degradation of the systems that control our everyday. Whilst the stickers, glitter and make-up applied to images act as barrier-like façades – shielding the internal feelings of the subject away from the exterior – there is an underlying sense of helplessness and dread as the frivolous nature of the make-up all but heightens the absolute reality of the situations faced.      

With the multiple curatorial voices present, there is a possibility that the thematic flow of And the Difference Is… may have appeared disjointed. For example, Heman Chong’s work of minute monochrome teardrops that spread like an irregular moss across the entranceway of the gallery sat awkwardly next to Noor Effendy Ibrahim’s mixed media contraption that explored female subjectification for instant male sexual gratification. However I suspect that this tension is exactly what was intended, as it results in a valuable conceptual space – an in-between space where new connections and in this case, disjunctions can emerge between different artist’s work. Instead of a one-way didactic stream of ideas, And the Difference Is… fostered back and forth discussions, resulting in discourses that successfully explored difference and sameness, dislocations and interconnectedness.

Copyright Leon Goh & Photofile 2009

http://www.gertrude.org.au/exhibition.php?id=640