Monday, June 26, 2006

Ugg Boot Spotting at The Sydney Film Festival

Go Deep, man! So another Sydney Film Festival has finished its run. Its theme, logo, tagline or all of the above was “Go Deeper,” which made me wonder if past festivals had been slammed for being too shallow? I attended the opening night flick Ten Canoes (Rolf de Heer’s remarkable indigenous language feature), Balanda and the Bark Canoes (the making-of doco which demonstrates just how much of an alarming achievement Ten Canoes actually is), Little Miss Sunshine, Friends with Money, Kidulthood (utter crap), C.R.A.Z.Y., Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis, and Thank You for Smoking).

I even did the Dendy Awards for the first time ever, and again (for the most part) it was top stuff. The stand outs were Girl in a Mirror (a doco on 70s Australian photographer Carol Jerrems) and a 55 minute narrative film called Stranded (both of which won a swag of Dendy Awards). Bruce Beresford’s daughter Cordelia Beresford screened her short The Eye Inside, a freaky portrait of 19th century hysteria and its propensity to make one rehearse their favourite contemporary dance moves (or something like that). Had its production values not been so striking and sophisticated, and had Cordelia’s lineage been linked to Bruce Almighty instead of Bruce Beresford, would it have been included (and been judged as best short in its respective category)?

The Dendy Awards ceremony was tepid at best. Justine Clarke (loved her work as Alf’s daughter Roo on Home and Away, as illustrated above) was MC and helped make the ceremony as engaging as a high school skit. An audience award was granted to Little Miss Sunshine, and frankly the film deserved it, however, my cynicism was on high alert - had its star Toni Collette not been available for the ultimate photo opp moment by accepting the award (in Ugg Boots to boot) would the audience votes have been counted in a way that didn’t bring to mind the creative misplacing of Tracy Flick’s winning vote in Alexander Payne’s Election? (While I liked Little Miss Sunshine a lot, its critical reception in some quarters seems lacklustre at best). In an entirely hagiographical moment, the exiting Artistic Director Lynden Barber was revered in an excruciatingly long round of come-to-bed speeches. Love was spreading because at this point I had an erection and just had to, like, get laid real quick. And preferably by legendary animator Yoram Gross, who presented one of the Dendy Awards the way it should be presented: utterly drunk. Or maybe from where I was sitting it just looked that way?

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Vagina Monoblogs

The Artswipe
What is it you kunst face? 2006
Mobile phone photo

I was watching Oprah recently interviewing "age-defying women." It has to be my second favourite Oprah episode (after the one where, as shown above, she works at McDonalds for a day to prove she can be a proletariat if she damn well feels like it). In this episode about "age-defying women" Oprah waxes lyrical with a 50something woman who has kept a youthful visage because she applies vaginal cream on her face daily. This was totally inspired. Basically this vaginal face cream woman is a performance artist and she doesn’t even know it. She may as well be at the forefront of feminist art practice.

By "feminist" I don’t mean bland post-feminist crap (a myth probably invented by Carrie Bradshaw). I am talking about the real stuff: second wave feminism. Where women burnt their bras, worshipped their vaginas, ran with wolves, sculpted with tampons, made the nappy happy and politicised the domestic. They also got real angry at marches and rallies. They loved other women, not always because they were lesbians, but because men are pigs. These second wave womyn would never be seen watching The L Word – or at least they would not admit it. They’d be queuing around the block for tickets to a Barbara Hammer retrospective.

The best thing about the second wave was it allowed you to say “cunt” in a critical context. Specifically because many feminist artists of this era made, what they affectionately called, “cunt art.” Flowers became vaginal signifiers and whirling spiral forms (barbed with the occasional dentata) hypnotised viewers into accepting menopause as a pause from men. To list such pioneers would mean citing the likes of Judy Chicago, Lynda Benglis, Hannah Wilkes, Carolee Schneeman, Vivienne Binns, Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, The Guerrilla Girls, Mary Kelly, among many others. Their more contemporary counterparts are artists like Tracey Emin (before she stopped drinking), Le Tigre (before they covered The Pointer Sisters’ “I'm so Excited”) and Australian dragking foursome The Kingpins (before they terrorised Starbucks
). Why am I going on about this anyway?

Blame Oprah – she makes me think of kunst.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


I couldn't sleep last night for thinking of how I now have a blog of my very own. I am so an author. All night my blog was calling to me, pleading and begging me to add another post: "Tell the world how superflycool you are, Artswipe. Everyone is listening because they crave your special homespun brand of propaganda." When I did finally fall into a dream-filled sleep, Debbie Harry's lips appeared on the plasma screen of my unconscious, saying, "Artswipe, now you have a blog, it is your responsibility to tell things not as they are, but how you think they should be." I came closer to her lips, rimming the screen with my tounge, trying to push my head through her candy-coloured mouth.

Upon waking I consulted my Dream Dictionary and it said that the dream of Debbie Harry's on-screen mouth represents either, "the need to speak in cyberspace (or television, if your dream is set in the early 80s)" or "a latent desire to return to the womb." I accepted the former explanation because the latter won't happen (unless as postulated in my last post that Bono could replace me in my mother's womb via time-travel-body-swap-meet if he wants). Thinking about my dream, I realised Debbie (AKA Deborah) was the mouthpiece, and I the muse. Or maybe it was the other way around - who can tell. All I know is Debbie called me, I did not call her. I didn't even leave her hanging on the telephone because the line was busy blogging.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Welcome to 'The Artswipe'

Blogging, hey... Never thought I'd join in, but here I am. Frankly, I am not blogging because I need it, rather it needs me. Having read so many blogs over the last year I realised I am far more narcissistic than everyone else in the world, so I too should publish my everyday musings. Come to think of it, I nearly called my blog "An Ethnography of the Everyday" but it wasn't pretentious enough, not even for me. I decided on The Artswipe because it rhymes with "asswipe" and it alludes to The Art Life - a now famous blog documenting the fabulous hi-fi lows and low-fi highs of the artscene in Sydney.

Where else would you go than The Art Life to form an opinion on Australian contemporary art? Because folks, the once legendary journal Art+Text died c.1989 and now a tepid zombie artrag masquerading as Art&Text lived in its place for awhile before that died in the ass as well. And then there are other art publications, but I can't mention them right now because I am probably a subscriber, contributor, editor, typesetter, distributor, reader, or all of the above. If you haven't heard of The Art Life, then maybe it is only famous for a bunch of Australian artists who need a blog to make sense of and validate their "everyday." Come to think of it, I promise never to refer to the "everyday" again as long as I keep this blog alive. Instead, this blog is about "mostdays" or "somedays" or "whenever I fucken feel like it."

To be frank, The Art Life rocks in a salacious Woman's Day kind of way. And I decided to blog not just to provide my own minority counterpart to The Art Life phenomena. Rather, I decided to blog because my voice is the voice of a generation. Which generation? I have yet to decide. Which voice? Well I prefer to lipsync as it is my favourite medium right now.

But as to which generation I might speak for? Well, if I had lived in Dublin at just the right time -- 1960 to be precise -- I may have actually been Bono. AKA Bono Vox. I think "vox" is how you say voice in an Irish accent. And Bono? Well, he would have been me if he didn't mind waiting 15 years to be born. Because it was 15 years after Bono that a pre-internet, pre-aids, pre-teen, pre-fab sprout incarnation of The Artswipe was born.

The Artswipe is really my shot at being totally indulgent, and wondering how many people look at my blog and wonder if I am a, like, human artwork attached to a $50 per-month broadband plan. Lately, I have been fascinated by artists who believe they are living, breathing, art. I tried to fuck a few of them because I thought it might rub off, and that I too would be a living masterpiece. (I won't mention names, you know who you are). But art, like language, is a virus: it is better transmitted through jazzy corporate templates found on free blogware than body fluids. And no, this is not a U2 fan forum, so don't squabble over your favourite song, political statement, or rumoured date for their long-postponed Australian tour. The Artswipe is a place where metaphors come to graze and audio commentaries come in written form.