Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sex: A New Artist Run Initiative

Giving artists something (or someone) to do during gallery-sitting shifts

In Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill (1980), Kate (Angie Dickinson) goes to a museum, sits down and looks at a painting of a woman who returns her gaze. The viewer and the viewed caught cruising one another. Kate alternates between looking at this painting and another of a large baboon, who also stares at her. Such are the spectatorial gaze relations of paintings and people who look at them. At times Kate is distracted by people who move throughout the gallery. At other times she takes down some notes - some kind of shopping list and nothing to do with her experience of the paintings. A man with sexy sunglasses sits down and they begin an elaborate game of alternating between looking at each other and the art. Eventually they fuck. Soon after she is killed.

This has to be one of my all time favourite art scenes from a film because it illustrates the complex power relations enacted in places where spectatorship is encouraged, indeed expected. Galleries and museums are places where we look, and what better joy do we get from pretending to be absorbed in the art, when we're really checking out someone's arse. Something about art must make people horny.

You can imagine my excitement upon encountering Spacedating, a new concept in gallery sitting at artist run spaces in Sydney. I encountered Spacedating quite randomly on YouTube and to find out more watch the video posted below (which is cleverly constructed using the scenes I described from Dressed to Kill). After searching for more info about Spacedating online, I discovered that young artist Grzegorz Gawronski seems to be behind it all. Basically we all know minding galleries can be tedious and boring. But that can be remedied by joining a Spacedating database comprised of students from Sydney art schools. Next time you mind a gallery, ensure you participate in 'spacedating' a peer listed at the database. Nothing beats an afternoon fuck in a white cube. Except maybe a good old fashioned blow job in a (pre-digital) photo dark room.

Much like porn can be defined by the paradigm shift of the condom (i.e. rubber or pre-rubber) art sex is defined by whether we do it in digital or pre-digital spaces. Based on data or databased. You decide.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Inventing the Wheel

The Artswipe
Church of the Poison Mind, 2007
Mobile phone snap

So the NSW State election is over. Yes, I resisted casting a vote for the Australians Against Further Immigration party. I just can't get behind that. You see, I was handed the 'How to Vote' form and I couldn't get past the letters AAFI. Wondering if this party might not prefer starting a global rumour that Australians Are Fucking Idiots, I decided I'd rather die with shit in my mouth than vote for a party that doesn't understand how the colour wheel of life is, well, the best kind of wheel. (Wagon Wheels are good too).

After seeing this poster on a church-like building near where I voted, I started thinking more about colour - both in racial and aesthetic terms - and decided I would start my own Artswipe campaign to make immigration more important than ever before, if only to annoy the white type of Aussie Christians who take it upon themselves to create hybrid faiths that link cultural intolerance with religion and bad banner making. Then again, I haven't seen a pink church before. (Actually I'm not even sure if it is a church). Being that pink is so charged in meaning for chicks, fags and the occasional metrosexual, maybe we can give this little church - or whatever it is - the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps we should all inject cultural difference with a fresh coat of pink paint. Maybe this was not, after all, a church of the poison mind. And maybe, just maybe, it was not populated with a true blue crew of white washed rednecks adorned in green and gold.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Artswipe's Art Life

The Artswipe
Mythbusters, 2007
ET Pez dispenser, masking tape, black texta

The Artswipe makes a guest appearance on The Art Life reviewing three video installations currently showing in Sydney while Team Art Life make television. You screen, I screen, we all screen for iScreen. Or something like that.

Grab a choctop and read it here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I Heart Attack

The Artswipe
Heartfelt, 2007
Collage on paper (now on web)

Yesterday I was going through my inbox - most of it just spam or MySpace alerts - and an email with a delectably saucy subject line caught my eye. "Hot Australian News" it proclaimed. My mind raced. What could it be? Had Chrissy Amphlett made a comeback by urinating in public? Was Savage Garden reforming? Did Olivia Newton-John find her missing husband? Was an interesting artist representing Australia this year at the Venice Biennale?

No such luck. The said email came from Ronnie. Just Ronnie. No surname. Oh dear - has that boy who picked on me at school found me through School Friends Dot Com? Has he resurfaced all these years later to remind me with his petty taunts that my nipples are still high-beaming like they were that fateful day on the school's volleyball court. That fateful day, where ball sports meet water. You know the rest.

But this is no Ronnie from my barely suppressed past. Not even one of the two Ronnies. The suspense was killing me, and while I suspected Ronnie was just another thorny weed in the spam-a-lot gardens of my bulging inbox, I decided to take the risk and open his so-called hot Aussie news.

And hot it was. So much so that it inspired some really cutting edge collage.


SYDNEY, March 11, 2007 08:56pm (AEDT) - The Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard have survived a heart attack. Mr Howard, 67 years old, was at Kirribilli House in Sydney, his prime residence, when he was suddenly stricken. Mr Howard was taken to the Royal North Shore Hospital where the best surgeons of Australia are struggling for his life.

Click on the link below to get the latest information on the health of the Prime Minister:

The Australian - keeping the nation informed [this bit was hyperlinked]

The Hon John Winston Howard became in as Prime Minister of Australia on 11 March 1996, becoming the 25th person to occupy the office of Prime Minister since Federation. This followed the Coalition's decisive Federal election victory on 2 March 1996...

[then more boring bio... to paste it all here would contaminate this blog big time].


It just seemed too phony (and grammatically incorrect) to be true, so I resisted clicking on the hyperlink for fear I'd download a heart attack of my own. Good detective I am, I went straight to Google and typed in four words:
John Howard heart attack. The first story to emerge details the "phishing bait" scam. (Not sure what 'phishing' is so don't ask... All I know is since 'fat' was spelled 'phat' by the once-cool hip-hop kids of yesterday, I have been intrinsically suspicious of any 'ph' combinations).

As one of the articles about the hoax email reports, "The phishing scam attempts to redirect visitors to a site which claims to be for the newspaper The Australian, but which was actually registered in Canada on February 14 this year... News-driven tactics have become increasingly common, as phishers seek to convince users that their messages are valid. Recent examples have included the US Superbowl and storms in Europe as topics. Many phishing mails direct users to sites which install trojan software which can take over their PCs and be used to form botnets for the further sending of spam."

So this all happened about a month ago. Poor John Howard's been in hospital all that time, and I get the email only yesterday. If phishy-dish spammers did their fucking job properly - and on time - I could have at least been urged into sending my heartfelt, homemade 'get well' card on time.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Exquisite Corpse

The Artswipe
Exquisite Corpse, 2007
Video still

MySpace is a place where 'friends' unite each other in interesting creative projects and play. Queen of the realm, The Divine Miss White, has spent the last four weeks promoting various bloggers on her page and if you hadn't noticed, The Artswipe was one of four featured during the week of 18-25 February. Last week, all sixteen of her featured cast of diverse bloggers were engaged in a challenge to create a literary 'exquisite corpse'. The Surrealists first played this collaborative game called 'exquisite corpse', whereby one participant would create an image then conceal most of it, revealing only a small section. The next artist continues the image by using the visible bit of the previous participant's contribution. As The Divine Miss White details on her MySpace blogging challenge, the game can be played as a writing exercise:

« write in turn on a sheet of paper
« fold it to conceal part of the writing
« then pass it on to the next player for further contribution

The Artswipe contributed to the 'corpse', which was adjudicated at MySpace by The Divine Miss White over the last seven days. Below I have reproduced The Artswipe's section, preceded by the last three words (transcribed in italics) written by the blogger to play the game before me, and whose words inspired my creative turn. If you care to read the entire corpse, check it out at MySpace.

As for the inspiration for my 250-words-or less tale? Well, I tried not to give it too much thought as I was so wanting to channel some good ol' fashioned stream of consciousness. That's what the Surrealists would have wanted. But as I'm just too much in the moment, and really such a cerebral dilettante, I really felt it important to adapt an anecdote I recently overheard at an art party, where an artist broke up with their painter partner because his art was shit.


fight another day.

Admitting defeat had always been out of the question. But after witnessing the aesthetic horrors of his so-called art, I just knew it best we break up. I'd met him twelve months earlier through a friend of a friend of a friend of someone who knew Allen Ginsberg – or was it William Burroughs, I can't recall. That whole Beat poetry connotation of the nomadic drifter trailblazing through the American heartland really stirred up my reproductive system. And because he was an artist – a connoisseur of meaning making – I just had to have him. While the sex was creative, he held out on showing me his art. All I knew was that he "painted with light" as it was written on his business card. So I go to his art show held at a converted factory used for the occasional exhibition, happening or yoga class. A few people I recognize are mingling with red cask wine in plastic cups. I don't see any art. Meg, whose claim to fame is that she's related somehow to Sharon Tate – or was it Roman Polanski, I can't recall – tells me his art "negotiates fault-lines in everyday visuality". Meg is studying sociology and can sometimes be such a cunt. When she realizes my frustration at not grasping her university babble, her eyes drift heavenward, prompting me to look up and behold the elusive art. All I see is a skylight upon which a light-switch was crudely painted.