Monday, May 21, 2007

Lost Property

The Artswipe
The Global Village, 2007
Photograph (no print edition because we ran out of trees to make paper)

The Artswipe encountered this street sign today in a quaint suburban village in the western suburbs of Sydney and felt a surge of Public Sphere Pride. "Sustainability St: It's a village out there". This street sign really should have been in last year's Biennale of Sydney. It's the kind of text art Australia is crying out for. Speaking of art and the western suburbs, Artswipe popped into the Penrith Regional Gallery and the Lewers Bequest today to see the much anticipated Vivienne Binns retrospective. When I was at art school we all considered Ms Binns a legend. Binns is one of those artists who is really iconic for a couple of significant works, which unfortunately overshadows an art practice still going strong. Cases in point: Binns made a landmark community art project called Mothers Memories, Others Memories (1979-81) which was significant for the way it engaged a community of women in Blacktown, a suburb in Western Sydney. Binns also made iconic feminist paintings like Phallic Monument and Vag Dens in the 1960s. The latter features a big psychedelic vagina with teeth (luckily no orthodontic braces). It's 1970s second wave feminist art par excellence. You know, all anti-aesthetic and angry and political. If feminism was battery operated, you'd need D-size Duracel because making the personal political can require quite a bit of charge! It's a message that must be heard - a message about owning your vagina, owning your politics. Perhaps even your teeth as well. I've often dreamed about my teeth falling out: common dream stock I've heard. If I have that dream again, I'll check whether my teeth have fallen into my vagina, doubling probably as a Lost Property depot ("So that's that's where the remote control went!") Come to think of it, even though she's been regarded by critics and historians for works such as these, the rest of Vivienne Binns' oeuvre is kind of like art historical lost property. Fortunately this great show, curated thoughtfully by Merryn Gates, remedies that.

Vivienne Binns
Nylon over the Lachlan, 2006
Acrylic on canvas 130.3 x 165.3 cm
Courtesy of Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest


Skanky Jane said...

Thank you Artswipe! I really enjoyed this post.

SJ xx

PS If I can help retrieve any lost items from your vagina dentatis please don't hesitate to ask...

Biby Cletus said...

Cool blog, i just randomly surfed in, but it sure was worth my time, will be back

Deep Regards from the other side of the Moon

Biby Cletus