Sunday, August 26, 2007

Pissing Contests

When it comes to bathrooms that look this good, gender is irrelevant.
Above: the female (top) and male (bottom) bathrooms at Carriageworks.

Recently at The Art Life, a debate raged about gender representation after Carrie Lumby reviewed a fairly banal Herald article. Adam Cullen and Ben Quilty were called up (among others) for quotable quotes in this article about art audiences getting bored of testosterone-fuelled art and it's hard to resist taking the bait. Not quite sure I saw the point of the Herald article or the Lumby write-up, but I've never been so entertained as I was when reading the 70something comments it sparked at The Art Life. And I just love how so many who commented clamour for the last word, returning again and again to strengthen their stance on whatever it was they were trying to make a point about. The Artswipe doesn't care for the last word. I'm too sophisticated for soft cock pissing contests. Rather I decided to put on a Guerrilla Girl mask and contribute to all this 'research' about gender representation in the arts by undertaking the following gallery crawl during the week:

Gallery Barry Keldoulis
: Chris Fox, Hitesh Natalwala
MOP Projects
: Alex Lawler, Marita Frazer, Emma White
Firstdraft Gallery: Clip Art: Kate Smith, Soda_Jerk (Dan & Dominique Angeloro) & Sam Smith, Ben Frost, Grant Stevens, Elvis Richardson, Deborah Kelly, The Motel Sisters (Liam Benson & Naomi Oliver)
Performance Space @ Carriageworks: Ruark Lewis & Jonathan Jones, Ross Gibson & Kate Richards
Tin Sheds: Petra Gemeinboeck
Sherman Galleries
: Marion Borgelt
Stills: Magnum New Blood: Antoine D'Agata, Jonas Bendiksen, Alec Soth, Trent Parke, Mark Power
: Sean Cordeiro & Claire Healy

Total Male Artists: 16

Total Female Artists: 12

If I had not gone to Stills, which was showing five male Magnum photographers, my gallery crawl would have been almost 50/50 in terms of gender representation. Not that that really says anything because generally I'm more interested in whether the art is any good. And overall it was a fun trip around Sydney, but my favourite works for the day were all the more interesting because they were about art and sex. So thanks to Carriageworks for introducing me to your male and female toilets. I've never seen a better or more expensive installation in my whole life!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Death of Affect

TV Moore, installation view, courtesy Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery

So Art Life did a (celebrity?) blogroll and profiled The Artswipe's Crown Jewels post. Thanks Art Life! But now I am experiencing incredible self-inflicted pressure to post something new, just in case new traffic comes my way. So I have been thinking, what can I write? What have I done, where have I gone, what have I seen that I could review? What does Artswipe usually do apart from watching trash TV, taking mobile phone camera pics and shooting the breeze about art school daze? Artswipe does art. So here's a new review of what I've seen in the
pre-Primavera and Lempriere Sydney art-circuit. And yes, stay tuned... Arty will probably feel compelled to make some kind of mention of the Primavera and Lempriere - or at least eavesdrop on some opening night banter. What else do you do when the circus comes to town?

So Artswipe saw TV Moore's show Fantasists in the Age of Decadence at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery and it was pretty cool. There was this PVC-clad Humpty Dumpty which took my fancy. It had that gimp vibe about it. Strange for a white cube, the space was mood-lit and admittedly the atmosphere made me a bit horny. There's nothing worse than stumbling into bad lighting, so thanks to Oxley9 for turning down the dimmer switch. Especially on opening night when everyone looked kinda edible. In the next room were screen works displayed on Macs by Michael Bell-Smith. They kind of looked like screen savers for the Facebook crowd.

David Rosetszky
Nothing like this, 2007 (video still)
16mm film transferred to DVD 16:9
colour, sound, edition of 6+2AP, dur. 24:36 min
Courtesy Kaliman Gallery

I also saw David Rosetzsky's show Nothing Like This at Kaliman Gallery. The glacial cool of Rosetzsky's work has always confounded me somewhat. I always feel compelled to read the work with my existential goggles on. But this time I just let go of all those academic urges and felt its message. Young kids - probably straight off a Larry Clark set but shampooed - wade in the water. They've probably just had unsafe sex standing up in a change room stall at The Gap without moving a facial muscle. Now they're washing off in the river. These 'children of the corn' couldn't be expected to do any less. 'Affect' is a big little word these days, overused at every turn. In my humble opinion Rosetzsky celebrates the death of affect and for that reason alone I commend him.

Joan Fontcuberta
Abu Ghraib, 2005
Courtesy Australian Centre for Photography

Australian Centre for Photography is going for the G-spot - Google and Gays. Joan Fontcuberta is a Spanish artist who makes art from Google images. Like, who doesn't? Obviously she's not familiar with The Artswipe, who has bought fucken shares in Google images! According to the press blurb, Fontcuberta "has used the popular internet search engine Google to create large, colourful photo-mosaics that construct an elegant metaphor for the internet-era's liaisons between mass media and ideas of collective consciousness." I found this work exploring the "liaisons" between cliche and crap. Sorry, I'm not buying it. Download a famous Abu-Ghraib image, re-jig it with Mac software and, PRESTO!, you have pictures within pictures. Gee I've never heard of that before, well, at least not as an "elegant metaphor".

Kenneth Anger
Invocation of My Demon Brother 1969
ultrachrome archival photograph (film still)
Courtesy Stuart Shave Modern Art

Then there was the gay show called The Brotherhood. Organised by Neon Parc, I was hoping with this show for at least a whiff of some crusty foreskin. That's what you usually get with "gay photography". It's always the shot in the arm you need at the end of a long day. A tie-in with a magazine called They Shoot Homosexuals Don't They? I was hoping for something as special as such a subversive magazine title might suggest. And yes, there was something special. A Kenneth Anger film, Invocation of my Demon Brother 1969, made it all worth while. Anger was a legend of queer culture then as much as now. Enough said. The rest of the show was not so well hung. Rather, it limply hung from the walls as if the gallery was a noticeboard. Flicking through They Shoot Homosexuals Don't They? I noticed that all the same pictures hanging at the ACP were reproduced there, but the format does it more justice than this strangely vapid exhibition, which next to Googlegrams looks like bits of the web that only materialise when you type "Stroking a Big Cock" into Google Images... And, as you can see below, that is exactly what I decided to do.

The Artswipe
Stroking a Big Cock, 2007
Courtesy Google Images