Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Buffy, not a Heather

The Artswipe
SwanSong, 2007
Mobile phone snaps

Artswipe watched Law and Order: Criminal Intent last week just because the plot rip-offed the Anna Nicole Smith story. Kristy Swanson was the actress playing the facsimile of Anna Nicole (who in Criminal Intent was a fat white whale named Lorelai Mailer). Kristy was my idol when I was about seventeen-years-old and was the original Buffy, before Sarah Michelle Jessica Parker Posey took over the tiara. Or whoever it was.

It's always pissed me off that the Buffy TV show was so popular. I remember talking to an academic once who wrote a paper on Buffy as a metaphor for pre-Oedipal nipple envy. I'm not sure if I got that right, but it sounds good. But really, Buffy on TV was a bunch of turds, whereas Buffy the movie was a basket of kisses. And it was all because of Kristy. She wasn't quite as talentless as Heather Graham; not quite as "Amanda" as Heather Locklear; but Kristy Swanson was like a "Heather" - the kind of chick who embodied the blow-waved rich-bitch archetype who we all wanted as a "friend or a fuck", to quote from the legendary
Heathers (1989).

Anyway, Kristy Swanson is a method actress to be reckoned with! She put on all this weight and channeled Anna-Nicole in a way that gave me goose-flesh, as the Americans say. I've never been quite the same since. The lingering question since watching Criminal Intent is: Why wasn't Kristy Swanson a bigger star?

Well, as they say in the classics (and on suburban church marquees):
Answers to Life's Big Questions Can't Be Googled.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Crown Jewels

The Artswipe
Crown Jewels, 2007

After reading the following news report at the Internet Movie Database, titled "Queen Storms Out of Photo Shoot", The Artswipe made the artwork you see before you.

Queen Elizabeth II stormed out of a recent photo shoot when acclaimed photographer Annie Leibovitz asked the British monarch to take off her crown. The royal was posing for a series of official photos at her Buckingham Palace home - to mark her state visit to the U.S. earlier this year - when Rolling Stone snapper Leibovitz went too far. The Queen was less than amused when she was told she looked too dressed up for the occasion. The photographer asked the Queen to wear Order of the Garter robes and a Diamond tiara, but had a change of heart on the day, asking, "I think it will look better without the crown. Less dressy. The garment robe is so ... extraordinary." The Queen them fumed, "Less dressy? What do you think this is?" She then left the room, reportedly muttering, "I'm not changing anything. I've had enough of dressing like this, thank you very much." The extraordinary scenes were caught by a camera crew filming a documentary, entitled A Year With the Queen. Leibovitz, who did eventually manage to complete the portrait pictures, recalls, "She doesn't really want to get dressed up anymore. She just couldn't be bothered and I admire her for that." The documentary will be aired on the BBC later this year.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Cereal Killer

Photos by The Artswipe
Don't question my sense of focus - someone must have spiked my drink

The Artswipe
features in a show at Mori Gallery, Sydney. The show in question is by Sari Kivinen and Contributors, and is called Serial Box Art Degree, an exhibition about the 'art school problem' we are facing in Australia. "What problem?" I hear you ask. "I'll pretend you didn't ask," is my reply.

Seriously, it's that perennial art education problem. The one Artswipe has already touched on in earlier posts. A MySpace friend called "i should use this space for a cool pseudonym" recently sent me a drawing of a hand metaphorically engaged in a bit of 2B self-portraiture. In case you don't get my drift, the image featured a hand mid-wank, sans-cock, and rendered in the finest of grey lead pencil. I'll reproduce it below so you can get a sense of what's going on in the world today: yes, masturbation is back. Cyndi Lauper called it "she-bopping" back in the 80s. These days we call it person-bopping.

Fuckshit.... I always do it, mix my metaphors, tie my shoelaces in all kinds of choreographed configurations. How do you get from art school politics to masturbation? The link is so arbitrary, like signification itself - something the future gens might never know about if artschools die in the ass (no AIDS jokes please). But that's exactly what is happening. There was that whole UWS art blog protest last year and it hasn't gone away. If anything, those kids have gotten more angry and more radical with their aesthetic ethics. Sari Kivinen got the kids together crit-style for a rambunkshious (sic) opening night of art school protest. There were cereal boxes everywhere made by a bunch of contributors, Artswipe included. See my serial box photographed out of focus above... It's called The Visual Identity Manual and it is a Lent calendar featuring images from the UWS visual identity style manual. The what-not-to-do-with-the-logo. Well, if I was the designer of that little gem of a corporate tertiary logo, I'd say you should go off and avoid all visual references to Nike.

Note on focus: all photos above are out of focus because someone spiked my drink with some Rohypnol (aka roofies, aka date rape drug par excellence). Need I describe the rest of my night? Well, prior to having a few extra sexual cavities, I witnessed a grand happening at Mori Gallery featuring
a whole bunch of post-Spotlight performance artists, including Schappylle Scragg, La Donna Rama, Sonic Yootha, Dr Bernice Leach and the Motel Sisters. They all spiced up the evening with rollicking day-glo fashions. I am always getting in trouble for forgetting to turn the irony off when I leave for work - these kids are proof that the irony should never be turned off. If anything they make me wanna lay flat on the irony board and get steam pressed Prisoner-style. As long as the stray sequin doesn't catch fire, we'll all be OK. Casula Powerhouse director Kon Gouriotis opened the exhibition. I whispered to my friend Scooter, "What has he come as?" Scooter wasn't prepared to commit to a response (ever since he's had the Presidential pardon, he's been so fucking non-committal with authority, let alone the regional gallery kind). Seeing there was so much performance art going on, I couldn't focus on Mr Gouriotis's lengthy speech because I was too entranced in his own choice of costume: black pin-striped pants, brown shoes and turtle neck (as the Americans say). Sample and mash.

Anyway, I have drifted from the point. Again. If you prefer more linear trajectories sign every petition in town, protest every cause, and re-enroll in an artschool. I'm sure there's one at a TAFE near you. Really, go back to artschool if you aren't there already. Do a PhD or DCA or RTA even. They're in vogue this season. Going to artschool is the most sustainable thing you can do in this age of forest carnage and climate change. As petrol prices soar, I beg that you catch the train, ride the bus and enjoy it at student concession prices.

Illustration by Gareth aka

Sunday, July 01, 2007


The Artswipe
Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese,
pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun, 2007
Found image collage

It was appropriate that Britain should have been represented by that undisputed queen of narcissism, Tracey Emin. She responded in typical fashion, demanding that she only be accommodated at a hotel that had a certain “thread count” in the sheets. She wanted a room for her secretary and a private boat. In return, she produced a series of small, laughably bad drawings; scrappy shapeless paintings; piles of sticks that passed for sculpture; and outline doodles in neon. The theme needless to say was Me, Me, Me.

Her fans were rapt in admiration. “Tracey”, as she is known by all the world, was on hand to do a lot of swearing. For some, this served as confirmation of her genius. If further proof of sainthood was needed, one of the catalogue essays was written by a clergyman who gave a religious spin to Tracey’s art and expletives. For those like me who were not so anxious to worship at her alter, it seemed clear that in terms of her fame and her talent, Tracey is nothing less than the Paris Hilton of contemporary art.
(John McDonald, “Festival of False Gods”, Sydney Morning Herald, June 16-17, 2007).

If Tracey Emin is the Paris Hilton of contemporary art, John McDonald is the Dan Brown of the art critic world. Let me explain.

A week before old McDonald bagged Emin, that bourgeois Herald supplement Good Weekend ran a cover story profiling artists in their studios. Basically a puff-piece to promote John McDonald’s new book, Studio: Australian Painters on the Nature of Creativity, the cover featured Aida Tomescu. I could review this article here at Artswipe in case you missed it, but Good Weekend reader Melanie Flynn of Hawthorn East, Victoria, sums it up perfectly in her letter to the magazine's editor, published this weekend:

The promise of an article about Australia’s top artists (June 9) was sadly short-lived as the author bought into the career story of art critic John McDonald. Surely most people who work within the industry have heard this story time and again and, for those who haven’t,it is hardly gripping stuff. If you are going to descend into the banality of art-world politics, please don’t promise something more by placing a full-page image of a female artist on your cover, who you then hardly mention in the accompanying article. (Good Weekend, 30 June, 2007).

I agree. It’s hardly gripping and it didn't really make me want to rush out and buy the book. McDonald would tear shreds off any other critic who’d dare to produce such nebulous, glossy coffee table criticism. Granted, a book on artists in their studios is an interesting idea; it appeals to our voyeuristic tendencies to know every bit of minutia about celebrity. And indeed, there is a whiff of celebrity about this book in that it appeals to the kind of personality-driven excess that McDonald gets all huffy over - evidenced by his jibe at Tracey Emin. More info on the book is available here and you can even download a nine page PDF sample of the book here.

Studio is available now and for a mere $80 you can furnish your coffee table with a copy. “That’s too much money,” I hear you cry in dismay. Think about it this way: Big Macs cost $3.25 each. With $80 you could either buy John McDonald’s book or visit your local McDonalds and order 24 Big Macs.