Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cock and Bull Island

Photos © The Artswipe

In these last days of the 2008 Biennale of Sydney, The Artswipe is finally running a pictorial essay about the much hyped Cockatoo Island venue. These here photos are but a few of the cockatoo islands I have encountered in recent weeks. Note how the cockatoos are either sitting on the trash heap or they are the trash heap.

There you have it - The Artswipe's review of Cockatoo Island, couched in mysterious metaphor.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

High Camp Lows

The Artswipe
First Jobs Series, BBQ Chief at School Camp, 2008
Archival pigments on rice paper with gel medium
edition 20

The Artswipe
always loves to know what Tracey Moffatt will come up with next, so I went to see her show, First Job Series, at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery today. I had a skip in my step on the way there, and on the way back, because it was so much fun to know that this artmegastar once parked cars, peeled pineapples, washed hair, packed meat... she even sold aluminium siding! What I love about Miss Moffatt is she probably is telling you the truth about her past, but that it is so camp. One's early years are always best played back through the spectacle of high camp. Why else would you want to re-live it?

Seeing First Job Series made me feel better about being sold into prostitution by my bitch stepmother when I was 10. Then there was the time at 13 that I babysat that Down Syndrome kid down the road who was clearly older than me. The best first job The Artwipe ever had was fundraising at school: you'd pretend to be making a buck for The 40 Hour Famine, helping African orphans but spending the booty on Big Macs and Cokes. I mowed a lawn once, even worked at a beach kiosk and later got a root in the sand dunes. Oh the good old days. The best job was being BBQ Chief at School Camp. I may not have been paid in cash, but at least I was at Camp.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Adam Cullen's controversial Blake Prize entry

The Artswipe presents a guest blog by Deborah Browne from Sydney:

Mr Cullen, the Enfant Terrible of the upper Blue Mountains managed to get many tongues wagging last week by inadvertently causing a stir with his Blake Prize entry, Only Women Bleed.
Being such a stranger to publicity and the press, Cullen made the terrible error of exclaiming there shouldnt be a fuss about the picture as it was "It's just a Jew on the cross".

The controversy didn't seem to be so much to do with the religious iconography as much as about pannelist Dr Christopher Allen having a major chewy spit and resigning after being over-ridden by fellow panellists.

What the press didn't report on though, was the REAL reason for Allen's disgusting resignation. Apparently Allen couldn't work out why a picture of Jim Henson's 'Animal', from the Muppets, could possibly be regarded as fine art, especially given the other Henson's recent drama at Oxley's. "No more celebration of paedophilia" he cried as angry students swamped his modest NAS office.

Meanwhile, Cullen sat in his icy mountain hideaway feeling smugly warm from a vodka and press-induced euphoria, wrapped in the front page of the SMH and claiming "now that's Art, that is".

Monday, August 11, 2008

Soda Pop

Christian Marclay
Pictures at an Exhibition, 1997
Whitney Museum of Modern Art

Pictures at an Exhibition (After Christian Marclay), 2008
Firstdraft Gallery
Courtesy the artists
Photos: Viv McGregor

In 1997 New York based installation artist and composer Christian Marclay presented Pictures at an Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Marclay selected artworks from the Whitney collection that visually represent "noise". Hung in an over-crowded salon hang, Marclay points out (as quoted in a New York Times review by Grace Glueck) that this "orchestra of images" is meant to explore the "intimate relationship between the immateriality of sound and the tangibility of sound's visual manifestations".

Eleven years later "our Soda_Jerk" (read that with the same love you make when saying "our Nicole" or "our Cate") are presenting their cover version of Marclay's Pictures at an Exhibition in Daniel Green's curated show It's all been done before at Firstdraft Gallery in Sydney. About time really; the Whitney is such a crap venue and we all know that Marclay only showed there because the directors at Firstdraft in 1997* rejected his exhibition proposal.

Soda_Jerk, whose remix oeuvre is played out in video works, photo-collage and installations and who will be showing in Primavera at the Museum of Contemporary Art this year, are very sassy and clever art ladies. They have not bothered looking to an institutional collection for inspiration. Instead they have asked artists in Sydney to loan them the artworks they made in high school art class, many of which are the outcome of their Year 12 Higher School Certificate. Where Marclay's installation of visual noise encouraged viewers to "hear sound through their eyes" Soda_Jerk have gone for a more deafening approach: being assaulted by the "noise" of youth. Marclay didn't intend to poke his viewer in the eye with a treble clef, but that's because he's probably private school educated. The Soda squad opt more for retina burn of girls who mastered their pick-pocketing trickery at the toughest bitch-slap reform school there ever was!

In short, Pictures at an Exhibition (After Christian Marclay) by Soda_Jerk is ArtExpress Artist Run Initiative style! The works collected are a veritable who's-who of groovy Sydney A-Listers, and that's capital A for Art, no less: Andrew Frost, Christopher Hanrahan, Sam Smith, Rachel Scott, Marley Dawson, Sari Kivinen, Drew Bickford, Agatha Gothe-Snape, Kate Jinx, Kate Mitchell, Ella Barclay, Vicki Papageorgopoulos, Monika Behrens, Tom Polo, Tara Marynowsky, Lauren Brincat, Will French, Emma Ramsey, Harriet Birks, Sumu Sivanesan, Stephanie Nova Milne (half of Ms & Mr) and Dominique Angeloro (half of Soda_Jerk).

What makes this install particularly amusing (in a LOL! kind of way) is that the roll call of artists assembled are all doing interesting stuff these days, but clearly have the most dubious of origins. With this installation Soda_Jerk debunk notions of artistic essentialism through recontextualising the obscure artistic detritus and pop culture minutiae of the past. In other words, a good artist is made and not born. In fact some may have been total shit once upon a time. (Speaking from experience, The Artswipe admits to the shame of a youth spent trying to be Andy Warhol when really I had as much talent as Andy McDowell).

I am doubting any of the groovers assembled by Soda_Jerk got into ArtExpress at the time - I'm sure they just got put on detention!
The Artswipe adores ArtExpress: it is the annual exhibition of Higher School Certificate artworks at the Art Gallery of NSW and other venues. Who needs a Youth Advisor when you have ArtExpress? Clearly it is the only place an old girl like me can get a keen understanding on the real issues affecting the young: war (what's it good for?), eating disorders (often caused when two teens lock their braces during a pash), global warming ("Sir, Darryl farted again!"), fashion ("Did you get that from Table 8 or Supre?"), social networking (MySpace, Facebook or Date Rape?), sexual confusion (when Madison fell in love with her gym teacher and happenstanced upon a same-sex wonderland), globalisation (the Coke or Pepsi race riots), postmodernism and artistic appropriation (remaking the Cindy Sherman Foundation), and the one that encapsulates it all - IDENTITY - those artworks that depict teenage alienation, loneliness and acne scars through endless repetitions of the self; these days in "emo"style. While the artworks collected by Soda_Jerk are quite frankly some of the most putrid artworks of all time, I thank my lucky stars that there's not an emo among them.

* Firstdraft directors in 1997: Tanya Peterson, Tess Knight, Peter Fitzpatrick, Simone Douglas, Gianni Wise, Philipa Veitch, Elvis Richardson, Sarah Goffman and Alex Gawronski.