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.


Anonymous said...

Your stretch limo has arrived. I hope you will dance with the boys and not take any pcp and and be home at a reasonable hour young missy!


Anonymous said...

Artswipe you dark horse, big thanks indeed for the kind and clever and wet-our-pants-funny words (we will be invoicing you for 2 new pairs of bloomers) X S_J

Anonymous said...

It beats me that entertainment can somehow be fashioned out of art express.. must be soda jerks?

first draft for sure.

Anonymous said...

proud to have helped in some small way SodaJerks.

Andrew Frost said...

My art work did make it into Art Express, only it wasn't called that at the time, and it wasn't really much more than a show in the foyer of a theatre, and my friend's car got stolen at the opening and we had to take a bus and train and bus back to Carlingford... But hey. Thanks SWipe!