Rigorous Mundanity, or “Artists of the World, Connect!”

A Conversation between Justin Clemens and Anthony Gardner, 25/9/07

In June 2007 A Constructed World, as part of their exhibition Increase Your Uncertainty at ACCA, hosted a series of Conversations. Around 35 guests and audiences talked about Collectivity, The Changing Audience for Contemporary Art, Losers and Failure and Publishing Without Publishers. The last conversation focused on Art and Politics in Australia and included Anthony Gardner, Michelle Ussher, Jeff Khan, Justin Clemens, Mark Feary, Lisa Radford and Geoff Lowe.

This conversation didn't get to the point, only because their isn't one, focusing more on how "...it's compulsively difficult to talk about anything". "We seem to really lack a skill of repertoire and roles and discussion, racked with fear and guilt before speaking." Perhaps what was really being talked about is are we allowed to talk.
SPEECH invited Anthony Gardner and Justin Clemens to continue this conversation.


La promesse de l’écran

Un milieu s'autorégule, il expluse, il absorbe, il se concentre, il se dilate et se reformate. Nul n'en connait les lois ni n'est à même d'en expliciter les habitus. Du moins s'il n'en sort. Emettons l'hypothèse que Pierre Leguillon travaille cette matière même, dans le cas très précis du milieu de l'art. Le vernissage comme situation expérimentale. Le milieu comme médium en somme. On évitera pour l'instant de se poser la question de son me/assage. PL en connaît suffisamment les rouages pour le faire se concentrer (à l'instar d'une société secrète comme ce fut le cas pour Les Promesses de l'écran qui se sont tenues le 15 novembre), mais laisse suffisamment indéterminé son propre statut (artiste ? curateur ? critique ? éditeur ?) pour se laisser une marge de manoeuvre qui lui permette de mieux travailler cette socialité si particulière du "tu fais quoi en ce moment ?" Nul doute non plus que l'alcool (qui coula à flot mais pour une somme modique ce soir là) soit un levier pour cette démarche. Nul doute non plus, comme Pierre Leguillon se plaît à citer Philippe Thomas reconnaissant que son travail ne foutait pas le bordel que dans les catégories mais aussi dans sa vie, qu'il n'en soit pas épargné de retour. Alors on se demandera quel bon dos ont les oeuvres projetées ce soir là, diaporées précédemment et accrochées dans d'autres (hélas trop rares encore) cas. Sont-elles des starters ? (mais alors de quoi ?) Des open-minders ? (mais alors pour quoi ?) Des prétextes ? (mais alors à quoi ?)
Vincent Romagny
image La promesse de l’écran 2007-2008 techniques mixtes, dimensions variables, photo credit Aurélien Mole


Are You Being Flocked?

The Carlton Club Hotel and Studios
193 Bourke St Melbourne, October
The campy title of the exhibition suggests a neat cross between fancy wallpaper and group mentality. But who is part of the flock? Stephen Bram, Tony Clark, Marco Fusinato, Melinda Harper, Fiona McDonald, Anne Marie May, Callum Morton, John Nixon, Rose Nolan, Kerrie Poliness, Kathy Temin, Gary Wilson plus Constanze Zikos, who curated the show and DJ’s on Saturday nights in the bar downstairs. Okay, so the list reads like a year on Flinders lane 5 years ago - and everyone got a look in - hardedge, faux-naif, fluffy, knitted, painted, abstract and architectural. So why don’t we do it in the road? Most of the artists in the exhibition are usually treated to pristine white gallery spaces and heavy institutional hangs – the sort of pedigree you wouldn’t expect to grace the walls of the one-bedroom-and-sink-sized rooms above the bar. But we’re all friends, aren’t we? Stay in groups uh.
Geoff Newton
image Fiona McDonald


NetAlert: Be afraid, be very afraid

In the recent three-part South Park episode ‘Imaginationland’ terrorists hijack our imagination seeking to eliminate the ‘good parts’, leaving only the ugly, evil and malicious creations of the human mind. This story provides an interesting reference point when considering the increased security measures today, such as the introduction of NetAlert in Australia, which is ‘part of the Australian Government’s ongoing commitment to providing a safe online environment for all families, especially children.’ NetAlert is a project that provides free internet content filter for download and general advice about protecting yourself and your children online. It comes as a response to increased fears of children being exposed to potentially disturbing and harmful material online, fuelled by almost daily reports of child sex offences, lurking paedophiles and easily accessible graphic pornography.
continue reading Uros Cvoro's text


Matthew Griffin

We Get Tricks
Uplands Gallery, Studio 2&3 249 - 251 Chapel Street Prahran, Oct 2007
There are tricks all over this show, Magic Happens (bowling ball and sticker) being the clearest example. But the best trick is the one that made me feel like a flake (being a maker it’s inevitable) – the artist/the trickster and the audience/the tricked. Griffin does this by dressing up and acting it out.

At the front of the show, someone big on all fours modelled a sunshine made of shit and a video piece. The sun’s design was redolent of a kind of coastal scene. Griffin seems to think this is bad, well, shit. Or what this stands for is. Things like Nature and dream catchers with feathers, a sloppy rhetorical kind of activism, wearable and sold at markets. Griffin’s intention to tattoo a hippy on a dolphin has been well documented.

The sun piece set up another video in which Griffin appears as a kind of gathering eco-artist tinker. This shifts Griffin’s target from the general to art. The footage takes place in the bush and then the studio. Here Griffin mocks a current version of art’s default relationship to nature. Griffin as young creative has his naturalness exaggerated by his upsized comedy manhood, made out of some foul kinked bit of balloon and a wig – seemed a bit itchy. He chooses twigs in a dumb reverential way, holding them up to the camera/audience for examination or proof. Later he returns to the studio to interpret his experience in a crappy organic wooden sculpture that doesn’t work and just falls about.

I can’t help but spell this all out because I really like this work and set of things. Griffin’s silly/floppy taps of the hammer are the cherry. Watching I start to feel like a hypocrite and want to give up and be a nurse or something. But it’s ok I’ll take it because I have not found many things that house my annoyance and give me back humour like this, and that’s what I want.
Kate Smith

Scott Miles

The Narrows, 2/141 Flinders Lane Melbourne, Oct-Nov 2007
Somehow the accompanying text to this show really enhances the work in a way exhibition texts often don’t. The Narrows gallery provides a poster with an essay or creative text for each show. Not a new invention for a gallery, but they do it well.

To accompany his exhibition Paintings, artist Scott Miles has provided an extract from a fictional letter dated 1894. Signed Michel Marker, the invented nom de plume reads like a combo of Michel Foucault and artist/filmmaker Chris Marker – both have been proponents of the ideas at play in Miles’ paintings. Historical and futuristic architectural languages are mixed in works like ‘We have reached the 21st Century’, while an imagined heterotopic “other place” or parallel universe is presented in a painting of Flinders Street Station surrounded not by city traffic but grassy knolls. Many of the oil on board works are like travel shots, but unsettled, the truth of a place or time disrupted by memory or invention.
Rosemary Forde