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Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei: Under Construction
Campbelltown Art Centre NSW, May-June 2008
curated by Dr Charles Merewether

I felt like Bart Simpson with a swimming pool of spit, a bandaid and a clump of dog-hair on my hand after I shook it with Ai Weiwei’s. (I told James and Hao that I wouldn’t wash it for a week, but I washed it that night back at the motel. Extremes that are easy in cartoons don’t translate so well back to life.) Having spent so much time in thinking and writing about Ai and what he does, and then coming face to face with them, there was a great imbalance, or inequality, so there was nothing to say. I told him I felt like I knew him; he told me he liked my dress, and then the natural thing was to move on.

(Later, an awkward but sincere government minister got up and spoke about being honoured and blessed to be in his presence: yes!)
click here to continue reading Liv Barrett's response


Brendan Huntley

In Order of Appearance, Utopian Slumps
25 Easey Street Collingwood, April – May 2008

Brendan Huntley. I love the band he fronts: Eddy Current Suppression Ring. Their songs are blunt and infectious. Likable guys. They sing about real stuff. ATMs. The weather. Walking. Square pegs in round holes. Clever dumb. I was worried about seeing Brendan’s art and not liking it. If his art was bad then the band might be tainted for me.

Art and Music. The two have an uneasy relationship. It’s not all flirting and friendly like the actor/model/doctor/nurse prototype. People dip their toes in the other’s pool but there’s no skinny-dipping wrestling fun. It’s more slippy-snidey than slippy-slidey. Artists secretly want to be in a rock band but the band doesn’t give much credo to being an art star. Artists feel they tread the artistic higher ground but go unappreciated by the greater public. So when musicians put their art up in galleries they can play easy targets. The art crowd take paltry pot shots and enjoy it. Stick to your day job. Stay out of our pool.

But really, what would a rocker want with the artworld? Partying in a white cube of a room under blinding fluorescent lights. Peering at painted foam turds sitting on plinths, just begging to be made fun of. Punters used to rowdy gigs and comfy pubs don’t really get the art-opening thing. Understandably. Art openings are hard work. Give me a good gig any day and yet I keep going to galleries to be uncomfortable and baffled. I’m looking for good art, dammit…

But I digress. I shouldn’t have worried. Brendan’s got his feet placed firmly in both camps. What I like about the music was solidly there in his art. Bright. Blocky. Warped fun. Clever dumb objects. Ceramic masks and balaclavas. A wall of painted doodly heads. At his previous show I loved and bought a ceramic paint tube squeezing out a fried egg. An artist friend said, “Oh that must be a play on egg tempera medium!” I prefer to think he had eggs for breakfast then went to his studio to rock some pots. Simple. As. That.
Jess Johnson