In August 2014 I had an interesting conversation at an afternoon spring party hosted by a friend. A new friend and I were discussing the negative effects of art prize culture. We both questioned the long-term effects of such a culture, where works are made specifically to appeal to judging panels. As my friend has been intimately involved in the arts for some years, we can both remember a time, not so long ago, when there were only a handful of prizes; and the drive to make work was not inspired by the prize money attached to any given prize.
I responded to one of my friend’s rhetorical comments, and suggested that, if pressed one could drink a cup of hot instant soup. I also noted that if one did, one does not any expectations that the instant soup might be delicious, have any nutrients or to be memorable. We finished discussing this topic by agreeing that we both looked forward to a reassessment of this scenario- where visual artist (and people working in other artistic disciplines) make works that they simply need to make, and not because they're trying to tick boxes, or expect to win an art lottery.
At the same spring art party, I also flagged that after my Fathers' death, my life as I previously knew it, closed. The new book chapter that opened two years after my Father’s death is best described as being, 'post Nauman'. It is as if a manual counting device, such as the 'clickers' used to count crowds at a large public access event, were reset the moment I walked into Bruce Nauman’s permanent installation at the Hamburger Bahnhof. Luckily, I've had similar experiences to the Nauman experience before. For non-artists, the closest and most comparable experience to the one that I am now discussing might be based around philosophical enquiry that enables one to consider being or faith.
It is this post-Nauman re-set that drives my want to make new works that challenge my own practice and to simultaneously seek out works that are conceived through rigorous conceptual investigation and ongoing studio work.
The following list loosely tables artists, multi-disciplinary works, projects and music events that I keep thinking about. The first group of Australian visual artists on this list are mid career women artists. This group of practicing Sydney based artists includes, Rose Ann McGreevy who died in October 2014. Each of these artists delivers flawless work that is unique and prefaced by at least two decades of academic research into their respective fields, which include textual, spatial and experimental enquiry.
Margaret Roberts (AUS): http://www.margaretroberts.org/
Lynne Barwick (AUS): http://lynnebarwick.blogspot.com.au/
Marlene Sarroff (AUS): http://marlenesarroff.com/
Elizabeth Day (AUS): http://elizabethday.com.au; http://www.artnet.com/galleries/conny-dietzschold-gallery/artist-elizabeth-day/
Rose McGreevy (Northern Ireland/ AUS) http://roseannmcgreevy.blogspot.com.au/ [Disclaimer: I am helping coordinate a survey of Rose’s work at Articulate Project Space in October 2015. Special thanks to Leichhardt Council for supporting the presentation of Rose McGreevy’s work though a Community Grant.]
Keen to see more new works from the following Sydney based artists: Linden Braye, Bronia Iwanczak, Nicole Ellis, Nick Strike.
Sydney artists turning new corners: Sue Callanan, Emma Wise, Lynne Eastaway, Barbara Halnan
New Australian Poetry: Joanne Burns http://rochfordstreetreview.com/2014/11/28/surreal-inventiveness-peter-kirkpatrick-launches-brush-by-joanne-burns/
The list that follows is not spooled in any order. Rather, I've had to shift my notes around a little bit, in order to work around strange in-built automatic defaults within this blog template.
Site: Noritoshi Hirakawa’s BW photograph, ‘S-Pont du Gotteron, Fribourg’ (1997). The sublime and spatially astute hang of this work was presented by Chi-Wen Gallery (Taipei) at Art Stage, Singapore 2014.
Video work: Omer Fast, Artspace
BoS: Just plain super: Julianna Engberg; Tacita Dean; Sonia Leber & David Chestworth; John Coxon & Henrik Håkansson in collaboration with Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the Female voices of VOX (Sydney Philharmonia Choirs) to present ‘The End’ (2011 and 2014).
Site: Gregor Schneider photographs, Dominik Mersch Gallery, Sydney. This is the first time I have had the pleasure of seeing a large body of Schneider’s BW house images.
Installation: ‘The great puddle’ (2009), memorable floor piece by Nguyen Huy An (born 1982, Vietnam), Singapore Biennale. I was fortunate to be able to visit this work on two occasions while I was in Singapore. http://www.singaporebiennale.org/downloads/folios/Nguyen%20Huy%20An_Final.pdf
SCA undergrad show: This year’s undergraduate show was particularly strong. Sadly, I missed the postgraduate exhibition.
Opera: Pinchgut Opera: I was fortunate to listen to and watch, thanks to a tip-off from my fine music compadre, a glorious production of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride (Iphigenia in Tauris), which was written in 1779. Pinchgut Opera specialise in presenting seldomly performed operas and sadly receive less than 5% of their operating costs from public funding bodies.
Politics: Countess blog: http://countesses.blogspot.com.au/
Compelling statistics from this contemporary Australian Feminist blog.
Domestic scale works: A delightful site-specific project commissioned by Jeffrey Stewart, Sydney. Invited text artists included: Christine Dean, Ron Adams and Lynne Barwick. Project notes: Jeffrey invited each artist to visit his apartment to choose one kitchen cupboard door on which they would paint an artwork. Once works were complete, the doors/ paintings were re-installed in Jeffrey's kitchen as functioning cupboard doors.
Drawing: Objects & Energies: Joyce Hinterding, Agnes Martin and Linda Matalon, Curated by Katie Dyer, National Art School (NAS), Sydney. Notes: I found myself casually chatting about this show with a friend the other day. As the conversation unfolded, it quickly transpired that my friend had also memorised the exact position of each work in this exhibition.
Heritage: I am keeping a strong focus on contemporary artists investigating Polish histories and narratives. These artists include Miroslaw Balka, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Yael Bartana and Artur Żmijewski.