Saturday, September 4, 2010
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Friday, July 9, 2010
First discovery of the adventure was that Mondays are a bad day for art. Drifting back memories of foreign travels and finding oneself in the wrong city on the wrong day with nothing but closed signs. My art-history compatriots and I attempted several abortive art adventures; attempts at Carriageworks, Dank Street Galleries and White Rabbit all thwarted. Oh well, the only possible solution was a deliciously restorative pub lunch steak and a beer.
Somewhere along the way I got Ruby Tuesday stuck in my head… Who could pin a name on you when you change with every new day? Tuesday, the sort of day for an island adventure. We very nearly missed the ferry taking us on a bumpy rainy day ride across the harbour to Cockatoo Island. Once a prison and then a ship building hub, now it is equal parts history and hot arts venue. Since 2008 it has been one of the key exhibition areas of the Biennale of Sydney. Two winters ago I spent many days out there as a volunteer, freezing, and wandering around absorbing the ambience of the island. I sort of think a bit of blustery rainydayness suits such a caper. But I digress. The 2010 Biennale has been called Songs of Survival: The Beauty of Distance in a Precarious Age. It touches on the condition of our age, caught somewhere between the end of post-colonialism and the collapse of hyper-consumerism, stretched taught between all the ends of the globe.
I really enjoy work that says hell to occupational health and safety, fuck the sanctity of protection. We live in a dangerous and unprotected world, why not extend this to our cultural experience? The whole of Cockatoo island is full of things to fall over and fall in and hundred years of leaching industrial chemicals. Kader Attia’s piece Kasbah takes this to the extreme. A section of the large turbine hall has been floored with found pieces from shanty towns, recreating the vista of rooves from above, stretching for about 50 by 20 metres.
Kader Attia, Kasbah, 2010
The rooves are complete with abandoned tyres and bricks and stretching-to-heaven television aerials. The audience are invited to roam over the whole structure. The experience is caught somewhere between the freedom of runnin’ an a jumpin’ childhood escapade and the feeling of the biennale’s titular precariousness. The surface is uneven and each roof edge is sharp corrugated iron. There are high eves with steep slopes. Every step feels like it might end in falling over and injury. Reaching one end of the field you realise there is no way out but to go back again. Looking down you attempt to imagine a property underneath, stretching the size of the house and creating its inhabitants. The shanty town is particular to Attia’s nomadic experience growing up in Africa and but could be any number of places from that continent to Asia or South America.
The island was overtaken by a slew of video work, which in general I have little patience for. However I was drawn in by the work of Guatemalan Regina José Galindo, whose arresting and repulsing film Confesión showed her being forcibly drowned and ripped from a tin drum of water, speaking to the experience of far too many of her countrywomen. Saturation was a theme with the multi-channel work of both AES + F’s Feast of Trimalchio and Isaac Julien’s vision of China and diaspora in Ten Thousand Waves 2010. Both are mesmerising.
scene from AES + F's Feast of Trimalchio, 2009
Feast is a reinterpretation of the Satyricon reworked as a gluttony of excess and subversion, old and young clamouring for youth on exercise bikes, tennis courts and skis, being pampered and massaged, gorging and drinking.
scene from AES + F's Feast of Trimalchio, 2009
The world is a dream-like confluence of tropical island paradise and palatial ski resort. In which the multicultural cast swap their marks of identity; Caribbean men clad in Chinoiserie shirts, all at one time or another but servant and master. The hyper-reality is undercut by a purposeful digital transparency in which each artificial manipulation is evident. Others picks of the island include Roger Balen and Shen Shaomin. Before I move on, there is a little mystery that is niggling at me. I really like this video piece, it was on the lower island, yet it appears nowhere on the website or the guide as far as I can find. Absent from the map. It showed two sweaty men playing table tennis, their scores counted by an old fashioned plastic flip chart. This goes on for a while until the camera pans to reveal that there is no net, instead anaked woman caught in the midst of the game, bruised by the balls that hit her. An allegory of war, I suppose. The best I managed was to find this picture, once again without info.
Mystery work, photo via Jamie Williams
Enough art adventuring for now, more to come.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
And I went to the dentist then spent a lot of the day saying I got woot canal
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Saturday, May 29, 2010
This week saw the thirtieth birthday of Pacman and to celebrate Google turned their logo into a playable version of the game. It was estimated that the time spent playing by bored workers around the world wasted 4.8 million hours of worktime equivalent to $120, 483, 80 of lost productivity.