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September 2010 @ Blindside

I’m thinking about how to write art reviews/criticism as I consider how to review the two exhibitions at Blindside: Amanda Airs “Beach Box Blue” and Jacque Drinkall “Weather Underwater”. Should I bother to review bad exhibitions when I could just use my energy to write about the ones that I liked? But if I were to only review one of the two exhibitions at Blindside it would imply that I didn’t like the other without exploring the reasons for this choice.

Karen Thompson, Melbourne Jeweller wrote in her blog: “I find I can be affected by reading other reviews and media before seeing or writing about an exhibition, such that my reaction can sometimes be unconsciously formed a little by what I read. I counter this by usually not reading anything before seeing the show and writing my initial response, to be sure I understand my own opinion, and then find it really interesting how that can change with further reading etc. So, I’ll write my initial response before doing any research into the exhibition, and then write more after doing some more reading.”

I agree with this approach; in doing further reading I will first try to find out what the artist has done before this exhibition. I will further investigate the ideas behind the art, where it fits into the history of art and what it means to a culture. I will then read other critics opinions on the artist. So where does reading the artist’s statement fit into this program?

Blindside has been providing single A4 sheet folded catalogues with all of their exhibitions this year. Along with a couple of colour images of the work and exhibition details there is always a statement by the artist in these catalogues.

Jacque Drinkall’s artist statement for “Weather Underwater” is pointless nonsense, as opposed to nonsense with a point, like satire, parody, Dada or Surrealist nonsense. It is mental diarrhea – incoherent and messy. Like her exhibition the initial attraction of the photographs, videos and sculptural objects quickly breaks down on realizing that there is little connections between them. It appears irrelevant, so why bother trying to read Jacque Drinkall’s mind when all indications suggest that it is scrabbled?

“The culture and aesthetics of telepathy and psychic life permeates the ‘everyday’. My art works creatively with telepathy to better understand and change the world.” – Jacque Drinkall (“Weather Underwater”, catalogue)

Amanda Airs exhibition statement for “Beach Box Blue” was both coherent and expanded on what was already visible in her exhibition. She has located her work within the history of art (Bridget Riley and op art), she has explained her technique (spatial distortion through colour and the illusion of movement “through the use of contrasting colour and repetition of line and angle”) and, finally, she has added her personal experience of optical effects.

“Beach Box Blue” is a post-minimal installation of colored threads creating optical effects. I have seen other artists in Melbourne using thread to divide up spaces but “Beach Box Blue” is the most intense and optically satisfying of these works due to Amanda Airs choice of colors and painting the gallery wall to emphasize the contrasting colors.

I don’t think that artist’s statement should be included as a matter of course for all the art exhibited. My advice to most artists is not to write artists statements. Artists are often not the best people to write about their own art – how many media do you expect them to master?

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About Mark Holsworth

Writer, independent researcher and artist, Mark Holsworth is the author of the book Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

3 responses to “September 2010 @ Blindside

  • ‘Re-Visions: new art from old’ @ RMIT First Site Gallery « Melbourne Jeweller

    […] and writing, Mark of Melbourne Art & Culture Critic also recently shared some thoughts about artist statements (also quoting from one of my recent posts, which gave me great pleasure; thank you Mark!) Sarah […]

  • Julian White

    For the record Blindside has always provided a printed catalogue for visitors. Not just this year. Also it is gallery policy to encourage artists to source a third party to write catalogue essays in a critical format rather than a first hand statement. However in some cases artists, especially those who have created the work being exhibited along side or as part of a course of study, use relevant ‘artists statement’ style writing. In other cases artists are cash or resource poor and simply cannot afford to pay a professional writer or have no appropriately skilled college to call into favor. Blindside often links artists with writers for the purpose of writing catalogue essays. If you feel Blindsides essays are not up to your standard I encourage you to contact the gallery and volunteer your services as a writer.

    • Mark Holsworth

      Good to hear that Blindside’s gallery policy is to have third party to write catalogue essays. And I will volunteer to write some in future.

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