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Tag Archives: installations

MoreArt 2014

James Voller in Fragmented Patterns, uses the side of an industrial rubbish bin and a public toilet on Victoria Street in Coburg, as the support for photographs of the facades of suburban houses where the classical arch has become an architectural cliche. The sense of perspective given by these large scale prints distorts/transforms the surrounding environment. Is it a toilet block or the front of a small house?

James Voller, Fragmented Patterns

James Voller, Fragmented Patterns

A nineteenth century iron lamp post outside the Brunswick Town Hall is covered in gold leaf; Ria Green and Aliça Bryson Haynes, Everyday Monument. It made me question if I could remember the lamp post before this transformation.

Ria Green and Aliça Bryson Haynes, Everyday Monument

Ria Green and Aliça Bryson Haynes, Everyday Monument

Seeking to transform the way that people look at urban/industrial landscape of Coburg and Brunswick is the intention of the annual MoreArts exhibition of temporary public art. Not all of the art succeeds in this kind of transformation, some of it has just been plonked in a location.

Others suffer from other more complex urban problems, including tagging and stickers on the billboard style works of Benjamin Sheppard’s Crown in the Jewell and Chris Mether and Anthony Mecuri’s Bubbles. Not that this is a major problem in itself but it does highlight MoreArts ignoring the greater quantity, more permanent, but unofficial transformative art occupying the same area, the street art and graffiti.

Anthony Sawrey, No Tree or

Anthony Sawrey, No Tree (or do you see the street art?)

Carla Gottgens Baggage, is a series of old suitcases supporting photographs of scenes from Gottgens life recreated in miniature models. Along with Gottgens Baggage at the Coburg Railway Station bike shed there was a little sign to indicate that it is an art installation in case the increasingly paranoid and insane people, who are increasingly treated as reasonable, sane and normal, might think it is a bomb. (“If you see something say something” – I see fear mongering and encouraging violence, paranoia and war crimes. What do you see?) At this point the attempt at a transformative experience is diminished.

Carla Gottgens, Baggage

Carla Gottgens, Baggage

Moreart has a badly designed guide, available online in PDF format, that needed to be rotated multiple times in order to read it. It has been a great irritation to use; I assume that it makes sense only if you know what it is meant to mean and have it printed out in hardcopy. So why bother putting it online in that state?

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Ten Great Street Installations

I have love street installations. I write about street art installation in my book on Melbourne’s public sculpture because street installations, although not officially sanctioned, are still seen by the public.

Junky Projects, All Your Walls, 2013 (2)

The new Junky Projects that is part of All Your Walls in Hosier Lane is the largest that I have yet seen on the streets, becoming more abstract in his compositions. It a Dadaists/Futurists.

Pop Cap, All Your Walls, 2013

The Lego men in also All Your Walls by Pop Cap.

Will Coles, Nothingness

Will Coles, Nothingness, does anyone notice if a pigeon dies?

psalm-rainb2

Photograph that Psalm sent to me, this urban Rainbow is some of some of his fine work. Showing that he can do installations and other street art.

psalm-drain2

Another photograph by Psalm of his work, Drain, its an old gag but worth doing well.

GT Sewell, Clown Serpent, 2013 (2 Blender Alley)

A great serpent clown by GT in Blender Lane.

Tea pot CBD

Yarn bombing referring back to the tea-cosy. Is yarn bombing trying to make the city more cosy?

Les Futo's spiral of lighters

A temporary installation; Les Futo’s great spiral of used lighters, presented at the Brunswick Festival in 2008.

Buckets in AC:DC lane

Can fling-up be art? In 2009 these buckets appeared in AC/DC Lane.

B1 Crucified, Brunswick

B1 Crucified in Brunswick in 2013. Is this a reference to cuts to the ABC?


Platform – April 2010

Vexta “Extinction in Technicolour” occupies the main set of cabinets at Platform with paintings of flying figures that Vexta is famous for and installation elements.

Who are these figures? Is their extinction from our distant past or the near future? The painted animal skulls and bones made me think of an archaic cult. The animal skulls are often decorated creating a new zoology, where beaks protrude from skulls as if all creatures had the potential to transform into birds. In the paintings I kept on seeing myths from archaic Crete: Icarus with his wings, and Pasiphaë, the mother of the Minator. But that might just because I’m immersed in that mythology.

The images could also be from our future. The psychedelic colours, the scatter of broken glass and mirror cubes that adorn the animal skulls reminded me of the remains of a rave. Those little mirror cubes are so fashionable right now, decorating so many accessories. Is the wax that holds our civilization together melting like the wax holding the feathers onto Icarus’s wings?

Although Vexta comes from a street art stencil background, in Vexta’s images are mostly brush painted. However, the colour separation and design techniques used are common stencil art techniques. There are a few stencils and lots of aerosol spray dots. The paint drips from the aerosol dots and the paint drips from the run down across the black ground. Referencing her street art background Vexta’s large unframed paintings are propped up on aerosol cans, like Chris Ofili’s using elephant dung props for his paintings.

At first I thought that Jordan Wood’s untitled installation in Vitrine was part of Vexta’s show. The scatter of black objects matched the black bones and black background in her exhibition. The objects, the melted black plastic, the black ritual artifacts made from the remains of our own culture, like the cluster of golf clubs, are both threatening and useless.

In the Sample cabinet there is an installation of digital prints by Kumiko Michishita. Conversational phrases are painted in white on the glass of the display cabinet, like “It’s getting cold and harder to get up in the morning”. In the background amidst the mosaic of color digital prints are more eccentric statements: “sleep in blue”, “wear orange”, “breath in green”, and “eat red”.

In the two glasses cases at the Majorca Building there are two enlarged photocopies of a hand making a V sign in both directions. One is palm front, a symbol for “peace” the other, with the back of the hand, a symbol for “fuck”. It is Carl Scrase’s work “The Generative Power of Opposites” – crude but effective.


@ Seventh Gallery

In Seventh’s front gallery there is photographic exhibition by Vanessa Van Houten’s “Remembering What’s Lost”. The photographs are very stylish juxtaposing a portrait photograph along with handwritten confessional notes by each of the subjects exploring moments of loss. I think that recognize Ghostpatrol and Miso amongst the subjects. However, the quantity of subjects, notes and unspecific loss made it feel a bit self-indulgent.

Sary Zananiri’s small exhibition “On the road to Jerusalem” at Seventh Gallery is located in the nook between the two main galleries. It is a small marginal space, narrow and confined, much like the space allocated to the Palestinians by Israel. Artists have used bullet holes before, notably by Niki de Saint Phalle and William Burroughs. In this exhibition Zananiri’s uses the readymade bullet holes in a wall in the West Bank, on the road to Jerusalem. The bullet impact craters were cast in glass and represented in topographic photograms; there are 11 in total, ranging in size from 15 cm to 1cm. Most are the size of my fist.

Maybe it is just because I live in Melbourne’s north with its large Muslim population that I think I can see evidence of a shift in opinion about Israel. It is not just the posters with the Palestinian flag on the street, or the collection boxes for the children of Gaza in cafes; it is in the political graffiti when writers make the distinction that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism. It is also in Melbourne’s art galleries and theatres. There have been protests and misdirected controversy over a recent performance of Caryl Churchill’s play “Seven Jewish Children” and in 2004 when Azlan McLennan’s installation “56” was exhibited briefly at “24 Seven” in Melbourne before being censored by Melbourne City Council. These protests have only demonstrated a hysterical and manipulative aspect of Zionism. I haven’t heard of any protests about Sary Zananiri’s exhibition, even though the Australian Government and the Australia Council sponsored the art; maybe “On the road to Jerusalem” too small to attract controversy but each of those bullet holes packs a punch.

The back gallery of Seventh Gallery has had a window added, that increases the light in the small room. The window might be part of the installation of Sapna Chandu, “Mural #001” from the “The Living Room Series 2008”. Sapna Chandu, like the German artist, Gregor Schneider, makes rooms as works of art. “Mural #001” is comfortable and modern living-room with a retro-70s style in black, umber and chrome but the photograph that fills one wall (another 70s style feature) is of a wall in a burnt out house. The wall is made even more poignant by the 2 abandon paintings by a child still taped to the wall. The contrast of comfort, relaxing on comfortable lounge furniture, with faux melancholy view of the derelict wall is a contradiction art continually encounters from baroque paintings of beggars to contemporary issue-focused art.


Installations & Environments

 

I thought that installations and environments would be the major art form of the 21st century when I was a teenager. The total environment, the multiple techniques and media used in their construction all appealed to me. There are a lot of installations and environments on exhibition but they are not the major art form although video art has contributed to the growth of installation. But my enthusiasm for them has been tempered.

Firstly allow me to make a technical distinction between ‘environments’ and ‘installations’; not that it really matters that much which word is used. Installation art emerged from Minimalism and Conceptual art and are often site-specific works; the word refers to the installation of the work in the gallery. Environments emerged from Dada and Surrealist activities and are three dimensional but not intended for a specific location. Maybe I can illustrate the distinction with a few recent examples, but I might get it wrong, it is partially dependent on the artist’s intentions.

“The Phantasmatic Forest” by Mila Faranov is a neo-baroque environment that extended across two walls of Seventh Galley. It featuring cut outs of erotic nude female figures and strange male figures and lots of beautiful baroque foliage forms of painted transparent plastic. A great many artists have in recent years used cut out baroque forms in silhouette on walls but Mila Faranov has taken it further with a mood and implied narrative. The theatricality of the work is not surprising given Mila Faranov’s experience in costume design for the theatre. “The Phantasmatic Forest” is engaging and evocative even if it weird and funky in places.

West Space was showing 3 installations/environments (Feb/March); I have already reviewed Penelope Aitken’s installation in my blog entry: Current Hippy Art.

Matthew Shannon’s environment “the persistent presence of the endless” looked like a set from the low-budget days of Dr Who or Blake’s 7. Shannon’s artist’s notes describe it as “the centreless gravity of a space craft’s interior”. There is lots of black plastic creating a whole world in the small Gallery 2 space; there is really just enough room to walk around in it. Light by a single blue tube of light there is not much to see in this dark environment except for the grey ovals.

In Gallery 1 DongWoo Kang’s video installation “ME (Mara Experience)” just doesn’t work. As I first looked at the videos I thought that it was about being in an empty gallery, it is a boring empty experience. Then I read the artist’s notes. The multiple video images projected, plasma screens and cathode ray screens, doesn’t convey the surreal nature of such an experience. The installation almost put me to sleep without any fear of having a Mara experience.


Just off the streets

I don’t know what is happening with Until Never; Paul McNeil’s Lonely Sea is still on exhibition.  Until Never continues with the wacky and off beat selection of young artists of dubious, debatable quality. The quality of the art is deliberately debatable in a punk street sense as is effort of walking up those stairs.

Paul McNeil’s surfing inspired art is humours, crude but effective. McNeil, the surfboard artist for Sea Surfboards, uses familiar materials fibreglass, resin tint and resin in his art. Some of his resin fibreglass paintings art looks a bit like a surfboards but mostly it doesn’t. There are acrylic paintings on canvas banners and round resin mounds. There are some fun images and dumb slacker jokes, like “Hate Ashbury” and “Prey for Surf”, in the Lonely Sea but is there anything more to the art of Paul McNeil?

In the shopfront gallery space at 69 Smith St. Kristin McIver is exhibiting Dreamscapes, a look at 1970s suburban architecture using two-colour aerosol stencils. It looks like a side project by the ghost of Howard Arkely, the old master of spray paint suburbia; only McIver’s paintings don’t have Arkely’s intense colours or patterns. This is what happens when a fine art student takes up stencil art: there are artful drips running consistently from the bottom of the stencil, the stencils are a bit crude with over spray leaking on the edges and they come in a range of smooth tasteful background colours.

At Neon Parc Alasdair McLuckie is exhibiting some of his beaded totems along with collages by Alexander Oucthtomsky and Alex Vivian’s camp adolescent scatter style installation. Alexander Oucthtomsky’s collages are fantastic, full colour combinations of floral, zoological and ethnographical elements; they rival the best of Max Ernst’s collages. Set in oval frames these 15 elegant figures look like illustrations of elaborate costumes from an alien civilization. Alex Vivian’s installation rocks with a camp metal, Dungeons and Dragons, pathetic aesthetic. It may look half-arsed but it did speak to me.


Michael Koro, West Space & 1st Site

There is a good circuit of galleries around Melbourne Central Station comprising Michael Koro Galleries on Franklin St, then across the road to West Space in Anthony St. and back to RMIT Gallery and 1st Site. It took me a bit over an hour to see it all, but RMIT Gallery was closed, and I spent some time photographing the stencil graffiti in the alley beside Michael Koro Galleries.

Michael Koro Galleries is a new commercial gallery on the ground floor of a two story old black building with Blender Studios out the back. There is a real estate agents sign on the building, a worrying indication that it may not last long. The gallery does nightly video projections on the galleries front window but I was visiting in daylight.

The current exhibition at Michael Koro Galleries is “Resist, Collaborate, Destroy” curated by Michael Meneghetti, an all-encompassing title for a contemporary art group show. In the unnamed side alley beside Bender Studio there is an unofficial part of the Melbourne Stencil Festival features some of the best stencil artists in the world.

I was hoping to see Regan Tamanui working in Blender studio but he was in NZ. I met and had a good talk with Doyle instead. Doyle runs Blender Studio and Michael Koro Galleries, is a Youth Arts Officer at the City of Yarra and had a sculpture in the current show at the gallery.

West Space, an artist-run gallery, has changed its configuration of gallery walls slightly but still have three gallery spaces. All three currently had exhibition from graduates of the Victorian College of the Arts. Kiron Robinson exhibit “The 17th of December 1987” consisted of two sets of fluorescent lights spelling out two phrases that might mean something to her or the viewer. Alasdair McLuckie installation ”Laelia and the seasons” had more content and some very detailed beading. McLuckie creates imaginary cultures and myths in his installations this time about the cycle of an imaginary calendar. Veronica Kent “Seymour” is an installation with sculpture of a little girl, a frog and lots of hair. Kent’s installation suggests a narrative, a myth or fable, but the viewer has to invent it.

1st Site, in the basement of RMIT also has three exhibition spaces. Matthew Harding was exhibiting panoramic photographs of Melbourne’s urban decay and ruin in Footscray, Nicholson St. and Kensington often prominently featuring graffiti. Harding documents these spaces of urban change and preserving the street art in the space. Ellara Woodlock was exhibiting quirky pencil drawings of an imaginary armless girl in a series titled “stories from a girlhood in an oil drum”. And Karri Cameron’s “Finding True North” is an installation searching in a darkened gallery for a direction with lights and shadows.


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