Big Art Weekend

Posted by Gemma on the 30th of August, 2011

Friday Sept 2nd: 6pm, Perth Institute of Contemporary Art

Stadium: Pilar Mata Dupont and Taryn Gill.
Wrong Angles: Alex Spremberg
Perth Zine Collective kicks of its month long residency in the PICA reading room.

This event will be large.

Gill and Dupont must be the youngest artists to achieve a major retrospective in a while. After Marian Tye (PhD), Director & Professor of the Centre for Sport & Recreation at Curtin University, does the opening honours, Gill and Dupont will showcase a new, site-specific performance - Ever Higher - in the infamously cavernous main PICA gallery space. There will be an 'aerialist' and cheerleaders, and I saw stadium seating being carried into the building last week. This promises to be a spectacular occupational health and safety nightmare.

Last time I saw Western Australian painting titan Alex Spremberg's work, it was primarily an exploration of non-objective materiality, what could be done with paint and gravity. Wrong Angles re-introduces found image and object and some big themes (' systems of production, standardisation and economic rationalism' ) into his experiments.

The ever-productive Perth Zine Collective will also take up residency in the reading room, bringing their cottage publishing industry and catalogue of publications with them. Zines can be talked about, made, sold and bought all September, starting 6pm Friday.

Visit for more information.

Images Courtesy of:
PICA, Taryn Gill and Pilar Mata Dupont, Goddard de Fiddes Gallery, Perth.
PICA, Alex Spremberg, Gallerie Dusseldorf, Perth and Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne.

Saturday September 3rd: 7 -10pm, Museum of Natural Mystery.

Benchwork: Supply and Command.

At 7:30pm, Daniel Bourke and Clare Wohlnick from Benchwork/Benchpress present a powerpoint performance about the 'successes, failures and accidents that have occurred during their short stint in the business world'.

Benchwork and Benchpress were founded in 2010, after Clare Wohlnick's purchase of a secondhand RISOgraph machine. Benchwork is their graphic design arm, and Benchpress the printing elbow. They currently operate out of the East Perth Studio (55 Wittenoom St) that is soon to house Wohnick and Bourke's ARI Galleria.

Benchpress might have the best logo of any publishing company I've ever seen.

for more information

Courtesy Dan Bourke
Gill & Mata Dupont, 2008, A Gladiator Class, Envied By All Men, Adored By All Women (detail)
Spremberg, 2011, Marching Into Paint (detail)

Officially OK

Posted by Gemma on the 30th of August, 2011

Signage finally arrived this morning, four days late.

OK Gallery is Open

Posted by Gemma on the 28th of August, 2011

Thanks to:

Leigh Robb
Matthew Townsend
John Teschendorf
Tony Nathan
Plastic Sandwich
Julius and Sofia Varano
Frank and Dickie at Gecko Special Floor Coating
Clare and Daniel at Benchpress
Marina Georgiou
Sheridan COleman
and Casey Ayres for a great show.

The Secret History of Perth

Posted by Gemma on the 18th of August, 2011

I don't know how to start this without it sounding cloying, like it should be written in calligraphy on a scroll that resembles parchment, but isn't - Be Kind To Strangers. Let It Happen! Open Yourself to The World And It Will Provide.

Fundamentally, what happened today was that I had a good day at work, for the three and a half hours I was there. Three and a half hours sounds like a slice of trifle compared to the standard working pie, but a shift cannot be much longer than this. My job - one of my jobs - involves what amounts to standing around, completing occasional minor tasks, attempting to be vigilant in the face of fluctuations of time and temperature and temperament. 'Gallery Attending' can make three hours seem like 6. One day I will write about it in full, because it involves forming a really complex relationship with both art and the public that encounters it. But, put simply, it is the kind of job one always wants as a teen, doing very little on the books, but it can be numbing at worst and freezing in winter, and I am cynical about it often.

The interactions between Gallery Attendants and Gallery Patrons are, as a rule, either witheringly superficial or frightfully intense. Patrons will either ignore the attendant, or they will attempt to engage the time and attention of the attendant At All Costs. Being paid to stand around in an art gallery exposes you to an interesting range of opinions and life experiences. There are, as I learnt in highschool chemistry, exceptions to almost every rule (the almost makes it a sweet conundrum; if there is an exception to the rule of exceptions, we are lost) and today was great because of this. Today I spent 40 minutes talking to a man I initially assumed to fall in the latter category about the history of alternative art spaces in Perth. Be kind to strangers. Let it happen!

I started taking notes halfway through our conversation, but they are vague - Big Idea Production, Beige Collective, Praxis. Praxis was what The Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts was once, Beige Collective and Big Idea Production was what Louis (I think) - the patron - was once a member of, putting on experimental theatre shows for oldschool Artrage in Lake Street warehouse basements, back in 1993/4 when Northbridge was apparently full of back-lot artist studios and Praxis held all night dance parties in the PICA building for which people queued around the block. I hear snippets of this, this lively local history, from people who were once immersed in it: lecturers, co-workers, chance meetings, but it amazes me that none of it is written down. There appears to be no formal records of any of this, nothing readily and publicly available. Verbal history is great for brightening my work day, but it is painfully ephemeral. This history is recent - PICA itself has only been incorporated for 22 years, Artrage turned 25 recently, but it won't be one day. I spent about an hour on the internet trying to ascertain the original location of the Praxis space, but learned only that web design does not age well.

On the web I found Terminus=, a discussion group whose archived meetings from 1997 to 1999 read like freeform poetry. I found the current webpage of one of the founding Praxis members, which was a wild ride in itself. I rediscovered the work of Andrew Hayim de Vries, the previous owner of 100 Hubble Street - the Fremantle Mosaic house that the council first ordered to cease and desist and then heritage listed. I did not find much about Praxis itself, or about much of Perth 'heady' 1970 -1990 years that I didn't already learn from PICA's 'About' page, but I know where I can.

We often talk amongst ourselves about the tendency in Perth for work to be quickly forgotten, about the problem of each successive generation of arts workers having to 'reinvent the wheel' - Perth loves a palimpsest (see St Georges Terrace, or East Perth) and this also applies to cultural stuff. I often hear tiring complaints about the eternal dullness of this place, but I also hear these stories that contradict this entirely. Open yourself to the world and it will provide. I am going to look into this, and I am going to report back.

Andrew Hayim De Vries at Praxis Gallery, 1984

Rebecca Baumann in Primavera 2011

Posted by Gemma on the 17th of August, 2011

Western Australian Rebecca Baumann's formalist celebration subversion is having a highly successful 2011 - featuring earlier in the year in NEW11, Hannah Mathew's selection for the Balnaves foundation at ACCA; posted on the usually highly Eurocentric art aggregator VVORK recently, and announced as part of the first offsite Primavera, opening September 8th

I seem to have missed the boat on this one, because the Primavera lineup was announced at least a month ago - prehistory in blogging terms.

Still, good news for Baumann, and for Western Australia, which was overlooked in last year's Primavera.

Baumann's work is online here

Rebecca Baumann, Once more With Feeling, 2010

Guest Lecture: Bruce Lee

Posted by Jamie on the 17th of August, 2011

"What is this, an exhibition? We need Emotional Content"
Advice for those needing to stay focused in auspicious times.


Posted by Gemma on the 17th of August, 2011

Weekend watching: Working to Code

Posted by Jamie on the 12th of August, 2011

A guide to getting by in Tom Sachs' studio and the world in general courtesy Tom Sachs and Van Neistat.

Thanks Jason.

Martin Soto Climent premptively visualizes the news

Posted by Gemma on the 10th of August, 2011

(Frightening times on the BBC world service)


Impulsive Chorus (Feldschloesschen), 2010

Auntry Mabel's Zine Distribution/Gallery Central Residency Program

Posted by Gemma on the 10th of August, 2011

This Saturday from midday at 129 Beaufort St, the Perth Zine Collective are hosting a distribution party to celebrate the launch of their website.

The Collective, passionate about self-publishing, will generously offer a zine library and shop and also the equipment to produce new publications, so presumably one could arrive, eat a cupcake or similar and have a fresh piece of their mind ready to share by closing.

As they operate mostly nomadically, with events held irregularly in parks and at markets, the launch of the PZC's website will mean that there is a centralized, permanent distribution point from which local publications can be purchased all the time.The online store is open now, prices are beyond reasonable and submissions are welcome.

I was initially confused as to where on Beaufort Street number 129 was. I asked Anna Dunnill, a member of the Perth Zine Collective, about it and she reminded me that I'd been overlooking a pretty worthwhile arts opportunity, considering how often Perth artists are bemoaning the apparent lack of studio space.

129 Beaufort St is the location of Gallery Central/CIT's artist in residence program, and Anna has a studio there for a 5 week stretch. Our conversation went like this:

"Do you have to present anything at the end?"
"Nope, I just have to run a workshop for the students at the Tafe, or present to them about my work, and you can use the all of the equipment in the art school as well"
"Oh man."
"Yeah, I know. The technicians keep knocking on my door and offering me stacks of paper and things as well. I haven't had to pay for anything so far"
"But are you paying for the studio?"
"No it's totally free. You can live there as well, if you're not local."

Perhaps the reason why a residency program that is central, free, generous, located in a beautiful federation house/shop front and attached to fully functioning, multi-disciplinary workshops AND a central gallery space had slipped from my radar was that the outcome is internal, in that the artists are required to present only to the students of the institute, rather than as part of an event advertised to the general public. Perhaps other artists using the residency haven't been as proactive as Anna in using the space for such events independently. Either way, I felt sheepish.

The program does not run on fixed lengths of time either - artists are programmed on the basis of availability - and of course, merit - and the artist/s in residence (at the moment there are Anna and two friends, who applied as a group, and Geoff Overheu, who is living in the house) have to the potential to use the Gallery Central exhibition space. Applications are taken year round, it appears.

129 Beaufort, at any rate, will be open to the public from 12pm on Saturday for the PZC's event, which would allow for double birds/stone effect of supporting a good cause and poking around a potential studio.

Contact Perth Zine Collective for more information on self publishing/Saturday.

Information on/Application forms for the Gallery Central residency program can be accessed here

Gallery Central studio (feat. Harry Hummerston)
The March, Anna Dunnill, 2011

Guest Lecture: Hennessy Youngman

Posted by Jamie on the 8th of August, 2011

More Hennessey wisdom here

Unmonumental Renovation Sculpture

Posted by Gemma on the 5th of August, 2011

Not long now.

Art TV: Jake Chapman on young British Artists

Posted by Andrew on the 4th of August, 2011

Guest Lecture: Chris Johanson, 'Encinitas Realization'

Posted by Jamie on the 2nd of August, 2011

(West Coast Vibes.)

Starring Tobin Yelland as 'the surfer'.

Guest Lecture Series

Posted by Jamie on the 1st of August, 2011

OK's Guest Lectures will run as a weekly series of spoken advice/ideas/philosophies.

I really wanted to start with The Discreet Charm by Goldin and Senneby but it's not about on the internet.

It's a new work produced for the show The End of Money on at the moment at Witte de With in Rotterdam.

Through their collaborative framework Goldin and Senneby (Simon Goldin and Jakob Sennby) have been exploring the geograpies that are produced through capital and finance, presenting these explorations as theatrical and performative problems. The Discreet Charm takes the form of a "pitch" for a theatre play about self-interestd financial practices within contemporary banking. In Theatre, a scale model of the stage (model box) used to display the choreography of each scene, typically facilitates the communication between the actors and members of the production team, or between theatre company and potential producers and finaciers - in every practical sense the model box is a didactic device...
...The Discreet Charm includes a scale model of Witte de With, with all the elements that were present in the exhibition space during the performance enacted on opening night

It was a really great work that, while didactic in nature, wasn't heavy handed or more importantly, boring (not that this is a review).

You can find the catalogue for the The End of Money here

This Thursday (you'll need a car for this)

Posted by Andrew on the 1st of August, 2011

Anthony Riding Gallery
1/42 Pearse st, North Fremantle

'Secret Societies', by Maschi Fontana.

"Secret Societies is Maschi Fontana's first solo exhibition at Anthony Riding Gallery in Perth.

The mystery behind dying honey bee colonies, a crashed special operations helicopter, and a totem-like triangular structure communicating with cosmic realms, are among some of the ideas explored part of this exhibition.

'Maschi Fontana engages the shamanistic history of art, in particular the duo connect with a post-Beuys shamanistic tide of esoteric artists like Almagul Menlibayeva and Marcus Coates who engage in a variety of ritualistic, channeling art processes. Maschi Fontana's work taps into the performative aspects of shamanism and the idea of material transference and for mine these are inherently intertwined. Historically the tribe's engagement with the shaman was based on transference and transcendence and in terms of performing this, or presenting the transformation to the tribal group, the shaman utilised character channeling - symbolized through transforming materials; the shaman became the animal and their blood his. We see this in the Eucharist in the Christian mass and wine made blood and bread made flesh is not symbolic in the spiritual mind - it is real and this becomes essential to belief. The extension of this belief into the arts in also essential and indeed can be read as a cornerstone of contemporary art - what is the artist asking of us as an audience but belief - in this case acknowledging its importance but also divining its potential.'

The Shamanic Tryst, Rising Lotus catalogue essay, 2011, Ric Spencer"

91 Brisbane st, Perth

The IRIS Awards


'Charmwood', a group show featuring Todd Anderson-Kunert, Warwick Baker, Lindsey Gosper and Michelle Tran.

Miik Green's studio nights
64 Crawford rd, Maylands

The guest speakers will be Tom Freeman:

"Tom Freeman is a local visual artist who's been practicing steadily since graduation from Curtin University in 2007. He will talk about his practice to date and his current ongoing body of work exploring ideas of memory, nostalgia, truth and fiction, tangents and connections, mums and dads and a heavy dose of material affection and crafty process."

... and Chris Pratt:

"A perfect circle? 'Boomtown' has the opportunity to transform the face of this city and state. However, how is the profit from this resource driven boom being invested by the part of the population who are enjoying its benefits? And what part does the public library, the art gallery, the museum and the public square play in an increasingly more uninterested and 'drawbridge' social culture of Perth? Is it in state commissioned public architecture (such as education and health facilities), places in which the public interact on a more regular basis, where opportunities lie for an intersection of art/architecture in Perth?

Chris will summarise past, and current involvement in state funded projects, looking at the opportunities and restrictions provided by public architecture in Perth."

Maschi Fontana, Space Mustang, 2009, HD Film (Courtesy of Anthony Riding Gallery)

An Incomplete History of Being OK: OK Soda

Posted by Gemma on the 1st of August, 2011

Coca Cola discovered in the late 1980s that 'Coke' was the second most recognisable word across all languages; The first was 'OK'.

OK Soda, a strangely-demographic specific attempt to capitalize on this 'existing universal brand potential', was a total commercial failure, due partially to its attempt to seize a demographic already savvy to marketing games and partially to its reportedly terrible, generically fruity flavour.

Its marketing campaign, helmed by the same guy who invented the sickly portmanteau 'Fruitopia', was aggressively ideological. OK Soda wasn't a Soda, it was a Gen-Xy, Winona-hearts-Ethan, pop-philosophy lifestyle choice.

It had a Manifesto:

1: What's the point of OK? Well, what's the point of anything?
2: OK Soda emphatically rejects anything that is not OK, and fully supports anything that is.
3: The better you understand something, the more OK it turns out to be.
4: OK Soda says, "Don't be fooled into thinking there has to be a reason for everything."
5: OK Soda reveals the surprising truth about people and situations.
6: OK Soda does not subscribe to any religion, or endorse any political party, or do anything other than feel OK.
7: There is no real secret to feeling OK.
8: OK Soda may be the preferred drink of other people such as yourself.
9: Never overestimate the remarkable abilities of "OK" brand soda.
10: Please wake up every morning knowing that things are going to be OK.

The short shelf-life of OK Soda was amazingly detailed, absurdly self-aware and confusing in its ironies, both intended and accidental. The cans were printed in drab grey and black, a corporate subversion of corporate marketing itself with graphics that reference both 'alternative' comic culture and soviet propaganda. They were printed on the inside and out with segments of the Manifesto, which has deliberate echos of both Orwellian doublespeak and the self-help boom occurring concurrently with its release. There was a 1800 number (1-800-I-FEEL-OK) that consumers could call and leave messages after hearing an intentionally deadpan disclaimer: "your comments may be used in advertising or exploited in some other way we haven't figured out yet."

One of these comments, which may or may not be 'authentic', was actually used in a tv ad: 'Ah, this is Pam H. from Newton, Massachusetts, and I resent you saying that everything is going to be O.K. You don't know anything about my life. You don't know what I've been through in the last month. I really resent it. I'm tired of you people trying to tell me things that you don't have any idea about. I resent it.'

If a particular button on the telephone was selected, the automated voice would make bird noises.

The backlash was swift, and once the soda was declared a commercial failure and pulled form the shelves, it was finally embraced as a 'cult' item by the demographic - one that valued irony, obscurity, and liking things that no one else does - that it had sought out so overtly.

An empty plastic 2L bottle ('used') will currently retail on ebay for 13 US dollars.

(Information on OK Soda borrowed from Wikipedia )

The preferred drink of other people

Speaking of Arts TV Shows

Posted by Andrew on the 1st of August, 2011

An Andrew Frost lecture at COFA (2010):

The Audience Problem

Posted by Andrew on the 1st of August, 2011

A few years ago I became a little bit fixated with the idea that I'd like to make a TV panel show. The show would take its inspiration from 'Beauty and the Beast', a popular Australian panel show of the late 1990s, which pitted middle aged, right-wing and self-confessed 'mamma's boy', Stan Zemanek, with a panel of generally middle aged, middle class, bleeding heart women. They would discuss 'issues', conflict occurred and people were entertained. I would have liked my show to be similar. A host, and his or her guests, speaking different languages and just not getting each other. The panel for my show would have featured prominent West Australian cultural figures and the host would have ideally been the tight fisted mining heiress Gina Reinhart, or maybe even Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest, the major shareholder of Fortescue Metals Group and at the time the richest individual in Australia. I imagined they would sit behind a desk which would somehow inflate and become unstable when the conversation got loud and heated. They would discuss the arts, the mining boom, money, public spending, welfare, patronage. Conflict would occur and people would be entertained.

Perth was at the peak of the mining boom when I first starting thinking of this. I was going through art school and was becoming distinctly aware that the things I was making, while they were well received in the art school context, were becoming increasingly incomprehensible to 'everyday people.' I was making floorwork tributes to Felix Gonzalez-Torres out of ham sandwiches wrapped in sparkly wrapping paper and computer programs which aggregated sunsets into modernist coloured grids. I was deconstructing and critiquing willy-nilly all over the place, going through the motions like a seventeen year old doing bog laps around South Terrace after just getting his P-plates. While I was encouraged at art school I had a really awkward time trying to convey what I did to everyone else. I began to become aware of the problem of two audiences.

Speaking of Felix Gonzalez-Torres and of audiences, someone once asked him in an interview, "who is your audience?" His reply, "Ross", his boyfriend who later died of AIDs. This relationship perhaps provided the genesis for the subdued and lingering melancholy in much of Gonzalez-Torres work. While Gonzalez-Torres was probably hamming things up for the press, I often wished I could come up with such a concrete and assured answer to the same question. At the time I felt that it was impossible to make contemporary work for a general audience in this city. With that being the case, I believed that the only way to maintain a relevant and interesting practice was to make work with a set of people I knew, mainly other local artists, in mind. A little secret society, a group I could count on my fingers.

Today, in only a few short years, I have fewer of these kinds of reservations about the audience for contemporary art in Perth, things seem to getting better. I am aware that Perth has a history of being a place where things 'are about to really start happening.' Maybe, if we enjoyed the gravitas provided by putting things in a historical context, we could trace this as being the hangover of a pre-gold rush settler mentality. It fits neatly, why not? At any rate, I really do feel like there could be a little Perth miracle. It's too early to be jumping to such conclusions, but I find the emergence of new contemporary art spaces in Perth - including the Museum of Natural Mystery, Venn Gallery, Anthony Riding, and the soon to be opened Galleria - very encouraging.

A recent case in point would have to be Tom Freeman's show '18th and 19th Century Prisoner Art' at the Museum of Natural Mystery. Like all TMNM (The Museum of Natural Mystery, not Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) exhibitions, it was a one-night-only affair. The works were small scale, warm-fuzzy studies which intersected architectural model making, with automatic drawing and craft. Their complexity was disarmed by their small scale and rudimentary materials and construction processes. I'm not the best at reviewing work, so let's just say I liked it a lot. What did strike me though was the thought that there was perhaps nowhere else where such work could be exhibited in Perth. The work required the type of considered, yet ad hoc and small scale format that TMNM provides. I've always thought that one of the biggest problems Perth had was not the quality of the work it produced, but the complete lack of the number and diversity of exhibiting spaces in the city. New spaces such as TMNM seem to be addressing this. Let's hope these types of events go some way towards building the critical mass that I've always felt was just around the corner and just about to happen.

Young contemporary artists from Perth tend to move to Melbourne because they are sensible. There is a quote by George Bernard Shaw that I like that goes something like, "The rational man adapts himself to his environment. Therefore all change depends upon irrational men." Another quote I like is one by Sol LeWitt, who said, "An irrational idea must be taken to its logical conclusion." These two quotes go a long way to explaining why I gave up the idea of a panel show and got more interested in the idea of starting a gallery.

Tom Freeman, 18th and 19th Century Prisoner Art (image courtesy of The Museum of Natural Mystery)