Vol 27 no 4, 2007
What defines what an artist does when they are at work? Do artists actually work in the normal sense of the word, or do they play out their obsessions in various ways? This issue explores the modes in which artists can function - as a solo operator, as a collaborator with one long-term partner, working in various shorter-term groupings, including intensive workshops, bush camps, and guerilla activity. Does the current preoccupation with image-making which requires labour-intensive, repetitive work hint at a loss of old certainties and a return to activities which consume time and involve manual labour? The tension between working in the enterprise bargaining mode and the collective bargaining nature of protocols that have evolved to protect artists from exploitation reflect current debates in the labour market. Artists include Carly Fischer (cover image), Tracey Clement, Leung Mee Ping, Claire Healy & Sean Cordeiro, Daniel Kojta, Guan Wei, Ash Keating, Sarah CrowEST, Meg Keating, Keith Wong, Alan Lukey, Anne Noble, Ros Miller, Wendy Rushby, Matthew Hunt, Culture Kitchen, Taring Padi and Gembel. Editor Stephanie Britton.
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Keith Wong An Artist Statement on a Work 2005, 23 x 2.4 cm newsprint.
Buried amongst the volume of advertisements and listings filling the Melbourne Yellow Pages, an artwork is discreetly at play. Located under the existing category of 'Artist', this embedded text-based work, which appears as an advertisement, is composed around a central statement. Listed by its title Y.Pages 2006, it simply reads: WORK DELIVERED AND MADE TO MEASURE.
This statement conveys that the advertisement, bound to its form – the phonebook – constitutes the actual work of art. Furthermore, in quoting from the surrounding vernacular of advertisements, the intent is to be seen and read in relation to other workers and, in the context of production, to be located within the sphere of all other trades and professions which occupy this yellow space.
In spite of the obscurity that underscores this statement – of professing to deliver and measure – the advertisement, which also provides my contact details, did elicit a call. A man rang, requiring a mural to be painted onto a large glass wall that he had just constructed as a feature of his newly refurbished house. I listened intently to this man's request. However to our mutual disappointment, I was unable to assist as it lay beyond my area of expertise and skill. In a final attempt to deliver, I tried outsourcing the job, but this too failed, resulting in zero work.
Here, Y.Pages 2006 was exposed to its own functioning as I responded to the call and faced the perplexities that surround ways of qualifying 'the artist.' How to meet this seemingly unqualified definition of a 'qualified artist'? The myriad questions and expectations surrounding competences and categorisations of an artistic practice – made all too distinct when confronted with that simple but numbing question of 'what do you do?'
A year later, the work reappeared – now titled and located as Y.P 2007. This change was necessary due to issues of legality – I was told by the Yellow Pages legal team that the initials of 'Y.PG' was infringing upon their trademark rights.
My new work-related statement, a critical adjustment planned from the outset, also received unexpected attention in its quest to be printed. This time I was questioned about the statement's meaning NOT AFRAID TO TAKE ON LIGHT-WEIGHT WORK. The Yellow Pages consultant, as unknowing art-critic, labelled the central statement of Y.P 2007 rather vague, oblique and downright confusing.
Asked to rewrite the text, I politely refused, justifying and convincing them that I had deeply considered the statement's phrasing for my $2000 advertisement. This is quite true, with every word having to count in this public investment of mine, which principally generates only symbolic returns.
I must wait each year to place an advertisement, to state something new. In these statements the term 'WORK' will always be repeated in an effort to allow the discourse on work to slowly build. To gradually expand with time, as time is the sustaining and restraining force of this work. Because many statements have already been written, but these cannot be printed until the time comes. Through this the work is sustained; sustained by its own imminence. Thus, over the years, the phonebooks will amass and with such continuity it would seem that the work of an artist is never done.
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Articles in this issue
- Editorial: Editorial
- Feature: A Bush Camp in a Mysterious Land: Guan Wei
- Feature: A Relationship can't be Outsourced: Tracey Clement
- Feature: Artworks Out on the Beach Townsville
- Feature: Beyond the Parlour Games: We Refuse to Become Victims
- Feature: Busy Work: Dreaming Time
- Feature: Everybody's Working for the Weekend
- Feature: John Maitland's Energy Architecture
- Feature: Labour of Love: Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro
- Feature: Mirroring our Dialogue: Danielle Freakley as 'The Quote Generator'
- Feature: Process, Production and the Invisible Line: Carly Fischer
- Feature: Reskin: Intensive Collaboration
- Feature: Soft Power - Confession: Leung Mee Ping
- Feature: Taking Care of Business: Ash Keating
- Feature: The Creative Potential of the Awkward: Sarah crowEST
- Feature: The Hard Work
- Feature: The Obsessive Compulsive Worker
- Feature: The Work of Art
- Feature: Throwing the Baby Out with the Bathwater
- Feature: Unknown Worker in Art: Alan Lukey
- Feature: Valuing Relationships: Concertina
- Feature: We Can Work it Out: New Style Residencies in Asia
- Feature: Witnessing: Transcending the Public-Private Divide in Photography
- Feature: Work Wanted: Keith Wong
- Review: ACCA
- Review: Anne Mestitz
- Review: Fremantle Print Awards
- Review: Indigenous Triennial
- Review: No. 1
- Review: Painting at SALA
- Review: Papunya Tjupi: A New Beginning
- Review: Sara Elson
- Review: Strange Fruit
- Review: Tautology
- Review: Territorial
- Review: The Hours
- Review: The Ranger
- Review: Topsy
- Review: X Strata Indigenous Art Awards
- Review: book: Australian Pastoral by Jeanette Hoorn