Getting up noses
There was a time when it was OK to paint or photograph industrial sites. Think Jeffrey Smart. Power stations, oil refineries and now gas storage cylinders are all likely to get you into hot water if you so much as point a pinhole at them.
Hans Kawitski, member of the Geelong Camera Club enjoyed an evening visit from the local constabulary in mid-January after he had been on a photographic excursion with fellow Club members. According to a report in The Age some bright-eyed police-person spotted these suspicious characters out the front of the Shell Refinery in Geelong, and cleverly managed to get the car rego of the hapless Hans. He was warned not to take photos like this again, and told to inform his fellow members likewise.
Vice-President of the Camera Club, Frank Sady, was not amused, saying that it reminded him of Poland during the time when the secret police stopped photography. He brought in Liberty Victoria which has made it known to the media that this is not to be tolerated, maintaining that the police have no business issuing such directives, and that there is, to date, no law against people taking photographs of industrial sites, or anything else, in broad daylight in full view of anyone who might be interested. Would a terrorist, he argues, do that? Of course there is the possibility that terrorists could be infiltrating the Geelong Camera Club, going to their meetings and joining the discussions on digital vs analogue, and the difficulty these days of selling your serious documentary photography.
"On the subject of Poland and secret police, there is an exhibition of documentary photography by Erazm Ciolek titled Solidarity – the Strike in 1980 which documents the events at the Gdansk shipyards which triggered the demise of Communism in Europe. It has been touring capital cities reaching Adelaide, Perth and Hobart in early 2006.
" Azlan McLennan is doing his best to get up the noses of as many people as possible. First he hired an unsuspecting security guard to control entry to his exhibition at the Victorian College of the Arts gallery instructing him to only let in the people who had invitations (2003). This annoyed the normal punters who are used to going into this student space for free. Most were so enraged by the seeming idiocy of the way they were being treated that they failed to realise that it was a statement about Australia's policies on detention of asylum seekers. Azlan was understandably delighted that the piece worked so well.
Next he received $8,000 from the Melbourne City Council to create a display in a bus shelter (part of an ongoing annual artists' series) cataloguing the history of Israel's violence against the Palestinians. This was speedily removed after complaints from Jewish groups that some of the statistics were a bit shaky. The City subsequently withdrew funding from the entire bus shelter art program.
And now, in January, the artist has created Proudly Un-Australian – an Australian flag very much the worse for wear after contact with a lighted match, hanging off the outside of the Trocadero Gallery in Footscray. Indignant citizens called the police who accessed the gallery roof via the adjoining business, leaving their card with the proprietor to hand on to his neighbours, and removed the burnt offering. Police, at time of going to press, were deciding whether the artist should face charges. As burning the flag is not a crime, it is unclear what kind of charge. If the flag was made of synthetic fibre, making an unpleasant smell?
" It took only 12 days to get 400 artists to send in works for the Artists Against Sedition Protest Exhibition at the Casula Powerhouse in Liverpool Western Sydney in December, just after the Sedition Laws were passed by the Senate.
CAPTION (heads wrapped in Flags)
Collective work by boat-people.org,untitled, from the new boat-people.org series, 2005
" With an increasing number of incursions on our freedom of expression, artists are getting behind the online magazine of politics and public affairs New Matilda which recently launched a campaign to redress the fact that Australia is the only developed country without a Bill of Human Rights. A forum chaired by Professor Michael Rowan of UniSA, was held in December in Adelaide organized by New Matilda, The Hawke Centre, the Don Dunstan Foundation and the Human Rights Coalition. A draft bill is available for public comment at www.newmatilda.com.
" The surreal case of artist and professor Steve Kurtz of Critical Art Ensemble in Buffalo, NY, for being a suspected bio-terrorist (see previous issues of Artrave) is entering its final stage, and unless the US Dept of Justice is able to dredge up some other method of bringing it to trial after eighteen months of Monty Pythonesque proceedings (Mail Fraud being the best charge they could come up with) it looks like the case will just tail off into nothing, which is after all where it started. The artist has finally been released from pretrial supervision. But do not underestimate the determination of those agencies who got it so badly wrong to put themselves in the right. You can go to jail for 20 years for Mail Fraud. The CAE Defense Fund www.caedefensefund.org is not disbanding just yet. The case has reputedly cost the US taxpayer millions of dollars already.
Nam June Paik died at his Miami home on 29 January 2006. John Hanhardt Senior Curator of Film and Media Arts at the Guggenheim Museum of Art has written:
Paik's journey as an artist has been truly global, and his impact on the art of video and television has been profound &. Paik's prolific and complex career can be read as a process grounded in his early interests in composition and performance. These would strongly shape his ideas for media-based art at a time when the electronic moving image and media technologies were increasingly present in our daily lives. In turn, Paik's work would have a profound and sustained impact on the media culture of the late twentieth century; his remarkable career witnessed and influenced the redefinition of broadcast television and transformation of video into an artist's medium.
" Senator Bob Brown is seriously concerned. He is engaged in a court case against Forestry Tasmania over the logging of endangered species habitat. In a most unusual move for a politician he is personally funding the cost of this hugely expensive challenge, even if it means going bankrupt. Christine Abrahams Gallery in Melbourne held an art auction on 1-2 February 2006 to raise money for the court case. If you missed this you can donate at http://www.on-trial.info or send a cheque to the Bob Brown Forest Fund, GPO Box 404, Hobart 7001.
3D printed sculptures
A show late last year at UTS Gallery in Sydney quietly introduced 3D prototyping to the art world here. This is a way of making objects out of strands of liquefied plastic contained in a printer. It allows shapes to emerge which are virtually impossible to make by other means, eg spheres within spheres. The numerical files which are required, being digital, can be emailed, and thus elaborate sculptures can be created in a remote location. 15 artists from Australasia, Europe and the US emailed digital files and 15 sculptures were formed using the Rapid Prototype machine owned by the University of Technology Sydney, some taking up to 60 hours to layer up. The curators Ian Gwilt and Brit Bunkley (NZ) are hoping to tour the show as it is one of the first exhibitions of the use of the technology by artists.
CAPTION (white plastic heads on blue background)
Brit Bunkley, head to head 2005, Rapid prototype ABS plastic,
Australian art overseas
Gitte Weise has closed her eponymous gallery in Paddington, Sydney, and has moved the operation fulltime to Berlin. She will retain the Australian focus, representing many Australian artists including Cherine Fahd, Maria Kontis, Sarah Robson and Christopher Snee, and will return to Sydney occasionally to exhibit her artists in a rental space.
"The Art of Giving: The Komon Bequest, is a major series of Central Australian works of art bought for the Araluen Galleries in Alice Springs with money raised from the sale of works of art in the estate of Ruth Komon, widow of art dealer Rudy Komon. In her will Ruth nominated six public galleries in regional centres as beneficiaries. The works will be on exhibition at the Araluen Arts Centre for the next few months.
" Phatspace, the artist-run-space upstairs in Oxford St, Darlinghurst in Sydney, is shutting up shop after three years during which over 400 artists showed there. Its library of new media/video work will be housed at a new entity in Chippendale, PELT, while the Phat artist-curators will continue to facilitate international projects, the next up being a show of 25 Australian artists to Japan. Check it out on the website www.phatspace.com.
" SPACE3 , an artist-run-space which has launched the career of many an artist, has recently been moved out of its premises in Chippendale, which it occupied from 2000 – 2005, but, as indicated by its subtitle 'An Independent Australian Creative Network', it will continue to operate across alternative venues. It recently launched a 200-page hardcover visual history covering performances, music, installation, and exhibitions in every conceivable medium, showcasing new and established artists working side by side in a professional context. Order this useful archive of recent history for $40. http://www.space3.org/
Regional arts specialist arts
The Commonwealth Government has provided $24,500 towards bringing international speakers and artists to the 3rd Australian Artists' Books Forum, held at Artspace Mackay in North Queensland 25 - 26 February 2006, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Print Council of Australia and Imprint magazine. International presenters came from the USA, UK, South Korea and Germany to take part and undertake residencies at the ANU, James Cook and, Southern Cross Universities and the Studio West End, Brisbane. The project operates under the Regional Arts Fund.
" The architectural firm Johnson Pilton Walker has been chosen to design the $73.6m new National Portrait Gallery in Canberra. Totalling 8,000 sqm of floor space, it will be built near the National Gallery and the High Court of Australia. Other art museums built by JPW, (pre-2001 known as DCM) are the Asian Gallery of the AGNSW, The Australian National Maritime Museum, the Museum of Sydney and in progress, extensions to the Australian Museum in Sydney.
" 798/Red Gate Gallery is the newly opened second space of the famous Red Gate Gallery in Beijing, now in its 15th year. Within the 798-Dashanzi area, an enormous old factory complex now occupied by scores of arts and design enterprises, the new space has a bright, lofty feel with a high ceiling and two mezzanine floors. (www.redgategallery.com) It was launched with Red Gate's annual charitable fundraiser, selling calendars with limited edition prints for the Philip Hayden Foundation (a local orphanage).
The 3rd annual Dashanzi International Festival takes place 29April - May 29 – a good time to visit Beijing.
2006 Art Calendar
Beijing Art Fair: 12 – 16 April
Glasgow International: 19 April – 1 May 2006
Museums Australia National Conference 2006 Brisbane:14 -17 May
Biennale of Sydney: 8 June – 27 August
Melbourne Art Fair: 2 – 6 August
Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial (Japan): July -Sep. 2006
Singapore Biennale: 4 September – 12 November
6th Gwangju Biennale, Korea 8 September – 11 November 2006
Shanghai Biennale: opens 6 September
Singapore Art Fair: 28 September – 2 October
" Sherman Galleries is this year celebrating its rapid evolution from its origins in 1986 as the quirky Irving Galleries to the smooth international art business it has become a mere 20 years later. Director Gene Sherman has always been a de facto international ambassador for the Sherman stable, in Japan particularly, and now in other parts of Asia. Lately its strong links with and support for the public sector have become more overt, with four Sherman artists being awarded solo/survey shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Gallery of Australia. On until 23 April 2006 at MCA is Jacky Redgate: Life of the System: 1980–2005, followed by Volte Face: Mike Parr prints & preprints 1970–2005 from 2 March – 21 May. Imants Tillers: Survey follows at the National Gallery of Australia. Then 14 July – 16 October 2006, with Guan Wei: Echo at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney October 2006 – January 2007. Quite a year, and a great deal to celebrate.
Money to be had
"The Victorian government has announced their continuing commitment to design through the State of Design 2006. The year's calendar will culminate in a ten day period of activities, from 4 to 14 October 2006, including the presentation and exhibition of the Victorian Premier's Design Awards – Australia's most generous, valued at $40,000 plus several minor awards. International and local exhibitions, conferences, workshops and seminars are driven by Lab.3000. Detail on website www.stateofdesign.com.au or contact lab.3000:firstname.lastname@example.org
" Goulburn Regional Art Gallery has been named as host of the 2006 $35,000 Country Energy Art Prize for Landscape Painting, which rotates around the regional galleries of NSW and last year received over 450 entries. The prize is a timely boost for regional artists, who benefit from the wide media exposure within country areas and also when the show goes to Sydney. For more information on the prize, or to view the artworks of this year's finalists, visit www.countryenergy.com.au/artprize.
" Gosia Wlodarczak was awarded the $25,000 City of Whyalla Art Prize for her large drawing Personal Space/Safety Zone 8.
" Kevin Wilson, high-achieving Director of Noosa Regional Gallery, has left the Sunshine Coast to take up the Directorship of Albury Regional Art Gallery, NSW.
" Janice Lally is new Curator at Flinders University Art Museum.
" Bingui Huangfu is one of the four curators of the Gwangju Biennale being staged in 2006.
" Anthony Steel is the Director of the 2006 Coriole Music Festival in May in McLaren Vale, South Australia.