Archive for March 2012
Featuring the photo-based artist’s books and photobooks of Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart
March 21 ~ April 5
Cooper and Spowart are influenced by the context and the consequences of living within a constantly changing relationship with the landscape. Contact Zone connects the viewer/reader with “place” relationships through the photobook, both physically and metaphorically.
Part of the 2012 QCP Queensland Festival of Photography
Tim Mosely is a PhD candidate at the Queensland College of Art. He is working through the research processes that students engage in to position their academic imprimatur on some aspect of human knowledge. Mosely over the years has developed a significant international practice in artists’ books, handmade paper and the book experience as one in which the tactile senses are evoked.
Make like An Eskimo, at first appears as a mixed exhibition originating from many individual artists as each body of work teases out an idea, a gesture, a memory – blurred, or a theme. These are experiments, the research level is PhD so we do expect something that presents a challenge, or expresses a cathartic moment or even a line of questioning that leads … nowhere. This work does not leave this viewer wanting. The stones have been turned over and what has emerged are things that show Mosely’s Inuit traverse of the smooth white space where he has drawn on his intimate knowledge of printmaking medium, of his personal semiotics and his dreams.
One monumental piece explodes from the wall – imagining mt giluwe. It’s a multi-sheet linocut – dark and brooding with markings made by Mosely’s tools that resemble some kind of tribal scarification. The wild landscape overpowers the smooth white gallery wall and entices the viewer to move in close. There is a hidden map implied by the transecting vertical and horizontal lines of the individual printed sheets. Is it a map of the physical, the metaphysical or is it just mere tactile experience – for touching with the eyes? There is a movement through the monochrome surface and a red rectangle of paper overlays a part of the image – is this order implied over chaos? Colonial blood over Nature? Or could it hide a didactic code with its intention to perplex the viewer – or maybe it is there to just hide the fact that no code exists?
Another work, a series of books attempts to contain the big lino imagining mt giluwe. It is in fact, books made from pages of the large work. Once again there is a calling to explore and this time it is easier as the dividing and sectioning of the work into book form creates a path through the act of page turning. Some pages have been slashed and red paper shows through the jagged shapes implying similar questions as the red rectangle in the larger work. I am comfortable with this work, and perhaps Mosely is as well, as it is derivative of the language that he has employed in the past.
As I reflect on the experience of the POP Gallery I can confirm that Mosely is interrogating his practice, his experience of life and what it means to be an artist. What stands out is his haptic encounter in the making of his artworks and the profound need that he has for that vital energy to be infused into the art. And in that I think he is not alone – the materials seem to respond to his interaction. Here I am reminded of a discussion that Barbara Bolt has about a mode of thinking informed by Martin Heidegger’s techne and Paul Carter’s ‘material thinking’, where she states,
‘In the place of an instrumentalist understanding of our tools and material, this mode of thinking suggests that in the artistic process, objects have agency and it is through the establishing conjunctions with other contributing elements in the art that humans are co-responsible for letting art emerge.’ (Bolt 2007:1)
Mosely’s work and the materials in his work do emerge to present the viewer with communiqués that are enriched not only by what is embedded in them but also what they invoke in the mind of those who encounter them. We wish him well in the ascent to his academic plateau.
A few days away at Girraween celebrated a moment of clear sunny weather between weeks of inclement rainy and particularly miserable weekends. With water everywhere it was hard not to be compelled to image its flow and pattern. We shared this weekend with Felicity and relaxed in Nature’s place with fine foods punctuated by bouts of photography and drawing.
Late morning on March 1st an email arrived from the Post Graduate School from James Cook University advising the examiners had responded to my PhD exegesis (thesis). I was told that only a few minor corrections, mainly typos were required. I found it hard to concentrate on work – 7 years of part-time study came down to a moment of quiet reflection out of the window beyond the computer screen.
I had an extended lunch in the park with Vicky and I lay back …
We then entered the Kusama exhibition space. Words alone cannot convey the experience encountered—images and videos may help. And that’s they key to the immersive gallery visitor’s strategy, you are allowed to photograph! In fact everyone is blazing away with cameras imaging their encounter with the art and artist’s wacky view of the world. Somehow Kusama just doesn’t seem weird – she just seems in tune with knowing what the viewer wants!
For some time I’ve been uncomfortable with the way that the concept of ART GALLERY has transformed from a place for the quiet experience of art and of seeking personal enlightenment, into one where visiting crowds seem hell-bent on seeking entertainment. Ultimately I gave in and developed an expectation that a gallery visit could be about an experience cram packed with gratuitous fun, and … a few personal epiphanic moments.
GOMA Director Tony Ellwood states that he would like audiences to the Yoyoi Kusama Look Now, See Forever exhibition to “immerse themselves in the artist’s unique and compelling world view”. To test Ellwood’s immersive suggestion Vicky and I recently visited the Kusama show and the more traditional historical survey show – Matisse: Drawing Life which is touted as being ‘the most comprehensive exhibition of Henri Matisse’s prints and drawings ever mounted.’
We took in the Drawing Life show first. Matisse drew everyday and one would, from the pervasive theme of the show, think he drew the female nude obsessively—or is it that he just obsessively drew. The transition to immersive experience happens on leaving the show as viewers are enticed to try their own hand at drawing. To stir the budding artists to action, they are supplied not just with pencil and paper, but also a Matisse-esque tableau of drawing fodder—fruit baskets for still life, mirrors for self-portraits and art-school plaster ‘nude’ sculptures to practice on the human form.
For the techno-inclined tablets were available loaded with a drawing program that enabled a drawing to be made with finger or stylus. Not necessarily following the subtlety of lead on textured paper but none-the-less an ‘experience’. We drew the Brisbane city skyline opposite GOMA. The experience was value-added by the opportunity for the ‘drawing’ to be emailed to friends. (We were to later discover that when viewed, the drawing grew on the screen accompanied by music.)
With the Matisse ‘experience’ behind us we entered the Kusama show ….. SEE THE NEXT POST