Talking about art

There is a lot of crap written about art and I love the latest post on the MONA blog by Elizabeth Mead.

There’s no gold star for ‘getting it’ or even enjoying it.

She says knowing about the work, the artist, why it was made, and why David Walsh bought it, can be interesting, but isn’t essential –

And so why stare at all? You’ll give yourself a headache. Instead, I recommend just taking these things, these history-less objects, as you find them, sitting, well lit, on a plinth or whatever, in the gallery. There’s no hope of recovering their context, some germ of origin for existence. They exist just for you now. Maybe they have something to teach you – but don’t just take them at their word. Make it up for yourself. If there’s something there for you, suck it up, and move on. If there’s nothing just push past to the next piece, or go and have a drink at the bar. The point, the only point, is to have something – a thought, feeling, memory or intention – slide into place, or shift its position.

She says about the contextual essays available on the O devices:

We’re sure the whole thing’s a bit of a farce, which is why we call those essays ‘Art Wank’, and why we also write ‘Gonzo’ pieces on the art, which do away entirely with the concept of objectivity. The writing of history – recording of known or debated facts, the selecting of events and people deemed relevant to your appreciation of the object – is just one voice with which to speak about art, and one you should never take fully at its word. The only truthful way to speak about the present or the past is in a voice that announces, in its every utterance, its lies and silences, its weaknesses and desire to manipulate you, the listener, for its own ends.

Rebecca Baumann

I’m a big fan of Rebecca Baumann’s work. Last year I loved her Automated Colour Field at ACCA, an installation of 100 flip clocks with pages of coloured paper. This was a beautiful contemplative artwork, constantly changing as the coloured pages randomly flipped over. In November last year I saw her golden curtain of tinsel, Untitled Cascade, animated by a small domestic fan, at West Space. It reminded me of a theatrical curtain or a backdrop from a cheesy TV game show. She’s also created a confetti machine and used exploding balloons filled with confetti and coloured smoke bombs in her installations. Her work is really fun and beautiful and she’s interested in the relationship between colour and emotion.

More of Rebecca’s work here.

Pat Brassington at ACCA

Last week our class visited a survey exhibition of photographic artist Pat Brassington at ACCA. Brassington uses photographs and photo collage to produce her images. Her work is influenced by surrealism, Freud and the language of dreams.

Recurring motifs in her work include interior and domestic spaces; carpets and wallpapers, furniture and curtains, figures with obscured faces (by masks or coverings), bodies (often cropped) and legs and feet. Themes are sexuality, domesticity, repression, for example images of taped and fabric-filled mouths, and deformity. Untitled VI, 2002, inkjet print, shows a young boy standing against a wall, his mouth taped up, and lines of tape crossing his body, restraining him. In my mother’s house, 1994, is a grainy photo of a young boy with his head tilted back to display two large goiterous lumps in his throat.

By the Way, 2010, pigment print, shows a woman walking away from the viewer, her head covered by a tall hat-like piece of pink fabric. The figure is very large and is walking along a path or road. Her clothing, a long skirt, jumper and sensible shoes, suggests a disapproving mother. The Secret, 2010, pigment print, is a black and white close up of a young girl’s face, her right eye crossed, and her mouth covered what looks like a piece of blue tape. A strand of hair like a rope hangs around her neck. It’s implied that her ‘secret’ has been censored.

I liked Untitled, 1989, a large triptych of black and white silver gelatin photographs, one showing a pre-Raphaelite looking woman with long tangled hair blowing in the wind, and a draped dress, the second palm trees on a beach bending in a gale next to a wild ocean, and the third a nude woman covering her face with her arms. There is a sense of drama of mystery about this and the feeling of some obscure narrative.

Brassington’s work is both disturbing and sinister, with its grotesque nudity, vulva-like wounds, and stretched tights. Her photographs blur the boundaries of the real and imagined, and have the strange logic of dream or fantasy.

Kusama at Louis Vuitton


Yayoi Kusama has designed Louis Vuitton’s new window displays! Thanks to my painting teacher Marina for tipping me off. I’d actually seen a photo of LV Kusama windows in Bangkok, but didn’t realise they were also in Collins Street, Melbourne.