Saturday, 29 May 2010

Perfect day for a ferry ride with a bit of art on the side

Friday afternoon was perfect weather to catch a ferry to Cockatoo Island and have a look at art on show for the Sydney Biennale.
I'm glad we chose to go this early in the season (the Biennale runs until August 1st) as I reckon word will get out about the scenic free ride to an island in the harbour and it will get very busy.

Above - from the ferry on the way to Cockatoo Island Sydney Harbour - a very pretty day.

When we arrived and walked up the hill to the west side, I took a couple more photos (one below) before zipping it all away to take in some of the installations scattered throughout buildings all over the island.

In the past I had taken a dislike to video art - to me it was often contrived and boring but now I feel it has come of age and artists using this medium are less self-conscious and, of course there are more people making electronic works so there is more choice.
AH & I only got through a third to half of the Cockatoo Island artists.  Of note was Yayoi Kusama's Song of Manhattan Suicide Addict (2010) - she is always a reliably good artist.  NZ photographic artist Yvonne Todd's work was a smidge creepy - for all the right reasons and displayed in a small partly dilapidated building, which added to the unsettling of the viewer.
Amal Kenawy's video installation, My lord is eating his tail (2010) - man in wheelchair, other man dancing, birdcage, dancer swaps with wheelchair and wheelchair man dances - man in wheelchair writhes - sounds obvious but is executed extremly well and I stayed the whole loop through.  As a note, I was glad to have watched her work before reading the write up - I got to think my own version of the story before being told what it means.
Althea Thauberger's video, La mort e la miseria, is a allegorical tale in the ancient Ladin people's (a minority living in the Dolomites) Rhaeto-Romance language.  Death gets stuck in the apple tree belonging to poverty and people stop dying (even when poverty lets death out of the tree, there is still poverty) - it's a delight and 'death' had a humour about her that reminded me straight away of a video I saw in March by Jo Cuzzi, Scary D & Emma Pressman that was completely different but left me with the same satisfied feeling.

Oh and we really liked Tarryn Gill & Pilar Mata Dupont's big Lament of the Argentine Military - even though I felt the performer was more Frida Kahlo than patron saint - fabulous stuff despite the parents allowing their offspring to run around and shout in the dark, disrupting its impact.

Cockatoo Island itself is a treat - a heritage uban park with a maze of buildings, stairs up the side of a steep rock cliff still dripping with the recent deluge and a fun tunnel that takes you back where you started from.

Images 2010 ©Anne Bentley

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Day out at the MCA - Sydney Biennale

AH has a little time off this week so we took out our brollies & visited the MCA at Circular Quay to check out some of the art on show for the Sydney Biennale.
It can be a challenge to show diverse artists next to each other but so far the 17th Biennale is keeping it interesting and well organised.

After walking 3 floors of the MCA highlights for me were the memorial poles by 41 Yolngu artists and 2 video works: John Bock's Fischgrätenmelkstand kippt ins Höhlengleichnis Refugium, 2008 - a true modern surrealist - and Mark Wallinger's 1997 film, Hymn - I am looking forward to more work by this artist when we take the ferry to Cockatoo Island in a couple of days.

Roxy Paine's Neuron (2010), that I have partly pictured below, out the front is best viewed from a little window on the first floor (rats - my pocket camera was cloaked) - just after the room containing Jake & Dinos Chapman's "Shitrospective" - a display of humour & cleverness but which gets lost if viewers are unaware of the brothers often horrid but pristine & grotesquely realistic works.

I think the next highlight on Friday will be the free ferry ride (to Cockatoo Island)- that's a nice touch - clever too - yaye - free ferry! such fun.

Of course there's a lot going on that isn't part of the Biennale but due to good promotion of this event I think people will also check out what's going on locally.
We've had a look at some of the Head On photography including the ACP and Anne Zahalka's work showing in a selection of Newtown pubs.
Friday evening will have me first in line to check out the latest from Bev Hogg at the Kerrie Lowe Gallery, Newtown - a hooded bunny with barbed wire on the invite has me intrigued.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Exhibition is go

Greetings from a cold, wet Sunday afternoon.  In our old, leaking house it's just as cold inside as it is outside but that's not breaking news about the quality of rental properties in the inner west of Sydney.

News is the gallery showing my latest stuff has revamped their website, which also includes a press release for my show 

(invite card - using detail from GarageWorks* © 2010 Anne Bentley)
SANE - an exhibition opening Friday 25 June 2010 - extends until 23 July
Albion Street Gallery 105 Albion Street Surry Hills NSW Tues-Sat 11AM - 5PM or by appointment.

*just a note - the image is a paper collage, cut & glued then scanned. The pictures span 100yrs - from a 1905 encyclopaedia style book, a 1950s Women's Weekly supplement, the always reliable National Geographic (for their 1960s Kodachrome look) to a nature magazine from about 2006.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Nicolas Collerson - Artist

I’ve wanted to write something this artist & his works that I cohabit with, for a over a year now but it’s not as easy an exercise as I thought. I am not an arts essay scholar but on the other hand, I am an arts fan so on that basis I will tell a condensed, personal story with pictures on how I came to enjoy living with some of the wonderful work of Nicolas Collerson.

At the end of November 2008 on a weekend, my partner was away interstate so I was frolicking about and decided to visit a friend in her shop on Enmore Road, Newtown (Sydney Australia). While waiting for the friend to finish serving a customer, I went next door to have a look at a small group art show closing that night in a walk through room an enterprising fringe dweller has made into a gallery.

The first thing I saw, and I don’t even recall the other artists, was a small set of iconoclastic works by Nicolas Collerson. I knew one or more of them would have to come home with me.

On exhibition of Collerson’s works were 2 paintings, 2 wall sculptures and a standing piece on a plinth that looked to me, like a Jesuit but had an octopus for a head & was holding a black bunny:

Octopope by Nicolas Collerson (2008 - approx 32cm tall. ceramic statue, rubber octopus toy & random little plastic rabbit, acrylic & spraypaint enamel.  photography by Anne Bentley)

His The Glorious Tentacled Host Rinse Out was the one that had appealed to me immediately – finally someone who isn’t only having a go at humans and their Christianity but also Buddhism. It seems so sacred to white Westerners, even non-believers - ya can’t dump on the Buddha. Well, I do! Stupid prayer flags in the wind, probably made by exploited workers using toxic dyes… but they were a bargain… Lazy praying, I reckon – hang a set of coloured flags and you’ll be right for the next life. And, by the way, do you know the Dali Lama, the latest rock star of religion, does not believe in sex for anything other than procreation and does not agree with homosexuality. At a press conference in June 1997, he commented: "From a Buddhist point of view [lesbian and gay sex] generally considered sexual misconduct" 1 ).
Gee, he’s a lot of fun...
Nicolas’s work belies my stroppiness – it is delightful and has a clever fun play about it.

The Glorious Tentacled Host Rinse Out by Nicolas Collerson 2008 (photograph by Anne Bentley)

Child rearing with an organised religious aspect can have profound effects on a creative and original thinking mind – especially when the child’s thoughts are contrary to elder’s beliefs. Personally, I am often baffled by people having blind belief in a book written generations after its suggested time and interpreted by ego and (mostly) male power circles.

I don’t have to present any further essay on religion & war until my soapbox crumples under me as I can see a fine illustrative rendition of human-made Christianity on the wall:

Saint Sophia The Blessed Selecta (& detail) by Nicolas Collerson 2008 (Mary statue, cardboard, plastic glow in the dark star, felt tip markers, plastic fly & various plastic army soldiers on MDF board)

Being the art junkie I am and knowing that weekend the only cash on hand was our house rent, I pondered calling the artist to make an offer for some of his work for, oh about 10 minutes, raced home, got the cash & organized to meet Nicolas back at the gallery a couple of hours later that evening.

When I arrived at the designated time, the only person there was a man who didn’t look much like the artist I’d spoken over the phone. It turned out he was another buyer and he’s spoken with the woman who ran the place & said he wanted to buy the works…

Really? I asked, when did you speak with her?


Oh – and this is where a true art junkie shows her worth, But, I said, I’ve already spoken with the artist about some of his works.

Which ones?, he asked

All of them.

This man upon whom I’d already made unfavourable judgment went on to say how he could easily make exactly the same works and probably better. I expected him to finish his spiel with a flourishing flick of hair or his scarf.
The tosser left.


When Nicolas delivered his works - yes, he came by & hand delivered his work to our place on a really hot day, I asked him if he created his work instinctively rather than with a totally mapped out idea as this is how I am seeing his work. He agreed then and recently re-confirmed this saying he is “a bit hesitant in declaring what a work is supposed to be about, I’d rather (the works) be approached like the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)2 in psychology.”

In other words, the viewer tells his or her own story as they see it from before the event of what the image depicts, through to the outcome using only what they see in front of them with no written explanation.

The Warhol as Chthonic Incubus by Nicolas Collerson 2007 (acrylic, felt tip pen, spraypaint on MDF board.  photography by Anne Bentley - hanging in our lounge)

Nicolas Collerson is not only a visual artist, he is also well known and respected in Breakcore music circles, having created his own hybrid of Breakcore and Mashup3

Going by the name Maladroit, he is anything but – he’s been creating his own sounds for close to 10 years, starting out in 2001 producing for the now defunct System:Corrupt Collective and has toured numerous times as Maladroit including an extensive tour of Europe including Russia, the Ukraine, Scotland, the UK, Spain and Czech Republic in 2009.

Currently living in Melbourne, Nicolas is considering showing some of his current work in Sydney sometime in the future. I’m hoping for the near future.

3 Experimental Music: Audio Explorations in Australia – Gail Priest - UNSW Press December 2008

all images and text are copyright

Saturday, 1 May 2010

archeological find - Hey! what's for dinner?

definitely not potatoes

I've been cleaning up
oh, I KNOW! I'm not studying so there is no essay due but I was still cleaning... with no other deadline (well, maybe a bloody press release hanging over my head)- mostly I was saving all my books from the invasion of neighbouring renovator's dust & it took ages because I had to look at all my lovely books too..
This little treat was all alone, legs in the air... and I'm not sure how it got where it was.  There were some odd little bugs appearing now and then and the flesh turned into a fine sand, so now it's hollow.
I'm contemplating putting it in a setting with some other objects for a lovely home still life photo... well, no life now, hey?

here are some (only some, there's another bookcase in the next room) of the dusted & tided books that were near found potato - lovely