Tuesday, January 29, 2008

with just one click

Appearing in the Express Advocate, 30th January, and other places.
Story picked up from the Gosford Times.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Scoop 2

The installation of a crocheted intervention/restoration in the Memorial fountain in Burns Place Gosford happened on Australia Day, 26th of January, an even more peaceful and quiet Saturday than usual in that part of town.
Congratulation to Sharyn, Betty and Robyn for subtle work, which softly-softly engages in public issues with a positive and generous attitude. The context of the work, both materially and politically, gave it particular relevance.

While crocheting is usually regarded as craft, the use of crocheting in art does not mean it is merely craft in the decorative sense.
“Many contemporary artists are using craft to make diverse and timely political statements. Because creating crafts is so often social and communal, they can play a vital role in the public sphere” from, introduction to the “Crafting Protest” seminar program at the New School, New York, coincidentally also on the 26th of January, 2008.
One might also add that the use of social and communal processes in itself positions the work such that it critiques careerism and the artist-marketing model of practice.
Further information on the eO blog.

Burns Place: Click Here

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Click where?
Burns Place, Gosford on Saturday the 26th of January.

To be seen this week in Burns Place, Gosford, an intervention by three artists who will install a crocheted replacement part in the vandalised memorial fountain designed by Gerald and Margot Lewers. The crocheted “shadow” is to be a substitution for the missing “scoop” shaped copper part of the original sculpture.
This project was initiated and coordinated by Sharyn Walker with the collaboration of Betty Saez and Robyn Wainman.
Sharyn has been leading a campaign to have the long neglected piece of civic art respected and restored, and its designers duly recognised.
The irony of artists crocheting a cosy, woolly, leaky substitution, in these days of water shortages and global warming, to a fountain turned off due to the mismanagement of water supplies, goes somewhat to slaking our thirst for complex content in publicly engaged work.
It is also nice to see public art that is not intended for entertainment, but woven modestly into the fabric of our urban experience.

This subtle mending, with a view to subsequent proper restoration, reminds me of the Mended Spiderweb series by American artist Nina Katchatadourian. Other works can be seen on her web site.

The following is a quote from Katchatadourian’s site. A bit long but worth it for the way it reveals an open ended dialogical working process that yields to natural processes without the work loosing any of its tension and strength.

“In the forest and around the house where I was living, I searched for broken spiderwebs which I repaired using red sewing thread. All of the patches were made by inserting segments one at a time directly into the web. Sometimes the thread was starched, which made it stiffer and easier to work with. The short threads were held in place by the stickiness of the spider web itself; longer threads were reinforced by dipping the tips into white glue. I fixed the holes in the web until it was fully repaired, or until it could no longer bear the weight of the thread. In the process, I often caused further damage when the tweezers got tangled in the web or when my hands brushed up against it by accident.
The morning after the first patch job, I discovered a pile of red threads lying on the ground below the web. At first I assumed the wind had blown them out; on closer inspection it became clear that the spider had repaired the web to perfect condition using its own methods, throwing the threads out in the process. My repairs were always rejected by the spider and discarded, usually during the course of the night, even in webs which looked abandoned. The larger, more complicated patches where the threads were held together with glue often retained their form after being thrown out, although in a somewhat "wilted" condition without the rest of the web to suspend and stretch them.”

It is to be hoped that the work in Burns Place by Sharyn, Betty and Robyn will similarly result in the repair of the fountain’s original design.

Images from the installation, and background information, will be posted following the installation on Saturday.

It seems that subversive sewing circles and other such seditious activities are slipping social commentary past the surveillance systems (they are watching you Sharyn) in the guise of craft. Susan Hillman’s camouflage sweaters being an example we have covered earlier.

Some more examples can be found in "The history of guerilla knitting", a talk by Rose White at the recent Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin.
Also - the exhibition, Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting - Museum of Arts & Design, NYC.

And- David Cole’s “Knitting Machine” project which used two excavators wielding telephone poles as needles to knit a giant American flag in the courtyard of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Lets get immaterial.

The incredible lightness of art.

Brown’s Cows’ 2007 Click Here happenings in Gosford, the Space Between and Buy Nothing, Get one Free, juxtaposed immateriality of poetry presented as ephemeral illuminated text (light) with the physicality of performed experience (the Body). With this in mind, the installation “Projections” by Jenny Holzer, currently at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, has particular resonance.

In this work text images of lines of poetry are projected from opposite ends of the gallery, flooding the space with poetic illumination. Giant beanbags on the floor anchor people to their physical presence and accentuate discrepancies in scale.
Following the last post on BP which posited Gosford ‘crater’ as a gallery to flood with the poetry of art actions and forms, Holzer’s installation provides a useful metaphor for a way that art might function in relation to the material world, constantly devising and refining a meta-text to succinctly clarify our contemporary “being, doing and becoming”. (As well as being an impressive work in itself).
Art seems to have amnesia for the immediate past and reinvents styles from twenty or so years previous, erasing the intervening forms and practices of artists as the industry pushes to champion "new emerging talent" in the market place. Urs Fisher’s work in the last post immediately recalls Gordon Matta Clark, Richard Long, Robert Smithson and others.

An installation Shibboleth 2007 at the Tate Modern by Colombian artist Doris Salcedo shares the same pedigree, and like Holzer and Fisher the artist has chosen the ‘Art’ space as referent context for meaning.
It might seem perverse, but the element of risk in the works is appealing. Is it a return to the Sublime or simply a reaction to our increasingly designed, controlled and sanitized environment and a desire for authenticity?
It could be argued that the current fad for art performances and installations that restage significant historical events, despite their essentially ironic positioning, also engage this desire.

An example of this form some of you might have seen was the reenactment at Artspace Sydney of Joseph Beuys’ “Coyote” (I like America and America Likes Me, 1974) by English artist Andre Stitt and a dingo.
Andre is interested in doing some work in Gosford with his group from Cardiff in 2009, so perhaps we can talk to him about it then.

Reenactments and projections from Click Here are scheduled for the tent in the Park in March.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Gosford as Gallery

Kibble Park was selected for the recent Click Here event by KoPAS to amplify awareness of the topography that defines Gosford Town, and the hidden flows that naturally and emotionally effect our sense of place.

[I am using Gosford ‘Town’ rather than ‘City’ as I think it better reflects the reality – not aspirations. A city is such because it has an identity derived from its constituent activities rather than because of a governmental designation and being a jurisdiction of governance.
A place also can be defined by what it is not, in comparison to other places. Here is a list of City attributes. How does Gosford score?
Central research library, museum, town hall, contemporary art centre, botanic gardens, moving image theatre, central park, university, artists studio quarter, quality newspaper.]

The proponents of various town planning strategies for Gosford, and who talk of ‘precincts’, seem unaware that the town is an integrated whole, with movement corridors and appropriate sites for functions geographically indicated.

Gosford Town itself is ONE precinct encompassed by Rumbalara Reserve, Presidents Hill and the Waterfront – and in any case, is too small to be dissected further.

The Click Here project assumes the Gosford ‘hollow’ as its locus operandi, in old art-speak, its Gallery. So it is interesting to hear of the work by Urs Fischer who dug a ‘Gosford’ shaped hollow within a gallery.

Extract from the New York Times:
“At Gavin Brown, Urs Fischer takes a jackhammer to Chelsea its self.
By Jerry Saltz
Urs Fischer has reduced Gavin Brown's Enterprise to a hole in the ground, and it is one of the most splendid things to have happened in a New York gallery in a while. Experientially rich, buzzing with energy and entropy, crammed with chaos and contradiction, and topped off with the saga of subversion that is central both to the history of the empty-gallery-as-a-work-of-art but also to the Gavin Brown experience itself, this work is brimming with meaning and mojo. It was also a Herculean project.
A 38-foot-by-30-foot crater, eight feet deep, extends almost to the walls of the gallery, surrounded by a fourteen-inch ledge of concrete floor. A sign at the door cautions, THE INSTALLATION IS PHYSICALLY DANGEROUS AND INHERENTLY INVOLVES THE RISK OF SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH; intrepid viewers can, all the same, inch their way around the hole. Fischer's pit is titled You, and it took ten days to build, costing around $250,000 of Brown's money. (Heaven only knows what his landlord thought of it.) The gallery's ground-level garage doors facilitated the jackhammering and removal of the concrete floor and the use of a backhoe to excavate tons of dirt and debris, after which a crew closed off the space with immaculate white walls. There's also a cramped antechamber, superfluous but well executed: A smaller reproduction of the main gallery, down to the air ducts and electrical outlets, it’s sort of a mini-Me You. Ducking through its pint-size entrance is like going though a door in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. You have to crouch as you enter and watch where you step in preparation for the more precarious and thrilling main event beyond.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Following the performances in Gosford, we will relax with the artists at a picnic on the beach at Terrigal. You are welcome to join us - BYO whatever.