Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sharyn Walker?

If you have not caught up with Sharyn Walker’s latest forays into public space, real and virtual, her recent 'blog projects' were worth a look . She has put them on hold for now, but when they are restarted we will put up a link
The project is a very nice example of open process work, that invites you into the artist’s 'making in-progress' while playing with the illusion that you think you know who that person is. The subtext is an examination of processes of identity formation.
Using the internet as a medium is now a well established art form, but as a strategy it takes on greater significance and political force given the context of Gosford’s lack of material infrastructure for contemporary art. It also gives Sharyn a potential audience of millions. Sharyn has achieved an impressive amount and variety of work in the past year.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Place of Fear

Firstly an update on the report to council; on new directions for the regional gallery, on bringing contemporary art to the centre of Gosford, and the benefits of funding Terri Latella’s YAG.
Trevor Drake, who introduced the motion to Council, tells us that he is working on the report behind the scenes with Debra Schleger (who we know has been trying to facilitate a greater art presence in Gosford CBD).

Yes! – we have discovered that the acronym YAG stands for Yerin Art Gallery.
According to the Gosford Library local studies page, Yerin means A Place of Fear (but in the case of its being the origin for the place name Erina, as “a place of fear” it is applied to a place of initiation)

ORLAN: Post-Identity Strategies
Tallinn Art Hall (Estonia) April 16th - May18th. The exhibition produced in collaboration with Michel Rein Gallery, Paris.

"In the Self-Hybridization series (Pre-Colombian, African and the more recent Native American), ORLAN continues and extends her journey through an infinity of possible physical identities. By using various canons of beauty and aesthetics from different times and places, the artist creates “living” totemic figures, “almost tangible in their virtuality, fascinating in their disturbing appearance and seductive in their artificial otherness.”

Orlan is best known for the surgical-operation-performances of the early nineties where she transformed the operating room into an artist’s studio, and appropriated plastic surgery as a creative art form mirroring the mutating paradigm of contemporary art."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Australia 2020

The issue of arts funding was on the agenda at Belinda Neal’s forum at Erina on Saturday in preparation for Australia 2020.

The session dealing with Topic 3, Towards a Creative Australia, was guided towards consideration for the individual creator by Chris Bearman’s opening address.
Along with the obligatory ‘we have so many talented people here’ (Which other place will not say the same?) the discussion tended to focus on local problems rather than national objectives. In particular, our dilemma, and consequent funding limitations, occasioned by the region being categorised as neither urban nor regional; lack of cohesion and cooperation within the local arts community; a crisis in art education, and the talent drain.
However it was possible to get on record, yet again, the essential component in moving Towards a Creative Australia, that is, adequate financial support and respect for the individual artist and small to medium sized art organizations. I say “yet again” as the research has been done indicating the imbalance between the funding for the primary producers and that of the major institutions and a burgeoning class of arts managers.
It was pointed out that the platform for any hub of creative industries is provided as a collateral outcome of having a dynamic contemporary art scene, that individual and small group art funding is less that 7% of the Oz Council’s arts budget, and that the mean income for visual artists is a little over $17,000 per year. The percentage is even smaller for individual artists, when it is realized that state and local governments concentrate their resources on infrastructure.
Australia needs artists to make their unique contribution to the national debate and cultural environment. This often entails no financial return to the artist. To have a Creative Australia we need to provide greater financial support, to let artists do what they do best -– make art.

It was interesting to see in the session on Topic 4, Future Directions for Australian Economy, that Caroline Veldhuizen concluded her opening address with a Powerpoint presentation that showed four key objectives for the economic development of the Central Coast, and that two of them could have been lifted straight from Richard Florida’s Rise of the Creative Class.
Her graphs showed, amongst other things, the growing importance of the knowledge based enterprises, but still maintained the ignorant categorising of art with entertainment and recreation.

The session on Agriculture was dominated by issues of Intellectual Property rights, something that artists, also ‘primary producers’ and creators of immaterial value, are also grappling with.

Unfortunately I was not able to stay for all the sessions, but regardless of whether the ideas somehow make their way to Canberra, the Australia 2020 initiative already has been useful as a form of dialogue to raise big picture issues, as well as serving as an indicator of how we can reshape political processes.


Below is a contribution to Australia’s preparation for the big sports event in Beijing, thought it worth passing on for all those who have not yet seen it. (received from Nina Angelo)

No news on the Report to Council being prepared. It seems that it will be at least a week before the process for preparing it will be addressed. Likewise no one seems to know what YAG is.

Posting has been a bit sparse lately with deadlines approaching. Yes, it is that time again when we artists are reminded of our place in the scheme of things, as we compete for scraps of financial support to keep the practice afloat.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

We know where you've been

Bio reading of the city.

Work by Tuur Van Balen, student of Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art in London, who, at the work-in-progress-show at RCA, offered tap water (kindly provided by Thames Water) and asked visitors to donate a urine sample along with their postcode. He added the samples and postcodes to a map of London which contained biological information.

He commented “I'm interested in how cities are not as much made up by streets and buildings as they are made up by our behaviour and experiences.
These experiences are heavily mediated by technology, just look at the way mobile communication networks totally reshaped our cities.
We're on the verge of a new area, an area that relies on the understanding of our body and the understanding of our DNA. What does this mean for the cities of tomorrow? Will we have DNA-surveillance and discrimination? Bio-identities and communities? ...

The biological map in the interim show was an 'intervention' using the show as a platform to get feedback on these ideas. By gathering urine samples, I want to make people think about how their biological waste contains information. Pissing in public might become like leaving your digital data up for grabs, spitting in the streets like leaving your computer unprotected on the internet.”

Professional Practice

Just back, and clearing out the inbox, so thought I would share these snippets from Nettime before deleting.

"I think we need a non-commercial public sphere, as a complement to other proletarian and marginal public spheres which can put pressure on the state and make up for the insufficiencies of formal democratic representation. In other words, I think there should be an anarchic civil-society sphere that produces political confrontation and conflict. I am not naive or bitter enough to think that can be the only dimension of social existence!"

best, Brian

“I visited Glasgow about 18 months ago and was able to sense in a matter of days the attraction the city holds for creative people, and the way the arts are being used to regenerate what was formerly a declining industrial centre."

The complicitness of artists and 'arts professionals' in the instrumental use of the visual arts as propaganda for the rapid neoliberal structural readjustment of the city really could not be more explicit. However, I am bemused by the seemingly prevalent academic spectre of an art "passionately producing alternative visions and utopias for today’s late capitalist society".


"What would happen if art stops with relentlessly criticizing the existing state of affairs, or with passionately producing alternative visions and utopias for today’s late capitalist society? What if art would, on the contrary, fully identify with and affirm the prevailing norms, values, practices, etc., even adding some oil to the fire? The latter would, in other words, demand of artists to no longer automatically assume the role of the ‘good guys’, the eternal idealists, dreamers, etc., who always try to make the best out of the current situation, pushing the system to be something other and better than it is. It would, inversely, ask of them to stop protecting society from what it wants and turn it into the worst version of itself, so as to confront it with its own unsustainability and undesirability."
Ned Rossiter on:
Cultural Activism Today, The Art of Over-Identification