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Colliding Islands, installation view, courtesy Caboolture Regional Gallery 2012, originally uploaded by cubamxc.

Touring exhibition Colliding Islands recently concluded at the Caboolture Regional Gallery. For the past three-years, the exhibition has traveled to seven venues along the east coast of Australia, attracting over 19,000 visitors. For the four international artists involved, the project has facilitated their first exhibition in Australia. While for regional touring venues and audiences, the project has provided a rare opportunity to engage with international and contemporary art issues. As for the only Australian artist involved and myself, the project’s associated public programming has afforded us with an opportunity to gauge regional audiences. For the most part, this has been interesting and engaging. For example, refer Colliding Islands at Lake Macquarie.

However, it’s amazing just how controversial a nude self-portrait can be. Especially a male nude. For another example, refer The controversial landscape. In this last instalment at Caboolture, Moore’s work was accompanied by a small discrete warning. At first I thought this was funny and curious. Then I suppose, consistent with warnings accompanying television programs and films.

The public program at Caboolture was also interesting. When someone in the audience pronounced the word black (the moment I internally gasp: OMG is he a racist and how am I going to deal with this?) everyone in the gallery jumped down his throat. But then after elaborating on Moore’s work, an older, purse-lipped woman stated, “I just don’t get what he’s trying to say, aside from that he’s well endowed.” Her lack of empathy was astounding and nobody jumped down her throat.

I later learnt that a parent, with their child, missed the warning and was upset. The gallery seemed to consider the issue covered, as the warning was there. They seemed unprepared to elaborate on the issues. I suspect that there could have been a female nude in the next gallery and they wouldn’t draw any correlation. Interesting. Next time, I know to prepare answers for the most fundamental FAQs.

The accompanying catalogue continues to be available online at magsq.com.au

Related posts:
Further to The Betrayal, February 18 2011
Colliding Islands, February 13 2009
Colliding Islands: Changes in subjectivity, February 6 2009

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Colliding Islands, installation views Lake Macquarie City Gallery, originally uploaded by mxccuba.

Archie and I travelled south to deliver a floor talk as part of the opening of Colliding Islands at the Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery. I really appreciated being able to see the exhibition installed there. The staff are really nice and their install looks great. In their spacious gallery, they decided to accommodate the previously recorded floor talk from CAST and part of Kevin O’Brien’s foreword from the catalogue.

It’s the third floor talk for Colliding Islands and while I’ve been reassured that they’re really pleased, I’m wondering if we should re-invent the story. The thing I appreciate the most and find really valuable, is being able to see revised interpretations, specifically relating to each venue’s environmental situation. Set against the picturesque Lake Macquarie we discussed, I can’t remember the exact term used but a kind of environmental psychology. The experience of recognising a place one week, but through the rapid transformation of landscapes, namely mining in the area, having to come to terms with a new environment, almost overnight. Thereby, experiencing loss and an erasure of memory, and inevitably being forced to question what’s real. It’s been very revealing to see each instalment encountering similar affects differently.

Related Posts:
Exposition Palazzo Fortuny, Venice May 29 2011
Tokyo Ga, March 15 2009
Cradle Mountain, February 16 2009
Touching the Franklin, February 15 2009


Fwd: Exposition Palazzo Fortuny Venise., originally uploaded by mxccuba.

While Archie and I are about to travel to Lake Macquarie for the opening of Colliding Islands, other artists in the exhibition are also on the move.

Jillian Conrad (US) recently exhibited as part of Soft Power, curated by Amanda B. Friedman and Elizabeth Hirsch, at Nurture Art, Brooklyn. Conrad is presently exhibiting new work, Relative Distants (2011) as part of the summer show Vista, at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, NY. Earlier this year, Olivier Dollinger (FR) was featured in 20/27 #5, an annual review of contemporary art. Dollinger will be exhibiting as part of TRA Edge of Becoming, at the Palazzo Fortuny, Campo San Beneto, Venice (invite posted above). David Hamill (US) and I need to update each other. And Heeseop Yoon (KR/US) has been traveling between Seoul and New York. Recently, during Armory Arts Week, Yoon exhibited as part of Extravagant Drawing, at Dorsky Gallery, Long Island City, NY.

Related Posts:
Colliding Is. Talk, February 17 2011
Field Trip, February 4 2007
Always ‘art comes first, salsa later’, December 6 2006


Benjamin Duterrau, The Conciliation 1840 (TMAG), originally uploaded by mxccuba.

Further to my post yesterday and the previous post The Betrayal, I’ve been meaning to post this image of the space where Duterrau’s The Conciliation 1840 is exhibited at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG). Surrounded by the Others, studies of distinct Indigenous Tasmanian identities depicted in Duterrau’s painting, including Woureddy’s resplendent ochre dusted dreadlocks.

Related Posts:
The Betrayal, February 23 2009
Typology: Straddie and Redcliffe Museum, 14 February 2011
Descending Mt Wellington into the floor talk, 14 February 2009


Jillian Conrad Wormhole (2009), Colliding Islands, CAST, Hobart., originally uploaded by mxccuba.

Colliding Islands explores the shifting cultural significance of landscape, from traditional concepts of nature to the socio-urban topography of contemporary identities.

Featuring works by Jillian Conrad (US), Olivier Dollinger (FR), David Hamill (US), Archie Moore (AU) and Heeseop Yoon (KR/US). The ongoing exhibition tour itinerary, online catalogue designed by Melanie Schafer, with a foreword by Kevin O’Brien and a curatorial essay is available at: MAGSQ.

 
The controversial landscape, originally uploaded by mxccuba.

Have been bothered and trying to cool it all week. Turns out, landscape is quite controversial. Who would have thought? The worst part is that I had to tell an artist “There’s nothing wrong with your work, but there’s something wrong with these Catholics.” And even worse, that apparently the gallery in question has their Indigenous Unit’s support. What the…? Aside from the institutionalised racism, the situation has spurred some new, more intense interpretations – it’s occurred to Damian that in the works he appears “Christ-like”. But quite frankly, I actually really resent having to have the conversation, it’s so elementary.

Extracts From <my email> of Date Mon, 31 May 2010:…this is concerning. Based on our conversation I understand that there are several issues, but in particular nudity and offensive racial slurs, coupled with an influx of new international residencies. But to be perfectly clear, to me it seems that X would like to censor an Indigenous artist because he’s an Indigenous artist producing work that reflects this experience, specifically racism?

(The artist’s) works are pivotal in this exhibition. Specifically: he’s the only Australian; they were specifically created for this exhibition and are a direct response to its premise; they link the idea of physical and psychological landscapes; while the nude self-portraits are classical in form, they refer to a contemporary political Australian landscape, including globalisation, colonialism and racism. Everyone has an experience of being called names; I find it quite difficult to imagine thinking and feeling anything but empathy in response to these works. I don’t believe these works or the discussions they may raise are something to fear, if anything they’re something… engage with…

I’m not in the business of censorship and presume that the institutions associated with the project, including… aren’t either… I believe the removal of (the artist’s) work is unethical and irresponsible. Particularly as, from a professional practice perspective, this stance does not take into account the posterity of the audience regardless of external pressures and sponsorship.

I fully support the suggestions/options you’ve provided X to date…. I’m happy to meet with X and discuss these issues in person. Furthermore, as we’re locals, X actually has an opportunity to have myself, (the artist), as well as … (an Indigenous architect…) to speak about the project at X.


Go West! Travelling the American Landscape With Art History in the Trunk
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In the mid 1990s Nikolaj Recke tried to arrange a face-to-face meeting with artist Robert Morris, whose famous felt pieces had made such a strong impression on him that he felt he needed to discuss them with their maker. The search (which never completed) was documented in the seminal video piece Knowing Me, Knowing You (1997) shown at the “Louisiana Exhibition”.
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Now, more than a decade later, Recke has once again set sails in search of one of the Moby Dicks of post-war American Art, namely Land Art, which has been a continuous inspiration and reference in his work. The journey to the South Western part of the US, which contains the highest concentration of Land Art pieces, was undertaken in the summer of 2009 with just as much excitement and uncertainty as the previous one. However, this time around, Recke found what he was looking for, and it is the results of the encounters that he now exhibits in “Kicking Up Dust” at ROHDE CONTEMPORARY.
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The exhibition consists of three new pieces; two videos and a photo stat, presented in a total installation with red sand from the unique American landscape spread on the floor. Trinity Land Art Institute (2010) is a photo of a wooden shed that Recke built on the land facing up to the Trinity site in New Mexico, where the US tested the world’s first nuclear bomb in 1945, less than three weeks before bombing Japan. The shed includes the site in the mythology surrounding Land Art and suggests that the site might be considered as a work of Land Art in itself. Waking up to Roden Crater (2010) is a video of the sun rising behind Roden Crater in Arizona, a volcano crater that the artist James Turell has been working on since the mid 1970s. The work, which is unfinished, remains closed the public, but by filming the sun rising behind it Recke bring us just a little bit closer, as the experience of the sunrise, according to Turell, was what sparked his fascination with the volcano. Finally, Insecurity Zone (2009) shows Recke taking a blindfolded guided walk on probably the most iconographic Land Art piece, namely Spiral Jetty (1974) by Robert Smithson located in the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The walk is a re-enactment of Vito Acconi’s Security Zone (1971), and besides paying homage to or rather being a declaration of love to both sources; the video depicts art history as a both mental and physical space, where it is hard for a contemporary artist to find footing. The ground is rocky and goes in spirals, making it increasingly difficult to know whether one is being led towards realization or disorientation.
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The exhibition is another strong manifestation of what could be called Recke’s “emotional conceptualism” that has been a landmark of his work from the beginning. Where much conceptual art downplayed the personal dimension, Recke invests his subjectivity (as an artist and a person) in the encounters with the works. Not to return to narcissistic self-reflection but to open these works to levels of emotional experience that they has traditionally been dissociated from, and expand their intellectual and formal horizons even further with aesthetics involving self-irony, wit, politics consciousness and a romantic sense of beauty.
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Recke is well aware that it is a monstrous project he has undertaken but like Captain Ahab, he is determined to continue against all odds. Yet, catching the whale is ultimately not the point. In fact, it never was. Instead, what Recke wants is to bring the works within human reach and create possibilities for a personal presence with art history. “Kicking Up Dust” is an invitation to the spectators to share these possibilities with him.
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We thank the Danish Arts Council and The American Embassy in Copenhagen for their generous support.
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For more information: www.nikolajrecke.dk/trinity/ Or for further press material, please contact the gallery at cam@rohdecontemporary.com
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ROHDE CONTEMPORARY. St. Kongensgade 110 B. 1264 København K
www.rohdecontemporary.com.
Åbningstider: onsdag-fredag 12-17, lørdag 12-15 og ellers efter aftale på 3062 7668.

Jo recently returned from NY to advise that Temple, my favourite NY home away from home, has closed. Ah, it was bound to happen that a location in the guide would be altered, but of all the places, why Temple. And now I’m never going to get to confirm that bokbunja label. Have been thinkin’ lately that while home is justly criticised for rapidly changing and undermining the establishment of institutions, it is fun, interesting and can ultimately be hardwearing and enduring; Whereas other so-called ‘centres’ are just kind-a boring. Ah, Temple.

DSC04345, originally uploaded by mxccuba.

Returned from Straddie to find that two of the Chinaberrys have sprouted. Was increasingly paranoid. Abandoned home so quickly for Straddie, couldn’t remember whether I’d watered them before I left. Don’t think I mentioned my shady track record to Hiroshi. All the while suppressing the thought: Hate to think that they survived Hiroshima, only to be destroyed by me. But yay, they’ve sprouted, and it would seem in less than two weeks. Wonder where the third is? No sign from the Parasols.

Benjamin Duterrau The Conciliation (1840) (TMAG)., originally uploaded by mxccuba.

With Archie trying to spot other Indigenous people and scanning maps for Indigenous names, I visited the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG). I normally don’t pay any attention to works I dislike, and I certainly haven’t written about them, but I’ve been preoccupied with The Conciliation. I suspect it’s the art-equivalent of watching a car crash. In addition to the accompanying works on paper, or studies I suppose of connected Indigenous Tasmanians, showing for example Woureddy’s resplendent ochre dusted dreadlocks, what’s particularly compelling is that The Conciliation very clearly depicts Indigenous Tasmanians not amidst flora and fauna, but rather their distinct identities.

Duterrau’s, The Conciliation is credited (namely William Moore, a critic and historian of the time) as the first historical epic painting in Australia. The painting depicts George Augustus Robinson with Indigenous Australians including Woureddy and his daughter Truganini (or Trucanini). Two of the most celebrated Indigenous Tasmanians. In particular, a meeting with the so-called ‘Protector of Aborigines’ in Van Diemen’s Land. Post Lieutenant-Governor George Arthur announcing the Black War (1830), Truganini (Sinead O’Connor on right), who would have feared further reprisals and concerned with the safety of her people, was persuaded by Robinson to assist or guide him. However, she was betrayed as part of a broader plan to re-settle them at Wybaleen, a kind of death camp on Flinders Island (1830-37). Also known as the Black Line: the attempted genocide of the Indigenous Tasmanians.

Before Truganini was seventeen, her mother Tanleboueyer had been killed by whalers, her uncle had been shot by a soldier, three of her sisters had been abducted and sold to sealers (one of whom was later shot) and her betrothed Paraweena, was drowned in the Channel by timber sawyers. Truganini was part of a guerilla war campaign (1838) at Port Philip, Victoria with a group of other Tasmanians – the men were recaptured and executed in Melbourne’s first public execution, and her husband died during their return.

Tragedy after tragedy: Truganini and the remaining 45 people were moved from Wybaleena to Oyster Cove (1847). Even posthumously her skeleton was displayed at the Tasmanian Museum (until 1951). It wasn’t until 100 years after her death (1976) that, in accordance with her wishes, her remains were finally cremated and scattered near Oyster Cove, near her traditional country in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, south of Hobart. Even today, samples of her skin and hair continue to be sourced and returned.

Benjamin Law also produced busts of Woureddy and Truganini, which are the earliest major pieces of Australian sculpture. Woureddy’s portrays a hunter, a warrior, or a Greek hero in kangaroo skin (Mary Mackay), whereas Truganini’s could be the most emotional colonial portrait of an Indigenous person. According to a colonial account, she is ‘sorrowing, mourning the slain members of her family’ and people.

For me, Robinson, historically the focal point, and his glowing white pants appears transplanted. Instead today, The Conciliation’s focal point is rather dominated and overwhelmed by ‘the Others’, embedded with legends and the premeditated deception against them; but especially Truganini and her burden.

DSC03932, photo Damian Eckersley., originally uploaded by mxccuba.

Day #2 of our whirlwind tour of Tasmania was all about Cradle Mountain. When we arrived it was raining, misty and below 11° (Celsius). After whining a bit, we set off on the Dove Lake circuit and were snap-happy and captivated within moments.

In Australia, especially Queensland, we’re forever exposed to unrelenting, scorching bright sunlight. It’s a relief to be overseas in the softer light. One relaxes the eyes, the squinting and the face generally gets to rest. One becomes accustomed to seeing rather than always glaring to see through the mandatory sunglasses. Well, that is until you step out of the airplane and are again confronted with the blinding pain of it all. Not to mention the insects. That is except for Tasmania.

We got to look at things with our own eyes without squinting: the shimmering colours of moss, rusty rocks, bright fluro pink berries, naturally occurring bonsai, the unique fairytale forests and landscape in general. That is everything except for Cradle Mountain itself. Covered by mist and unfamiliar with the landscape, we wondered, where is Cradle Mountain? Tasmania, including Cradle Mountain in particular, is renowned for rapid variations in the weather. So, we succumbed to the idea that we’d been a bit unlucky, that the park was living up to it’s reputation and that we, as it turned out were coping with the cold and were having a pleasant time regardless. Reaching about the last quarter of the walk, we were periodically turning around, gradually the mist lifted and there it was. Almost.


nla.pic-an24365561-v
, originally uploaded by mxccuba.

How could we not pay our respects to the Franklin. It has been considered the last wild river and is synonymous with one of, if not the largest Australian conservation battles (and part of a broader context for the subtle political undertones in the exhibition).

After the loss of the Lake Pedder campaign, the Tasmanian government decided to proceed with a Hydro-Electric Commission plan to dam the Gordon-above-Olga in preference to the Gordon-below-Franklin. In the first Australian referendum without a ‘no’ option, a third of voters responded with electoral defiance by writing ‘No Dams’ across their ballot papers. Although less than half the voters supported the Franklin dam, the government somehow managed to proclaim the outcome as an endorsement.

The dam would have obliterated the pristine landscape, flooded the river and swallowed caves occupied during the Last Glacial Maximum. Including the Kutikina Cave, where Rhys Jones and Kevin Kiernan had excavated stone artefacts and bone fragments. Part of the world’s cultural heritage, radiocarbon dates indicate it was the southernmost limit of the last Ice Age settlement.

Conservationists launched targeted guerilla blockades to save the Franklin, which assisted by Dombrovski’s photograph of the Rock Island Bend, attracted intense media coverage and galvanised Australia. As the campaign gained momentum, damming the Franklin became a national election issue. During the dispute, the area was World Heritage listed; Dr Bob Brown, then Director of the Tasmanian Wilderness Society, was named by the Australian newspaper Australian of the Year, because while his activities provoked strong opposition, they should also attract admiration; and became a member of State Parliament. Upon election, the then Labor Prime Minister, Bob Hawke announced that the dam would not proceed. The Tasmanian government took the matter to the High Court. In a landmark decision, the High Court ruled in favour of the federal government and the Franklin dam was stopped.

Of course Damian had been keen to embark on the lengthy (5 days into an overall 9) and arduous canoe-journey to the photograph – Rock Island Bend; while my argument was: there wasn’t time and people die in the middle of nowhere, including Dombrovski himself. This was later bolstered by Pippa’s remark re crapping in the communal box that’s carted throughout. Thankfully time really didn’t permit and we settled for driving the Wild Way, taking some brief walks along the way, touching the Franklin and paying our much-elated respects, before staying at Strahan – base camp for the blockade back in the day.

IMG2073, originally uploaded by mxccuba.

Hobart reminded Archie and I of Toowoomba, while Hobart and Launceston reminded Damian of Newtown during the nineties. The exhibition is in a large part about this experience – as a kind of constant tourist. When do we ever encounter a place in isolation to the landscapes we’ve experienced previously? It usually takes some time before a place develops its own identity independent of other spaces.

In retrospect, I’m not sure what I expected, but for some reason I’d presumed that there would be some mid-height buildings and density or people living in the city as with the other capitals. Instead, the city is a kind of outpost set against Mt Wellington and you can see the sky, like Toowoomba. And there were buildings that were so much older than any elsewhere in Australia, bypassed by the destructive forces of the eighties boom. So well built too. According to Damian, it’s amazing what you can achieve with a captive work force. Regardless, we had an awesome time in Tasmania overall, everyone was so hospitable, and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to return.

The full colour exhibition catalogue, designed by Melanie Schafer and with a foreword by Kevin O’Brien, can be viewed online at www.castgallery.org and documentation of the floor talk with Archie Moore and myself may be viewed at CAST, Hobart.

For months I’ve been increasingly preoccupied with the forthcoming exhibition Colliding Islands. All the little details: venue/context, freight, writing, finalising the catalogue, triple-checking details. My sleep was out of whack due to lingering grammatical questions: an overused comma in my predictably long sentences. The usual process that inevitably peaks and then wanes post-opening. Essentially, it’s a kind of landscape exhibition. Which is humorous to me, because if someone had told me that I’d be curating a ‘landscape’ exhibition 18-months ago, in my mind – I would have reached over and slapped them. But I think this coupled with a gradual consideration of the project has ultimately led to a richer interpretation/s. 

The project has come about through a series of studio situations and visits, where there was a noticeable subsistence of landscapes, either overtly or more subtle ideas about landscape. Particularly, American artists opposed to occupation in Iraq and confounded by the enforced rules of political and military spaces in the US. Grappling with this identity conflict while traversing sedition and managing self-censorship. Landscapes imbued with politics. It’s a minefield.

From an outsider’s perspective, headlines regarding Iraq would be missing from US newspapers; instead there was a persistent radio advertisement to recruit for the CIA. What are our social responsibilities in this global context? As an Australian, how do we participate? How can we when we’re still reconciling inherited ideological differences here? Can Indigenous Camping lend it self to site-specific models? Is there a new kind of landscape genre – post-site-specificity or at least a revised way of considering the genre?

More broadly, the project acknowledges that the screen makes it possible to encounter other spaces and allows for a distorted picturesque. Namely, our experience and perspective of Los Angeles is fashion and fiction, populated by celebrities. Los Angeles, and its realities are questionable. We expect it to be a vacuous husk that can be endlessly overlaid with new fictions.

Rather than permanent migration post-WII or a nostalgic, bittersweet memory, the project is more concerned with being briefly and continuously displaced, both physically and psychologically, and in particular via digital communications. We’re bombarded and seduced, in a similar way to advertising, by different spaces. How do we reconcile these colliding spaces?

Perhaps it’s easy to think of landscape exhibitions as quaint, and not typically relevant to contemporary contexts. They’re often dragged out of storage and installed without re-defining their relevance to the contemporary moment. As individuals and islands we knock about and transfer (no man is an island). The responsibilities of global citizens demands that one can extend one’s self to act beyond the immediate situation. In effect, burst the bubble.

“Oh, you’re a curator at ‘the gallery? No, I said I’m an independent curator.” The responses are invariably… “I didn’t realise there were other galleries? Or, I don’t understand your role, what is it that you do?” Which, if not actually asked, infers: how do you make a living and what is your value?  

It was so nice in New York (in fact, almost anywhere else) I could be talking with my driver, who’d respond, “Oh, well this is the place. There are so many galleries, have you been to this gallery” or exhibition, or work, I really liked blah, blah. The conversations were so easy; I never had to start from the beginning. Here, whether layperson or artist, I often have to start from the dawn of time and it can be so difficult to jump start this kind of conversation.

It’s forced me to spend a lot of time essentially advocating for my profession. But sometimes it is interesting to be asked such seemingly obvious questions. Namely, what is an exhibition? What is an exhibition’s value? So a while back, months ago, I wrote a brief do-it-yourself guide. The publication format sits somewhere between a designed zine and a pamphlet. It explores exhibition models or exhibition types that contemporary and independent exhibition makers utilise as materials that are continually transformed.

The approaches described are by no means shiny-new-fangled practices and I’d imagine the guide offers little new information for those in the biz. However, it does divert from prescriptive definitions of exhibitions, contained by a dedicated venue with white walls. Just as artists employ genre-breaking approaches to making, associated roles also blur and oscillate: artist-as-curator, curator as collaborator and collector as sponsor.

For ages I’d been reluctant about the idea, because I’d considered the micro text and macro images of guidebooks a bit silly really, but I’ve gradually realised that they can be quite useful references, a quick resource for succinct on-point information. By popular demand, this edition also contains an ‘insert’ that lists and locates, with an accompanying map, preferred New York galleries and locations of interest; which is great for me, because I won’t have to continually search for that list anymore.

Ultimately, Nomads & Residents presents a context for my regular encounters in the hope of jump starting that inevitable conversation, to rectify an imbalance. Or at least, reassure others (and myself) of the inherent values of exhibition making and in a way, how to consider paradigm shifting exhibitions.


Dsc02772, originally uploaded by valleygirl2005.

Critical Animals invited me to present ‘The exhibition I never curated’ as part of ‘Creative Arts and Media Practice: Online’. Preparing for this particular presentation was mostly torment-free and it was easy to pinch my own images from the blog, but a little surreal. In this instance, I basically had to re-read the blog and research myself.

Aside from being horrified to find a couple of grammatical errors, it was interesting to explore and consider how the blog has actually evolved. Initially approaching it as a publication with mostly images, to a type of tool documenting curatorial practice that declares and gradually makes transparent the subjectivity and identity of its maker. The response to the presentation was surprisingly positive and people seem to have really hooked into the idea of a curator’s subjectivity, particularly changes in subjectivity.

The TINA festival seems to of changed so much. My first visit must have been in 2003 and I just remember being amidst a bunch of ‘kids’ more-or-less descending onto the city. This time it seemed as if many of the usual suspects were present, but older. And this was a part of the discussion in the final session ‘.

Damian was particularly excited that Justine quoted me in her introduction to this session. Actually, it was great having Damian there. It was a mini break, shopping, eating and exploring a location new to him, in a way that was similar to NY or a further critique emulating the blog.


DSC02355, originally uploaded by valleygirl2005.

Writing, writing, writing. It’s all been about continually writing proposals, preparing presentations, papers, longer-term planning etc. Not to mention the parties. I can’t believe it’s been three months since; already. This year has flown by so quickly. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into a project with lots of menial little tasks.


white box in storage, originally uploaded by valleygirl2005.

For years I’ve been advocating for young and emerging practices, this and that, but who advocates for developing critical curatorial practice? One of the most obvious realisations during the residency in NY was the lack of discursive forums.

So the concept was concerned with depositing the white box in storage, a space that could accommodate a cooling off period. To illustrate, and in a sense advocate for, the idea that the white box is over, done and that perhaps it’s time to cut the ties, so to speak. The program would have invited other curators, particularly independent curators, to present current projects or concerns, and project onto the white box. The project would have intended to open up a discursive forum that doesn’t take itself too seriously, that is relaxed and fun.

However, the lack of discussion and exchange seems to of increasingly have become concerning across the board: visual art, design, performance. At every opening, party and loose gathering the issue is raised. This didn’t use to be the case; there were lots of openings and opportunities for conversation; independent practitioners didn’t seem to ‘feel’ isolated. 

There’s such an intense concentration on built infrastructure in Australia, and Queensland in particular. Second to this the focus is exporting, never importing. When’s the concentration on networked infrastructure going to really kick-in?

There’s a perception here that certain things need to happen in certain ways: like predetermined curatorial proposals for artwork in galleries or venues, that emerging curators curate twenty-something artists exclusively, that public art is supposed to look a certain way and public programs be safe… It’s formulaic and bureaucratic, disallowing much deviation or immediacy.

This approach may be driven by organisations, but the real shame is that it’s supported by artists. I remember reading something about the level of bureaucracy and the paper work mania in Australian culture. In retrospect, it reeks of desperation to be perceived as uber-astute-professionals. Likewise, the arts industry and artists in particular seem to have become partial to these structures rather than just developing a sound argument.

I’ve noticed that many artists working internationally will say yes to virtually any exhibition. The idea being that each exhibition is foremost an opportunity. Whereas here, artists often seem fixated on the paperwork rather than the essential concept more-or-less summarised within a sentence. I previously would have agreed with this kind of approach, which seems responsible but it excludes so many opportunities and professional relationships.

So, perhaps it’s time to re-act differently, not just in terms of being responsive, but strategic. I think its worthwhile questioning why, not always finding the answer and consistently re-acting. Unfortunately, the inherent difficulties of working in a country isolated from international dialogue often means that it’s easier to re-act or implement a project somewhere else, or with artists from somewhere else.