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urban reality

Concrete is dense, vast and ubiquitous. The material has historically been used in many ways and has such a loaded and varied vocabulary that allows it to be transformed in many ways. I’m currently working with concrete breeze blocks to interrogate through structure, form, light and shadow, the commingling of human and non-human narratives that occurs in our post-natural (the intentional and heritable alteration of nature by humans) contemporary urban reality.

Breeze blocks were an architectural feature commonly used in commercial and residential construction in the 1950s and 60s. Contemporary symbols of suburbia, they are a hallmark of the social and cultural expansion of post-war Victoria. Often used as decorative wall detailing, breeze blocks mark the division of spaces in places such as internal and external boundary walls, as patio screens and carports. As a partially solid construction material, breeze blocks have a unique duality that emphasises solidity and permeability as well as division. This duality makes breeze blocks an ideal material to interrogate the commingling of human and non-human narratives.

This week I also saw the announcement of CONCRETE: art design architecture, an exhibition at JamFactory, Adelaide that looks at the material and conceptual poeticism of the material. I’m very much looking forward to seeing this exhibition. More info at the JamFactory website https://www.jamfactory.com.au/.

Durbach Block Jaggers, Tamarama House, 2015. Photo: Tom Ferguson. Via  Art Guide Australia .

Durbach Block Jaggers, Tamarama House, 2015. Photo: Tom Ferguson. Via Art Guide Australia.

glittered absence

Is all that glitters in the 21st century art?

As perception (the organisation, identification and interpretation of stimulus) becomes increasingly favoured over cognition (the mental action of acquiring knowledge and understanding thought, experiences and perceptions) by contemporary art audiences (who understand 'good art' as axiomatic, aesthetic backdrops), I find myself questioning the validity of consumption behaviour as an artistic or cultural experience. 

Last week I went to see an exhibition in a well-known gallery that featured a number of works by significant 20th Century artists. It was interesting to observe which works people chose to engage with (colourful, 2D works were the most popular) as well as and how they chose to engage. Often individuals and groups would position themselves in front of selected artworks, take a photo, and then go onto the next piece and repeat. Sometimes without actually looking at the physical object itself.

Peter Coffin (Cultivated Identity) explains the mechanisms that drives this behaviour in his 2016 article 'Is Everything a Consumable?' (click here to read the full article);

Since we live in an environment where consumption-as-identity is so quickly adopted, this cultivation works to normalize consumptive behaviors with things that shouldn’t necessarily be viewed as a consumer/product metric.

This begs the question, exactly who is benefiting from the normalisation of consumptive behaviours in art?

Duane Hanson, Supermarket Lady, 1969-70

Duane Hanson, Supermarket Lady, 1969-70

social contemporary

Moldova is a nation rich in cultural tradition and ritual, a heritage that has continuing to drive experimentation and innovation in contemporary art practice. Curator, artist and Director of the Center of Contemporary Art (referred to as K:SAK) in Chisinau (http://www.art.md), Lilia Dragneva, is a key figure in producing, documenting and showcasing the avantgarde of this Eastern-European nation (which shares borders with Romania and the Ukraine). K:SAK, through a camp called CarbonART, provides opportunities for artists to come together, share knowledge and collaborate within the context of the contemporary. CarbonART is democratic practice at its finest; participatory, de-centralised and social. It makes you wonder why social engagement in arts practice in Australia is so absent.

Below is a video work by Ghenadie Popescu, who also participates in CarbonART. Popescu makes brilliant work on action and reactions in a fun an engaging way that is pure brilliance.