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territories beyond sculpture in the expanded field

Sculpture in the Expanded Field by Rosalind Krauss is a well-discussed and significant theory of sculptural practice post-1960s. Published in 1985, the theory is still today (some 33 years later) referred to a guiding text for contemporary practice. However, can a text written in 1985 and the theory of post-modernism it refers to still be ‘contemporary’? Have the tenets of art shifted, and if so, in what direction?

The above are posed as rhetorical questions, however I do believe that the avant-garde of today is distinctly different in its cause and outcomes. Although linked to post-modernism, the art that I feel ‘succeeds’ (a definition that I will discuss at a later point) as art in the present day is work that makes a conscious effort to extend beyond the limits of post-modernity by emphasising human experience (and one that isn’t restricted to art-audiences). In this present-day art that I am encountering and myself trying to make within, the post-modern condition is negotiated rather than presented formally and the ‘hand of the artist’ is not elevated. It is distinctly non-architectural and non-structural.

I am also finding, more and more, that there is a tiredness in the ambiguity of post-modern (art created in the expanded field) works. That works created in this framework lacks the present-day emergence of intuitive sensation and the ecstasy that comes with a personal processing and understanding of complexity. To be modern (and by extension, to be relevant) now, is to engage others through art as a mental activity as opposed to seeking to present or represent objective reality. As far as I can see, to engage others in art as a mental activity, one must to point towards, but not at, art. The present-day contemporary accepts that it can engage in neither truth nor proof and instead functions as post-logical conceptions of sculptural occurrences where complexity itself is the medium.

 At least, that’s how I see it.

higher than the highest low

As a part of my upcoming collaboration with Mona Ruijs of Sound Interventions (http://soundinterventions.com.au/) for Melbourne Fringe Festival 2018, 'you probably don't know but you've already won', I've been re-reading the catalogue essays in 'Dear Painter, paint me---'. If you haven't read it, it's high on the recommendation list (Meta-Trash by Sabine Folie and Kitsch in the Age of Painterly Reproduction by Blaenka Perica in particular).

I've been re-reading the catalogue essays because they present an interesting premise, namely 'there can no longer be any painting without trash' (Meta-Trash, Folie). Contemporary painting (and art more widely) has much to benefit from elements that have classically been and continue to be considered undesirable in 'high art' such as camp, kitsch, the ornate, the bombastic and the pompous. What do we have to gain by removing 'trash' from art? Are we just limiting possibility? Is it time to progress pass the Bauhaus model of contemporary art presentation where objects are de-contextualised, elevated on plinths and hooks and fetishised in a white cube? Is trash the way out out?

John Currin, The Scream, 2010. Oil on Canvas. Gagosian Gallery.

John Currin, The Scream, 2010. Oil on Canvas. Gagosian Gallery.

joy in people [ repeating ]

Joy in People is the title of a 2012 exhibition by London artist Jeremy Deller, who adapts and appropriates cultural signs, symbols and language in the public domain into artworks that comment on social history, politics and socio-cultural concerns. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been reading up on Deller’s practice, specifically his working methods and aesthetic outcomes of conceptual enquiry to understand my own. Over the past 10 years my practice has shed process in order to be more immediately responsive to not only own thoughts and political viewpoints but also to local and global events and the thoughts of others (which, in a contemporary setting, usually do not have much permanence). As someone who interrogates global modernism, I find myself using this working method to reflect the various states of ‘surviving’ and ‘thriving’ I see people in.

Increasingly, I find myself asking what mechanisms people are using to survive and how do these differ to those that have reached a level of prosperity? Is there any fundamental difference between the actions of those who survive and those who thrive? At what point does an action change from being that of one of survival and that of thriving? Thoughts that have come up after a stranger started talking to me about 'over-population' thinking I would agree and then was offended when I brought up 'over-consumption by the privileged'. He walked away. I kept thinking.

Jeremy Deller, Beyond the white walls, 2012.

Jeremy Deller, Beyond the white walls, 2012.

when you run a mile

With the beginning of June around the corner, I’ve been focusing on getting my shows ready for the second half of 2019. Local Lonely Girls finishes up at Tacit Galleries, Collingwood on June 3rd; from there I’ll then be setting up ‘what am i to you’ at frotyfivedownstairs for the Emerging Artist Award 2018; and then it’s off to Trocadero Art Space in Footscray with Shannon Garrett for ‘feel forever feels’. Plenty of opportunities to see my work, come to an opening or attend a floor talk. For details about what's on the horizon visit the ‘upcoming events’ section of my website.

Many more projects are in the works so make sure to check my blog for news or sign up to my nifty newsletter.

Shannon Garrett and Ren Gregorčič, feel forever feels (installation detail), 2017.

Shannon Garrett and Ren Gregorčič, feel forever feels (installation detail), 2017.

you probably don’t know but you’ve already won

This year, I have had the absolute pleasure of working with the very talented Gong practitioner Mona Ruijs of Sound Interventions (http://soundinterventions.com.au/) to create ‘you probably don’t know but you’ve already won'. The project is an ambitious, experimental collaboration that combines sound and installation art to engage audiences with the physiological consequences of the Anthropocene (the geological age marked by the dominant influence of human activity on the Earth’s climate and environment) by inducing the listening body: one that is conscious of the forces that are acting on it.

The project has two components: an exhibition of my work ‘sour sour sob’ and sound immersion activations by Mona (held amongst ‘sour sour sob’). In the sound immersions, participants will be invited to lay down on a mat, close their eyes and experience the vibrations created by Mona using multiple gongs, quartz crystal bowls, Himalayan singing bowls, a shruti box and other various sound tools. The aim is provide a space where individuals can sense and contemplate the often unnoticed forces of our changed world (due to the influences of human activity) and how these changes impact our physiology.

We're currently looking for venues - so stay tuned for details about how you can participate!

Image of Mona Ruijs courtesy the artist.

Image of Mona Ruijs courtesy the artist.

 

 

sour sour sob

'sour sour sob’ is an immersive installation that examines the experience of 'nature' in the Anthropocene that will be on exhibit later in 2018.

I was introduced to Oxalis pes-caprae as an edible plant at the age of 10 or 11 by friends who would eat the sour-tasting flowers and stalks for fun. I would often eat soursobs until my senses became saturated with the taste of metal. Although I no longer eat soursobs, I continue to experience the metallic sensation of over-consuming these plants each Winter and Spring when the iridescent yellow Oxalis pes-caprae flowers bloom.

Stay tuned for more information on this upcoming show.

Ren Gregorčič, sour sour sob (installation view), 2018.

Ren Gregorčič, sour sour sob (installation view), 2018.

 

 

the spirit of things

This week I worked with 志村 信裕 (Shimura Nobuhiro) to curate and install his first Australian solo exhibition in an exhibition called 物の気 ‘mono no ke’ meaning ‘the spirit of things’. I have been working with Shimu for several months to piece the show together, so it has been wonderful to see it come together and surpass my expectations.

物の気 features work by Shimura created in several media, including film, earthenware and text that draws on the artist’s recent investigation into the Japanese concept of 気 ‘ki’. 気 describes the Shinto (the traditional religion of Japan) understanding of what constitutes life force and is the conceptual framework of the exhibition.

The Japanese understanding of what constitutes 気 has, since ancient times, included a vast range of ambiguous and permeable flowing states such as ‘energy’, ‘mood’ and ‘mind’. Unlike in English, 気 or life force, is not confined to natural phenomena and human consciousness but instead also encompasses things that the eye cannot see; a universal flow of energy across many planes of existence. This universal flow of energy is experienced by humans as  feelings of ‘energy’, ‘mood’ and ‘mind’ and can manifest in for example, animal, bugs, water, the wind rustling through trees or mountains or qualities of landscapes. In the Shinto understanding, each of these manifestations of 気 are referred to as a 神 ‘kami’, god.  The uncountable nature of the number of 神 in Japanese is referred to as 八百万の神 ’yaoyarozu no kami’ (literally meaning ‘8 million gods’).

In other news, after many weeks, I've finally completed a new page showing some highlights of my curatorial practice. You can check it out here.

志村 信裕 Shimura Nobuhiro, Bucket Garden, 2012

志村 信裕 Shimura Nobuhiro, Bucket Garden, 2012

F*ack my background

More than 10 years has passed since I opened the email account that I still use today. Since opening my account, I have received countless spam emails promising access to everything that one could imagine; methamphetamine, new age spirituality, brides, porn, free computers, gold, easy ways to tighten by abs, get-rich-fast secrets, Viagra, employment offers, psychic readings, and the list goes on. In a digital universe of limitless possibilities, the highly graphic and often cryptic nature of junk mail has always been both alluring and problematic.

🎡 YOUVEE WOM! GET YOUR FREE 20000💲now! ⭐⭐

Junk emails are problematic not only for their intentional and often use of creative strategies to deceive others through mechanisms of influence and manipulation. But also because they symbolise and communicate the maintenance of a gender order of power that is focused on sex and money; one that is masculine, dominating and hetero-normative, well in-tact and thriving.

💰 😃 💰 HURRY UP!!!* Online dating that is worth your time.*

Ren Gregorčič, hi dear, you're lucky, 2017

Ren Gregorčič, hi dear, you're lucky, 2017

joy illusive (part 2)

Without the auspices of a single, unifying 'ism' in contemporary art, what is it then that artist are making? Experiences? Reality? Vapid self-reflections? All of the above? Critical discourse in contemporary art theory tends to focus on pluralism as the answer to this question. Although I do agree with pluralism as a guiding philosophy, to me at least, what distinguishes contemporary art from works made in previous eras is the element of gesture.

Like 'contemporary art', 'gesture' can be a difficult term to grasp but can be considered as how an artist has connected research and/or conceptual ideas and materials to express an experience, a reality, a vapid self-reflection or anything else. Gesture also connects back to the artist; what are their world views? How do they see the world? And how does this translate into an aesthetic, a material choice and/or a particular style?

The 2013 exhibition 'Material Traces: Time and the Gesture in Contemporary Art' at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery of Concordia University, Canada is a great example of the concept of gesture in contemporary Canadian, Australian and New Zealand art. Featuring the works of Francis Alÿs, Christopher Braddock, Heather Cassils, Juliana Cerquira Leite, Andrew Dadson, Alexandre David, Paul Donald, Alicia Frankovich, Flutura And Besnik Haxhillari (AKA The Two Gulivers), Mark Igloliorte, Tricia Middleton, Alex Monteith and Angel Vergara, it's well worth reading more (click here).

 Alicia Frankovich, Body and Melon, 2010, 16mm film projection (10:43min). www.aliciafrankovich.com < http://www.aliciafrankovich.com > via Gertrude Contemporary.

 Alicia Frankovich, Body and Melon, 2010, 16mm film projection (10:43min). www.aliciafrankovich.com <http://www.aliciafrankovich.com> via Gertrude Contemporary.

joy illusive (part 1)

Last week I was in the collection store at the gallery where I work, searching for paintings to include in an upcoming exhibition. Looking at the works I had shortlisted, I started to question the link between those that I had intuitively selected or disregarded. My conclusion was that my selection criteria was the degree to which each work was 'contemporary'.

'Contemporary' as a defining term in art is problematic; is it art after WWII, the avant garde or perhaps the ethereal? Each definition of the term 'contemporary' seems as appropriate as the next, particularly because each term doesn't relate to aesthetic outcomes. However, after having selected paintings based on a visual but intuitive criteria, it was clear to me that resolved, 'contemporary' works must have an aesthetic.

Take Philippe Parreno's 'Speech Bubble' for example. It's instantly recognisable as 'contemporary'. To me, the 'contemporary' aspect of the work is not the choice of gold foil, the presentation or the golden hue of the corridor, but its absence of an organising principle: the absence of an 'ism'.

Philippe Parreno, 'Speech Bubbles' installed at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, 2009-10

Philippe Parreno, 'Speech Bubbles' installed at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, 2009-10

where the rare flowers grow

In 2010 I created a body of performance works that responded to the dry lightning storms that frequently ignited small fires in the arid, abandoned potato farms around the asbestos-clad shack that I as living in. I never finished the performances but the research aspect of that series became an ongoing reference point.

My research into arid landscapes led me to the Kazakh semi-desert; a place where, just like where I was living, a number of rare plants can be found. In the wake of Soviet rule, Kazakhstani contemporary artists such as Said Atabekov (born Uzbekistan but lives and works in Kazakhstan) have turned to the landscape anew to re-set the mythology of a claimed and repressed territory. Flowers feature in a number of Atabekov’s works, including Southern Cross (2009) (below), which is the inspiration for a series of light works I’m currently working on.

Said Atabekov, Southern Cross, 2009 Installation with 21 C-prints Each: 50 x 50 cm. via  Aspan Gallery .

Said Atabekov, Southern Cross, 2009 Installation with 21 C-prints Each: 50 x 50 cm. via Aspan Gallery.

The World Belongs to Early Risers

'The World Belongs to Early Risers' is a 2002 photographic project by Dutch artist Barbara Visser that sits squarely between fashion stills and scenes of the tragic. These mysterious vignettes were installed at a series of bus stops where they became darkly humorous reflections on both the act of waiting and commentaries on the advertising materials that Visser's work has taken place of. I'm often drawn to artwork that is able to go beyond gallery walls; works that extend beyond the white cube and become a part of the work it is commenting; work that actively engages and seeks out people to read and respond to its concepts or commentary. Tanja Baudoin's interview published on the Afterfall website is a thoughtful reflection on Visser's practice and sheds light on the fine line between fiction and reality. It's well worth a read.

Barbara Visser, The World Belongs to Early Risers, 2002, 5 offset posters (street view), 120 x 176cm. Courtesy Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam. A project for Villa Arson, Nice, France via  afterall

Barbara Visser, The World Belongs to Early Risers, 2002, 5 offset posters (street view), 120 x 176cm. Courtesy Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam. A project for Villa Arson, Nice, France via afterall