Resisting Failure is Futile
Resisting Failure is Futile
Put Up Your Dukes!
Blue Oyster Art Project Space, Dunedin 18 June – 20 July 2013
the latest Achronological Manor project is Put up your Dukes! an exhibton/pulicaton/performance played out as a visual debate between Gabrielle Amodeo and myself. The project utilised the structure of the Douglas-Lincoln debate format used in the campaign for the Illinois senate in 1858 between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas as the structure for a counterintuitive mode of collaboration.
The moot: In art, as in life, we occupy an ad-hoc middle ground in which the only certainty is the impossibility of certainty.
Put Up Your Dukes! Was played out as an elaborate standoff in which each of us (over)stated our case and elaborated on a claim to common territory. In the build-up to this exhibition new works were developed in a call/response fashion using the idea of nature as a foil, a subject matter and directive, but the debate itself centres around our different methodologies.
I am interested in the territory where art abandons good-sense to joyfully embrace the vernacular of the stupid, the obvious, simple, pointless, pleasurable, silly, excessive, lazy, expedient and useless.
Labour as it’s own reward / the person who cuts his own firewood warms himself twice / validation through accumulation (being able to cite a big number validates a project) / refer to things obliquely, answer questions with questions
the debate format:
looking down the gallery, in the centre is Garden (JS Affirmative Constructive)
at the back: PODOCARPACEAE/Dacrycarpus – ASTERACEAE/Pachystegia (GA Negative Constructive)
left wall: Resisting Societal Norms (JS Cross-Examination of Negative By Affirmative)
Pictures and Things from our Walls (GA Cross-Examination of Affirmative by Negative)
Fir Tree Small II (JS Affirmative Rebuttal)
Sound and Vision (GA Negative Rebuttal)
A Pile of Boxes (JS Affirmative Rejoinder)
Ah how quickly it came and went…. Or more how quickly the three weeks following it went, what with mid-year assessment casting its long shadow over art school and my husband breaking his collar bone only one week after officially recovering from breaking his other collar bone. And breaking off a wee bit of his leg-bone for good measure, to ensure full invalid status.
In the midst of this the One Day Wonder post-mortem has been repeatedly postponed. Or at least the public sharing of it has; In between the various man-and-child caring tasks I have been contemplating its outcomes and possible developments and this is what I have been thinking:
I found the overall dynamic of a research-based exhibition surprisingly generative and enjoyable. It was more than just the freedom from the need to present a cohesive, resolved exhibition, although that was in itself significant. I found the experience of exhibiting work as a mid point of process somehow much more exciting than the usual exhibition as culmination and end point of a given project. Despite a degree of apprehension I found it both enjoyable and useful to open up the making/ thinking process for discussion with a group of peers.
The project provided me with the opportunity to develop a whole lot of work that I had been thinking about for a while, without concerning myself too much about outcome or how it would all work together in the gallery. Maybe it made me reassess failure as an active driver in research, for while I am conscious that bad might be good, I find it difficult to hold the value of failure in the process of critical decision-making. I decided that in a research exhibition the inclusion of potential failure would be essential for useful discussion and critique and it seems that this embrace of a working level of uncertainty is not only generative and exciting for my working practice, but appears to generate a degree of energetic and polarised response from the audience.
The question is how can this be applied in the usual exhibition situation, where the exhibition probably is the culmination of a project, and stands of fall on its merits as finished work? It has me wondering if a practice, worked out as a series of exhibitions over time, could be an ongoing proposition; a never answerable question elucidated upon but not concluded, art as thinking rather than consolidated into thought.
These are some studio trials for my one-day exhibition this Friday, 18 May. It is part of the One Day Wonder project, a series of 24-hour shows at the Pearce Gallery, Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design.
My exhibition is an experimental installation developing some of the ideas I have discussed in previous posts on the relationship between humans, domestic animals and the flower power movement.
Opening Friday night 4.30pm – 7pm. Saturday 10am – 1pm Discussion forum 5- 5.30pm
Pearce Gallery, 130 St Georges Bay Rd, Parnell
The One Day Wonder project
The Pearce Gallery at Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design presents the inaugural season of One Day Wonders, a series of one-day exhibitions discussing and developing new, emerging and experimental aspects of contemporary art practice.
Season one: 2012 Paper Bag Research Forum
A research based project investigating the dynamic between research practice, exhibition practice and the educational institution. Five member of faculty from Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design present their own take on this relationship as they address aspects of their own practice via exhibition and discussion
May 18 Jill Sorensen
June 1 Emma Johnson
July 27 Christina Read
August 3 Noel Ivanoff
August 10 Jacquie Ure
Friday night openings 4.30pm – 7pm. Saturday 10am – 1pm Discussion forum 5- 5.30pm
Pearce Gallery, 130 St Georges Bay Rd, Parnell
I have been on holiday and not thinking about art for at least two weeks. To help me warm up my brain I have been looking back over various projects and piles of paper. In so doing I re-found a couple of childhood drawings my sister gave me last year. To put these drawings in perspective, they are the only two drawings saved from my prolific childhood of drawing. (at least the only two with my name on them, there were a number of unnamed ones that could have been the cultural production of me or any of my siblings) My mother kept a draw of things that seemed precious at the time, drawings, letters, cards etc. As is usually the case, there are more things from the first children in the family, but as youngest i did ok with two identifiable drawings from my childhood and one letter from when I was at artschool (complete with pencil-held-by-foot drawing of my boyfriend on envelope)
This drawing is of Hansel and Gretel, I was five years old according to my mother’s note on the back. I recall making it quite clearly, it was done with those waxy crayons they used in school. I used orange for the faces as it seemed a closer skin tone than the bright pink. The teacher held it up for the class and said “look they have got necks” i was so proud.
later, as an adult I made another version of Hansel and Gretel.
This second drawing I don’t remember so well, i have a foggy recollection of sticking on the orange wool. I quite like the fact that it is a bird but it has hands rather than wings, and it is scary looking.
I found this book in a Japanese shop on Dominion Road. I think it is intended to be inspirational, though it seems a different notion of inspiration than the American version.
the text reads:
Trouble brings experience and experience brings wisdom.
Failure teaches success
If present unhappiness is compared with big unhappiness, feelings become easy a little. Moreover, present unhappiness will bring happiness in the future.
In lieu of making any new years resolutions, or even bothering to stay up and drink too much I have started drawing in it, inspired by its notion of failure as the path to success.
After a lengthy silence I have returned with some drawings developed from the Flower Power/ animals debate I have been having with myself. These are A3 sized ink and water colour drawings made for a group show at Kobo Chika, my gallery in Tokyo.
Animals and their relationship to humans is still on my mind. I have also been thinking a bit about the flower power movement of the late sixties/ early seventies. This was sparked by a very brief aside in Barry Schwabsky’s introductory essay to Vitamin P: New Perspectives In Painting. In defining the advent of post modernism and its repercussions for painting Schwabsky posits the flower power movement as one of a number of responses to emerge from the crisis of the failure of the modernism. He mentions it in passing, as a possible movement passed over in favour of the self-conscious rigor of what became known as postmodernity.
It has got me thinking that maybe we have missed something that we could well do with in the materialistic twenty-first century. Of course the environmental movement that was part of flower power continued and has finally forced its way into the mainstream, but it is a capitalistic environmental model, to suit the capitalistic times.
It is an ideological loss that I am concerned with. And I am not even sure that it was quite a brave new world(view). Maybe it was just a bunch of kids from the newly emerged leisure class discovering drugs. But still, the hope that we can be more than consumers who own stuff is worth looking back at.
If I understand it correctly, at its most basic, the flower power movement was an attempt to deliberately reposition humanity both in relation the natural world, in both in terms of environmental awareness and in relation to the constructs of culture such as gender imbalance, wealth disparity and the cultural violence of war. This moment of self-awareness of our role in relation to human and non-human others seems to me to have everything to do with the predicament of the domestic animal that I was discussing previously.
Art is maybe a reasonably fang-less way to address such concerns, but it seems to me relevant to bring these two things together and see what sort of post pop moment they can find together. I am feeling my way here, these are my first studio experiments. (or at least some of the more successful ones – there have been a few where, unlike my earlier post, bad has not been good)