Blanket Hut: sharing in an intimate world acknowledges the impossibility of maintaining an anthropocentric worldview in an era of eco-crisis and invites us to tease out ways to orient ourselves within a biosphere in which we are continuous with the network of entities we previously called nature. If you are interested in joining this conversation please message me or leave a comment here and I will get back to you. full details for this Conversation here.
 In which Humans are separate from the Nature, a construction in which the natural world exists over yonder, providing both resource and backdrop for human activities.
Avoiding Mastery: Whitespace Contemporary Art 2014
Mastery, according to the Webster dictionary is knowledge and skill that allows you to do, use, or understand something very well and a state of having attained complete control of something.
My conundrum as an artist is that, whilst ‘understanding something very well’ might seem an appealing and mature virtue, its close association with having ‘complete control of something’ raises a warning flag that the cul de sac of orthodoxy lies in wait.
In art, to understand something so well as to control it runs the risk of remaking and refining something that you already know, and that your audience also knows and recognises; a closed circuit of mastery and applause. Less prone to success, but arguably more interesting is the strategy of avoiding the possibility of control, deliberately pursuing unknowing, cultivating areas of non-skill and embracing unpopular and little understood vernaculars as a vehicle for art making.
To put it more simply, maybe I think of art as a half wild pony, rather than the dressage mount. Which is not to say that there is anything wrong with dressage; I just prefer a little more excitement.
My local cafe makes excellent coffee. They also operate as an exhibition space with the pragmatic title Paper/Cupboard. the wall space is dedicated to ‘paper’, while ‘cupboard’ is a small glass-fronted cupboard in the art deco cabinet that serves as the cafe counter. I have a Cupboard installation opening TOMORROW!
Avoiding Mastery opens next Tuesday, 28 January at Whitespace Contemporary Art. If you are in Auckland come along and see it, for those of you not in Auckland I will post photos over the next week or so.
as part of Put Up Your Dukes! Part Two I wanted to make a text work, in response to Gabrielles text works, so i came up with a great quote from The Modern Art of Flower Arranging by Elisabeth de Lestrieux (1986) (see my post a the time: fa)
the full quote was
An old-fashioned arrangement, in shades of one, or at most two, colours, is living proof that gardens designed around a particular colour are indeed very natural in their effect.
and the idea was to hand cut it out of wood grain wall vinyl – see An old, to mimic Gabrielles immaculate text drawing in a lazy manner. unfortunately, while it looked suitably lazy it was really quite time consuming and tedious. i decided to settle for just “An Old fashioned arrangement” utilising the trials I had already done, not minding that they were in different wood grains. but then I looked at the roll of vinyl and went nah, I am not cutting even one more letter. An old-fashioned did not seem much on its own, but the letters available could be reconfigured into “idle hands” which seemed apt for the situation.
not to be completely dissuaded from my original task I also made a plan B text work using the full quote:
along the way I had found some super-cheap wood grain vinyl which prove so budget it would not even adhere to the wall, but it had a delightfully fake dark wood grain redolent of 70’s panelling. I made it into a wall panel with stencil, as you can see it is pinned and slumps slightly from the wall. It has no punctuation, as the stencil set provided none.
both text works fail gently, but in retrospect I think idle hands fails better through being more obscure, and by eventually falling off the wall itself.
I have a show at Whitespace Contemporary Art early next year and have been mulling over what to call it. The show will involve some paintings, a few books of drawings and a number of yet to be finalised objects. There is always the straightforward option of SomeNew Paintings and Objects, and I also considered Horse, Pony, Donkey but I have decided on Avoiding Mastery. It has a decisive ring to it which clashes pleasingly with its directive to avoid getting too good at art making.
Ironically this interest in non-mastery has its genesis in my Master of Fine Arts study at the University of Auckland in the early 2000’s. At the time I couched it in terms of cheating and lying as strategies for art making, however now I am thinking more in terms of failure and resisting the status quo. Failure to do the right thing, failure to master the art of being normal (or more correctly normative), Failure to be polite and well behaved, failure of art to strive toward being more skilled and refined and conceptually erudite.
In general a failure to progress and a reluctance to endorse progression as (a) normal/natural and (b) desirable.
At its inception hope fills the body in the way that air fills a balloon.
From this point hope leaves the body. Slowly, imperceptibly at first.
Hope leaves the body slowly.
Long after the mind has made the cognition of failure the body still holds hope. The body reminds the mind to hope, the mind informs the body of failure.
Long after the mind has acknowledged disappointment the body still contains hope.
Hope and disappointment form a contracting loop between mind and body. slowly the cognitive gap between hope and disappointment shrinks to nothing. At this point hope can be said to have left the body.
All that remains is disappointment
Disappointment is carried in the body like a scar, or perhaps more like a souvenir. The place where hope once lived.
TOMORROW is the opening of Put Up Your Dukes! Part Two at Pearce Gallery. In anticipation here is part two of book 1. If you are in Auckland come along to the opening/ book launch at 5 – 7.30pm, Pearce Gallery 130 St Georges Bay Road, Parnell.