Leg of Lamb’s South Island-bound for the opening of Wall of Seahorsel at Dunedin Public Art Gallery this weekend. If you’re in that neck of the woods, Yvonne Todd and I will be giving a floor talk in the exhibition space at 3pm on Saturday. Join us!
The video above was made by Ican Harem during an artist residency in Geelong last year. Harem often creates short, lo-fi videos to accompany performances by Cangkang Serigala (see post below), though in this instance the footage was also projected as a backdrop at a local skate meet. (As well as being an artist, Harem’s a committed skateboarder too).
Norwegian black metal is an acquired taste, what with all the ‘corpse paint’ and talk of satan. Forged in Norway in the early 1990s, the heavy metal sub genre is oft-intepreted as misanthropic and anti-Christian (church burning was a popular past time in the mid-90s, with black metallers responsible for the destruction of over 50 Norwegian churches). So what happens when you strip black metal of its meaning and relocate the sound and the look to Indonesia? The result is Cangkang Serigala, a performance project spearheaded by young Jogja-based artist Ican Harem.
Leg of Lamb recently squeezed into Ant Trax studios in Jogjakarta to partake in the spectacle. Harem and his cohorts fully embrace the theatrics of the movement but rather than play the music themselves, they perform karaoke-style over black metal classics from the likes of bands Mayhem, Burzum and Emperor. On occasion Cangkang Serigala invite the audience to perform with them, however no subtitling of the tracks is required. As Harem observes; they have no idea what the Norwegians are saying, so instead they just scream. This clash of cultures is remarkable, with the nefarious sentiments of the original movement cheekily lost in translation.
And if you want to experience Cangkang Serigala for yourself you’re in luck, Harem will be playing two shows in Melbourne this September, details to follow.
Leg of Lamb has always had a soft spot for Robert Hughes, he was the first art critic I read and enjoyed as a teenager, so I’m sad to learn of his passing. Known for his books The Shock of the New and The Fatal Shore (both later turned into television series featuring Hughes as narrator) the art historian had a reputation for being a tough critic. He said; “You can’t be a critic and not have a harsh side, you know, because otherwise you turn out to be a sort of Pollyanna …become this total arsehole who wanders around the world thinking every sprig of clover is a rose.” Thank you Robert Hughes for keeping it real.
Leg of Lamb was recently introduced to the practice of Berlin-based Javanese performance artist Melati Suryodarmo. One of her most well-known works is ‘Exergie: Butter Dance’ (above), a performance she first conducted in 2000. The premise is simple; the artist appears in a tight black dress and high heels and attempts to dance on several blocks of butter over a twenty minute period. Her initially graceful moves recall the gestures of Balinese dancers but as her balance becomes compromised by the rapidly melting butter, her performance quickly descends into a comical mess.
Caribbean-born, Bali-based artist Ashley Bickerton was one of the guest speakers at this year’s ArtJOG12 ‘Special Presentation’, a panel discussion that also included FlashArt Magazine editor Nicola Trezzi and Wang Zineng from Christie’s Auction House. Bickerton’s perhaps best known to Kiwi audiences for his inclusion in Bright Paradise, the first Auckland Triennial curated by Alan Smith in 2001. Back then, Bickerton created his lurid visions of paradise gone wrong by hand, and recalled spending days crouched over canvases fastidiously painting out evidence of his brushstrokes. This way of working pained him so much that he developed a new technique which he explained in detail during the ArtJOG discussion.
Disinterested in painting, sculpture and photography individually, Bickerton has instead combined the three to realise new and twisted visions of modern man in the tropics. He creates meticulously composed mis en scene including himself and others in paint-encrusted clothes as well as sculpting grotesque faces in tactile clay, inserting glass eyes, headdresses, prosthetic teeth. Each component is photographed, re-photographed, photoshopped and then printed onto canvas which is repainted entirely. The process takes months. Finally, the works are inserted into heavily decorated frames. Or in the case ‘SH(ME)_Gold_1’ (above), onto thick layers of ply that reassert the objectness of the work. The result, says the artist, is a ‘parody of painting’.