Category Archives: Artists

Wall of Man

Ervon Todd’s show closes at City Gallery Wellington on March 2nd (well, the bit including her 2009 Wall of Man series does anyway), so if you’re in Welly, make sure you check it out if you haven’t done so already.  And here’s a short blog post I wrote on the Wall of Man blokes for the City Gallery blog.

Yvonne Todd, Founding CEO, from the 2008 series Wall of Man

Yvonne Todd, Founding CEO, 2008

Men don’t appear often in Yvonne Todd’s work. The first was Founding CEO (2008), a large, standalone portrait of a silver haired gentleman exuding a powerful sense of paternal authority. A year later, a whole troop appeared – 12 in total – including Family Doctor, who I first encountered at Ivan Anthony’s stand at the 2009 Auckland Art Fair, peering out, hand on chin, in a position of contrived benevolence. Todd fans build up an appetite for certain things – kitschy costumes, buck teeth, bad wigs. Family Doctor was different. He was so ordinary.

Todd had been interested in creating a body of work featuring actual male accountants arranged into a large-scale montage but decided that “the idea and the reality would not necessarily align and I was limiting myself by being too specific”.[1]  Instead, she placed an advertisement in her local newspaper The North Shore Times, calling for mature male models between the ages of 65 and 75. Her criteria were simple – they had to be “reasonably well groomed and socially functional”.[2]

We’re all familiar with the visual language of the corporate portrait, featuring confident ‘experts’ with steely gazes and assertive body language, and Todd encouraged her resulting sitters to play the part. She clad them in formal shirts and jackets selected from local op shops and bestowed them with impressive titles like International Sales Director, Company Founder and Agrichemical Spokesman.

In front of the camera, Todd’s male models knew what to do. Retired Urologist squints smugly through his piss tinted glasses, Chief Financial Officer brandishes a fancy pen and Senior Executive smiles so calmly that we almost don’t notice his missing segment of finger. Part board room posturing, part amateur acting roll call, Todd’s blokes enact a strange form of mimicry.

The artist destabilises their authority through artifice. What at first glance appears to be resoundingly familiar slowly unravels as the sitters’ authenticity is called into question. Perhaps this is why I managed to convince myself, after looking at Founding CEO for too long, that his entire face was actually a rubber mask that could be peeled away at the edges, revealing the true subject beneath.

[1] Email correspondence between the writer and Yvonne Todd, Tuesday the 7th of February 2015.

[2] Yvonne Todd, ‘Yvonne Todd in Conversation with Serena Bentley’, Wall of Seahorsel, ex. cat., 2011

Marina Comes to Sydney

This June Marina Abramovic is bringing her raging ego to Sydney.  She’s delivering a new work for Kaldor Public Art Projects entitled Marina Abramovic: In Residence, which basically involves her hanging out at Pier 2/3 at Walsh Bay and teaching people a series of ‘mind-expanding’ exercises known as the Marina Abramovic Method.  (The video above features Gaga practising said method, try not to laugh too much, it’s SERIOUS STUFF).  MONA are going to be presenting an Abramovic retrospective at the same time too.  Hopefully it includes lots of her old work (like the classic Art Must Be Beautiful vid below), before she totally lost the plot.

Hot Photo Friday – Miguel Calderon

Miguel Calderon, La quebrada (from the Greetings from My Hairy Nuts series), 1995

Miguel Calderon, La quebrada (from the Greetings from My Hairy Nuts series), 1995

The Poetics Project

The Poetics,from right: John Miller, Tony Oursler, Mike Kelley, Bill Stobaugh, and John Arnheim

The Poetics,from right: John Miller, Tony Oursler, Mike Kelley, Bill Stobaugh, and John Arnheim

The late Mike Kelly was known for his work with Destroy All Monsters, a band he formed in 1973 in Detroit with Jim Shaw, Niagara and filmmaker Carey Loen, but audiences might be less familiar with The Poetics, an art rock band he played in with fellow artist Tony Oursler.  The loosely assembled group kicked around between 1977 and 1983 and worked on various projects including a radio show, a sound track and a dance piece involving mop poles entitled ‘The Pole Dance’.

Still from Pole Dance by Mike Kelley, Tony Oursler and Anita Pace, 1997

Still from Pole Dance by Mike Kelley, Tony Oursler and Anita Pace, 1997

During that period Oursler kept notes from each of the Poetics brainstorming sessions, later used as inspiration for The Poetics Project Installation created by Oursler and Kelly in the late 1990s at Metro Arts in New York that went on to tour internationally.  Together, they re-examined the projects they’d begun in the 70s, re-mastering and releasing old tracks, re-executing The Pole Dance and creating an installation that was hailed by the New York Times as the ‘most irritating show in New York City’ (to Mike Kelley’s delight).

The Poetics Project by Mike Kelley and Tony Oursler. Installation view at Centre Pompidou, Paris, featuring a projected interview with Genesis Breyer P Orridge (right)

The Poetics Project, installation view at Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2013, featuring a projected interview with Genesis Breyer P Orridge (right)

Both artists were interested in exploring the conventions of documentary video and ‘rockumentaries’, and one element of the installation was Synesthesia, a suite of videos by Oursler featuring interviews with twelve legendary underground figures of the downtown New York art and music scene in the 1970s and 80s.  Participants included Genesis Breyer P Orridge, Lydia Lunch, Kim Gordon and Suicide’s Alan Vega.  Sadly difficult to watch online!

Still from Synesthesia: Alan Vega by Tony Oursler

Still from Synesthesia: Alan Vega 1997-2011 by Tony Oursler

There are however some great texts about the project written by Kelly and Oursler respectively that you can read here and here.  And you can watch Tony Oursler talk about The Poetics Project in situ in its 2013 incarnation at the Pompidou Centre here.

Chrissie GIFs

Judy Chicago
How did I miss this?!  Each year The Guardian commissions a group of artists to create virtual Chrissie cards you can send to your friends.  At the end of last year they changed things up, commissioning a bunch of gifs by the likes of Jeremy Deller, Tony Oursler and Marc Quinn.  Then there’s Jake and Dinos Chapman’s cheery contribution; What Christmas Looks Like When You’re Dying.  LOL’s particularly enamoured with Judy Chicago’s work, Bang Bang (above). I think I’ve found my 2015 spirit guide.

Hi!

Rose Nolan walks past her architectural intervention in

Rose Nolan walks past her architectural intervention in Melbourne

Rose Nolan has collaborated with architects OOF! Architecture to realise one of her signature text pieces on the facade of a newly renovated domestic dwelling in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond.  You can view more images of the Victorian era home (and former shop) here.

Image

Here is a portrait of Yayoi Kusama in 1939

Kusama