Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Melbourne Prize

Ahhh – OSW (Terri Bird, Bianca Hester, Natasha Johns Messenger and Scott Mitchell) won the Melbourne prize for urban sculpture. It’s so exciting and so bloody deserved. It was so unexpected because while great projects like ones completed by OSW are acknowledged they don’t usually win $60,000 worth of prizes. Besides when I saw Terri sitting in the back row during the prize ceremony – I thought to myself that a choreographed prize ceremony wouldn’t allow such a seating plan. It is such an affirmation of the type of the conceptualism that is neglected by the gallery institutions. The round slowly moving disks of lawn (inset and flush to the lawn) were a seamless concentrate of the four individual artists practises. I loved it because it involved lawn; because it involved lawn as pedestal for human activity; because the human activity could be a picnic or loitering; because it was as simple as the act of highlighting. I mean these artists (as individuals) have such ten layered fondeau practices without the pomp that a fondeau suggests. I guess collaboration (in my experience) is a great way of editing wonderful messes. (Although none of these artists are very messy actually.) Is the kind of inevitable compromise that one takes in collaboration a good thing in general or just in the context of a presentation to a wider audience (like the Melbourne Prize)? I was recently in the museums that exhibited a handful of Vermeer’s - I was amazed (amazed by my amazement) by the scale and the resolved nature of the work. One small painted image – packed with ideas and technical nuance and complexity – complete - just one or two in a handful of northern European museums. OSW’s proposal elicited a similar thought. It makes me feel like I need to do a lot more editing. We make so much stuff – it takes up so much space – do we think that this prolific output and scale is communicating more? Is more better? (Am I taking in the voice of Kerry from Sex and the City?) Michelle on my arrival back to Melbourne suggested that the cultural and financial climate of the period allowed artists like Vermeer to be patronised by the some royal family or trust fund so that they could make that one small painting a year.

The whole prize walked a great line with great entries from Tom Nicholson, John Meade, Simon Perry and Matthey de Moiser. Tom’s entry was as frustrating as it was enigmatic. Is the frustration part of the experience of the enigma? I have come to understand that this frustration comes from the vehicle he communicates in. Political agitprops that have their conventional use stripped away. We expect the protest banner or the paste-up poster to tell us something or tell us how we should act but all it is alluding to is the poetry found in conflict. It’s similar to the strategies used by Felix Gonzales Torress only subtler – so we’re talking wonderfully wafer thin. When Tom’s practise is coined as political art in some simplistic derisive manner – I imagine that this person is disregarding frustration as a valid pleasuring device and more importantly is confused by the conflation of form with the work’s content. John Meade’s work proved that he’s the best stylist around – incorporating danger, sex and a fuck you feminine (maybe it’s a better sort of drag) attitude.

I was chatting to Scott after the prize ceremony and commented that the written voice he used in his blog was a lot more positive (I would even say chirpy). I was thinking about Scott’s blog at the time of this blog’s inception. His sits alongside his PHD art/industrial design project like a happy inventor’s journal. He and Lara asked me what voice I would be using. I reflected that I wanted to let it all out and be relentless about it. Only problem with that is that relentless is hard work. Lara agreed. I also have to make decisions of the timing of when to reveal things. In the conversation Scott at some point used the word neurotic and as usual Scott’s precision with language was on the money. I’m not saving things up – I’m just unsure of the timing and I’m also unsure of the parameters that I want to load the work at Gertrude Street with. For example is the fact that I used the word internet (rather than porn on the internet) a censoring device that goes against the ethos of letting it all out. As Sean Cody, Dick Wadd and Bait Bus all have some influence in the making the Gertrude Street work more bodily and (sexually) relational. I asked Jon (my partner) to take the modem away today – I’m a lot more productive.


posted by Spiros Panigirakis at 12:10 PM