The Melbourne Art Book Fair is the perfect melding of the old and the new, the famous and the soon to be, global and local and the corporate and the independent. Here zines sit side by side with monographs of well known artists, publications are created right before your eyes, and ideas are shared across time and space. Continue reading
Warhol and Ai Weiwei: a match made in curatorship heaven. Not only was this pairing always going to be a big crowd pleaser, but it is also a rare chance to write history. Although the cynic in me can imagine the dollar signs in the eyes of the curators when they began planning the exhibition (something Warhol would certainly approve of) but I can also appreciate the importance of such an exhibition art historically. Continue reading
Barry Humphries,Siamese Shoes I, 1958, remade 1968.
There is nothing like the seductive beauty of a tapered stiletto. Why do we love them so much despite the agony they cause? Originally high heels were worn by men but now they are predominately the refuge of women. They are worn for a multitude of reasons. Status being one of them, they put you literally eye to eye with men in height, and there is nothing like the flash of a red sole to show wealth, or fashion. And then there is sex. Continue reading
Stumbling into The Enclave it takes a moment for your eyes to adjust, first to the dark, then to the layout, and then there’s the pink. Elsa Schiaparelli would have called it “shocking”. As a surrealist fashion designer working between the two world wars, this lurid shade was to become her signature colour. Richard Mosse describes it as: “Ludicrously palleted bubblegum pink.” Elsa Schiaparelli described it as: “Life-giving, like all the light and the birds and the fish in the world put together, a colour of China and Peru but not of the West.” And in this instance a colour of the Congo, beautiful, life-giving, but violent in it’s assertion of dominance over the landscape and people. But it is this beauty which Richard Mosse describes as “the sharpest tool in the box.” Not only does in create a conflict for the viewer between horror and awe, but it highlights the limitations of photography and film as a documentary medium, the images we see are always heavily edited, selected, and often the real story goes on behind the scenes. “People are so offended by the colour pink,” Richard jokes, “It’s just a feckin’ colour.” But how differently we would react if the images were black and white, or colour. We associate black and white with “truth with a capital T” and yet pink highlights this inherent fallacy. Continue reading
Tonight has been a lovely night for secrets. The crowds were out for what was a lively and exciting opening for Secret Garden, an exhibition co-curated by Sophia Cai and Caitlin Shearer. This is an exhibition that, like the plants that inhabit it, grew organically. With 22 artists represented it is a broad range of works all exploring the essential and magical relationship between people and their plants. Continue reading
I find the idea of art patrons fascinating. There are many different reasons for becoming a patron of the arts: cultural capital, social recognition, tax breaks, or most importantly a deep love of art and a desire to do your part to promote and enhance the arts as a whole. The power of a wealthy patron to shape and mould the arts is incredible. With enough prestige a patron can take an unknown artist and make them famous. By buying their works they make other collectors and curators aware of the artist, boosting the value of their works, and therefore making money for the artist and for the patron. By paying stipends to artists a patron gives the opportunity for them to focus wholly on their work, and help them to embark on more ambitious projects than they would otherwise have had the means to attempt. Continue reading
Throughout time art movements have gone beyond just one medium to create an over arching artistic goal, that of a harmonious total work of art. Design, art, literature and music do not ever exist independently, but feed off each other and complement each other. The experience we have when viewing a work of art is never a truly objective one, we cannot separate our own time, opinions, biases and influences from the work we view. And so art is never static, it is ever changing and evolving in the eyes of those who view it, like editions of a book.
Today it is hard to find anywhere that is a “total work of art” in the sense that art movements such as Art Nouveau and the Bauhaus intended. They wanted to create a world where everything was harmonious and adhered to one manifesto. But we live surrounded by design, from rubbish bins to skyscrapers, billboards to high art, truly a total work of art, though not a homogenous or harmonious one.
The Ninth Edition suggests that to live life as a total work of art is to embrace the variety, the clash of cultures, and the juxtaposition of eras that is the contemporary age. And soon the next edition will be written and today will be a nostalgic reminiscence of the past.