Sep 27, 2009


Judging by its whopping 5,207,757 views on Youtube, it's safe to say a fair few people are aware of the stop -motion video Muto, by Argentinian street artist Blu. It gives the term 'splitting headache' an entirely new association, not to mention showcasing Blu's artistic talent. Well, Blu is back, this time in collaboration with video artist David Ellis. The resulting video is as arty and creepy as you might expect, plus this time you get to see Blu at work (albeit at high speed), which amps the interest factor up. Definitely worth a watch.


In the course of writing about Tiny Vices I looked through Ryan McGinley's photos (again) and was reminded of why I like him so much. They are nothing like Henderson's; here the malaise and boredom is replaced by energy, life, and most importantly, COLOUR. I'll say no more.

Images 1, 4, 5, 6 & 7 from 'I Know Where the Summer Goes'
Images 2 & 3 from 'Moonmilk'
Images 8 & 9 from 'Moss'

All images sourced from

Sep 22, 2009

Killing time until Ricky Swallow

Ok, so I did enjoy my trip to see ol' mister Dali, despite my apprehensions. But ever since, I have been feeling a little bored by the prospects at the NGV. Enter, stage left, contemporary Australian artist Ricky Swallow. Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow. Things are looking up.

Swallow creates intricately detailed sculptures of seemingly insignificant objects, everyday objects which have been rendered arbitrary through familiarity and regular usage. Pop culture objects which we all hold dear, yet don't think about in detail due to a cloud of nostaligia. Well, detail is Ricky Swallow's middle name, and his sculptures reinvent these forgotten objects, making them eternal rather than transient, and infusing value through both his choice of material and through the laborious process of hand carving. Did I mention, wow?

The NGV has subtitled the exhibition "The Bricoleur," which leaves itself open for several interpretations. The word itself is a little ambiguous, given that it has been borrowed into English from French, and translation is a slippery game at the best of times. Even I can't concretely say what I think it means. Having sifted through several definitions, the common understanding is that bricolage involves assembling art from disparate materials, making something from the bits and bobs you find around you. I find this a bit odd when used to describe Ricky Swallow, because despite various media featuring throughout his oeuvre, each sculpture is made from one carefully selected medium. The whole sculpture. And they are sculptures, too, not assemblages. That said, and this is where the issue of translation comes into play,bricoleur can also mean "to tinker," or "to fiddle," and the fiddly, painstaking detail on Swallow's sculptures makes such a term ideal for him.

The NGV explains its use of the term 'bricoleur' thus:
Like the bricoleur put into popular usage by anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss in his seminal book The Savage Mind, Ricky Swallow creates works of art often based on objects from his immediate surroundings. His method, however, is more of a second order bricolage: his sculptures are not assemblages of found objects, but rather elegantly crafted things.

I would argue that there is a distinct difference between sculpture and/or art MADE FROM one's everyday surroundings, and art BASED ON objects from the everyday. The fact that Swallow's sculptures are carved from high quality timber works to create an ironic contrast with their subject matter. Form and medium have a complex and shifting interrelationship. Furthermore, the term bricolage carries associations of a hasty, roughly constructed item, which does not fit with the laborious, painstaking nature of Swallow's sculptures. Maybe I am reading too much into this, then again maybe I am just exited to have something new to talk about rather than Freudian dreams and anamorphic land masses. Bricoleur or no, I say bring on Ricky Swallow!

[Images of Swallow with Killing Time from here, here and here. Detail of Killing Time from the artist's website.]

Meels' Year of the Photo part four - Patriotism and Boredom via Derek Henderson

I stumbled across kiwi photographer Derek Henderson on online archive Tiny Vices, which, despite being somewhat peripheral to this post, is fantastic in its own right. Curated by photographer, curator and publisher Tim Barber (pop culture word du jour for this is a 'slashie,' however I reserve the right to not ever type the word again), Tiny Vices has an ever growing collection of up and coming photographers and artists. Big fat art nerds may recognise names like Dash Snow and Ryan McGinley, the first of which I am ambivalent about, the second of which I quite like. Big names notwithstanding, not even I have enough patience to wander through all of the portfolios, but having read Henderson's name somewhere on the webs before, and in a moment of pure Kiwi parochioalism, I checked it out. Wow. Henderson's photos aren't showy or elaborate, yet somehow they are still breathtaking. Call it waxing lyrical but I get a really strong sense of achey, smalltown boredom, coupled with (contrasting with?) a sense of stillness and calm. I guess the way in which we identify with and understand home, both as an actuality and a concept can hardly be extracted to one sole feeling, so this contradictory nature is probably closer to the truth than it initially seems. Anyway, less philosophising, more looking at Henderson's photos. They really are quite incredible.

EDIT: These come from the series "I Go Down to the River to Pray," but the very best are available to view as a slideshow on Henderson's website. And, coincidentally, the series featuring my favourites is called "The Terrible Boredom of Paradise." So I guess I wasn't imagining that sense of boredom after all. Also, check out the series of Maori teenagers. Wow. That is all.

Sep 18, 2009

Crushing on Coconuts

Coconut Records is Jason Schwartzman//Jason Schwartzman is Coconut Records. Ok, so Darjeeling Limited was hardly my favourite Wes Anderson movie, and I haven't even gotten around to seeing I ♥ Huckabees, but seriously, after hearing West Coast, how can you not love the guy?

PS: Oh to have connections. Jason is Francis Ford Coppola's nephew. Is there anyone in Hollywood not related to that family?

PPS: The opening sentence of Wikipedia's article-of-the-day on Samuel Johnston made me smile -

"The early life of Samuel Johnson was marked by great intelligence and an eagerness for learning."

Not Samuel Jonhston was born on/in...etc, oh no. Just the sort of sentence any academic, nerdy type would love to commence an account of their life. And yes, I am aware that I sound like a massive snob for the duration of this post. Oh to hell with it, I admit it. I am one.

Sep 14, 2009

Cosmic Patchwork

How cute are these? Patchwork is awesome, space is awesome, how could this combination possibly fail? Throw Beci Orpin's trademark quirkiness into the mix and you've got an instant success.

Sep 13, 2009

Oh to be a collector...

... and to have a collection as fabulous as Yves Saint Laurent's. Mondrian, Matisse, you know, just the usual suspects, hanging out in his living room. Jealousy redefined. Photos from Vanity Fair, Jan 09.

Sep 12, 2009

La beauté de la vitesse

I am so completely jealous of all the fun futurism-related activity happening in the northern hemisphere to comemmorate the centennary of the Founding Manifesto. For kids there is a FuturTRAM in Milan(clearly this is the part that has me the most jealous), meanwhile in Rome there have been numerous exhibitions, not to mention a race around the city. Even London and San Francisco get a look in, with a major exhibition at the Tate and in the bay city, a "series of performances, lectures, and events will examine Futurism’s relationship to innovative artistic forms, radical and regressive politics, and performance work today."

The Tate exhibition has received a fair few unfavourable reviews, with reviewers citing numerous works exhibited in Rome and Paris which did not make the trip across the Channel, and a general failure to address Futurism's legacy for art and design today. By contrast, San Francisco's program, entitled Metal + Machine + Manifesto = Futurism’s First 100 Years, sounds far more interesting, as does Carmen C. Wong's futurist-inspired, seven course Tactile Dinner, taking place in Washington D.C. The production's press release promises a gastronomic revolution, and the menu sounds intriguing and inventive to say the least --
Course 1: Polyrhythmic Salad
Course 2: Aural Sensations
Course 3: Aerofood
Course 4: Magic Food
Course 5: Visual Nutrients
Course 6: Totalrice
Course 7: Tactile Vegetable Garden

It is in this spirit -- and with a general feeling of disappointment at the lack of interest in Futurism here in Melbourne that I post my last photos from my trip to Italy back in Jan-Feb. My last day was consumed by the madcap notion of taking a daytrip from Florence to Milan all in the name of catching a newly opened Futurist exhibition at Milan's Palazzo Reale before I flew back to Melbourne the following morning. I like to think that our journey there on the superfast Eurostar train, and then my jumbo jet the following day would be very much in accordance with the futurist mindset. Excerpts from the Founding Manifesto of Futurism taken from and

Nous déclarons que la splendeur du monde s'est enrichie d'une beauté nouvelle: la beauté de la vitesse. Une automobile de course avec son coffre orné de gros tuyaux tels des serpents à l'haleine explosive... une automobile rugissante, qui a l'air de courir sur de la mitraille, est plus belle que la Victoire de Samothrace.

We affirm that the world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing car whose hood is adorned with great pipes, like serpents of explosive breath—a roaring car that seems to ride on grapeshot is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.

Nous voulons chanter l'amour du danger, l'habitude de l'énergie et de la témérité.

We intend to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and fearlessness.

La littérature ayant jusqu'ici magnifié l'immobilité pensive, l'extase et le sommeil. Nous voulons exalter le mouvement agressif, l'insomnie fiévreuse, le pas gymnastique, le saut périlleux, la gifle et le coup de poing.

Up to now literature has exalted a pensive immobility, ecstasy, and sleep. We intend to exalt aggresive action, a feverish insomnia, the racer’s stride, the mortal leap, the punch and the slap.

Firenze, take two

1-5 We change it up and look at contemporary rather than baroque art at Palazzo Strozzi
6-7 Caitlin and I get yet another stairs workout, this time up Giotto's Campanile
8 The Uffizi gallery looks pretty by night
9 My fascination with Italian shrines and madonnelles continues...
10-17 Our wallets get sorely tempted by Florence's fantastic flea market
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