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BYRD

#INURTIA CREEPS

JASON PHU

I HAVEN’T MADE THE WORK YET, BUT I’LL BE THERE A WEEK BEFOREHAND WHICH SHOULD BE PLENTY OF TIME

FRAZER BULL-CLARK THE BIG SHAVE


BYRD

#INURTIACREEPS

JASON PHU

I HAVEN’T MADE THE WORK YET, BUT I’LL BE THERE A WEEK BEFOREHAND WHICH SHOULD BE PLENTY OF TIME

FRAZER BULL-CLARK THE BIG SHAVE


BYRD

#INURTIACREEPS At the centre of #Inurtiacreeps is a to-scale beat up station wagon made from corrugated cardboard and painted white. It contains stuff, the kind of stuff you find in cars that no one can be bothered removing; soiled chux, a used drop cloth, spent aerosol paint cans, dead rollers, coffee containers and screwed up drawings on scraps of paper. Each weathered item tells the story of how it was used, a story of its role in the production of artwork that most likely exists somewhere in the streets of Canberra. While every object enters the gallery with an individual history it is also open to new narratives generated at discretion of an audience that is privy only to an overview, that is the exhibition in its entirety. More broadly, the car, Street Studio (2016) represents that place (all places) from which art emerges, a mobile studio that is to some extent a ‘self portrait’ of the artist, Byrd. It describes minutiae of Byrd’s practice in considerable detail while intimating something of the ambience in which his work is created. The car is both source and work, functioning to connect his mural productions and sculptural practice to the works on gallery walls. With an interest is in “space and place” Byrd is an artists for whom the world is a place to exhibit. Seeing the notion of place as an aesthetic concept he once said of the relationship between the artist and the street, “It’s a beautiful thing, when people are


looking at the place [for its] potential rather than simply drifting through.” (1) Having once been a purveyor of illegal graffiti, painting walls enabled Byrd to spend time with his chosen space, to look at the location as a medium in itself, or a familiar tool. As a result his murals have become widely know and loved throughout the ACT. Byrd’s sense of space and place is highly attuned and as such he has an uncanny feel for what is appropriate, what will heighten the character or significances of the site. His public wall works dominate and imaginatively transform places. Most famously City Forest (2009) in Saraton Lane Civic provides relief from the sterile cityscape with a dense tropical scene from which monster fauna emerge from verdant greens. A masterly draughtsman, Byrd can enliven a private suburban swimming pool with modern design or sophisticate a toilet block with “deviant” tattooed Antill Cats (2009). Seeing his practice holistically Byrd does not acknowledge separate components but rather emphasises connected elements, hence #Inurtiacreeps is carefully constructed in the gallery to present a comprehensive view of his activities as an artist. The exhibition design or arrangement of objects in the gallery employs the entire space to convey a sense of how an indoors exhibition might be interlinked with work in alleys and parks. An abstract design in the style of a mural and a “salon” hang of paintings, reference 15 years of characteristic imagery which in turn focus on the centrality of the car. Painting is first a performance, a choreographed act of creation that might happen in the studio or on the streets. Bryd’s wall works are fragments of a theatrical event, each with its own drama and subtext to be seen like photographs, captured moments from performed wall productions (murals). Through his paintings Byrd expresses what he describes as the “ideals of mend and make do” an approach that employs materials that surround him; words pictures, ideas, the media and tools used by the artist. Each component is the produce of recycling and reclamation, a splinter of another piece.


His titles are also splinters and further examples of using everything and anything at the artists disposal, “harvested” as Byrd puts it, “from incidental written sources (periodicals, novels, transcripts etc ) between 2015-2016.” #Inurtiacreeps addresses a splintered history street art practices through the linkage of texts such as tagging to its digital equivalent, #tagging. These “bread crumb trails” of presence are activated only as a whole, to be understood from conception to conclusion. David Broker August 2016 1. Byrd interviewed by James Vyver, Canberra Street Art: the veteran, 666 ABC Canberra 28 May, 2014 2:38PM AEST http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2014/05/28/4013997.htm


BYRD Street Studio 2016, mixed media, dimensions variable


BYRD Street Studio 2016, mixed media, dimensions variable


JASON PHU

I HAVEN’T MADE THE WORK YET, BUT I’LL BE THERE A WEEK BEFOREHAND WHICH SHOULD BE PLENTY OF TIME At first glance it does not appear that the pursuit of excellence has any bearing on Jason Phu’s practice. Making “good art” is ostensibly not his mission and yet he does it regardless. Each work has a sense of the accidental, a piece that is successful in spite of itself. The title of Phu’s CCAS exhibition, I haven’t made the work yet, but I’ll be there a week beforehand which should be plenty of time, gives us some idea of what we might expect in terms of process without giving anything away regarding content. When I asked Phu how I might approach the essay he said “Just make it up!” offering at once great freedom as well as a significant challenge. Thinking about this unenviable task eventually makes sense as one realizes that Phu’s work is made from a stream of consciousness like notes in a diary, an unadulterated account of his day-to-day activities. An earlier work titled I walked into Glenn’s office and he offered me a cup of coffee but didn’t have any which was very rude, then he said “you should draw on rubbish,” and I said “ok,” and then I left (mixed media installation, texta, spray paint, ink on used mattresses, washing machines, fridges, detritus) dimensions variable (2015), actually sheds considerable light on his processes and thinking. The work is of the here and now, exactly what he says it is “no bullshit”.


Providing the bare minimum of information for a catalogue essay Phu also unmasks the tricky process of cataloguing where it is rare in contemporary art that the work is completed at the time of writing an essay. Description is not an option. In early discussions, however, the name Xu Bing was mentioned. Xu Bing a contemporary master of calligraphy is known for his use of unusual materials to produce what appear to be traditional Chinese Scroll Paintings. He had come to my attention with A Book from the Sky, an elegant installation of “scrolls” suspended from the ceiling of the Queensland Art Gallery in the 3rd Asia Pacific Triennial of 1999. But really it was text on pigs that captured my interest. If Xu Bing fuses notions of East and West, then Phu goes one step further and scrambles the cultures he has positioned his practice between. Traditional scroll painting in China developed to depict landscapes and scenes from everyday life in the court and country of China. It is painting that involves essentially the same techniques as calligraphy and is done with a brush dipped in black ink or coloured pigments. On many occasions Phu references the shui-mo technique including a poem and artist’s stamp of authenticity in the style of the masters. But similarities end there as Phu’s scrolls reflect the instinctive spontaneity of street art. Amongst the works included on his website for 2015 we find the statement, “six scrolls i made on a beijing airbnb floor before my knees hurt too much, shown at ray hughes gallery in december as part of the show “its all google translated from newspapers i can’t read”, don’t remember the titles but they’re on the room sheet. These works share some of their structure with scrolls while including everything from a dog shitting to a plucked chicken and bathroom products. On the one hand they are extremely amusing for being so wrong, and yet Phu is an artist who always gets it right.


Although I wouldn’t describe Phu’s work as narcissistic, ego is amongst the many things he brings to the attention of his audience. Importantly, it is all about him, saved from excessive admiration of self by a raw edge and deprecating humour. This element of his work is perhaps most evident in Lots of jasonphus (2013) a, “performance where everyone dressed as jasonphu and did jasonphu things and was jasonphu and then drew jasonphus as jasonphu”. With allusions to Absurdism and Dada permeating all of his work, the catalogue provides a manual for being Jason Phu with the wish that participants will live happy and fulfilling lives as himself. Works such as this demonstrate the scope of Phu’s practice and the depth of his analysis of the commonplace, possible in the age of the internet where celebrity and notoriety actually has become an option for pretty much anyone. There may be elements of pervasive reality here but Phu takes the piss with a diligence that raises his ouvre way beyond self-promotion. To produce an exhibition Phu literally starts from scratch. He arrives at the gallery with a big horse-hair calligraphy brush in hand, ready for action. Objects are found or purchased, decorative Buddha heads, incense, a bamboo and coconut wind chime, an electric shrine/incense burner, aerosol cans and a mattress protector accompany a story written in Chinese and English on canvas sheets draped from the walls and onto the floor. The story tells of an old man whose penis fell into a pond and was eaten by a fish is told from the point of view of both protagonists. The finished piece has an Asian flavor like wok-in-a-box, Chinese in all but authenticity. David Broker August 2016


JASON PHU I walked into Glenn’s office and he offered me a cup of coffee but didn’t have any which was very rude, then he said “you should draw on rubbish,” and I said “ok,” and then I left. 2015, mixed media, dimensions variable


JASON PHU I walked into Glenn’s office and he offered me a cup of coffee but didn’t have any which was very rude, then he said “you should draw on rubbish,” and I said “ok,” and then I left. 2015, mixed media, dimensions variable


JASON PHU bull shit is more nutritious than dog shit, 2015, mixed media, dimensions variable


JASON PHU bull shit is more nutritious than dog shit, 2015, mixed media, dimensions variable


FRAZER BULL-CLARK THE BIG SHAVE

Martin Scorcese’s The Big Shave (1967) is difficult viewing. Made as a student during a period of depression this 5’34” minute film concerns a young man’s bloody encounter with a razor. Scorceses’s study of casual self-destruction is one of the inspirations and a point of departure for Frazer Bull-Clark’s eponymously titled 9’38” minute mash up of shaving clips. Importantly, there are no similarities between the two big shaves and Bull-Clark’s film stands as a series of cinematic quotations, a homage to Scorcese and several artists who have used found footage to explore a single concept; Tracey Moffatt, Christian Marclay and Candice Breitz. Thus in Bull-Clark’s editing suite The Big Shave becomes a film about cinematic devices, as much as it focuses on the usually unremarkable act of shaving. If one were to look at this film for shaving sequences alone, however, one would not be disappointed. Beginning with a montage of shaving cream application and ending with post shave clean-ups Bull-Clark creates a barber’s chair narrative constructed from scarcely conspicuous, let alone memorable, scenes. While not exactly a history of cinematic shaving Bull-Clark’s material includes comedic clips from Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, as well as scenes from great modern directors such as Kubrick, Bertolucci, Woody Allen and Wes Anderson. It would appear that men shaving are a ubiquitous presence in the history of cinema and mise-en-shaving-scènes function to contrast everyday routine from the movie’s principal dramatic action.


Having established the repetitive monotony of shaving and its obvious comedic properties - white foam covering the (clown-like) face - Bull-Clark broadens the field of vision to encompass another side of the daily ritual. Raising the spectre of sex and voyeurism – James Bond (in several manifestations) invites the audience into his bathroom to witness moments of less than innocent intimacy. Communal shaving with two or more people involved, raises a number of issues not the least of which is trust. Only a trusted servant, for instance, can shave the mob boss because the cut-throat razor is so named with good reason. Issues of power and sexual politics arise when lover shaves lover and both enter into a delicate zone of seduction that may or may not lead to a happy ending. Presence in the shaving zone is a privilege. Although we note significant changes in mood from scene to scene and in quick succession, representations of masculinity are the glue that binds each fragment of The Big Shave. As cinema’s macho men are captured in the act there is an ambience of vulnerability that might result from ridicule, erotic tension, compromised privacy or genuine danger. In fundamentalist religious sects beards are often encouraged as a way of differentiating men from women and it is interesting to discover that shaving in film is used for the same purposes. Notwithstanding the beard’s current resurgence, the act of shaving asserts masculinity and identifies characters as manly; remembering that Hollywood’s iconic sex symbols from Rudolph Valentino and James Dean to Elvis were rarely (if ever) seen with facial hair. The cultural significances of body hair are highlighted in a scene from Planet of the Apes (1968) where the apes are mystified to discover a captured astronaut shaving. This scene highlights the cultural coding at play; where the shaved are distinguished from a group of talking simians who view hair removal to be a redundant practice and therefore ironically consider themselves to be more highly evolved. As a composite portrait of


masculinity The Big Shave highlights complex structures of otherness amongst the shaved and unshaved - while providing an entertaining insight into one of cinema’s least explored devices. David Broker August 2016

FRAZER BULL-CLARK The Big Shave (still), 2016, HD video, stereo sound, 9’38’’ duration


FRAZER BULL-CLARK The Big Shave (still), 2016, HD video, stereo sound, 9’38’’ duration


ANDREW STYAN The Bell Buoy (installation photograph), 2014, mixed media, dimensions varable


FRAZER BULL-CLARK The Big Shave (still), 2016, HD video, stereo sound, 9’38’’ duration


FRAZER BULL-CLARK The Big Shave (still), 2016, HD video, stereo sound, 9’38’’ duration


BYRD

#INURTIA CREEPS

JASON PHU

I HAVEN’T MADE THE WORK YET, BUT I’LL BE THERE A WEEK BEFOREHAND WHICH SHOULD BE PLENTY OF TIME

FRAZER BULL-CLARK THE BIG SHAVE

CANBERRA CONTEMPORARY ART SPACE FRIDAY 26th AUGUST - SATURDAY 1st OCTOBER 2016 GORMAN ARTS CENTRE, 55 AINSLIE AVE. BRADDON CANBERRA A.C.T. Tuesday - Saturday 11am - 5pm | www.ccas.com.au

CCAS IS SUPPORTED BY THE ACT GOVERNMENT, AND THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNNENT THROUGH THE AUSTRALIA COUNCIL, IT’S ARTS FUNDING AND ADVISORY BODY.

BYRD, JASON PHU, FRAZER BULL-CLARK @ CCAS (2016)  
BYRD, JASON PHU, FRAZER BULL-CLARK @ CCAS (2016)  

BYRD #INURTIA CREEPS JASON PHU I HAVEN’T MADE THE WORK YET, BUT I’LL BE THERE A WEEK BEFOREHAND WHICH SHOULD BE PLENTY OF TIME FRAZER BULL...