Alex Selenitsch: Life/Text
List of Works
85 Selected Bibliography 91
image credits and Permissions
The magpie whirls through the falling alphabet, a vowel among the mass of consonants 1
Alex Selenitsch, ‘13 ways of looking at a magpie’, 1998, after Wallace Stevens.
Alex Selenitsch in interview with Anne Kirker, by email correspondence, Melbourne, 31 October 2013, published as ‘Seven Questions for Alex Selenitsch’, http://www. grahamegalleries.com.au/ index.php/alex-selenitschseven-questions-for-alexselenitsch.
Alex Selenitsch is best known as a concrete poet, yet his practice traverses a range of disciplines, from architecture to artist’s books, printmaking, collage and sculpture. In most of his projects he moves seamlessly between several of these mediums, blurring the distinctions between them. The habits and methods of different kinds of making, and the poetic possibilities that accompany them, have interested Selenitsch from the very start of his career. While today artists are often classified as ‘interdisciplinary’ or ‘multimedia’, when Selenitsch graduated as an architect in 1969 his tendency to combine architecture with poetry and art was considered unconventional. Since then, in a manner akin to the recalcitrant magpie he describes in his poem ‘13 ways of looking at a magpie’, he has keenly plucked and repurposed materials and processes from the compendium that he has come to call his ‘family of arts’.2 From this constant crisscrossing of manual and perceptual activity comes a highly distinctive practice that defies easy categorisation. Selenitsch’s work as a whole is indebted to the playful study of meaning and form found in Concrete Poetry, an experimental genre fusing word and image that emerged in Australia in the mid-1960s. It is not surprising that he was drawn to this art movement, as it captures his interests in language, print, pattern, data and space. Selenitsch tirelessly explores what words can say and be. He engages widely with the breadth of print technology developed over the past five decades—as adept with the now-defunct production of Letraset, letterpress and typewriters as with the latest word-processing programs. His more recent sculptural assemblages and architectural schemes, though visually and materially different, also make reference to a conceptual ordering in keeping with his typographic works. 5
Selenitsch’s concrete poems first came to public prominence as the result of two friendships that also mark the beginning of his long connection to Heide. The first of these was with Barrett Reid, an influential literary figure who was part of the artistic community nurtured by Heide founders John and Sunday Reed in the 1940s, and who lived in the Victorian farmhouse now referred to as Heide I during the evolution of the museum from 1981 until 1995. While resident there Barrett continued the Reeds’ tradition of fellowship to artists and writers and championed Selenitsch’s early experimental poems. As editor of the journal Overland, Barrett was active in commissioning and publishing Selenitsch’s work for the covers of several issues. He also invited him to produce two outdoor sculptures which are now on permanent display in the Heide Sculpture Park: tree of knowledge, 1989, and The tree of knowledge 1989 wood, iron, terracotta, synthetic polymer paint 214 x 122 x 11 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Bequest of Barrett Reid 2000
letter S: S for Sunday (BR) / S for Sweeney (AS), c.1987, the latter’s title affectionately acknowledging two generations of occupants and friends at Heide. The other key friendship was with Sweeney Reed, a poet, artist and gallerist who was also the adopted son of John and Sunday. Sweeney’s Strines Gallery in Melbourne was the
Page 8: oasis 1979 cover design for Overland, no. 91, 1983 Heide Museum of Modern Art Archive Page 9: 7 versions of the Southern Cross 1986 cover design for Overland, no. 102, 1986 Heide Museum of Modern Art Archive
venue for Selenitsch’s debut exhibition of Concrete Poetry in 1969, the first showing in Australia of this new style of writing and printing. The invitation card for the exhibition was distributed with an accompanying text by Barrett, introducing the unusual spatialisation of words in Selenitsch’s screenprints and constructions:
we waste time asking is it a poem is it a design is it typography at play … here are words and spaces in meaningful relationships verbal and spatial … a true poet and tender ironist has made some space where words and their echoes dance precisely. A number of these important early works have been brought together for LIFE/TEXT, the first exhibition to survey the development of Selenitsch’s career over five decades. Fittingly, the exhibition is set in the gallery spaces of Heide II, constructed in the 1960s as a residence for John and Sunday, and also for Sweeney, who lived in the attached purpose-built studio apartment well before the building opened to the public as an art museum in 1981.3 Heide II’s celebrated modernist design is especially conducive to Selenitsch’s philosophy of interconnectedness: the De Stjil-inspired floorplan of distinct yet open-ended spaces provides division while simultaneously allowing fluidity and dialogue. In turn, Selenitsch’s pared-back aesthetic accentuates the building’s refined austerity and rigid geometry, while several of his works hold a direct link to its rich history.
John and Sunday occupied their award-winning home from 1967 until 1980. Sweeney lived there intermittently until his death in 1979.
The letter S: S for Sunday (BR) / S for Sweeney (AS) c.1987 stainless steel 23 x 58.5 x 19.9 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Bequest of Barrett Reid 2000
The following thematic groupings, conceived by Selenitsch, underpin the conceptual framework of the exhibition, and suggest ways of navigating the extensive network of relationships throughout his oeuvre. These unfold more or less in sequence following the chronology of Selenitsch’s practice. However, just like the systems of inquiry he employs, there are knowing and unintentional deviations from the rule.
WHITE NOISE: in which wholeness is thought of as a totality that is an absence, with the white page as beginning and end. Selenitsch’s formative work, though shaped by the international style of poetry he discovered as an architecture student, was also fostered by his close involvement with local artists who were testing the boundaries of art. He emerged in the company of like-minded poets congregating at Sweeney Reed’s Strines Gallery in the 1960s and early 1970s, alongside painters including Mike Brown and Trevor Vickers, who were experimenting with the latest idioms. Minimalism and Conceptual Art were monoton eeeeeee 1969 plastic letters on enamel on composition board 71.5 x 60 x 4 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Gift of Alex and Merron Selenitsch 2011
in ascendancy in Melbourne at this time, giving rise to a new understanding of the language of art, and the idea that letters, words and other linguistic signs and tools could be used as a creative medium with their own material qualities. Minimalism’s preoccupation with a single colour, shape or material is perhaps most evident in Selenitsch’s long-term series of works based on the word ‘monotone’—a persistent
Conversation with the author, 16 March 2015.
preoccupation the artist describes as a ‘fixed obsession’.4 The first work picturing this word, monoton eeeeeee, now in the Heide Collection, surfaced in 1968, its title a witty take on ideas of monotony and minimalist repetition and seriality. Made using standard, off-the-shelf house-paint, Masonite and commercially cut black acrylic letters, it typifies the spare elegance of Selenitsch’s evolving style. From the beginning the word itself promised a limitless scope of linguistic play: ‘it didn’t take me
Alex Selenitsch in Nicholas Zurbrugg (ed.), Visual Poetics: Concrete Poetry and Its Contexts, exh. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art, Brisbane, 1989, p. 15.
long to see its alternating consonants and vowels, its curved letters and staccato “t”, its multiple symmetries and the word’s associations with singleness, unity, boredom, concentration, emptiness, potential, purity and the VOID’, he later wrote.5
In the suite of ‘monotone’ constructions that followed, we see Selenitsch’s developing tendency to work with sets and variations, and the start of a series which continues today. To date he has made over forty groups of monotones, including one to accompany every new project within his oeuvre. Although deriving from the same letters, each group generates a distinct variation on the theme. Serial poems like the screenprinted cards 8 monotones, 1970, and 7 more monotones, 1972, use typographic arrangements to explore visual, spatial and phonetic properties, while in the timber models archi-monotones, c.1995, Selenitsch exchanges the letters for wooden blocks to create three-dimensional forms. As this series conveys, many colourful ideas can arise from a single word used to describe a flat, uniform sound or state. Along similar lines Selenitsch views white as ‘potential and wholeness’,6 a kind of tabula rasa. In numerous works he finds ways of giving the blank page or plain surface a semantic value to stimulate the colours of the imagination. Such is the case in 6 instructions, 1972, a composition of six square cards, one
Unless otherwise stated all quotes taken from unpublished artist statements, Heide Museum of Modern Art Archive, Melbourne.
for each of the five senses plus an unnamed ‘sixth sense’. The single words silkscreened onto each card instruct the viewer to see, taste, hear and smell respectively. Text is notably absent from the last card in the suite, however, so that, in Selenitsch’s words, ‘the “instruction” to engage with it must be imagined’. Imagination is important, too, in 8 spaces with a colour reference, 1971, but here colour is the signifying element. This work comprises eight square white cards, each with a central collaged white dot—a reference to the classic ‘white on white’ of minimalist painting. A ninth card is differentiated by its field of vivid ultramarine blue which brings the white dot into view, kindling, as Selenitsch has written, ‘a spatial suggestion … incidentally suggesting “sky”, or “water” or anything blue with spatial depth’. This intense blue tint also appears in prints and constructions from around this time, and is informed by the famous monochromatic paintings of the French painter Yves Klein, whose theorems describe pure colour as a manifestation of the immaterial. 11
8 monotones 1970 8 screenprints on card, screenprinted paper envelope 59 of open edition each screenprint 25.4 x 25.4 cm; envelope 25.5 x 25.5 cm installation dimensions variable Heide Museum of Modern Art Barrett Reid Archive
6 instructions 1972 6 screenprints on card, card box with lid and screenprinted paper cover edition 27 of 30 each screenprint 25.4 x 25.4 cm; box 25.5 x 25.5 x 1.3 cm (closed) installation dimensions variable Heide Museum of Modern Art Barrett Reid Archive
Opposite: 4 monotone ladders 2011 laser print collages 4 of 6 parts, each 29.7 x 21 cm Courtesy of the artist
8 spaces with a colour reference 1971 8 screenprints on card, card box with lid and screenprinted paper cover 30 of open edition each screenprint 25.4 x 25.4 cm; box 25.5 x 25.5 x 1.3 cm (closed) installation dimensions variable Heide Museum of Modern Art Barrett Reid Archive
The use of language to articulate space and time is a recurring focus that Selenitsch explores across a range of media. This is closely linked to his investigation of wholeness as both ‘totality’ and ‘absence’, expressed and measured in projects as wideranging as installations invoking the relation of objects and their external contexts, to basic forms like the elementary symbol O. Freed from the word monotone, O appears in multiple guises both on and off the page, interchangeably representing a letter, a vowel, a number, a circle, a ring, a void or, as Selenitsch puts it, ‘a worm hole to three contexts: i.e. writing (speaking), thinking, drawing’. By way of further explanation he observes:
O = exclamation (!), the start of a phrase which is heartfelt, also a letter of the alphabet, a vowel that is scattered through speaking and writing. It is LANGUAGE. O = zero, which is nothing, absence, loss, but also perfection, and in numbers, the step to a higher power. It is METAPHYSICS. O = a circle (or elipse, depending on the typeface) which is geometry, a spatial figure, made by a compass, measurable. It is MATHEMATICS.
pink square, black O 2013 Perspex, polypropylene, plywood, found timber, screws 50.5 x 64 x 20 cm Courtesy of the artist
The question of a unitary whole is extended in many of Selenitsch’s installations, which began in the 1970s as an
white noise 1973 Installation view, Pinacotheca, Melbourne, 1973
expansion of his card sets and constructions. The first of these was inspired by and named after the audio signal known as white noise, and was exhibited in 1973 at Pinacotheca, a gallery then championing Melbourne’s abstract and conceptual artists. A sound created using the entire spectrum of frequencies audible to the human ear, white noise is so-called for its analogy with white light, which contains all colours yet is perceived as colourless. For Selenitsch it is equivalent to ‘a sound like hissing, or a waterfall, or wind in trees’. In white noise, 1973, the soothing ‘hiss’ of the sonic waves is present as the letter S, repeated across a range of different mediums in monochromatic black and white. An especially ingenious component is a card incised with the letter S which when held up to the light, as the artist instructs, reveals a mesmerising pattern transmitted by light as it passes through the cut-out letter, creating a spinning, radial form. As so often in Selenitsch’s work, it is a simple reminder that all in nature is connected through time and space. 17
Opposite: how angels are seen by us (the five senses) 1981 5 altered found objects: light fitting, brush, incense stick, armagnac bottle, tuning fork installation dimensions variable Courtesy of the artist PATILIRRIKIRLI 2002 found book, white pillow feathers 12 x 36.6 x 27.4 cm Deakin University Art Collection, Melbourne Purchased 2012
Language as a sensory field is likewise conveyed in the subsequent installation how angels are seen by us (the five senses), 1981. Five altered utilitarian objects—a light fitting, brush, incense stick, armagnac bottle and tuning fork—engage the five senses while also suggesting the shapes of the five vowels: A E I O U. As Selenitsch has related, vowels are ‘scattered through speaking and writing’ just like the senses, but here he pairs this observation with a much less obvious conjunction: the visitation of angels. He writes: ‘the presence of angels is often described by their after-effect on our senses: a blinding light, a passing touch, a fragrance, a burning smell, a ringing sound … Each of the five parts is therefore a letter, a proper and useful tool, and an image of the effect of the ethereal’. A quality of otherworldliness is also imparted in the artist’s book, PATILIRRIKIRLI, 2002, a tactile flurry of white pillow feathers set into one page of an open volume of print. As
John Jenkins, ‘Open and Closed: Bookworks’, Imprint: The Journal of Contemporary Australian Printmaking, vol. 41, no. 2, 2006, p. 41.
John Jenkins has noted, ‘Text becomes texture, and a book [is] given wings. Just as sentences absorb the reader, the feathers beguile with their sensual appeal’.7 Water’s edge, 1974, is an early precursor to Selenitsch’s continuing activity of altering pre-existing books. Here he uses a blank printer’s dummy to record a narrative, through evidence of an action rather than pictures and writing. Wanting to keep the beauty of the empty pages intact, he soaked the edges in salt water, brought to his home in a bucket at his behest by a friend returning from the
water’s edge 1974 artist’s book altered printer’s dummy book edition of 2 22 x 14.5 x 2.2 cm (closed) Heide Museum of Modern Art Barrett Reid Archive
south coast of Victoria. An aerial photograph of the coastline was added as the book’s only image, and the title and artist’s name were embossed into the cover as its only print. Selenitsch distils the expressive potential of a journey into an astoundingly simple and unexpected gesture. Furthermore, he draws attention to the book as a totality in itself, even without text. The watermarked edges subtly define the object’s shape in space and its intersection with the physical world.
Pages 20â€“21: Installation view, Alex Selenitsch: LIFE/TEXT, Heide Museum of Modern Art, 2015 Page 22: poetree 2001 pencil on paper 29.7 x 21 cm Courtesy of the artist Page 23: Alex Selenitsch with Sweeney Reed at Heide, c.1969
LADDERS: in which a received, discovered, found, or stolen image, format or pattern is exploited. Selenitsch observes poetry within the commonplace. The ladder, a humble working tool, is one of many prosaic objects given new potential in his poems, books and sculptures. The motif has its origins in his first published concrete poem, up/dn, 1966, printed in the progressive poetry poster/journal Broadsheet. Inspired by looking at the staircase notations of an architectural plan, Selenitsch transformed the abbreviated words ‘up’ and ‘dn’ into a rhythmic pattern of Letraset letters, which through their arrangement convey the spatial effects of the object to which they refer. It is only through careful, slow attention that the flipped mirror symmetry between the letter pairs becomes apparent and the play of signs and signifying systems fully registers: ‘up’ is ‘dn’ and vice versa depending on the orientation of the page. In a similar vein, ladders emerge as a ‘discovered’ visual format in Selenitsch’s works of the 1980s. He eagerly seeks out patterns in the everyday, using them as ‘assisted readymades’ in poems just like his reworking of found materials in his altered books and sculptures. The basic shape of ladders—two vertical bars joined by horizontals—suggest to Selenitsch a serial arrangement of letters and words. But in addition to using the object’s visual shape, he also explores it as a poetic touchstone loaded with meaning. Aside from literally representing movement between one place and another, the ladder lends itself to transformations as a symbolic bridge between what we know and what we aspire towards. For instance in Fechner’s Ladder, 1988, Selenitsch refers to the ladder as a scale of perception. The letter H is repeated in a vertical arrangement
Fechner’s Ladder 1988 transfer letters, coloured pencil and correction fluid on paper 29.7 x 21 cm Courtesy of the artist
Z-HORIZON (floating) 2001–13 blue chinagraph pencil on paper 42 x 59 cm Courtesy of the artist
that is flanked by the letter A, the entire pattern describing an emphatic ‘A-HA’, a ‘light-bulb’ moment. Just as Fechner’s philosophical law of measuring sensation can be understood in relation to the ascending structure of a ladder, Selenitsch also links the observable world and the meaning we perceive in our experience of the world through this simple form. The letter H, with its formal geometry and reflectional symmetry, is also significant to Selenitsch’s recurrent study of the word HORIZON in a series commenced as a tribute to the concrete poems based on this word by Sweeney Reed. Extending what he views as an unfinished project of Sweeney’s, due to his untimely death in 1979, Selenitsch has produced a typically diverse set of responses. Starting as Letraset texts and handmade drawings that visually evoke his observation that ‘scanning a horizon and reading a line of text, or even a longish word, might be similar’, in recent sculptural objects such as horizontal entasis, 2013, he imagines navigating the horizon from above instead of at ground level.
Often Selenitsch’s works have such an external starting point, arising out of a lively mix of interest and happenstance. When discussing his influences he always stresses the importance of interaction and incidental comment and likes to think of his concepts as being ‘discovered’ rather than invented.8 He explains that he has learnt to ‘keep asking questions’, and
Conversation with the author, 4 June 2015.
Conversation with the author, 4 June 2015.
from this position maintains an ‘open-ended preparedness to notice’, as writer Greg Missingham aptly noted.10 The very nature of enquiry is the premise for a major cycle
10. Greg Missingham, ‘Double, Double Toil and Trouble’, Artichoke, no. 18, 2007, p. 124.
of work based on the letter Y. As Selenitsch has pointed out, ‘Y sounds like why?’, thus ‘Y is the question’. In his emblematic tree of knowledge series, he finds a parallel between the Y’s branching form and the bifurcating structure of a tree. The notion first came to him while ‘fooling around’ with an oversupply of the unpopular Letraset letter Y, the process quickly activated into a symmetrical pattern mimicking a tree’s hierarchical network, whereby the letters join and diminish in size from central trunk to tentacle offshoots. The design was first realised as a graphic poem published in Overland in 1986, then transposed onto the surface of a mirror in tree of knowledge in a frame of reference,
tree of knowledge in a frame of reference 1987 sandblasted mirror, found painted timber frame 58.5 x 46 x 3 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Bequest of Barrett Reid 2000
1987, and constructed in wood for an outdoor sculpture, tree of knowledge, 1989, made to a human scale. Trees hold a special significance in Selenitsch’s vocabulary of forms, for him symbolising networks of inquiry and questioning. This is keenly felt in the diagrammatic drawing POETREE, 2001, in which he pictures a tree in words which forms a ‘mind-map’ of all the different facets of his practice. As we might come to expect, ‘language’ and ‘poetry’ are the life force sustaining his creativity at the roots and trunk, with each extending branch describing an offshoot of artistic inquiry, for instance ‘objects > models > 27
systems’. Trees are also important to Selenitsch as the provider of his signature materials: timber is the source of composite board, cardboard, card and paper, which in turn become the physical embodiments of his ideas. That Selenitsch can condense such complex meaning into an intimate form like the letter Y is testament to his feeling for language and formal invention. His single-letter works are curious, tantalising propositions, thwarting conventional expectations of a poem’s content. Notably, he drew his inspiration for this innovation from his first encounter with Concrete Poetry, which came through a chance discovery of the W poem by German Dadaist Kurt Schwitters in László Moholy11. This he found at Sunday Reed’s Eastend Booksellers in Melbourne, which stocked recent publications of visual and concrete poetry from London.
Nagy’s book Vision in Motion.11 Selenitsch responded instantly to seeing poetry arise from such simple materials manipulated to maximum effect. All letters of the alphabet receive similar analysis in the related Letraset poems philosophia botanica, 1988. This time Selenitsch takes his cue from historical systems of botanical classification. Clusters of single-letter typography from A to Z have been imaginatively arranged in patterns determined by the form of each letter to pictorially suggest new linguistic species. The poems take on further meaning when viewed in tandem with his parallel project philosophia botanica/index, 1988–90, a list of nouns describing assorted groups of people systemised by an alphabetical index—for instance, a is for army, b is for bureau, c is for congress and so on. Selenitsch substitutes the traditional phonetic alphabet for a classification of social groups in which people are often ranked by hierarchical structures akin to the systems of division inherent in plants and trees.
Pages 29 and 30: LIFE/TEXT door 1988 hardwoods on painted timber door 200 x 80 x 10 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Gift of Alex and Merron Selenitsch 2011
LIFE/TEXT: in which the grammar of texts, objects, furniture, and 2D and 3D spaces is the subject or main inquiry. Procedure and metaphor run parallel in Selenitsch’s series LIFE/ TEXT, from which the title of this exhibition derives. The series originated in a statement made by the well-known Australian poet Chris Wallace-Crabbe in an essay on autobiography: ‘Now let us return to the swing door which has LIFE on one side and TEXT on the other’.12 Selenitsch instinctively counted the number of straight strokes in the captilised words in this sentence and he found that in both instances they added to ten:
12. Chris Wallace-Crabbe, ‘Wangaratta, Not Carthage: Writing a Self’, The Age Monthly Review, Dec/Jan 1986/87, p. 10.
The image of words made out of matches, where a new word is made by re-arranging the matches, came to mind; this plus the further idea that matches are to be struck, lit-up and producing heat and light, made me see that LIFE indeed is struck, lit-up and burnt out through the production of a TEXT. LIFE/TEXT matches, 1986, is the result of Selenitsch’s interest in the unusual pairing of these two words, as distinct from the more common ‘matching’ of life and art in aesthetic argument. When an opportunity arose to make a large-scale commission for what is now regarded as a landmark survey of Visual Poetry held at Heide in 1989,13 Selenitsch transformed Wallace-Crabbe’s metaphoric ‘swing door’ into a concrete object that sits somewhere between art and architecture. The LIFE/TEXT door, 1988, is a poetic recycling of a found wooden door inset with assembled timber pieces that spell out LIFE on one side and TEXT on the other. When originally installed, viewers could open and close the door. In its current static configuration it requires imaginative rather than
13. Words on Walls: A Survey of Contemporary Visual Poetry, Heide Park and Art Gallery, Melbourne, and Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney, 1989. The exhibition was curated by Barrett Reid and Alex Selenitsch.
LIFE/TEXT matches 1986 matches on card on foamcore board 26 x 22 x 0.75 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Gift of Alex and Merron Selenitsch 2011
physical participation. Selenitsch instead implies a theoretical ‘to-and-fro’ between the interaction of experience and language to map out the swing of the door and symbolically set the work in motion. Language as a spatial medium, as workable as wood and with material properties commensurate with building and architecture, is also the focus of Selenitsch’s interdisciplinary series 1 to 9, 1980–87. First developed as a collection of prints and objects for display in a gallery context, the entire project was later published as the artist’s book 1 to 9: texts, poems and buildings, a work that Selenitsch dedicates to ‘William Blake, 14. Alex Selenitsch, ‘Introduction’, 1 to 9: texts, poems and buildings, 1987, self-published artist’s book, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne.
William Morris, Marcel Duchamp and Percy Grainger’, all of whom are renowned for a revolutionary questioning of art forms and their context.14 As suggested by its title, 1 to 9 uses as its ‘grammar’ a numerical sequence from one to nine, whereby the digits provide a grid-like structure that reads outwards from the number one in the centre to nine at the four corners, as shown in the screenprint 1 to 9 as grid, 1987. Selenitsch applies this pictorial formula to produce a range of works in various media, from the paper collage 1 to 9: odds and evens, 1987, to the schematic cross-stitch, Plan: The Institute of Thresholds, 1987. While all of the objects share the same underlying structure, each has an identity of its own which is comprised within the concept of the whole. As well as pushing the limits of what is possible within this framework—the ‘arena in which the action takes place’, to borrow Selenitsch’s words—he also is open to what exceeds the limits of the idea: For an idea to be an idea, it must be capable of being expressed or embodied in different matter, at different scales etc. And yet I also note that the material itself can be the idea, so that the idea might change when shifted to
15. Alex Selenitsch in interview with Anne Kirker.
a new materiality.15
Selenitsch’s solution in 1 to 9 is characteristic of his overall approach, which has been to invent ‘a spatial spectrum in which to work’. He uses ‘spatiality’ as the common element developed across and between a plurality of disciplines, and ‘difference in materiality’ as the distinguishing creative factor that generates new meaning.16 The strategy calls to mind Duchamp’s notion of art as ‘a game between all people of all periods’, but when
16. Conversation with the author, 4 June 2015.
playing by Selenitsch’s rules, genres are negotiated along similar lines as the exchange of ideas. There are no traditional hierarchies in Selenitsch’s ‘family of arts’.
Plan: The Institute of Thresholds 1987 cotton thread on linen 39 x 39 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Bequest of Barrett Reid 2000
1 to 9: odds and evens 1987 paper collage on pasteboard 30.4 x 20.4 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Bequest of Barrett Reid 2000
Pages 34â€“35: archi-monotones c.1995 oregon timber blocks on plywood 10 parts, each 30 x 30 x 4.5 cm installation dimensions variable Courtesy of the artist Pages 36â€“37: Installation view, Alex Selenitsch: LIFE/TEXT, Heide Museum of Modern Art, 2015
RESTORED MESSY LIFE: in which the imperfect, provisional, approximate, mistaken and the messy are retrieved from, or given equal value to, the perfect, permanent, precise, correct and tidy. Order and disorder both find a place in Selenitsch’s practice. Equal parts logic and intuition, he describes his methodology as ‘disorganisation in a systematic manner’.17 The traffic between such opposites as perfection and imperfection, procedure and
17. Conversation with the author, 18 December 2014.
improvisation reveals itself in numerous examples in the LIFE/TEXT exhibition, but is nowhere more apparent than in the installation Improvisations: blocks and sticks, 2009–10. These modestly-scaled low-relief and sculptural constructions arranged from rough and imperfect pieces of wood, foreground many of Selenitsch’s artistic tendencies, not least the recycling habits of a self-confessed gleaner.
IMPROVISATIONS: blocks and sticks 2009–10 found timber assemblages, flush panel door on handmade timber trestle legs, found books installation dimensions variable Courtesy of the artist
A lecturer in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne since 1992, Selenitsch has found its departmental workshop a continual source of creative sustenance, a place where he uncovers tantalising leftover materials, off-cuts and refuse. While some would deem the ordinary timbers and Masonite that he retrieves as unworkable scraps, for him they are rich with potential. The allure of commonplace materials is another constant in his work and more often than not his manner of working in three dimensions is low-tech and straight forward. At the same time, his processes are always governed by carefully thought-out sets of rules. Each assemblage in his arrangements of ‘blocks and sticks’, for instance, was subjected to guidelines derived in part from the inherent properties of the timber at hand and the scale and reach of his body:
1. All timber pieces = off-cuts from the one workshop (from teaching programs); 2. All pieces as found, with no further machining; 3. Pieces added incrementally; 4. Surface to surface with glue: no interlocking; 5. Size of finished work from held in one hand to held in two hands; 6. All of the above to be ignored as necessary to achieve (7.): 7. Pieces added until a balance of movement and stasis is achieved.
With characteristic deviance, rules six and seven override the preceding instructions, emphasising chance and formal balance as the key objective. The selection of Improvisations: blocks and sticks chosen for LIFE/TEXT belong to a larger body of work that Selenitsch first exhibited as a room-sized installation, with rows of assemblages presented en-masse on the gallery walls and set on workbench-style tables, themselves ‘assisted readymades’ composed from domestic doors and hand-built, 18. Conversation with the author, 18 December 2014. The books chronicled art movements ranging from Russian and English Constructivism to German and Swiss Concrete Poetry.
wooden trestle legs. On these supports Selenitsch also placed open reference books about art movements central to this kind of making, reiterating his belief that ideas exist as part of a history of thought, or a ‘chain of other’s thinking’.18
In much the same spirit, Selenitsch takes apart the building blocks of letters, words, lines and spaces which resolve in a page of typography and reconstitutes them in texts, collages and altered books. ‘Line as element’ is important to these investigations, as seen in (green) sheet assembly, 2008, and (grey) sheet assembly, 2008, a pair of large collages simply composed from unmarked sheets of coloured paper held together by long intersecting strips of gummed brown paper. Here the lines of tape function not only as the hinges binding the composition but also the image, which in turn refers to the traditional lineal format of printed text. Arranged in crisscrossing patterns, the lines extend in all directions so that they stimulate the eye in a manner completely antithetical to the accustomed, measured movement of reading and writing in straight lines— evoking something much closer to the constellation of hidden connections and interpretations of language that Selenitsch strives to portray. Likewise, punctuation marks and mathematical symbols emphasising the linear are reassigned in the set of digital poems lines on MATTER, 2011. Language is figured as threedimensional in these strongly architectonic works which exploit the new possibilities of layout and sequence offered by the computer. Across six pages of A4 paper Selenitsch interweaves the word ‘MATTER’ with underlines, em dashes, en dashes, hyphens, subtraction and equals signs and so on, to form tightly-packed blocks of text that take on the quality of a scaffold. To return to the LIFE/TEXT metaphor, the letters and signs function both as units of language and as the objects from which the structure is formed, inviting speculation upon the way words operate within the fabric of life rather than merely describing it.
Pages 42–43: (grey) sheet assembly 2008 gummed brown paper tape on paper collage 133 x 84 cm (irreg.) Courtesy of the artist (green) sheet assembly 2008 gummed brown paper tape on paper collage 130 x 101 cm (irreg.) Courtesy of the artist Pages 44–49: lines on MATTER 2011 laser prints open edition 6 of 7 parts, each 29.7 x 21 cm Courtesy of the artist
singles 2000 correction fluid on found book pages, laser prints, folio 7 book pages, each 25.2 x 16.2 cm; 2 laser prints, each 29.7 x 21.0 cm; folio 31 x 23 x 2 cm (closed) National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Gordon Darling Australia Pacific Print Fund 2013
Selenitsch relishes these kinds of semantic games in the same way that he challenges the limitations and defining features of someone else’s text in found books and their unbound pages. The latter approach is taken in singles, 2000, a work consisting of a set of altered loose-leaf pages. It belongs to an ‘office-inspired’ series that repurposes outmoded writing aids such as coloured typewriter paper and bottles of Liquid Paper in corresponding colours. Treating the published page as a sketched-in visual field, Selenitsch assigns three of the four pastel colours of correction fluid to systematic patterns that respond to different material properties of the printed text. For instance, on one page the lines of text are painted green except for single-letter words which are left exposed and flanked by dashes of pink and blue to highlight the preceding or subsequent words. The resulting rhythmic, abstract compositions in these diagrammatic ‘paintings’ highlight the generic components of print on a page but also, as Selenitsch explains, ‘present a unique case in that no other page will
19. Alex Selenitsch, title page, singles, 2000, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
ever contain exactly those lines, exactly those letters in those positions or exactly those words’.19 Liquid Paper is one of the materials Selenitsch has adopted in recent years that are associated with text-based communication rather than visual art. Describing its appeal, he has written: ‘a material synonymous with correction and removal by camouflage, it attempts to recover the colour and texture of the
original surface before it was marked. At its intended best, it disappears on the page. But of course it has its own properties and it too can sing and dance’. After an office clean-out at the University of Melbourne brought him a surplus of this now largely redundant stationery item, he immediately saw in it rich scope for exploration. Selenitsch’s ambiguous act of covering objects with correction fluid emerges in THE PASTEL OFFICE, 2001–3, an ensemble of desktop stationery including a pencil, a rubber, two books and, with a hint of irony, a bottle of Liquid Paper. The impact is not just a disguising of generic qualities but a heightened awareness of the peculiarities of form brought about by the thick texture of the coated surfaces. Selenitsch bestows further meaning by assigning each item its own colour of fluid, making a set of the group through colour relationships rather than categories of use. In a related work, O, 2004, the cover of the academic art journal October is painted all over with white Liquid Paper except for the central typeset ‘o’. In this work, too, the impasto texture and sheer whiteness of the covering fluid intensifies a sense of the book as matter.
THE PASTEL OFFICE 2001–3 correction fluid on found objects 5 parts, installation dimensions variable Courtesy of the artist
Selenitsch also gleaned a surplus of discarded coloured paper from the office reject pile and in time these gave rise to a group of handmade artist’s books, including the set four 4-colour books, 2008–15. Each of these four books is conceived as a ‘colour narrative’ of interleaving coloured paper, introduced and concluded by white end-papers and black covers. The pages are modestly assembled from A3 sheets of blue, pink, yellow and green which have been halved by a single handmade alteration that once again favours approximation as much as precision. In two books, the pages are cut exactly in half on a vertical, horizontal and diagonal axis; in the other two, the pages are divided unevenly, torn by hand or incised into a sine wave. In all books, distinct combinations of colour and geometric arrangements are discovered with the turn of each page. As well as displaying strongly graphic qualities, these objects remain 20. Alex Selenitsch in the Book of 3 Times, Melbourne Codex Australia Incorporated, Melbourne, 2013, p. 12.
firmly connected to the experience of reading, in that the flow of data is left to right and the pages reveal, as Selenitsch observes, ‘Colour as text, colour from paper’.20 A film recording of these and other examples of his unique and editioned artist’s books has been made especially by Selenitsch for display in LIFE/TEXT. In this digital video his hands enter the camera’s frame, at the centre of which books are propped up on noticeboard push-pins and leafed through one at a time. The do-it-yourself methodology at work chimes with the humble fabrication that shows up in varied productions, while his subtle movements hint at the relation between action and object, another enduring theme. Moreover, they serve as a reminder that reading is absorbed through the body as much as the mind.
Pages 54–55: O 2004 correction fluid on found October magazine 1 x 18 x 23 cm Courtesy of the artist Pages 56–57: four 4-colour books 2008–2015 2015 (still) digital video duration: 8.57 mins Courtesy of the artist
The House of a Missing Family 1:50 Plan Study (Rug) 2005 aquarelle crayon and pencil on paper 172 x 58.5 cm Courtesy of the artist
SOMEONE: in which identity is pursued as a creative and speculative task. Autobiography comes to the fore in Selenitsch’s recent work, incorporating the personal within works that emerge from his professional experience in architecture, building and planning. Recent architectural propositions involve what he refers to as ‘poetic occupations and concepts’,21 which bring the outside influences that inform self-knowledge into a thoughtful critical
21. Alex Selenitsch in interview with Anne Kirker.
dialogue with his own recollections. Selenitsch’s memory bank, with all its layers, ambiguities and uncertainties, stretches back to his arrival in Australia as a child from Germany with his displaced family shortly after World War II. A profoundly defining chapter in Selenitsch’s life, this heritage necessarily generates questions about history; how and by whom are its boundaries determined? The idea of remembrance underpins The House of a Missing Family, 2005–7, and is expressed through an interweaving of
The House of a Missing Family 1:100 Study Model 2005 found timber offcuts on laminated timber base 15 x 13 x 73 cm Courtesy of the artist
personal reflection, pattern-making and architectural strata. To varying degrees these schematic drawings and handbuilt models subject the architecture of Selenitsch’s childhood home to the kinds of re-use and alteration typical of his treatment of found objects and materials. Designs are arrived at in relation to his memories of time and place, as the architecture they record is not actual, but rather draws on his intuitive visualisations of the house he grew up in based on the unspoken and anecdotal narratives of his parents. His recollection that, ‘My father never spoke of his past or his family. My mother often did but through anecdotes and details’, forms the springboard for his prototype in wood of a house divided into two sections by 59
a central corridor: one side devised from a uniform sequence of sparsely furnished external zones representing paternal space; the other comprising different sized rooms with jumbledup building components to signify the locus of the maternal. Representing what Selenitsch calls ‘two conditions of the past’, this disjunctive floorplan suggests a historical context for his identity yet its subjective character discourages a fixed reading of history. Selenitsch grew up at home speaking English as a third language after Russian and German, the native tongues of his mother and father. To them he attributes his infatuation with words and meaning: ‘their interest in language continues in 22. Alex Selenitsch, ‘Artist’s Statement’, in Barrett Reid (ed.), Words on Walls: A Survey of Contemporary Visual Poetry, exh. cat., Heide Park and Art Gallery, Melbourne, 1989, p. 16.
me’, he says.22 The cardboard prototype Innisfail staples (sugar/ flour/salt: English/Russian/German), 2008, recalls in miniature a dwelling sustained by the interplay of these three languages. This time Selenitsch reimagines the architecture of his childhood home as a domestic vessel for storing salt, flour and sugar, as indicated by the printed labels ‘SALZ’, ‘MYKA’ and ‘SUGAR’ which are adhered to the object’s sliding roof-cum-lid. The conjunction brings to mind a lively sprinkling of words, and their attendant sounds and syncopations, mixing in the Selenitsch family home. Given our need to communicate is just as essential to human survival as these staple cooking ingredients, it is also a brilliant parody for cultural integration in general. ‘Psycho-architecture’ shifts to ‘psycho-geography’ in the various drawings, maps and sculptural objects that belong to the related project Ideal City, 2007–11. Here Selenitsch draws on the past to look to the future by devising, or at least prefiguring, a new utopian Antipodean city. Among the extensive summaries he has written about this cycle of work is the following manifesto which summarises its sentiment: The ideal city is a fusion of military control, rational organisation and faith and hope for the future—these are the founding qualities of OZ since the first fleet; and were repeated for the Fleets of Displaced Persons who arrived here after WW2.
Many historical allusions combine in the principal component of this series, –IDEAL–CITY–, 2008–11, an elaborate wall map in twelve parts as vibrant and detailed as a medieval mappa mundi. Such is the profusion of colour and pattern in this work that from a distance it could be mistaken as a purely abstract drawing. The composition, however, is anchored by a central octagonal shape that is partly inspired by the plan for the Cowra Prisoner of War Camp built in Australia during World War II and subsequently used as a migrant hostel where Selenitsch stayed with his mother for a short time in 1949. The camp’s distinctive layout followed a twelve-sided polygon which in turn reminded him of Vincenzo Scammozzi’s famous Italian Renaissance scheme of a city with this shape at its core. While taking inspiration from these and other sources, Selenitsch’s design for an ideal city is pure invention, a set of abstract relations, colours, shapes and textures, conceived as a speculative and imaginative civic space. Superimposed over this colourful arrangement are stencilled words, a written schema denoting sub-zones within the whole map area. They list architectural landmarks associated with the order of society such as ‘bank’, ‘hospital’, ‘factory’, in equal measure with those sustaining the cultural growth of humankind, i.e. ‘temple’, ‘archive’, ‘academy’. An independent statement written by Selenitsch provides an apt description of the principles guiding his composition, which comes from ‘combining the geometry of natural flocking patterns, with the philosophical ideal of a balance between liberty and responsibility’.23
23. Unpublished artist statement, 8 September 2015.
The system Selenitsch employs is characteristic of his classic noting of elegant underlying geometries in the world around him, and it is hard not to compare the subtle grid delineated by the abutting edges of the drawings to the folds that gather in a map over time. Markers of individual journeys bound by an overall arrangement of materially equal limits, they signify a process of discovery that is analogous to Selenitsch’s selforganising procedural systems and the patterns in them, in that the permutations of parts amount to a continually evolving whole. 61
As this work serves to highlight, Selenitsch’s process is symbiotic: ‘thought’ cannot be separated from ‘imagination’, or to summarise it another way, the ‘philosophy’ of an idea cannot be separated from the ‘poetry’. Though his deceptively simple works are typically felt and scaled for the human body, his concepts always operate on an ambitious scale, functioning as a stimulus that, as he describes, ‘shifts the imagination 24. Alex Selenitsch in interview with Anne Kirker. 25. Alex Selenitsch in Nicholas Zurbrugg (ed.), Visual Poetics: Concrete Poetry and Its Contexts, p. 15.
to much larger spaces’.24 To achieve their potential his works rely on the viewer’s participation and willingness to spend time with them, thinking as Selenitsch does ‘in all the interconnecting directions’.25
Opposite: –IDEAL–CITY– 2008–11 aquarelle crayon and pencil on paper 12 sheets, each 56 x 75.5 cm; overall 224 x 226.5 cm Courtesy of the artist Pages 64–65: Innisfail staples (sugar/flour/salt: English/Russian/German) 2008 corrugated cardboard model, laser printed labels 16 x 30 x 32 cm Courtesy of the artist Pages 66–67: Four Innisfail Temples: Temple of Continuity/Uluru; Temple of Origins/ Melbourne; Temple of Perception/ Canberra; Temple of Creation/( ) c.1992/2000 4 timber models in found suitcase suitcase 13.5 x 31.5 x 23 cm (closed) installation dimensions variable Courtesy of the artist Pages 68–69: Installation view, Alex Selenitsch: LIFE/TEXT, Heide Museum of Modern Art, 2015 Pages 70–71: plus plus plus #1 2000/2015 plus plus plus #2 2000/2015 stacked timber, painted timber sticks 2 parts: 40 x 40 x 180 cm; 82 x 40 x 167 cm Courtesy of the artist
James Rafferty and Alex Selenitsch filming artistâ€™s books for LIFE/TEXT, Melbourne School of Design, University of Melbourne, 2015
List of Works
The catalogue is arranged chronologically then alphabetically by title. Works on paper are specified at sheet size. All works courtesy of the artist unless otherwise stated. Alex Selenitsch
up/dn 1966 published in The Broadsheet 3: Where Are All The Flowers Going? 1968 relief print on lithographic paper edition 62 of 750 63.5 x 50.5 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Gift of Michael Dugan 1995 balloons 1969 high sierras/tumbleweed 1969 jass band/slapstick 1969 lifeline/electric wire 1969 lumber/elephant walk 1969 slide 1969 stoneface/slip 1969 screenprints on acetate, timber frames artist’s proofs 7 parts, each 21.5 x 20 x 2 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Gifts of Alex and Merron Selenitsch 2011 beads and roses 1969 screenprint on card edition 1 of 10 76 x 50 cm daisy-train 1969 screenprint on card edition 11 of 15 37.6 x 50.4 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Bequest of Barrett Reid 2000
monoton eeeeeee 1969 plastic letters on enamel on composition board 71.5 x 60 x 4 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Gift of Alex and Merron Selenitsch 2011 mudlark 1969 starling 1969 windgull 1969 screenprints editions 4 of 16 each 50.5 x 37.5 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Gifts of Alex and Merron Selenitsch 2011 not tone 1969 plastic letters on enamel on composition board 71.5 x 60 x 4 cm Private collection, Melbourne o monotone 1969 plastic letters on enamel on composition board 71.5 x 60 x 4 cm Collection of Allan Willingham one tone 1969 plastic letters on enamel on composition board 71.5 x 60 x 4 cm Private collection, Victoria
rain gold 1969 screenprint on card artist’s proof 50.5 x 38 cm 8 monotones 1970 8 screenprints on card, screenprinted paper envelope 59 of open edition each screenprint 25.4 x 25.4 cm; envelope 25.5 x 25.5 cm installation dimensions variable Heide Museum of Modern Art Barrett Reid Archive 8 spaces with a colour reference 1971 8 screenprints on card, card box with lid and screenprinted paper cover 30 of open edition each screenprint 25.4 x 25.4 cm; box 25.5 x 25.5 x 1.3 cm (closed) installation dimensions variable Heide Museum of Modern Art Barrett Reid Archive O circle zero 1971 vinyl reinforcement ring on synthetic polymer paint on canvas stretcher by Trevor Vickers 31 x 31 x 7.5 cm
6 instructions 1972 6 screenprints on card, card box with lid and screenprinted paper cover edition 27 of 30 each screenprint 25.4 x 25.4 cm; box 25.5 x 25.5 x 1.3 cm (closed) installation dimensions variable Heide Museum of Modern Art Barrett Reid Archive 7 more monotones 1972 7 screenprints on card, screenprinted paper envelope 41 of open edition each screenprint 25.4 x 25.4 cm; paper envelope 25.5 x 25.5 cm installation dimensions variable Heide Museum of Modern Art Barrett Reid Archive white noise 1973 photocopies of transfer letters on card, cut paper stencils, stencilled paint on cotton, card box with lid and printed paper cover installation dimensions variable National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Transferred from the National Gallery of Australia Research Library, 1997 bubble 1974 cover design for Overland, no. 57, 1974 Heide Museum of Modern Art Archive water’s edge 1974 artist’s book altered printer’s dummy book edition of 2 22 x 14.5 x 2.2 cm (closed) Heide Museum of Modern Art Barrett Reid Archive
sphinx c.1980 cut and laminated composition board 25 x 25 x 4.4 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Gift of Alex and Merron Selenitsch 2011
paper cut corner c.1985 paper collage on card 22 x 18 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Gift of Alex and Merron Selenitsch 2011
theatre #1 c.1980 cut and laminated composition board 53.5 x 53.5 x 5 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Gift of Alex and Merron Selenitsch 2011
sator/rotas c.1985 brush and ink on handmade paper edition 1 of 7 62.2 x 45.6 cm National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Gordon Darling Australasian Print Fund 2005
theatre #3 c.1980 cut and laminated composition board 41 x 60 x 2.5 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Gift of Alex and Merron Selenitsch 2011
suite of stars c.1985 paper offset plates edition of 2 5 of 9 parts, each 38 x 25 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Gift of Alex and Merron Selenitsch 2011
how angels are seen by us (the five senses) 1981 5 altered found objects: light fitting, brush, incense stick, armagnac bottle, tuning fork installation dimensions variable
LIFE/ TEXT matches 1986 matches on card on foamcore board 26 x 22 x 0.75 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Gift of Alex and Merron Selenitsch 2011
self portrait (MoH) 1983 paper collage on dye transfer print 29.7 x 21 cm 8 monotones with diagrams c.1985 paper offset plates edition of 2 5 of 8 parts, each 38 x 25 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Gift of Alex and Merron Selenitsch 2011 my left hand/my right hand c.1985 photocopy of fibre-tipped pen on paper 29.7 x 21 cm
1 to 9 as grid 1987 screenprint on paper 23.2 x 18 cm (irreg.) 1 to 9: odds and evens 1987 paper collage on pasteboard 30.4 x 20.4 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Bequest of Barrett Reid 2000 1 to 9: texts, words, buildings and colour 1987 artist’s book coloured ink lithographs, hand-cut coloured paper, coloured card, printed detail paper slipcover edition 74 of 91 30 x 21 x 0.8 cm (closed) Heide Museum of Modern Art
Barrett Reid Archive LIFE/TEXT sliding movements 1987 ink on detail paper 19 x 23 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Gift of Alex and Merron Selenitsch 2011 Plan: The Institute of Thresholds 1987 cotton thread on linen 39 x 39 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Bequest of Barrett Reid 2000 tree of knowledge in a frame of reference 1987 sandblasted mirror, found painted timber frame 58.5 x 46 x 3 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Bequest of Barrett Reid 2000 Fechner’s Ladder 1988 transfer letters, coloured pencil and correction fluid on paper 29.7 x 21 cm LIFE/TEXT door 1988 hardwoods on painted timber door 200 x 80 x 10 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Gift of Alex and Merron Selenitsch 2011 philosophia botanica 1988 transfer letters, paper collage, correction fluid and coloured pencils on card 26 parts, each 20 x 15 cm (irreg.) installation dimensions variable rainbow snake 1988–89 vinyl on cardboard 51.5 x 75.5 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Bequest of Barrett Reid 2000
philosophia botanica index 1988–90 laser print of typewritten and handwritten index 29.7 x 21 cm Jacob’s Ladder #2 1989 typewriter text on paper 29.7 x 21 cm TWO WAY 1989 fibre-tipped pen, collage and coloured pencil on card 18 x 13 cm SWORDS 1990 transfer letters, photocopy collage, coloured pencil and correction fluid on paper 29.7 x 21 cm The Room of the LADDERS 1991 paper collage and correction fluid on dye transfer print 29.7 x 21 cm Four Innisfail Temples: Temple of Continuity/Uluru; Temple of Origins/Melbourne; Temple of Perception/Canberra; Temple of Creation/( ) c.1992/2000 4 timber models in found suitcase suitcase 13.5 x 31.5 x 23 cm (closed) installation dimensions variable five quintets 1994 screenprint and Duco tape on painted composition board 18 of 30 parts, each 29.7 x 21 cm installation dimensions variable
n Versions of the Southern Cross 1994 drilled blank sketchbook edition 7 of 10 12.5 x 9.5 x 1 cm (closed) National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Gordon Darling Australasian Print Fund 2005 The Southern Cross in Dante 1994 drilled found book 18 x 12 x 2 cm (closed) National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Gordon Darling Australasian Print Fund 2005 archi-monotones c.1995 oregon timber blocks on plywood 10 parts, each 30 x 30 x 4.5 cm installation dimensions variable poetry antenna c.1995 timber printing blocks, bamboo, oregon 34.5 x 31.5 x 5.5 cm augenblick 1998 artist’s book paper photocopies, card, hand-stitched cotton binding, letterpress on card slipcover artist’s proof a of a e i o u 21 x 21 x 0.3 cm (closed) horizontal corrections p168 1998 found printed card collage, found book page 24 x 33.5 cm (irreg.) equals 1999 artist’s book paper photocopies, card, hand-stitched cotton binding, letterpress on card slipcover artist’s proof u of a e i o u 21 x 21 x 0.3 cm (closed)
pixel 1999 artist’s book paper photocopies, card, hand-stitched cotton binding, letterpress on card slipcover artist’s proof u of a e i o u 21 x 21 x 0.3 cm (closed) singles 2000 correction fluid on found book pages, laser prints, folio 7 book pages, each 25.2 x 16.2 cm; 2 laser prints, each 29.7 x 21 cm; folio 31 x 23 x 2 cm (closed) National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Gordon Darling Australia Pacific Print Fund 2013 S and 2000–5 artist’s book paper photocopies, card, handstitched cotton binding, rubber stamp on card slipcover artist’s proof i of a e i o u 21 x 21 x 0.3 cm (closed) plus plus plus #1 2000/2015 plus plus plus #2 2000/2015 stacked timber, painted timber sticks 2 parts: 40 x 40 x 180 cm; 82 x 40 x 167 cm THE PASTEL OFFICE 2001–3 correction fluid on found objects 5 parts, installation dimensions variable Z-HORIZON (floating) 2001–13 blue chinagraph pencil on paper 42 x 59 cm PATILIRRIKIRLI 2002 artist’s book found book, white pillow feathers 12 x 36.6 x 27.4 cm Deakin University Art Collection, Melbourne Purchased 2012
O 2004 correction fluid on found October magazine 1 x 18 x 23 cm
rothko morely vowels x 7 2008 laser prints open edition 8 of 9 parts, each 29.7 x 21 cm
walkabout HORIZON 2004–8 vinyl letters on found painted mdf block 21.5 x 27.5 x 4.5 cm
–IDEAL–CITY– 2008–11 aquarelle crayon and pencil on paper 12 sheets, each 56 x 75.5 cm; overall 224 x 226.5 cm
The House of a Missing Family 1:50 Plan Study (Rug) 2005 aquarelle crayon and pencil on paper 172 x 58.5 cm The House of a Missing Family 1:100 Study Model 2005 found timber offcuts on laminated timber base 15 x 13 x 73 cm window book 2007 artist’s book hand-cut and folded coloured paper 15 x 10.5 x 0.5 cm (closed, standing) My house in Vienna as a side table 2007–8 prototype; archival corrugated cardboard, oregon, mirror 130 x 83 x 31 cm (green) sheet assembly 2008 gummed brown paper tape on paper collage 130 x 101 cm (irreg.) Innisfail staples (sugar/flour/salt: English/Russian/German) 2008 corrugated cardboard model, laser printed labels 16 x 30 x 32 cm
four 4-colour books 2008–15 artist’s books paper photocopies, hand-cut and torn coloured paper, hand-stitched cotton binding, hand-cut, torn and folded card covers editions 18 of 32 each 21 x 21 x 0.5 cm (closed) delta blocks 2009 artist’s book paper photocopies, card, handstitched cotton binding, hand-cut, incised and folded card slipcover edition G of A–Z 15 x 15 x 0.3 cm (closed) IMPROVISATIONS: blocks and sticks 2009–10 found timber assemblages, flush panel door on handmade timber trestle legs, found books installation dimensions variable city of reflections 2009–11 laser-cut plywood, acrylic mirror, engraved acrylic sheet, screws 61 x 61 x 4 cm (irreg.) Private collection, Melbourne pseudo-spiral 2010 found timbers on cedar prism 49 x 28 x 28 cm 4 monotone ladders 2011 laser print collages 4 of 6 parts, each 29.7 x 21 cm
appropriate measures for an ideal city: STANDARD with SPONTANAEITY, ORTHODOXY with INTUITION, CONVENTION with REVELATION, SPONTANEITY with CONVENTION, INTUITION with STANDARD, REVELATION with ORTHODOXY 2011 vinyl letters on found elm timber sticks 6 parts, each 146 x 3 x 2 cm installation dimensions variable
lines on MATTER 2011 laser prints open edition 6 of 7 parts, each 29.7 x 21 cm
city of blue, yellow, red, green 2011 oil pastel and pencil on laser-cut plywood 4 parts, each 43 x 43 cm (irreg.) installation dimensions variable
horizontal entasis 2013 laser-cut plywood on plywood 30 x 97 x 1.75 cm
plywood folder 2011 adhesive cloth tape on plywood 30 x 90 cm trip 2012 painted chair, KDHW, pine, screws, bamboo skewers 114 x 184 x 68 cm
pink square, black O 2013 Perspex, polypropylene, plywood, found timber, screws
50.5 x 64 x 20 cm 1 to 9: texts, words, buildings and colour 1987 2015 digital video duration: 5.12 mins 7 books of concrete and abstract poems 1998–2009 2015 digital video duration: 21.54 mins four 4-colour books 2008–2015 2015 digital video duration: 8.57 mins Video production by James Rafferty, Melbourne School of Design, University of Melbourne
BIOGRAPHY Born in Regensburg, Germany, in 1946, Alex Selenitsch arrived in Australia in 1949 with his parents as a UN-assisted displaced person. The family settled in Geelong in 1952 where Selenitsch went on to study architecture at the Gordon Institute of Technology from 1964–66. He completed his architecture studies at the University of Melbourne in 1967–68 then worked as an architect and urban designer in Australia and the United Kingdom. Diversifying his activities to include art and poetry he went into private practice in the late 1980s. Selenitsch held his first solo exhibition of Concrete Poetry at Sweeney Reed’s Strines Gallery in Melbourne in 1969 and since then has exhibited regularly, in Melbourne and Brisbane predominantly. Across a career spanning five decades he has engaged with a broad spectrum of artistic disciplines, from artist books, printmaking, collage and sculpture. A respected commentator, he has also written extensively on literature, visual arts and architecture and has published works in Australia, New Zealand and the United States. In 2000 he was awarded a Gordon Darling Fellowship to research and author the publication Australian Artists Books for the National Gallery of Australia, published in 2008. Prior to his current appointment as a senior lecturer in Architecture at the University of Melbourne, Selenitsch taught architectural design, theory and history at Deakin University, Melbourne, and RMIT University, Melbourne, where he undertook a Master of Architecture in 2001. In 2008 he completed a PhD by creative work and dissertation at the University of Melbourne, entitled ‘Sets, Series, and Suites: Composing the Multiple Artwork’. Selenitsch lives in Melbourne and is represented by grahame galleries + editions, Brisbane.
INDIVIDUAL AND COLLABORATIVE EXHIBITIONS 2014
fragrance permeates the garments: books, constructions & drawings, Wunderlich Gallery, University of Melbourne, Melbourne
AGORA: shields, maps & transparencies, PlaceÂ Gallery, Melbourne
HORIZON, grahame galleries + editions, Brisbane
flotsamandjetsam, Place Gallery, Melbourne
Travel Drawings, Wunderlich Gallery, University of Melbourne, Melbourne
Ideal City, Place Gallery, Melbourne
IMPROVISATIONS: blocks and sticks, Place Gallery, Melbourne
Out of the Boxâ€”94 Variations, Craft Victoria, Melbourne
Line Corrections, Place Gallery, Melbourne
How Are Things at Home?, Geelong Gallery, Victoria
Gold Mountain, grahame galleries + editions, Brisbane
Open & Closed, ICON Museum of Art, Deakin University, Melbourne
identikits: maps and models, Watson Place Gallery, Melbourne
Models and Drawings, Watson Place Gallery, Melbourne
Shreds, Cuts & Tears, Brushmarks (sheets and books), grahame galleries + editions, Brisbane
Bits in Pieces: the half-life of data, CSIRO Discovery Centre, Canberra
The Hanuman Shelf, window exhibition, Craft Victoria, Melbourne
Dante Down Under: the purgatorio suite, Craft Victoria, Melbourne
The Ocular Labyrinth, with Werner Hammerstingl and Alex Rizkalla, Arts Victoria, Melbourne
n Versions of the Southern Cross, Gallery Rhumbarallas, Melbourne
1 to 9, Artists Space Gallery, Melbourne
1973 Pinacotheca, Melbourne 1970 Pinacotheca, Melbourne 1969 Strines Gallery, Melbourne
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS 2015
Small Publishers, Brenda May Gallery, Sydney
Centre for the Artist Book, Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery,
Mirror of the World: Books and Ideas, State Library of Victoria,
What is Print? What is Culture?, National Gallery of Australia,
CON*TRA*PUN*TAL, Brenda May Gallery, Sydney
Concrete Poetry Now!, City Library, Melbourne
Born to Concrete: Visual Poetry from the Collections of Heide
Queensland Melbourne Canberra
Museum of Modern Art and The University of Queensland, The University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane, and State Library of New South Wales, Sydney
Unbound and Bound, Macquarie University Art Gallery and Library
The OnGoing GAGA SAGA, Brenda May Gallery, Sydney
Like Mike Now What??, Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts,
Exhibition Space, Macquarie University, Sydney
Lessons in History Vol. II: Democracy, grahame galleries + editions, Brisbane
Merchants of War, Damien Minton Gallery, Sydney
Born to Concrete: The Heide Collection, Heide Museum of
WOOD+cardboard: Furniture, Objects, Prototypes, Models by
Modern Art, Melbourne Hamish Hill and Alex Selenitsch 1992—2010, Wunderlich Gallery, University of Melbourne, Melbourne
Constellations, RMIT Gallery, Storey Hall, RMIT University,
RECYCLED LIBRARY: Altered Books, Artspace Mackay,
Post, Place Gallery, Melbourne
Melbourne Queensland 2008
Portraits of Artists, Place Gallery, Melbourne
Visual Word: The Print Imaging Practice Residency Exhibition,
A Slip of the Tongue, Nexus Gallery, Nexus Multicultural Arts
Project Space/Spare Room, RMIT University, Melbourne Centre, Lion Arts Centre, Adelaide
<the space in between> book project, Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, and then touring to Bendigo Art Gallery, Victoria; Umbrella Studio Contemporary Arts, Townsville, Queensland; Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, New South Wales
Lessons in History Vol. I, grahame galleries + editions, Brisbane
Designing Now: Fringe Furniture Alumni, Melbourne Exhibition Centre, Melbourne
Art Bound, Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne, Melbourne Bookscapes: Exploring Contemporary Australian Artists’ Books, Port Jackson Press Print Room, Melbourne
Heresy: The Secret Language of Materials, Craft Victoria, Melbourne
Create from a Crate, Melbourne Exhibition Centre, Melbourne
AXLEnt, Footscray Community Arts Centre, Melbourne
Script, Mass Gallery, Melbourne, and then touring to Victorian Regional Galleries, Macquarie University Gallery, Sydney, and Lismore Regional Gallery, New South Wales
Second Wind, Craft Victoria, Melbourne
Against the Grain, Brisbane City Gallery, Brisbane
Kangaroo Sculpture Award, ‘Kangaroo’, Kangaroo Ground, Victoria
Goodbye Kind World, RMIT Gallery, Storey Hall, RMIT University, Melbourne
The Garden of the Cool Change, Fringe Festival (Architecture), North Melbourne Town Hall, Melbourne
We Are Australian, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne Kangaroo Sculpture Award, ‘Kangaroo’, Kangaroo Ground, Victoria
The Ladder, Maverick Arts Festival, Victoria Vista Hotel, Melbourne
Mallarmé and Australia, Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne, Melbourne
AXLE, Dairing Gallery, Melbourne
Kangaroo Sculpture Award, ‘Kangaroo’, Kangaroo Ground, Victoria
Box, Craft Victoria, Melbourne
Models Inc, Artists + Industry Gallery, Melbourne
International Visual Poetry, St Kilda Library, Melbourne
Kangaroo Sculpture Award, ‘Kangaroo’, Kangaroo Ground, Victoria
Fin de Siècle? And the Twenty-First Century: Architectures of Melbourne, The Melbourne International Festival of Arts, RMIT University, Melbourne
1990–92 Cross <+> Currents: Bookworks from the Edge of the Pacific, College of Creative Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, and then touring to other venues in the USA and New Zealand
Kangaroo Sculpture Award, ‘Kangaroo’, Kangaroo Ground, Victoria
Alice 125, City Square Plaza, Melbourne
Take a Seat, Blaxland Gallery, Myer Melbourne, Melbourne
Art Angels, Blaxland Gallery, Myer Melbourne, Melbourne
Words on Walls: A Survey of Contemporary Visual Poetry, Heide Park and Art Gallery, Melbourne, and Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney
Pholiota Project, Walter Burley Griffin: A Review, Monash
Just Wot!?, Artists Space Gallery, Melbourne
New Classicism? Ten Melbourne Architects, Monash University
University Gallery, Melbourne
Gallery, Melbourne, and the Power Institute, University of Sydney, Sydney 1985
Oxford International Concrete Poetry Archive, Flaxman Gallery,
Architecture as Idea, RMIT Gallery, Storey Hall, Royal Melbourne
University College, London Institute of Technology, Melbourne 1983–84 A Place of Contemplation: Architectural Attitudes to Space, Tasmanian School of Art Gallery, Hobart, and the University Gallery, University of Melbourne, Melbourne 1981
See/Hear, 27 Niagara Lane Galleries, Melbourne
COLLECTIONS Centre for the Artist Book, Brisbane Deakin University Art Collection, Melbourne Jean Brown papers, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA, USA Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne Mackay Regional Council Collection, New South Wales Monash University Collection, Melbourne National Gallery of Australia, Canberra National Library of Australia, Canberra New York Public Library, NY, USA Oxford International Concrete Poetry Archive, Oxford, UK Power Institute, University of Sydney, Sydney State Library of Queensland, Brisbane State Library of Victoria, Melbourne The Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, Miami, FL, USA Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK Private collections in Australia and overseas COMMISSIONS 2008
double ladder, Place Gallery, Richmond
seven HORIZONS, four corners, Dendy Cinema, Portside Wharf, Brisbane
YARRA/ARRAY SCREEN, World Trade Centre, Melbourne (demolished 2015) AWARDS AND RESIDENCIES
2007–8 Printmaking Summer Residency, RMIT University, Melbourne 2000–1 Gordon Darling Fellowship, Prints and Drawings, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY PUBLISHED CONCRETE POERTY 2013
HORIZON thru & thru, in Australian Poetry Journal, vol. 3, issue 2, p.66.
delta, one poem from lightning, one poem from weeds, in Lehmann, Geoffrey and Robert Gray (eds), Australian Poetry since 1788, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, pp. 773–74, 768–72.
lightning monotone p3, in Artichoke, no. 18, 2007, p. 125.
Whurlie Groups brown paper series, nine collages, in Mongrel: Issue and Subaud, issue 1, no. 1, pp. 22–31.
lightning monotones, in Jones, Patrick (ed.), Words and Things: Concrete Poetry, Supersigns, Multiple Language, Reverie Press Publications, Daylesford, Victoria, n.p.
Filaments, in Southerly, vol. 56, no. 2, Winter, p.200.
4 ladders: parallels, barlines, staves, monotone, in Mixed Concrete Poetry, no. 1, n.p.
Signature, in Going Down Swinging, no. 10–11, p. 157.
2 trees, in Overland, no. 114, p. 67.
4 ladders: TWO WAY, read tread, life/text, adder ladder, in Morgan, Mal (ed.), La Mama Poetica, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, p. 60.
zip, in Overland, no. 107, p. 66.
x, cover for Overland, no. 113.
7 versions of the Southern Cross, cover for Overland, no. 102.
the tree at my fingertips, cover for Overland, no. 105.
adder ladder, in Overland, no. 105, p.17.
think of a word, monotone, neon, Ionesco sequence, up/dn, in TT.O. (ed.), Off the Record, Penguin Books, Ringwood, Victoria, pp. 60–61.
oasis, cover for Overland, no. 91.
Visual Structures, in Architect, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 13–15.
14 poems, in TT.O., Peter Murphy and Alex Selenitsch (eds), Missing Form: Concrete, Visual and Experimental Poems, Collective Effort Press, Melbourne, n.p.
balloons, up/dn, pearls and white noise, in Aspect: Art and Literature, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 12–15.
paper sonnet, cover for Overland, no. 66.
8 monotones, in Aspect: Art and Literature, vol. 4, Autumn, pp. 48–52.
bubble and Webster’s monotone, cover for Overland, no. 57.
Typography and Art, in Australian Art Forum, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 23–26.
balloons, in Manic Magazine, no.1, p. 51.
up/dn, in Broadsheet 3: Where are all the flowers going?, Broadsheet Publishers, Melbourne.
PUBLISHED TEXTS BY THE ARTIST ——, ‘On/In/Out of Print’, in Aspect: Art and Literature, vol. 5, no. 4, 1981, pp. 62–65. ——, ‘Artist statement’, in A Survey of Ethnic Visual Arts in Australia, Aspect: Art and Literature, no. 29–30, Autumn 1984, pp. 80–81. ——, ‘Landscape without Landscape’, in Overland, no. 114, 1989, pp. 84–86. ——, ‘for those who can read only’, in Overland, no. 116, 1989, pp. 86–88. ——, ‘Section Fourteen: Alex Selenitsch’, in Zurbrugg, Nicholas (ed.), Visual Poetics: Concrete Poetry and Its Contexts, exh. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art, Brisbane, 1989, p. 15. ——, ‘The Innisfail Section: projects, objects, texts’, in van Schaik, Leon (ed.), Fin de Siècle? And the Twenty-First Century: Architectures of Melbourne, RMIT University, Melbourne, 1993, pp. 191–216. ——, ‘Sign Sign’, in Overland, no. 131, 1993, pp. 88–89. ——, ‘Multiple & Multiple: Richard Tipping and Alex Selenitsch’, in Imprint: The Journal of Contemporary Australian Printmaking, vol. 29, no. 3, Spring 1994, pp. 1–2. ——, ‘Art/Craft/Design’, in Contemporary Craft Review, no. 1, 1996, pp. 56–59. 86
——, ‘IMAGINATION’, in Macleod, Ross (ed.), Interior Cities, RMIT University Publishing, Melbourne, 1999, pp. 99–101, 245–47. ——, ‘The Bon à Tirer Waltz’, in Butler, Roger and Anne Virgo (eds), Place Made: Australian Print Workshop, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2004, pp. 149–59. ——, ‘On Belgium Linen’, in Karl Wiebke: Painting, exh. cat., Liverpool Street Gallery, Sydney, 2005, p. 9. ——, ‘The Book as Paper, Body, Copy, Conglomerate, Baton, & Flow’, in Stuart, James (ed.), The Material Poem: An E-anthology of Text-based Art & Inter-media Writing, A Non-Generic Production, Sydney, 2007, http://www.nongeneric.net/index.php?/publications/the-material-poem/. ——, ‘words, words, words’, in Artlink, vol. 27, no. 1, 2007, pp. 50–54. ——, Australian Artists Books, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008. ——, ‘The House of a Missing Family’, Architectural Design Research, vol. 3, no. 1, 2008, pp. 57–78. ——, ‘BOOK: alteration’, in RECYCLED LIBRARY: Altered Books, exh. cat., Artspace Mackay, New South Wales, 2010, pp. 9–14. ——, ‘Generative Objects’, in Roudavski, Stanislav (ed.), MAP: Investigative Designing as an Approach to Architectural Creativity, Melbourne School of Design, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 2010, pp. 19–40. ——, ‘The Halfway House’, in Holloway, Barbara and Jennifer Rutherford (eds), Halfway House: The Poetics of Australian Spaces, University of Western Australia Publishing, Perth, 2010, pp. 69–87. ——, ‘Questionnaire, what is design?’, in Askland, Hedda Haugen, Michael J. Ostwald and Anthony Williams (eds), Creativity, Design and Education: Theories, Positions and Challenges, 2010, pp. 123–25. ——, ‘WOOD : cardboard’, in WOOD+cardboard: Furniture, Objects, Prototypes, Models by Hamish Hill and Alex Selenitsch 1992–2010, exh. cat, Wunderlich Gallery, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 2010, n.p.
——, ‘arbitrary to non-arbitrary in 13 steps’, in Lost for Words, exh. cat., South Australian School of Art Gallery, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, 2012, n.p. ——, ‘As it Was, As it Is’, in Born to Concrete: Visual Poetry from the Collections of Heide Museum of Modern Art and The University of Queensland, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, and The University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane, 2013, pp. 13–19. ——, ‘As it Was, As it Is’, in Australian Poetry Journal, vol. 3, issue 2, 2013, pp. 55–61. ——, the Book of 3 Times / Alex Selenitsch, Codex Australia Incorporated, Melbourne, 2013. ——, ‘As it Happened’, in fragrance permeates the garments: books, constructions & drawings, exh. cat., Wunderlich Gallery, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 2014, n.p. ——, ‘the BOOK book’, in 10 books, 5 makers: Australian books in Washington DC, Codex Australia, Melbourne, 2014, pp. 6–11. ——, ‘Into Art and Out Again’, in Inflection Journal of the Melbourne School of Design, vol. 1, November 2014, pp. 18–23.
BOOKS Jones, Patrick (ed.), Words and Things: Concrete Poetry, Supersigns, Multiple Language, Reverie Press Publications, Daylesford, Victoria, 2004. Michael, Linda (ed.), The Heide Collection, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, 2011. TT.O., Peter Murphy and Alex Selenitsch (eds), Missing Form: Concrete, Visual and Experimental Poems, Collective Effort Press, Melbourne, 1981. Metcalf, Andrew (ed.), Thinking Architecture: Theory in the Work of Australian Architects, Royal Australian Institute of Architects, Canberra, 1995. van Schaik, Leon (ed.), Fin de Siècle? And the Twenty-First Century: 88
Architectures of Melbourne, RMIT University, Melbourne, 1993.
EXHIBITION CATALOGUEs Born to Concrete: Visual Poetry from the Collections of Heide Museum of Modern Art and The University of Queensland, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, and The University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane, 2013. Burns, Karen, ‘Home’, in How Are Things at Home?, Geelong Gallery, Victoria, 2008, n.p. fragrance permeates the garments: books, constructions & drawings, Wunderlich Gallery, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 2014. Holt-Damant, Kathi, ‘Bits in Pieces: The Half-life of Data’, in Nogrady, Bianca (ed.), Metis 2001: Wasted, CSIRO, Canberra, 2001, pp. 51–55. Kaji-O’Grady, Sandra, Book Marks and Masks, in Open & Closed, ICON Museum of Art, Deakin University, Melbourne, 2006, n.p. Reid, Barrett (ed.), Words on Walls: A Survey of Contemporary Visual Poetry, Heide Park and Art Gallery, Melbourne, 1989. Travel Drawings, Wunderlich Gallery, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 2012. Visual Word: The Print Imaging Practice Residency Exhibition, Project Space/Spare Room, RMIT University, Melbourne, 2008. WOOD+cardboard: Furniture, Objects, Prototypes, Models by Hamish Hill and Alex Selenitsch 1992–2010, Wunderlich Gallery, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 2010. Zurbrugg, Nicholas (ed.), Visual Poetics: Concrete Poetry and Its Contexts, Museum of Contemporary Art, Brisbane, 1989.
ARTICLES AND REVIEWS Bertram, Nigel, ‘How Are Things at Home?’, Architecture Australia, Jan/Feb 2009. pp. 17–19. Carter, Paul, ‘Selenitsch’s Invisibles’, Art and Australia, vol. 26, no. 3, Autumn 1989, pp. 443–47. Jenkins, John, ‘Open and Closed: Bookworks’, Imprint: The Journal of Contemporary Australian Printmaking, vol. 41, no. 2, 2006, p. 41. Missingham, Greg, ‘Double, Double Toil and Trouble’, Artichoke, no. 18, 2007, pp. 122–25. Nelson, Robert, ‘Creative chaos emerges from life’s plans’, The Age, 23 May 2012, p. 13. Noorhuis-Fairfax, Sarina, ‘Alex Selenitsch’s the Book of 3 Times’, Imprint: The Journal of Contemporary Australian Printmaking, vol. 48, no. 3, 2013, p. 13. Kenny, Anusha, ‘Writing with Art’, Artlink, vol. 32, no. 3, 2012, pp. 52–53.
INTERVIEWS AND THESES Alex Selenitsch in interview with Anne Kirker, by email correspondence, Melbourne, 31 October 2013, published as ‘Seven Questions for Alex Selenitsch’, http://www. grahamegalleries.com.au/index.php/alex-selenitsch-sevenquestions-for-alex-selenitsch. Selenitsch, Alex, ‘Sets, Series and Suites: Composing the Multiple Artwork’, PhD thesis, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 2008.
IMAGE CREDITS AND PERMISSIONS PHOTOGRAPHS BY: Terence Bogue pp. 51, 58, 59, 64–65 John Brash pp. 6, 7 Christian Capurro pp. 10, 12, 13, 14–15, 18, 19 (top), 20–21, 25, 27, 29, 30, 31, 33, 34–35, 36–37, 39, 66–67, 68–69, 70–71 Robert Colvin pp. 16, 26, 42–43, 62–63 Philippa Knack pp. 72–73 Andrus Lipsys pp. 19 (bottom), 54–55 Unknown pp. 17, 23 PHOTOGRAPHS SUPPLIED BY: Alex Selenitsch pp. 8, 9, 22, 44–49, 50, 56–57 Artworks by Alex Selenitsch are copyright the artist.
Published on the occasion of the exhibition Alex Selenitsch: LIFE/TEXT Curated by Linda Short Heide Museum of Modern Art 24 October 2015 – 17 April 2016 Design: Ramona Lindsay ISBN: 978-1-921330-46-9 © Heide Museum of Modern Art, the artist, author, designer and photographers.
Cover image: LIFE/TEXT matches 1986 (detail) matches on card on foamcore board 26 x 22 x 0.75 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art Gift of Alex and Merron Selenitsch 2011 7 Templestowe Road
T +61 3 9850 1500
Bulleen Victoria 3105
F +61 3 9852 0154
Heide Museum of Modern Art and
My thanks go to those who have provided
Assistant Curator Linda Short warmly
me with ideas and inspiration, those
thank Alex Selenitsch for the time and
who have helped in making the works, to
enthusiasm he has given to this project.
those who have written about my work,
We also extend our appreciation to the
to those who have been patrons and
institutional lenders to this exhibition:
audience, to the anthologists, curators
Deakin University Art Collection,
and gallery directors who have chosen,
Melbourne, and the National Gallery of
published and exhibited my work, also
Australia, Canberra; and to the private
to my colleagues and family for their
lenders who have lent their valued works.
bemused engagement and support.
The assistance of all Heide staff is
Specific thanks on this occasion go to
acknowledged, in particular the following
Trevor Vickers, Mike Brown, Chris Wallace-
for their role in preparing the exhibition
Crabbe, TT.O., and Richard Tipping;
and catalogue: Ramona Lindsay,
to John Graham, Andris Stahls, John
Linda Michael, Katarina Paseta, Jennifer
Ryrie, Hamish Hill, Ross Berryman, Jas
Ross and Samantha Vawdrey. Sincere
Johnson, Linus Tan and James Rafferty;
thanks also to former curatorial intern
Helen and Allan Willingham, Roslyn and
Josephine Briginshaw for her contribution
Owen Beaton, Barrett Reid, and Sweeney
to this project’s development, and to
Reed; Jim Roberts, Bruce Pollard, Michele
Robert Bridgewater, Jordan Marani
and Trevor Fuller, Noreen Grahame, and
and Simone Tops for their work on the
Linda Short; Greg Missingham, Peter
Downton, Petr Herel, Tony Woods; and to Merron, who is still waiting for my best work. Special thanks go to the Melbourne School of Design, Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning, University of Melbourne, who, for some decades, have tolerated my creative work and provided me with studio and workshop space, as well as an abundance of leftover and abandoned materials.