VALI MYERS Between the Dusk and Dawn
KIM ANDERSON Skin
TIM HANDFIELD La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre 121 View Street Plenty Bendigo, VIC, 3550
ELISA STONE Liquid Skies
To 23 February
28 February –+61 273 5441 April 8724
To 16 February
19 February – 23 March
La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre 121 View Street, Bendigo, VIC, 3550 T: 03 5441 8724 121 View Street E: firstname.lastname@example.org Bendigo, VIC, 3550 W: latrobe.edu.au/vac +61 3 5441 8724 Gallery hours: Tue – Fri 10am-5pm. Weekends 12-5pm latrobe.edu.au/vacentre La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre
Image: Vali Myers, Moby Dick, (detail), 1972-74, pen, black ink, burnt sienna, watercolour and tempera on paper. 30.0 x 40.0 cm. Private Collection.
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FEATURES (07) COMICS FACE Ive Sorocuk (08) THE MADNESS OF ART
(10) KATIE NOONAN: LOVE IS A CIRCUS Steve Proposch (16) TAIWAN 101 Dmetri Kakmi (24) GEORGIA MACGUIRE: HEALING DRESSES Laura Skerlj (30) FEBRUARY SALON febulicious (40) ACTEASE Courtney Symes (46) MELBURNIN’ Inga Walton (58) STRALIAN STORIES: KIRSTEN KRAUTH / JUST_A_GIRL
GETTING THROUGH THE DAY
(62) GREETINGS FROM HIROSHIMA PART 5 Ben Laycock
COVER: Alfred WERTHEIMER, The Kiss, Mosque Theater, Richmond, Va. June 30, 1956 (detail) © Alfred Wertheimer. All rights reserved. Elvis at 21, Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer, National Portrait Gallery, King Edward Terrace, Parkes (ACT), until 10 March - www.portrait.gov.au/ Issue 109: FEBRUARY 2014 trouble is an independent monthly mag for promotion of arts and culture Published by Trouble magazine Pty Ltd. ISSN 1449-3926 STAFF Vanessa Boyack, administration (admin@ troublemag.com) Steve Proposch, editorial (firstname.lastname@example.org) Listings (email@example.com) CONTRIBUTORS Ive Sorocuk, Jim Kempner, Dmetri Kakmi, Laura Skerlj, Courtney Symes, Inga Walton, Klare Lanson, Darby Hudson, Ben Laycock & Cassandra Scalzi. Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/Troublemag Subscribe to our website: troublemag.com READER ADVICE: Trouble magazine contains artistic content that may include nudity, adult concepts, coarse language, and the names, images or artworks of deceased Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people. Treat Trouble intelligently, as you expect to be treated by others. Collect or dispose of thoughtfully. DIS IS DE DISCLAIMER! The views and opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the publisher. To the best of our knowledge all details in this magazine were correct at the time of publication. The publisher does not accept responsibility for errors or omissions. All content in this publication is copyright and may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any form without prior permission of the publisher. Trouble is distributed online from the first of every month of publication but accepts no responsibility for any inconvenience or financial loss in the event of delays. Phew!
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KATIE NOONAN Love is a Circus by Steve Proposch
WAY BACK IN 1998 A LITTLE INDIE-POP BAND from Brisbane released their first self-titled album, George. The band included Katie Noonan on vocals and keys, Katie’s brother Tyrone on vox, guitar and keys, Geoff Green on drums, Nick Stewart on guitar and Geoff Hooton on bass. Hooton left the band in 2000 to be replaced by Paulie Bromley, and the band went on to build a solid following over the next few years, culminating in their 2002 release, Polyserena, which went Platinum. While George effectively remains together as a group, the individual members have been on hiatus, attending to their own projects, since their last performance as a band in Brisbane, December 2004. Katie has arguably been busiest during this time, achieving widespread acclaim through vibrant excursions into Jazz, Pop and Classical music, and taking one of the world’s most pure and versatile singing voices to new and sublime heights. One of those peaks was an amazing and beautiful song cycle based on the letters of early Australian pioneering women that Katie devised and composed in 2012. The songs became the basis for a collaboration with contemporary Circus group Circa, who helped to meld the piece into a remarkable physical theatre piece called Love-Song-Circus, which ran to rave reviews and packed houses in both the Adelaide Cabaret Festival and the Melbourne Spiegeltent. This year Love-Song-Circus returns to the stage for the Garden of Unearthly Delights (13 February – 16 March) in Rundle Park, Adelaide, and Trouble jumped at the opportunity to interview this remarkable and protean performer.
Katie Noonan / Steve Proposch
“Somewhere between these worlds is my favourite music. A glorious space where genre does not exist.” We were blown away by your wonderful performance of Songs of the Southern Skies with Karin Schaupp last year at the Theatre Royal in Castlemaine ... Katie Noonan: Thank you very much – I love that gorgeous space. You are nothing if not eclectic, working across a range of genres and styles with a wide variety of fellow performers and songwriters. I’m interested in how you might describe your own practice, considering your apparent refusal to fit into any neat musical pigeonholes. K.N. For me music is simply about connection between one human and another. The genre and style do not matter to me at all. As long as it comes from a place of integrity and honesty that is all I really care about. Thankfully that has meant that I have been able to work with a wide and wonderful range of artists from various walks of musical life. My passion of late has been working with artists from different mediums, like visual art, dance and circus, and seeing how that challenges and inspires me. Do you feel a special affinity to any one style of music over the others? K.N. My first love was classical music. Then came pop and rock and later came jazz and folk. Somewhere between these worlds is my favourite music. A glorious space where genre does not exist. Katie Noonan / Steve Proposch
Your mother’s opera career must have been hugely influential in choosing your own career path. Can you tell us a bit about your family and those early years of classical voice training? K.N. My mum and dad are wonderful parents and introduced my older brother Tyrone and I to a fantastic world of musical influences, mainly classical and jazz. Mum Maggie is also a music teacher so she has seen one too many pushy parents in her time, and definitely did not push Ty or I into any particular musical path. She simply supported our choices and taught us both singing and piano along the way, and encouraged us to do our best. My love of literature and great lyrics came from my father, Brian, who is a wonderful journalist and writer. In 2013 you were placed in a top 20 list of greatest Australian singers, according to a Herald Sun poll of your peers. The list included Bon Scott, Michael Hutchence and Gurrumul. Can you name a few Australian singers who might top your own personal list of ‘the greatest’? K.N. At the top of my list would have been Dame Joan Sutherland, Vince Jones and Archie Roach. I was incredibly honoured to be included in the list – so amazing! Love-Song-Circus takes you to new ground yet again, performing a physical theatre piece in collaboration with circus troupe Circa. Can you offer a bit of background as to the narrative of this particular song cycle? K.N. Love -Song-Circus was inspired by an exhibition at the National Museum called Love Tokens. The convicts would engrave pennies – the tokens – with messages and images for the loved ones they left behind. This imagery of love and loss captured my imagination immediately ... as a woman and mother I felt deeply compelled to explore these stories. I soon discovered that the lives of the first female convicts is a part of our history that has unfortunately been explored by few. My research led me all over the country and as I got to know these incredible women more and more, a lovely musical world began to emerge, a song cycle for string quartet, piano, double bass and guitar/banjo.
Katie Noonan / Steve Proposch
“They have such a different vernacular. It makes me feel incredibly unfit and un-bendy!”
My desire to add a visual element lead to the involvement of the team at Circa – directors Yaron Lifschitz and Ben Knapton, and three exceptional performers, acrobat/aerialists Melissa Knowles, Jessica Ward and Kate Muntz. I feel we have created a fascinating introduction to the world of these brave and stoic women. Have you found the results of Love-Song-Circus surprising in any way? and/or What kinds of new things are you learning about through this kind of performance? K.N. There is something very special about singing about actual real women and bringing their history to life. I feel very honoured to have got to know these women … they really are truly inspiring and powerful! It has been fascinating to work with the team at Circa and to witness how these stories translate into their bodies. They have such a different vernacular. It makes me feel incredibly unfit and un-bendy! You do seem to love the narrative elements of songwriting – can you expand on your feelings for any story-songs that may have influenced your work or made an impact in your life? K.N. One of my greatest influences as a lyricist is Joni Mitchell. She really is the queen of the narrative that sucks you in and takes you on a journey. Honestly though, pretty much all music I listen to influences me in some way. With my own lyric writing I just try to be as honest as possible and try not to edit /judge myself as the words come out. It can be quite scary revealing your private world in your lyrics but I feel that is the only way to truly connect.
Katie Noonan / Steve Proposch
Katie Noonan and Circa will perform Love-Song-Circus at Garden of Unearthly Delights, Rundle Park, East Terrace, Adelaide (SA), 13 February to 16 March 2014 - gardenofunearthlydelights.com.au Katie Noonan / Steve Proposch
Taiwan 101 Dmetri Kakmi
EVER THOUGHT OF VISITING TAIPEI, the capital of Taiwan? Didn’t think so. Neither did I, until my friend Ross invited me to join him there for New Year’s celebrations. It’s off the beaten track and easily bypassed by most visitors to Asia. Yet it has beautiful beaches, spectacular mountains, amazing forests and a unique culture, all on an island that’s smaller than Tasmania. As a bonus, it’s cheap and you don’t encounter many Caucasians. Our flight landed at Taoyuan International Airport. A cab or bus takes you to the city centre in about forty minutes. We opted for the latter option. It’s cheaper. The bus dropped us off near Ximen train station. A short walk delivered us to the family run hotel that was home for the next six days. It was late afternoon and cold when we hit the streets. Ximen is Taipei’s cultural and entertainment hub. It dates to the Japanese occupation and still maintains a connection to its past. One end of Hanzhong Street is occupied by the newly restored Japanese barracks and park; the opposite end boasts the Japanese-built Red House theatre, a tourist focal point that also offers sanctuary to the lively gay district. The place was dead when we arrived but jumping by ten o’clock at night. Lip-smacking lychee martinis at Cafe Dalida served as a warm welcome. The coming together of four ways in front of Ximen train station is Taipei’s Times Square; a sight worth seeing at night. It virtually crackles with billboards, lights, music, buskers and traffic. People stream in from all sides to enjoy life. It’s easy to get drunk on the youthful energy alone. Cross Chengdu Road and you enter Ximending, a maze of pedestrian streets and alleys crammed with specialty shops, cafes, department stores, cinemas, bars, eateries and anything else you might think of. An amusing highlight is Modern Toilet Restaurant. We didn’t eat there, but it’s worth hunting down for a photo opportunity. The foyer is guaranteed to have you in stitches. Keep in mind that Ximending is dead until about midday. Go late in the afternoon or, better, in the evening. < Taipei 101 looms at the end of every street.
Taiwan 101 / Dmetri Kakmi
At the end of every street soared Taipei 101, until recently the tallest building in the world.
My idea of absorbing a new country is to eat everything — well, almost everything — in sight. Aside from eating, I feel duty bound to do the usual touristy stuff: visit museums, art galleries and important national sites. Ross had other ideas.
For late lunch the next day we hopped on the efficient, cheap and reliable MRT (Metropolitan Rapid Transit system) and zipped across town to a cafe called Omelette To Go. It’s in Xinyi district, down a side street that runs off a busy main road. Renowned chef Ellen Ling, in trade-mark glasses and bandana, plied us with good humour, great coffee and delicious fluffy omelettes. Free of tourists it’s the kind of place that makes you feel like you’ve penetrated the skin of the city. Then it was on to Eslite, the department store with everything your heart desires: books, CDs, DVDs, designer clothes, food hall, etc. As night fell, we headed to Guanghua Digital Plaza, near Zhongxiao Xinsheng train station. It’s not the sort of place I’d visit, but it has to be seen simply because there’s nothing like it in Australia. It’s a massive six storeys of computer components, wires, electrical accessories and everything that bleeps and beeps; a wet dream for electronics buffs and anyone looking for a taste of rampant capitalism. At the end of every street soared Taipei 101, until recently the tallest building in the world. There are observation decks at the top, but I couldn’t be bothered wading through tourists to get there. Seen from a distance, Taipei 101 is alarming. It looms like King Kong, blotting out the sky, a mighty edifice that is a focal point for a proud city. Plans for Sunday were scarpered by bad weather. We’d looked forward to driving to Wulai, a spa town in the mountains. Instead, local friends took us on an impromptu tour of the locations for a favourite gangster film called Monga. First came the modest and sweetly snug Ching Shui Yen Tsu Shih Temple. Otherwise known as Temple Front. This little oasis is worth hunting down for the solitary, out-of-the-way experience it offers. It’s a glimpse into a city that no longer exists. The other-worldly feeling is continued at Bopiliao. Virtually around the corner from Temple Front, it’s a well-preserved factory/warehouse complex, complete with worker dormitories. The length of the narrow street is geared to make the visitor feel like he’s stepped back in time. Coming out the other end is a shock of modernity. Taiwan 101 / Dmetri Kakmi
The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial. Taiwan 101 / Dmetri Kakmi
TOP A delicious spread at Pinxian Seafood Restaurant. BOTTOM Shilin Night Market. Taiwan 101 / Dmetri Kakmi
We then drove to Longshan Temple in Monga, Taipei’s oldest district. Founded in 1738, the ornate temple is dedicated to the Buddhist goddess of mercy. The finely carved stone and wood pieces draw worshippers and tourists alike. If you want to shake off the mantle of holiness, walk to the rather seedy Monga Night Market. It’s a block to the north. Daylight really shows up the grime.
There’s nothing quite like the frisson of being sated on excellent food and drink and shooting rapidly above the city lights at night in a driverless train.
The night ended at Pinxian Seafood Restaurant in Da’an district. The nearest station is Liuzhangli (don’t worry, announcements are made in four languages, including English). Take the MRT and walk the five or so minutes to the restaurant. It’s worth it. The train is elevated and completely automated. There’s nothing quite like the frisson of being sated on excellent food and drink and shooting rapidly above the city lights at night in a driverless train.
The first truly touristy thing I did in Taipei was visit the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial. Chiang Kai-shek is the founding father of modern Taiwan. I’m glad we came here on our third day in the city. After narrow streets and alleyways, it was a relief to step out of the MRT and be confronted by a vast space that allows the eye to see distances and traverse grand vistas. To appreciate the monument, enter through the ceremonial gate at the western end. Walk between the National Theatre and National Concert Hall, to the memorial and the impressive museum beneath it. The surrounding park is a pleasant spot to relax and feed the biggest goldfish on earth. Impressive though it is, the shrine made me wander why humanity loves a ‘benevolent’ autocrat. With that thought in mind we headed to the second truly touristy destination: National Palace Museum. This pagoda style building houses an impressive collection of treasures rescued from the Forbidden City, in mainland China. It can be seen in a leisurely three or four hours. Don’t expect it to be a relaxing, meditative experience though. It’s jammed with tourists. The Louvre has the Mona Lisa and the National Palace Museum has the exquisitely carved jade cabbage and pork that provided food in the afterlife for an empress. Unfortunately, we didn’t see them. There was a half hour wait. Instead, I derived pleasure from two outstanding scrolls: ‘Up the River During Qingming’ and ‘Festival by the river — a city of Canton’. That evening I slaked my hunger at the Shilin Night Market. This renowned destination is a suburb and a half of street market stalls and roadside eateries. It starts at 6.30 p.m. and goes till all hours of the night. If you take the MRT, alight at Jaintin station, one stop before Shilin, and then follow the crowds or your nose. Bring an empty stomach and good walking shoes. I was impressed by everything, except the snake destined for the pot. Taiwan 101 / Dmetri Kakmi
The Maokong Gondola with Taipei 101 in the distance to the right. Taiwan 101 / Dmetri Kakmi
The next day we took the train to Taipei Zoo. If pandas are your thing, turn right at the train station and head for their concrete enclosure. I was more interested in the Maokong Gongola. The two obviously popular destinations are a short tenminute walk from each other. In fact, at one point the gondola floats right over the zoo. You can look down and see what you haven’t missed. Use your MRT card to enter the zoo and the Gondola; no need to stand in line for a ticket.
The fireworks that spew out of the 101 storeys are legnedary, and we had front-row seats.
The Maokong Gondola is a cable car transportation system that ferries passengers across the mountain. Take the Crystal Cabinet, with the glass floor. The slightly longer wait is worth it. Once you stop hyperventilating, you will enjoy the sensation of floating serenely over a deep green sea for for 4.3 kilometres. In the distance, other gondolas wind their way over forested mountain ranges and disappear behind cloudy peaks. Maokong village awaits at the end. Head straight for the spring onion and egg pancake stall to the left of Main Street. Make your purchase and take a walk through the winding streets. Have a tea or coffee on one of the terraces overlooking the tea plantations and, on the way back, buy a Taiwanese pork sausage from the solitary woman on the Camphor Path. It’ll fortify you for the twenty minute trip back. Then it was back to the hotel to rest before going out to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Taipei had been preparing for the big night for some time. There had been an air of excitement and anticipation while we walked round Xinyi area during the week. Now, as Ross and I made our way to Taipei 101 together with several million others, the buzz was at fever pitch. Crazy hats, food stalls, mouth-watering smells, bands on street corners. It was intoxicating and I began to lose my reservations about being part of a crowd. Friends had booked a table beneath the iconic building. The fireworks that spew out of the 101 storeys are legendary, and we had front-row seats. Good Taiwanese beer flowed and there was time to sit back and be diverted by the free entertainment put on by Taipei City Hall. Minutes before midnight President Ma began a countdown that was taken up by the overexcited populace. The building turned into a giant column of alternating colours and, at precisely the witching hour, poured forth explosions and a river of fire that lasted an exhilarating 170 seconds. A big cheer went up from the streets and soon after merrymakers were either walking home or heading for the MRT. For me, it was a fitting farewell to a fun and intriguing city. After running around for six days, I was glad to sit on an airplane for nine and a half hours and do nothing but eat and sleep. Taiwan 101 / Dmetri Kakmi
Healing Dresses by Laura Skerlj
IN THE PERIPHERY OF Eugene von Guérard’s painting, Mr. John King’s Station (1861), a gardener tends a border of roses. The pink flowers flicker amidst the virescent scenery. Nearby, Mr. John King himself watches on as the gardener works. Unusually, there is no dwelling in this ‘property portrait’ of the Gippsland estate, just a delineated grassy knoll enclosed by this floral partition. Outside the grounds, denser bush land and the peaks of the bruised Victorian Alps reveal a less containable wilderness. However, it is the three Indigenous peoples — a Kurnai (or Gunai) man, woman and child staring out from the painting’s foreground — that is the obvious anomaly. As the gardener and property owner recede, the Aboriginal family peacefully gathers to confront the viewer from the centre of the paddock. Judging from earlier sketches of this painting, it is unlikely these people appeared in the scene as depicted: Guérard included them of his own volition, conjuring a tranquil cohabitation. i Ironically, the necklace of roses planted along the edge of the property forms a delicate (yet thorny) enclosure for these original custodians of Country. Through many conversations with artist Georgia MacGuire, it became apparent that the image of a rose constellates the Indigenous women in her family. These connections begin in Powelltown — a quaint timbermilling locale in the Yarra Valley — where all that separated the family home from dense bush land was a six-foot hem of roses. The artist’s grandmother, Isabel, sang “The Yellow Rose of Texas” while cooking: an old folk song musing on a young woman of mixed race (a ‘mulatto’) envisioned as ‘yellow’ amid the darker people of the American south. In the artist’s library of books, a pile of rose anthologies inherited from her mother once instructed the growth of some 40 specimens in their garden.
Georgia MacGuire, Illfitted Child 2013
And as the only sister among four brothers, MacGuire recalls a childhood adorned in feminine paraphernalia: “I vividly remember a dusky-pink velvet pinafore I owned as a little girl, which had a red rose embroidered on the front. My mother bought me one ‘good’ dress every year, and it was by far my favorite item of clothing. I think it was the one item of clothing I owned which made me feel like I wasn’t the poor black kid in the street.” Although these motifs summon the familiarity of the artist’s childhood (for which she both yearns and grieves), there is a concurrent discomfort in recognising them as implicitly ‘colonial’: “My matriarchal lineage towards a love of roses and dresses — even contemporary fashion — is a poignant signifier of our forced assimilation.” Laura Skerlj / Healing Dresses
Eugene von Guérard, Mr John King’s station 1861, oil on canvas laid on board, 40.7 x 83.9 cm, Private collection, England.
Reflecting on this history, it has become increasingly important for MacGuire to reinterpret these motifs from an Indigenous perspective. Through her art making, she questions their saccharine character: how have these objects and images been used to contain women, particularly Indigenous women, and their activities? In MacGuire’s exhibition, Ill-fitted, a series of sculptural dresses made of paper-bark hang from a steel structure. The dresses are white, grey, green, peach — the mutable tones and subtleties of their material — whispery, flaking and delicate like lace. Each garment has been modeled on the plaster cast of a real body, be that her own, or those of other Indigenous women and girls in her family: Laura Skerlj / Healing Dresses
a petite school frock with a Peter-Pan collar belongs to an eight-year old child; a knee-length shift was fitted to a woman in her twenties; an elegant gown with a bulbous front belongs to a pregnant cousin. As a group of ‘figures’ they congregate in a similar formation to the family in Guérard’s painting: behind them, a copy of Mr. John King’s Station papers the wall. It is in the absence of their wearers that these dresses hang, hauntingly, within the setting of a colonial landscape.
“... by forcing the Indigenous body into this Western structure, the woman inside becomes assimilated into dominant culture...” Here, the dress is envisioned as architecture for the female body: a mechanism of conformity for women alike. Yet by using a native Australian material, the garments make specific reference to Country, traditional practice, and the disturbingly recent classification of Indigenous peoples as ‘flora or fauna’. More specifically, the dresses embody these histories and cultural traditions within a distinctly feminine construction: the same dress that MacGuire cherished as a child, becomes the intimate, everyday framework that restricts her as an adult. As the artist explains, by forcing the Indigenous body into this Western structure, the woman inside becomes assimilated into dominant culture: “With this assimilation comes a history of trauma, removal, rape, murder and racism. These have become important components of the female psyche of my family. Our experiences have ultimately made us who we are.”
Laura Skerlj / Healing Dresses
While directly addressing these atrocities, the process itself has a distinctly different emphasis. As MacGuire cuts and stitches the fabric-like bark, she has time to meditate on her own experiences and those of the women close to her. With these thoughts in mind, the artist reinterprets a motif she recalls as oppressive or restrictive, into sculptural objects that, conversely, celebrate the feminine: she acknowledges the struggles of these Indigenous women, and seeks to materialize their strength through art. This solitary moment is partnered by the interactive bodycasting process that brings the artist closer to her female (role) models: “This group experience was reflective of traditional women’s business, and spurred conversations about bodies, sex, childbirth, and image. We talked a lot about how our flesh contained our personal histories, something that was apparent for all of us.”
Through the creation of this new work, MacGuire has embraced the experiences of a group of women who share an oppressive history. Therefore, it is fitting that the artist’s choice of material — a bark with strong medicinal qualities derived from the Melaleuca tree — has been used by Indigenous cultures in Australia for thousands of years. This waxy, waterproof fibre is permeated with antiseptic tea-tree oil, making it the perfect natural bandage to bind and heal wounds. In turn, these healing qualities become symbolically embedded within MacGuire’s garments, each dress transforming into a cathartic “object that can acknowledge and soothe the collective past of Indigenous women.” Ill-fitted by Georgia MacGuire, fortyfivedownstairs 45 Flinders Lane Melbourne (VIC), 11 – 22 February 2014 - fortyfivedownstairs.com Laura Skerlj is a Melbourne-based writer and artist. www.lauraskerlj.com ! Ruth Pullin, “A hidden story: Eugene von Guérard’s Mr i John King’s station, 1861,” Melbourne Art Network. November 1, 2012, http:// melbourneartnetwork.com.au/2012/11/01/what-are-you-looking-atruth-pullineugene-von-guerard’s-mr-john-king’s-station/ (accessed January 1, 2014).
Laura Skerlj / Healing Dresses
PREVIOUS SPREADS: 1. Dominique SALVATORE, Luna (in due parti) 2014, photographic inkjet print. Fireworks: Art and Design by Bright Young Things , a group exhibition of work from VCE art and design students who live or go to school in Moonee Valley, Incinerator Gallery, 180 Holmes Road, Moonee Ponds (VIC), 14 February – 30 March - www.incineratorgallery.com.au 2. Vali MYERS, Gone to Earth 1983 - 1984, pen, black ink, burnt sienna, sepia and watercolour, 22.5 x 33.0 cm. Private Collection. Vali Myers: Between the Dusk and Dawn, La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre, 121 View Street Bendigo (VIC), until 23 February - www.latrobe.edu.au/vac 3. Michelle USSHER, Two Eyeballs on the Run – Looking for a new Head to House (Adam & Eve – Pelops & Hippo) 2012, oil on linen, 225 x 300 cm. Courtesy of the artist and KALIMAN RAWLINS. MICHELLE USSHER: Yellow Eyes Burn and Return, TarraWarra Museum of Art, 311 HealesvilleYarra Glen Road, Healesville (VIC), 22 February – 27 April - twma.com.au 4. Helen S. TIERNAN, Fire tracks 2013, 50 x 150cm. Farming without fences – how Aborigines made Australia, Belconnen Arts Centre, 118 Emu Bank, Belconnen (ACT), until 16 February - www.belconnenartscentre.com.au
5. Pablo PICASSO, Paloma et sa poupée, fond noir [Paloma and her Doll, Black Background] 1952, Lithograph on paper (artist proof); 70 x 55cm. Private collection, Sydney. Reproduced courtesy of Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2013 © Courtesy Olsen Irwin Gallery, Sydney. Picasso’s Women, Gippsland Art Gallery, 68 Foster Street Sale (VIC), 1 February – 6 April www.wellington.vic.gov.au/Enjoying-Wellington/Gippsland-Art-Gallery 6. Penelope DAVIS, Column 2008, type C photograph. Reproduced courtesy of the artist. Photography: Penelope Davis. Pure bewdy — recent acquisitions 2012–13, Geelong Gallery, Little Malop Street Geelong (VIC), until 9 February - www.geelonggallery.org.au
7. Franky HOWELL, Battling a whole bunch of little arseholes 2013, gouache on paper, 76 x 56cm, Courtesy of the artist. Darebin Art Show, Bundoora Homestead Art Centre, 7-27 Snake Gully Drive, Bundoora (VIC), until 16 February - www.bundoorahomestead.com 8. Garry TRINH, Parramatta Road 2009, Digital C-Type Print, 62cm x 76cm. ‘The Boondocks Experiment 2014: Off The Beaten Track’, Hawkesbury Regional Gallery, Deerubbin Centre -1st Floor, 300 George Street, Windsor (NSW), 14 February –13 April - www.hawkesbury.nsw.gov.au
ACTease DATELINE: FEBRUARY 2014 Courtney Symes
“I AIN’T NO SAINT, but I’ve tried never to do anything that would hurt my family or offend God ... I figure all any kid needs is hope and the feeling he or she belongs. If I could do or say anything that would give some kid that feeling, I would believe I had contributed something to the world,” Elvis Presley once commented to a reporter in the 1950s (source: www.elvis.com). Elvis fan or not, there’s something captivating about Alfred Wertheimer’s images of the fresh-faced 21-year-old Elvis Presley. Perhaps it is the genuine passion for music that Presley demonstrates in his performances, or the humility towards his fans that Wertheimer has conveyed so convincingly in his images. Wertheimer was a photojournalist recruited by RCA Victor in 1956 to capture promotional shots of newly signed recording artist Elvis Presley. The 56 black and white digital pigment prints captured by Wertheimer are a “unique visual record” with a “cinematic power that makes Elvis’ road to fame palpable”. This exhibition offers viewers a rare glimpse of Presley’s rise to fame “before security and money built walls between him and his fans”. Elvis at 21, Photographs by Alfred is at the National Portrait Gallery until 10 March. www.portrait.gov.au Also at the National Portrait Gallery this month, The Artist’s Diary: Portraits by Judy Cassab showcases six decades of one of Australia’s eminent and prolific portrait painters, Judy Cassab AO CBE. Cassab was born in Vienna in 1920 to Hungarian parents. She studied at the Academy of Art in Prague during the late 1930s, and then in Budapest during the early years of the Second World War. Cassab married Jancsi Kampfner in 1939. The couple was separated throughout the war when Kampfner was sent to forced labour camps in Poland and Russia. On train, New York to Memphis, July 4, 1956 by Alfred Wertheimer.
Cassab managed to stay in Budapest and worked in a factory under a false identity to escape persecution of the Jews. The couple survived the war and moved to Sydney with their two sons in 1951. The year after arriving in Australia, Cassab’s painting of Dorothy (Andrea) Jenner - a writer and radio personality – was one of 83 entries selected for the Archibald Prize. Cassab’s career progressed with a solo exhibition at Sydney’s Macquarie Galleries in 1953, winning the Women’s Weekly Portrait Prize in 1955 and 1956 and the Archibald Prizes in 1960 and 1967. “By the end of the 1960s she was highly sought after as a portraitist and had also become a successful landscape painter.” Since 1952, Cassab has had 40 portraits exhibited in the Archibald Prize. The portraits she has painted throughout her career range from commissions of “corporate leaders and social luminaries along with personal and intimate portrayals of family and friends”. The variety of subjects has resulted in a diverse collection of works that offer “a distinct and comprehensive record of Australian society and culture throughout the second half of the 20th century”. This exhibition offers a wonderful opportunity for viewers to experience the work of this talented artist, whilst observing a snapshot of history and prominent figures over the last sixty years. Runs until 10 March. www.portrait.gov.au CCAS (Canberra Contemporary Art Space) centenary curators, Alexander Boynes, David Broker, Anni Doyle Wawrzynczack, Janice Falsone and Annika Harding have each selected two artists who they believe “delineate something of the future” for CCAS Gorman House exhibition, Future Proof. Featured artists include: Timothy Dwyer, Nicci Haynes, Gregory Hodge, Rosalind Lemoh, Brendan Murphy, Patsy Payne, Clare Thackway, Frank Thirion, Daniel Vukovljak, Jonathan Webster, and Jo Wu. The exhibition features a number of works that “have a futuristic feel, in the sense of being appropriately apocalyptic, but more importantly, they represent artists whose practices have become inextricably integrated with their daily lives”. Runs until 8 February. www.ccas.com.au M16 exhibition, I Heart Television “unashamedly explores the good, the bad and the ugly in all things related to TV”. The impact that TV has on our lives is different for everyone, as the six artists featured in this exhibition demonstrate. Featured artists, Belle Charter, Clinton Hayden, Erica Hurrell, Aki Nishiumi, Tess Stewart-Moore and Samuel Townsend are all previous graduates of the ANU School of Art Photomedia workshop, who have reunited to exhibit their latest work. The exhibition showcases the artists’ interpretation of “contemporary culture and individual perspectives within society, centred around our fascination I Heart Televison: Clinton HAYDEN, INVENTORY, MEMORABILIA: e.t. 2013, digital ink jet print, 35 x 40cm. ACTease / Courtney Symes
and relationships with television”. Therasa Stewart-Moore explores that way that TV serves as a form of escapism, especially for her clients with disabilities, Clinton Hayden examines the nostalgia that TV often evokes through favourite childhood films, whilst Samuel Townsend looks at reality TV shows such as My Kitchen Rules, Keeping up with the Kardashians and The Simple Life to further understand the fabricated lives these shows portray. Also at M16, Keely Van Order’s The Hypercube explores “global concerns relating to technology, free will imagination and sensory overload”. Van Order showcases her findings through “spirals and interconnecting circular patterns to visually explore paradox, time symmetry and strange loops”, which are presented in pencil and ink drawings and as a collection of prints. Van Order’s works raise questions such as: “What does it truly mean to be a sentient being, rather than for example a computer or a star?” and “What is the distinction between individual consciousness, global conscience, and universal beliefs -- and how might our technological advances mirror such aspects of existence?” Both exhibitions run until 9 February. www.m16artspace.com.au Belconnen Arts Centre is gearing up for another exciting year ahead with a couple of Australian-focused exhibitions: Farming without fences – how Aborigines made Australia and The Neighbourhood Project. Helen Tiernan is the artist behind Farming without fences, an exhibition inspired by Bill Gammage’s book, The Biggest Estate on Earth – How Aborigines made Australia (2012 winner of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History; 2012 winner of the Victorian Prize for Literature, and Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards [Prize for Non-Fiction]; and 2012 winner of ACT Book of the Year Award). Whilst The Biggest Estate on Earth explores the ways that Aboriginal people managed the land, Farming without fences examines the ways that ‘new-comers’ and First Australians viewed and managed the land. “Native flora and fauna, colonial interiors and the land’s inhabitants serve as symbolic references in this new body of work.” Don’t miss the chance to meet the artist, Helen Tiernan on Sunday 9 February at 3pm. Runs until 16 February. Jacklyn Peters’ The Neighbourhood Project started with a question: “Are the characteristics of suburban homes and their residents, like many things, particular to place?” Interviews with local residents in one street of Kaleen (her home suburb) confirmed that she is surrounded by a diverse mix of people, with a variety of unique and interesting stories to tell. Peters will be hosting a Meet the Artist session on Sunday 2 March at 3pm. Runs from 21 February until 9 March. www.belconnenartscentre.com.au
ACTease / Courtney Symes
Canberra Glassworks has two beautiful exhibitions scheduled for this month: Observations – Christine Cholewa and Clarity – Shirley Hersch. Observations consists of dramatic graphic wall installations. South Australian artist, Cholewa utilizes glass, photography and drawing to reflect “the ordinary moments of everyday life”. Shirley Hersch’s installation, Clarity, is “inspired by a deep sense of curiosity” and reminiscent of the sea with “its dreamlike qualities and fragile beauty”. A Gallery Talk for both exhibitions will take place on Saturday 15 February at 10.30am, with both exhibitions running from 5 February until 13 March. www.canberraglassworks.com
Jacklyn Peters, No. 19, 2013
ACTease / Courtney Symes
DATELINE: FEBRUARY 2014
ORGANISED BY THE FOUNDATION for the Exhibition of Photography (FEP), Minneapolis, in collaboration with the National Gallery of Victoria, Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion (until 2 March, 2014) brings together almost 200 vintage photographs by one of history’s most influential and revered image-makers, selected from the archives of Condé Nast. Born in Luxembourg, Éduard Jean Steichen (1879-1973) immigrated to America with his mother in 1881, his father having preceded them by a year. An artistic child, Steichen commenced a four-year apprenticeship in lithography with the American Fine Art Company of Milwaukee when he was fifteen. A nearby camera shop piqued his interest, and Steichen eventually bought a second-hand Kodak box camera in 1895, which led him to pursue professional portraiture. He participated in his first exhibition at the Philadelphia Photographic Salon in 1899, before leaving to study at the Académie Julian in Paris the following year. Steichen began experimenting with colour photography in 1904, and was one of the first people in America to use the French Autochrome Lumière process introduced in 1907. His early pictorialist work, The Pond-Moonlight (1904), used hand-applied light-sensitive gums to create the illusion of colour. Taken near the home of Steichen’s friend, the art critic Charles Caffin in Mamaroneck, New York, it achieved what was then the highest price ever paid for a photograph at auction, USD $2.9 million in 2006 (it is currently the fifth most expensive). In 1900, Steichen met Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946), now regarded as the most important figure in American photography at the beginning of the 20th century. Over the next twelve years they would collaborate on several projects critical to the advancement of photography as an art form in America, including the establishment of the Photo Secession in 1902. Steichen designed the cover logo for Stieglitz’s seminal quarterly journal Camera Work (1903-17), and
Installation of Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion at National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
became the magazine’s most prolific contributor. They also established the Little Galleries of the Photo Secession in the same building where Steichen lived in New York. The Gallery opened in November, 1905 with an exhibition of 100 prints from members, and by 1908 was simply known as 291 after its address. Later, Stieglitz began to exhibit non-photographic work at 291, such as a series of prints lent to Steichen by Henri Matisse (1869-1954), the first time his work had been shown in America. Shortly after his return to New York from one of his visits to Paris in 1923, Steichen was offered the coveted position of Chief Photographer for the leading Condé Nast publications Vanity Fair and Vogue. Steichen’s grasp of graphic design, keen engagement with the avant-garde, and flair for the experimental impressed founding publisher Condé Montrose Nast (1873-1942) and Frank Crowninshield (1872-1947), who would edit Vanity Fair for twentyone years. It was felt that Steichen had the artistic vision, credibility, and level of sophistication required to revitalise two publications in need of a creative transfusion; he did not disappoint. His fifteen-year stint at Condé Nast, and additional work for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency, led Steichen to be renowned as the most highly paid photographer of his day. One of Steichen’s most widely reproduced portraits shows actress Gloria Swanson (1899-1983) in 1924. Wearing a fashionable ‘Turkish’ turban, her face is seen in intense close-up, photographed through a piece of floralpatterned black lace. From the same year, an unusual shot of stage and film actress Carlotta Monterey (1888-1970), the third and final wife of playwright Eugene O’Neill, is typical of Steichen’s innovative approach. Monterey wears a diamond head bandeau and pearl necklaces by Cartier, an extravagant white ermine wrap with a white fox collar is draped around her shoulders. All the viewer sees, however, is the clasps on the jewellery, the backs of her earrings, a deep puff of fur, and the precision of Monterey’s ‘flapper’ hairstyle; the camera is positioned behind her. Over forty Art Deco garments and accessories from the NGV’s fashion collection (with three additional loans) are evocatively displayed throughout the exhibition space. Examples of heavily embellished evening and cocktail dresses, sportswear, swimsuits, elaborate coats, millinery and shoes serve to convey some of the rarified chic so characteristic of Steichen’s glamorous subjects. Following the privations of World War I, fashion shifted away from the restrictive corsets and exaggerated shape of La Belle Époque.
Melburnin / Inga Walton
Edward Steichen (American 1879–1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906–23), Actress Gloria Swanson 1924, gelatin silver photograph. Courtesy Condé Nast Archive. © 1924 Condé Nast Publications.
Paul Poiret (1879-1944) initiated this radical change in silhouette by abandoning the corset in 1906. His controversial, loose-fitting ‘kimono coat’ demonstrated the pervasive influence of decorative motifs inspired by the ancient world and the ‘exotic’ Orient during this period. In 1911, publisher Lucien Vogel challenged Steichen to promote fashion as a fine art by the use of photography. Using gowns by Poiret, Steichen produced what is now considered to be ‘the first ever modern fashion photography shoot’ for Art et Décoration. A sleek, modernist clothing aesthetic emerged, which recognised women’s increased emancipation, reflected the new interest in athleticism, and prioritized movement, functionality, and ease. Steichen had a tremendous grasp of how to position and capture the body, whether it be the casual pose of aviatrix Amelia Earhart (1897-c.1937) from 1931, or the dramatic flourish of Tamaris with a large Art Deco scarf (1925), featuring the dancer and choreographer Helen Tamiris (1905-66). The interwar period also represents the only time in modern fashion history when the majority of top design houses were led by women, including Jeanne Paquin (1869-1936), Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973), Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel (1883-1971), Madeleine Vionnet (18761975), Jeanne-Marie Lanvin (1867-1946) and Callot Soeurs (the sisters Marie, Regina, Marthe, and Joséphine Callot). In addition to his editorial fashion spreads featuring the latest styles, many of Steichen’s well-known female sitters were also clients of these houses. Their collections benefitted both from his crisp, imaginative, and direct images, and the endorsement of influential tastemakers, particularly Hollywood actresses. Steichen paved the way for modern celebrity portraiture: bestowing upon artists, writers, composers, architects, industrialists and politicians the same other-worldly aura more commonly associated with film and music stars. Contemporary figures like Princess Youssoupoff (Princess Irina Alexandrovna of Russia, 1895-1970), actress and film writer Louise Brooks (1906-85), silent star Pola Negri (1897-1987), stage actress Mary Heberden, and cinematic icons Joan Crawford (1904-77), Marlene Dietrich (1901-92) and Greta Garbo (1905-90) rarely looked more radiant as they did when seen through Steichen’s lens. In his biography of the notoriously difficult ‘Swedish Sphinx’, Barry Paris mentions a six minute still session Garbo granted Steichen on the set of The Mysterious Lady (1928), during which he managed nine shots. “She felt an uncommon rapport with Steichen in that brief encounter. ‘Afterward’, he recalled, ‘she threw her arms around me and said, ‘Ah, you should be a motion-picture director’”. Although many of Steichen’s celebrated subjects were well-accustomed to the camera, from Sir Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) to Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), he invariably managed to capture something of their quintessence.
Edward Steichen (American 1879–1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906–23), Tamaris with a large Art Deco scarf 1925, gelatin silver photograph. Courtesy Condé Nast Archive. © 1925 Condé Nast Publications. Melburnin / Inga Walton
Steichen’s output was not confined to photographic work: he continued to paint, designed murals, worked on children’s books, and was a prolific cultivator of delphiniums. As a Lieutenant in World War I, he served with the Air Force and Marines in the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in France, contributing to military photography. Indeed, the precision required for aerial photographs is credited with fundamentally changing Steichen’s modus operandi. By the time of World War II, Steichen’s work was so well known that he was appointed to the rank of Commander and headed the Naval Aviation Photographic Unit, a division of the Bureau of Aeronautics. In 1945, Steichen was made director of the newly formed Naval Photographic Institute, and given formal control over all Navy combat photography. He directed the propaganda film The Fighting Lady for 20th Century Fox, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary (Feature) in 1945. From 1947, Steichen served as the Director of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), overseeing over forty exhibitions until his retirement in 1962, after which he was named Director Emeritus. The following year, he was presented with the newly established Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Johnson. • NGV (International), 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, 3004: www.ngv.vic.gov.au * Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography: www.fep-photo.org The touring exhibition Stephen Bowers: Beyond Bravura is part of the ongoing JamFactory Icon Series, showcasing the achievements of South Australia’s most outstanding and influential craft and design practitioners. Featuring over fifty pieces from Bowers’ extensive and diverse œuvre, it makes its only Victorian stop at Geelong Gallery (until 16 February, 2014). The Gallery has included its own acquisition, Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (2010), exclusively for this showing. Bowers revels in clichés, pictorial and otherwise; embracing, chewing on, and subverting them in equal measure throughout his work. The notion of the artistas-chameleon is at once both desperately overused and entirely accurate in Bowers’ case. He is the ‘studio artist’ who will comfortably relinquish his position as the ‘individual creator’ and adapt his process to serve the project, without getting too precious about what that entails. Bowers often works collaboratively, most notably with potter Mark Heidenreich whose background in production-throwing, and mastery of technique with large and difficult forms, accords with Bowers’ ambition to work on more challenging ‘blanks’ which provide a bigger ‘canvas’ for his ideas. In 2006, Bowers worked on larger-thanlife-size ‘cups and saucers’ with ceramist Philip Hart, and with sculptor Andrew Stock in 2008 for a series of ‘Staffordshire’ style dogs and kangaroos, which toyed with ideas of sentiment and cuteness.
Stephen Bowers, What Happened?... (2011), wheel-thrown earthenware by Mark Heidenreich, underglaze, clear glaze, 6 x 63 cm. Photo: Grant Hancock Melburnin / Inga Walton
Those expecting a nice show of glossy ceramics, might well be surprised to see nice glossy surfboards in the middle of the gallery. Bowers’ work with surfboard and furniture designer Peter Walker is typical of his need to pursue other creative avenues. As John Neylon describes it, this “sees [Bowers] embedded in a team process like a contract artist-illustrator working in a nineteenth-century Midlands pottery”. Beginning in 2007, Bowers and Walter have worked together on six boards, two are displayed here: Antipodean Willow Surfboard, and its pair, Mini Simmons Antipodean Willow Surfboard (both 2012). As is typical of his work, there is usually a more challenging angle lurking within Bowers’ seemingly benign approach. “Some images refer to local Glenelg history of surf life-saving and clubs, and to surfing itself. However, given the political mileage made from Australian insecurities over borders and divisions and debates about ‘boat people’, nationalism and patriotism – between the ‘wet’ and the ‘dry’ – between ‘us’ and ‘them’ – some images refer to events and our coasts as a borderline between security and threat”, he remarks. A trainee at the JamFactory workshops in 1982, Bowers served as Head of the Ceramics Studio (1990-99), and returned to serve as Managing Director (200410). He has long been concerned with issues surrounding the much-contested issue of Australian identity, cultural resonance, Indigenous displacement, colonialism, and the integration of differing perspectives into the ‘national story’. “I think there is a degree of anxiety about the way in which we, as a nation, are trying to imagine ourselves and forge an identity. This process is full of conflicts, false starts and contradictions, which, in turn, inform my compositions”, Bowers contends. “I work a lot with ideas of tradition and memory, and a key debate of our time is how we come to terms with heritage, continuity and tradition at a time of increasing dislocation, change and disruption”. A strong interest in natural history illustration is evident in Bowers’ faithful rendering of an abundance of botanical and zoological subjects, particularly his ubiquitous cockatoos. Another frequent reference is the kangaroo, filtered through the famous painting by George Stubbs (1724-1806), The Kongouro From New Holland (1772). This important work recently formed the basis of a well-publicised tussle between the intemperate aspirations of Dr. Ron Radford, Director of the National Gallery of Australia, and Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture in the UK, who placed a temporary ban on its export when the work came up for sale. Ultimately, by November 2013, the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, had secured enough money to keep the work in England. Viewers will have to content themselves with Stubbs Meets Spode, Blu Roo – A Little Bird Told Me (both 2011), and the numerous other instances where the cheeky macropod rears its head.
Stephen Bowers, Boader Lines (2010), (front view) hand-made, hand-painted, hollow-core surfboard, Paulownia wood, fibreglass, acrylic paint, 230 x 51 x 7.5 cm. Photo: Grant Hancock Melburnin / Inga Walton
Bowers’ reverence for the historical tradition of ceramics has led him to adopt the ‘Willow Pattern’ iconography as the basis for much of his work. English potter Thomas Minton (1765-1836) is credited with having devised the popular style around 1790, appropriated from the chinoiserie patterns common on Chinese export ware. Bowers has recontextualised this static ‘pictorial orthodoxy’ to embrace kitsch, sly humour, and irreverent aspects common to Australian suburban life. A stylistic debt to William Morris (1834-96), the textile designer, artist and writer who led the English Arts and Crafts Movement during the 1860s, and was closely associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, is acknowledged in the series of William Morris Camouflage Plates (2011). Pop culture references abound, showing Bowers’ formative interest in comics as a self-taught artist. Prominent among these are the character of ‘Boofhead’ created by Robert Bruce Clark (1910-70), which ran in the Sydney Daily Mirror from 1941 until 1970; the Eternity script propagated by Arthur Stance (1888-1967); and Bowers’ schoolboy obsession with OZ magazine, whose contributing cartoonist Martin Sharp (1942-2013), Bowers eventually met in the early 1970s. Imagery inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland (1865), and the accompanying illustrations by Punch cartoonist Sir John Tenniel (18201914), pepper Bowers’ output. “Alice ... is a reoccurring theme, a fugue-like threnody, running or skipping about in the furniture of my imagination”, he says mischievously. One of the most striking works is all the more so for its status as the most discreet and unadorned piece in the exhibition. The plate, Alice in the Antipodes (1994), of wheel thrown earthenware with vitrified ochre, shows Alice clutching an electrical cord on the hunt for a power-point. She draws back a curtain to reveal not another room, but another world, with Stubb’s Kongouro in standard pose. The artist ponders whether Australia is actually the real ‘Wonderland’, far beyond the imagination and control of any explorer, author, or ‘foreign’ administration. One of the centrepieces of the exhibition, True Blue Cup and Saucer (2009), alludes to both the disconcerting inversion of scale Alice experiences during her ‘adventure’, and the famous set-piece of the Hatter’s ‘mad tea party’. The oversize blue and white vessels are covered in characteristically dense and opulent imagery. Bowers references the architecture in and around Adelaide, while Alice (clutching her iPod) brings in her wheelie bin on one side, and contemplates her water tanks on the other. On the saucer section, an anonymous figure in a bear-suit stands in for British artist Mark Wallinger, the 2007 winner of the Turner Prize for his video work Sleeper. Bowers begs the question, “Why does so much of contemporary visual art struggle to find an audience?” Curiouser and curiouser ...
Stephen Bowers, True Blue Cup and Saucer (2009) detail, wheel thrown earthenware by Mark Heidenreich, underglaze cobalt, clear glaze, 80 x 40 cm (cup on saucer). Photo: Ryan Pike. Melburnin / Inga Walton
An insight into Bowers’ process is provided by his long-time collaborator, photographer and film-maker Grant Hancock, who has produced a stop-motion time-lapse film of Bowers painting Camouflage Plate (2013). Over the period of a week, Hancock captured the fifteen-hour process of painstaking and detailed decoration in Bowers’ Norwood studio. This complements a six-minute candid interview with the artist also playing in the space. The exhibition continues to the Watson Arts Centre (7 March-13 April, 2014), 1 Aspinall Street, Watson, ACT: www.canberrapotters.com.au The accompanying monograph is available from: www.wakefieldpress.com.au • Geelong Gallery, Little Malop Street, Geelong, Victoria, 3220: www.geelonggallery.org.au
Melburnin / Inga Walton
stralian stories with Klare Lanson
just_a_girl by Kirsten Krauth – screentalking
“the moment that I step outside so many reasons for me to run and hide”
(lyrics by Gwen Stefani and Tom Dumont)
e’re all kinds of mixed up creatures, trying to find that spark in our lives that allows immersion into the world. We connect, and we use the Internet as a tool to socially interact with others. These virtual experiences are competing more and more equally with our physical world, often more real than reality itself. Is this really such a bad thing? There’s so much hype around the negative attributes of social media usage; how it affects us in both short and long-term ways. Whilst it’s important to be aware of the negative implications, it shouldn’t take centre stage. This kind of connectivity is still quite young and so is our thinking about it. And this is why I wanted to read Kirsten Krauth’s first novel just_a_girl. Krauth has chosen to highlight Internet usage to share ideas around our everyday struggles and often-internalised fears of engaging with the people around us. Fear of connection and social error seem to be the overriding themes, but there is certainly more at play here. just_a_girl is a novel with structure resembling a triptych painting that’s been hung sideways. Three characters emerge through brushstrokes and are hinged together; the links are both strong and subtle. It’s about a teenage girl coming of age, her mother’s often internalised and fast paced struggle with the loneliness of social error and single parenting, and a beautifully poetic and introverted man who finds synthetic love in all its realness. But above all, it’s about the Internet. The current generation of kids and teenagers are growing up with intuitive knowledge of how to operate online. Like most teenagers, the well-developed character of Layla with her cleverly clipped and sometimes faltering voice is firmly planted by Krauth to show us the breadth of ease teenagers have in this realm. They effortlessly choreograph their lives through social media, dance around the Internet uploading here, downloading there and quickly find alternative answers to the constant internal questions of sex, life and love. 4
The Internet’s a valuable place for experimentation but as Layla shows us, parents who fear technology, or occasionally glance over their right shoulder may be unaware of the kind of experiments being undertaken, however ‘normal’ they may be. Perhaps our children will look at us in the future and shrug their shoulders, just as past generations did when showing their parents for the umpteenth time how to use an answering machine or the video recorder. “I like hooking up with guys online. There are no boys at my high school I’m into. Davo’s starting to wear thin. Even though he’s 18 now. I need more brainpower. And I get to test them out on the net. I like the conversation. You can reveal more. When there’s a screen between you and them.” The screen is simply another in between space. just_a_girl speaks to us of the issues that arise when the role of parenting is out of kilter with social media usage and the Internet. It reminds us that the keyboard can be used as a weapon, where every keystroke holds the power of persuasion. The second character to be introduced is Margot, Layla’s mother. Not only does she have no real concept of social media usage, she treats the Internet as a passive space, a simple extension to the televisual, rather than an interactive environment that grows organically as it continues to be used. Her internalised and anxiety driven ramblings unravel her childhood, her previous marriage, her relationship with her daughter and her religion; this voice not only rings the bell of the single mother who is collapsing under the strain of bringing up a child alone, but also as an individual whose past forces her to walk into relationships with her eyes closed, preferring fantasy over reality. Her passive use of the Internet is a fantastic metaphor for how she relates; watching her soap star Pastor on billboards, online and within the theatre of the church. A Pastor who blurs the boundaries of his flock (and more importantly, his flocks’ children) is certainly not part of her fantasy. “I have been listening to Pastor Bevan’s podcasts each day as I find it so comforting to be able to plug him in when I’m driving to see a client, you know, he truly is created in the Lord’s image, and at home it’s even better because at lunchtime I can watch him streaming on the net and it’s like having your own takeaway church right there, drive on through…” And Layla’s dad’s not much better: Stralian Stories / Klare Lanson
“That’s my new screensaver to remind me of you when you head back down south.” The characters Krauth creates have depth and intertwine beautifully to create a rich construction of atmosphere and place. Probably my favourite character is Tadashi, the quiet and unassuming man who chooses to have a meaningful and loving relationship with a sex doll, yet another form of techno-orientalism. His thought processes transform the seemingly sordid world of sex dolls into a tender and heartbreaking story of love and loss. Most importantly, the tension created between the two female characters is heightened significantly by the use of this quiet and demure narrative, the soft tonality, the resting point, a ghostlike trail of privacy. Tadashi uses the Internet as a means to an end, a connection of commerce and love, the ultimate delivery system. “He returned to the wigs on eBay, weighing up the length, colour and style, what she might like to be seen in. He imagined her flicking her ponytail or peeking from beneath a fringe, sharing a laugh. As she was very petite and he’d read that small women look taller -- their figure more elongated -- with a cropped cut, he settled on the Pamela, naturally yours, a short, straight brunette bob with a fringe.” I don’t think it really matters whether we read this novel via the book or the eBook, but it is a book that should be read. Kirsten Krauth has hit the nail on the head, successfully weaving a poignant and multi-layered voice of ‘busy loneliness’ in the digital age. The three narratives travel through ideas of social networks, online communication and how this affects our relationships with each other in the physical world. This book houses gritty realism, hyper-love and new definitions of what it means to be alone. just_a_girl by Kirsten Krauth is out through UWA press, can be found in all good bookstores and is also available as an eBook via iBook and Amazon - http://www.amazon.com.au/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=searchalias%3Daps&field-keywords=kirsten+krauth Kirsten is based in Castlemaine and can be found blogging at wildcolonialgirl.wordpress.com/
Klare Lanson is a writer, poet, performance maker, sound artist, data consultant, arts worker, past editor of Australian Literary Anthology Going Down Swinging (goingdownswinging.org.au/) and presents Turn Left at the Baco on Castlemaine Community Radio WMAfm. Her current project is #wanderingcloud (klarelanson.tumblr.com/).
GREETINGS FROM ...
Hiroshima PART FIVE: Destiny
words & pics by Ben Laycock
AFTER MY EMBARRASSING ENCOUNTER with the Hairy Ainu and my naked midnight moonlit epiphany, I feel I am ready to continue my quest to join the historic annual Hiroshima Day Protest. Being an old-hippy-leftyratbag from way back, I have attended many such a rally on the streets of Melbourne Town but this I feel will be the real-deal. Alas my journey is waylaid yet again by my newfound spiritual awareness. Whilst ambling through some typical non-descript regional city whose name escapes me, I hear the bong of a gong. The sound emanates from atop a small hill, covered in forest; an oasis in a featureless urban desert. Once again my feet lead me on a path into the unknown. Yet again, I lack the will to resist. After spiralling around the hill, the path eventually arrives at a Buddhist Sanctuary with a commanding view of the surrounding smog. Outside sits a monk in saffron robes, rhythmically banging an enormous gong that is twice the size of himself. Whilst I am searching for some deep spiritual meaning to this performance, a shit load of monks appear from all directions and file inside for their evening meal. One fine day I finally arrive at Hiroshima, yet another drab rural city not unlike any other, knocked up in a hurry out of concrete blocks, the original city having been flattened by a cataclysmic calamity, as you are no doubt aware. At the epicentre of this human induced disaster zone sits a museum that painstakingly documents all that took place at that fateful moment. I am prepared for a shock, and that is exactly what I get. The old city of Hiroshima, like the rest of Japan, was made of wood and paper, a sensible insurance against the perennial earthquakes that plague the place, but obviously no match for other unexpected eventualities. So, as you can well imagine, the entire city ignited instantly, save for one or two brick buildings whose surface melted like glaze on a pot, except for distinct areas in the shape of human beings that shielded the bricks for an instant before the people vaporized completely, leaving nothing but a ghostly shadow on the wall. Having taken in all I can stomach at the museum I retire to a sheltered nook in the woods, as is my wont. Dry leaves make a comfy bed. I am lulled into a deep sleep by the gurgling waters of a babbling brook. At dawn I wipe the sleep from my bleary eyes and follow the rivulet to a little waterfall, just right for a refreshing shower. Rejuvenated once more I stumble across yet another little path through the forest that leads to a magnificent temple with a commanding view of the surrounding smog, replete with the usual cornucopia of exotic fruits, laid out for the hungry wayfarer. Today is August the sixth, Hiroshima Day. At the appointed hour in the designated spot I gather with my fellow ‘protesters’, but the locals don’t do protests anything like we do back home. No yelling of slogans and waving of placards, no banging of drums and blowing of whistles. An orderly procession proceeds sedately down the street, all in rows, all adorned with little bibs with words on them, none of which I can decipher. People make incomprehensible speeches, then we all go home. At least I can say I have done my bit to halt the spread of nuclear weapons, and it seems to be working, the U.S.A. retains to this day, the dubious honour of being the one and only nation to annihilate an entire city in one instant simply to demonstrate that they could. benlaycock.com.au Greetings From Hiroshima / Ben Laycock
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