issue April 2014
La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre
TIM HANDFIELD, Plenty, 28 February – 27 April 121 View Street Bendigo, VIC, 3550 +61 3 5441 8724 latrobe.edu.au/vacentre
TREFOR PREST, Fabricated Memories, 26 March – 27 April
La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre 121 View Street, Bendigo, VIC, 3550 T: 03 5441 8724 121 View Street E: email@example.com 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: Tim Handfield, Sign, former Larundel psychiatric site, Bundoora (detail), 2010, chromogenic print. Collection of the Artist. Tim Handfield is represented by M.33.
He canâ€™t tell you about our season... but you can find out more at thecapital.com.au
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Survival International Film Festival Ballarat 21-23 May Mechanics Institute Featuring: Rachael Maza, Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier, John Safran, Lady Lash and more Share stories of survival, inspiration and endurance in the context of social justice, community living, Aboriginal peoples and human strength. The Inaugural CAFS Survival International Film Festival invites you, your staff, and your organisation to attend, enjoy and engage in film, discussion and music.
Further enquiries: Neil Boyack 0409 685 621
we’re all about the ear COMMUNITY RADIO FOR CASTLEMAINE AND BEYOND
www.mainfm.net 03 5472 4376
AS MANY MAY ALREADY KNOW, April 2014 marks the 10th Anniversary of Trouble magazine. Our first issue contained a mere sixteen black and white pages that were full to brimming with the burgeoning art scene of central Victoria. We printed a thousand copies of it and put it out for free to around 30 outlets in Bendigo, Castlemaine and Daylesford. ‘Get into Trouble here’ said our posters, below a local snapshot of an old car perched in a tree. Popularity was instant. By the time we finished with print in 2011 we had spread our distribution Nationwide, and had packed, posted and delivered well over a million copies of our little A6 baby. Ahhh, print. It was lovely, but also astoundingly expensive and time constrictive. It had to go, but look at us now! Putting all our eggs, sweat and tears into the digital basket continues to pay off with more than 20,000 current online readers and subscribers each month. So to celebrate 10 years in publishing we are proud and honoured to bring you our first XT (extra Trouble) supplement magazine. This inaugural issue of XT is dedicated to the extraordinary photography of Rennie Ellis (1940-2003), to hail the release of the newest collection of his work, Decadent 1980-2000, through Hardie Grant Books, and its companion exhibition at Monash Gallery of Art, The Rennie Ellis Show (3 April – 8 June). There will be many more of these special supplements to accompany future issues of Trouble as well as more exciting news throughout the year. In the meantime we hope you enjoy this issue, along with its added foray into the decadent and seductive world of Rennie Ellis. Trouble April 2004 Issue 1 COVER: Patricia PICCININI, The Young Family 2002. Silicone, polyurethane, leather, plywood, human hair, 80 x 150 x 110cm.
FEATURES (13) COMICS FACE Ive Sorocuk (14) THE MADNESS OF ART Jim Kempner (16) WHEN IN ROME: PIRANESI CAPTIVATES MELBOURNE Inga Walton (30) TWOONE: HOW TO DEFINE NOTHING
(42) APRIL SALON All Aces (58) ACTEASE Courtney Symes (64) MELBURNINâ€™ Inga Walton (76) STRALIAN STORIES: ZOE DATTNER & SLEEPERS
(80) GREETINGS FROM HINDUSTAN PART TWO: THE COMMUNISTS OF KERALA Ben Laycock
COVER:CJ TAYLOR, Catch of the Day With Hanging Bream and Blue Swimmer Crab 2012, acrylicglass fused pigment print, (ed. 5) 70 x 52 cm. Courtesy of the artist & Helen Gory Galerie. even, still, Helen Gory Galerie, 108-110 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy (VIC), 12 April-17 May - helengory.com Issue 111: APRIL 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, Naima Morelli Courtney Symes, Inga Walton, Klare Lanson, Ben Laycock. THANKS to Harry Rekas for Balloon Head. This Anniversary issue is dedicated to Nonny, Myk and Pops - xo 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!
art comedy series
season 2, episode 5: Who’s Counting? The gallery’s best employee has big news, and Jim and Dru debate the fine are of semantics … and Bucky Dent.
back to back
season 2, episode 6: The Kostabi Show Jim throws himself into the Kostabi Show â€“ literally. Three great New York minds? Itâ€™s all just a game.
WHEN IN ROME Piranesi Captivates Melbourne by Inga Walton
“An artist who would do himself honour, and acquire a name, must not content himself with copying faithfully the ancients, but studying their work he ought to show himself of an inventive, and I had almost said, of a Creating Genius.” - Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1769).
The largest exhibition of works from Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-78) to be staged in Australia opened to the public during White Night Melbourne at the State Library of Victoria’s Keith Murdoch Gallery. Dr. Colin Holden, Fellow of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne, has curated Rome: Piranesi’s Vision (until 22 June, 2014). It brings together nearly sixty works and seven bound volumes from the engraver and printmaker widely regarded as the most important of the eighteenth century, and indeed the greatest architectural artist in history. Holden’s research as the 2010 Redmond Barry Fellow, a joint program of the State Library of Victoria and the University of Melbourne, led to the creation of this exhibition. “The location of the largest holdings of his works in Australia may also come as a surprise – not our art galleries, but our libraries. Piranesi would probably have taken this for granted. Many of his prints appeared as illustrations in books, while collectors often had his other prints bound into folios at their own expense”, he remarks. “At this point I hope that [audiences] will grow in their awareness of, and pride in, the holdings of our public collections, particularly in Melbourne. This treasure is their inheritance, as the long record of free access to libraries, galleries and museums demonstrates”. Indeed, it was Holden’s advice to the Library conservation team regarding one of the volumes of Piranesi’s renowned Vedute di Roma that led to such an abundant display. “You can see almost fifty of his most commercially successful works in his lifetime ... as a result of a question I raised about the future health and welfare of a beautiful group of these big format etchings (133 of 135). They were in a terrible binding ... it wasn’t a case of taking them out of a beautiful eighteenth century binding, [but] a very badly preserved nineteenth century binding, and if you picked it up the wrong way and dropped it on the floor you might have done some damage, serious damage”, he relates. In a move that distinguishes this particular exhibition from any other of Piranesi’s works thus far in Australia, the decision was taken to dismantle the binding and remove the prints. “Well immediately you had the biggest collection of that whole series PREVIOUS SPREAD: Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Veduta dell’ Arco di Tito (View of the Arch of Titus), ), 1765–78 impression, etching and engraving, from Vedute di Roma, 1748–78, Rare Books collection, State Library of Victoria. When in Rome ... / Inga Walton
(loose) in the country, and that’s the core that you’re seeing when you see largely landscape-format prints of Rome, whether it’s ancient buildings or the Baroque Rome ... the modern Rome of [Piranesi’s] day because you also see that. He understands the buildings of his own time as well as having great passion for the ‘classical’ city”. Piranesi was born at Molino in the Veneto region. His father Angelo was a master stonemason, and his maternal uncle, Mateo Lucchesi (1705-76), was an architect and hydraulics engineer, involved in the ongoing construction of the sea walls then being built to protect the Venetian islands. Lucchesi’s role as an early mentor seems clear, with the young Piranesi regarding architecture as his real calling when, as a twenty year-old draughtsman, he joined the train of the future Doge, Marco Foscarini (1696-1763), who served as Venice’s ambassador to Pope Benedict XIV (1675-1758) in 1740. Piranesi had evidently hoped to gain employment on the numerous building projects underway in Rome between the 1730s and 1750s, but this did not eventuate. He studied printmaking under the Sicilian Giuseppe Vasi (1710-82) whose works, included in the exhibition, provide some insight into Piranesi’s earlier influences and direction. A handful of architectural prints by Piranesi appeared in the small volume, Roma moderna distinta per Rioni (Contemporary Rome arranged by its suburbs), published in 1741, and he created more vedute (‘views’) in small formats thereafter. By 1743, Piranesi had published his first independent work, the Prima Parte di Architettura e Prospettive (First Part of Architecture and Perspective). He then contributed forty-eight etchings to a volume published as Varie Vedute di Roma Antica e Moderna (Various Views of Classical and Contemporary Rome) in 1745, which would be reprinted in 1748, the first of a sometimes confusing series of subsequent editions. The success of Antichità Romane de’tempi della Repubblica, e de’primi imperatori (Roman Antiquities from the Time of the Republic and the First Emperors) in 1748, allowed Piranesi to focus solely on his art, which came to encompass not only works on paper but interior design, decorative arts, archaeology, and the restoration of classical antiquities. Dr. Andrew Robison, senior curator of Prints and Drawings at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and author of several books on the artist, asserts that, “Piranesi’s works are extraordinary in composition, expression, draughtsmanship, tonality, texture and technique – not only in the history of graphic art, but in the history of all the arts. He is surely the most important artist to make his reputation almost entirely on the basis of his prints”. In 1751, an enlarged Prima Parte, the fantasy etchings Grotteschi (‘Grotesques’) of 1747, and the first thirty-four of the series that would continue to be Piranesi’s most successful, the Vedute di Roma, were combined in the publication NEXT PAGE: Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Sepolcro antico con Obelisci, ed Urno Sepocrali all’intorno (Ancient Tomb with Obelisks Surrounded by Sepucral Urns), (detail) plate 3, from Prima Parte di Architetture e Prospettive, c.1743, etching with engraving and drypoint. When in Rome ... / Inga Walton
Le Magnificenze di Roma (Remarkable Sights of Rome). There was no precedent among the existing series of architectural prints published in Rome for works of this size: almost half a metre by two-thirds of a metre, printed on sheets that were larger again. His international reputation was secured by the lavish and comprehensive four-volume series comprising more than 200 plates, Le Antichità Romane (1756). The following year, the Society of Antiquaries in London made Piranesi a member. This work quickly became an essential item for any collector interested in Roman civilisation, history, and the sites associated with major events and individuals. As art historian Michel Makarius has observed, the point of Piranesi’s work, “which goes far beyond descriptive art, is to place the Roman heritage within a historical perspective that reaches back to its beginnings and projects forward into the future ... each plate implicitly testifies to the fact that Roman antiquities are more than vestiges of the past. For those with eyes to see, they bear witness to a magnificenza that can be reinvigorated”. Piranesi’s principal clientele, and who made up a great proportion of his contemporary audience, were those undertaking the ‘Grand Tour’. Although this group is usually associated with royalty, aristocrats, and the affluent leisured class, it also included gentry, artists, scholars, clergy, pilgrims, architects, and other professionals. They travelled, sometimes for years at a time, in what amounted to an educational and cultural rite of passage; visiting ancient sites and monuments, consulting local experts and private museums, commissioning and buying artworks, collecting artefacts, maps, books, and souvenirs. The fashionable ‘tourist’ would acquire Piranesi’s large format volumes or singlesheet prints directly from his atelier in Rome, from print sellers or book dealers, but also via printed catalogo, such as the one from the publishers Bouchard and Gravier (c.1788) on display. In a handful of the Vedute, Grand Tourists themselves are included in perhaps less-than-flattering poses while inspecting the ruins, such as Veduta di altra parte della Camera Sepolcrale di L. Arrunzio (c. 1750). In other works, rustic figures (ciociari) gesture at the expanse of crumbling buildings as if questioning the display of hubris, or disregard their significance entirely by pillaging or defacing them. In making the human subjects undignified, diminutive, or insignificant, Piranesi points to the triviality of the present age in order to heighten the dignity of the past. Many of Piranesi’s architectural studies use a dramatically foreshortened view, a technique regularly employed by Baroque stage and set designers in order to create the illusion of large structures in inverse proportion to the physical format. The objects depicted are ostensibly far away, and yet the perspective suggests they are closer to the viewer than is optically possible.
When in Rome ... / Inga Walton
The prints themselves often contain a certain level of exaggeration, pictorial overstatement, and imaginative speculation born from Piranesi’s concern to realise the dramatic potential and convey the magnitude of certain buildings. However, this was usually tempered by his careful research and documentation, familiarity with classical texts, and the practical knowledge of design principals that was so much a part of his œuvre. As his recognition and opportunities expanded, so did Piranesi’s ambition as a printmaker to work on the grandest scale possible. Commanding the main room is the stunning 285 cm fold-out, Veduta del prospetto principale della Colonna Trajana (View of Trajan’s Column) (1774-79), printed from six separate plates, and laid out in a glass cabinet. This predilection for scale could, however, lead to a feeling of anticlimax for some admirers of Piranesi’s works when confronted with the actual sites. Most famously, the German poet and philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) had his ideas of Rome formed from childhood by the set of Piranesi’s Le Antichità Romane in the family home. When he visited Italy between 1786 and 1788, Goethe was somewhat underwhelmed by the reality of the baths of Antoninus and Caracalla and the pyramid of Caius Cestius, which did not live up to Piranesi’s heroic proportions. In an extended obituary/biography of the artist (1779), the Italian doctor, antiquarian and scholar Giovanni Ludovico Bianconi (1717-81) poetically referred to Piranesi as, “the Rembrandt of the ancient ruins (Rembrandt delle antiche rovine)”. “In writing thus, Bianconi implied that eighteenth century viewers did not see his works just as brilliant etched renderings of buildings. As much as Rembrandt’s portraits, Piranesi’s etchings offered a commentary on the human condition in the face of seemingly impersonal natural forces, and ultimately, death”, Holden believes. “You will not see the ruins treated with the architectural equivalent of Botox and silicone, all ‘tidied up’ and to some extent artificial”. If anything, Piranesi’s works serve as a reminder about the impermanence of so many human endeavours, however vainglorious and overreaching. “His etchings turned architecture into studies of psychological intensity in which buildings became passionate dramatic actors ... Piranesi was not a figure artist or portraitist, but I think that there is an extent to which these wonderful ruins, and the modern buildings of his day to some extent as well ... stand in place of us. They are great portraits, each building ends up with a personality. I think that there is also something else that is being said at a human level about the passing of time, about mortality, about decay, and about folie de grandeur”. The election of the Venetian-born Clement XIII (1693-1769) as Pope in 1758 ushered in the high point in Piranesi’s connections with the Holy See. The papacy had ensured the presence of his works in the libraries of the Papal States, they were also acquired to distribute as official gifts, and single sheet
When in Rome ... / Inga Walton
prints of the papal portrait always sold well. With book publication in the Italian states throughout the eighteenth century still largely dependent on aristocratic and wealthy patrons, Clement ensured substantial concessions on Piranesi’s paper supplies. He also funded a number of the artist’s publications, including Descrizione e Disegno dell’Emissario del Lago Albano (Description and Drawing of the Outlet of Lake Albano) in 1762. In 1765, Clement created Piranesi a Papal Knight of the Order of the Golden Spur (Ordine dello Speron d’Oro), which entitled him to use the title Cavalier. Piranesi’s long-awaited opportunity to practise as an architect came via the Pope’s nephew, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Rezzonico (1729-83), who invited him to supervise the rebuilding and redecoration of the interior of the Church of St. Mary of the Priory, the monastery church of the Knights of Malta on the Aventine Hill, between 1764 and 1767. (His patron, Rezzonico, would have Piranesi’s remains re-interred there in recognition of his status and contribution). Several well-chosen loans from the National Gallery of Victoria serve to enhance the printed works, including the marble sculpture Head of Kore (1st century, BC-1st century, AD). Like Piranesi, Bernardo Bellotto (c.1721-80) was born in Venice, the nephew and pupil of Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal, 16971768). Occupying a central position in the exhibition space, Bellotto’s Ruins of the Forum, Rome (c.1743) depicts the three surviving pillars of the temple of Castor and Pollux (the Dioscuri) standing isolated on the city’s fringes amidst the more modern buildings of the town. Well-dressed Grand Tourists in frock-coats gesticulate with their walking canes as the common folk draw water from an adjacent pump on what was still grazing land. This complements Piranesi’s two reverse views of the same monument from Vedute di Roma, Veduta di Campo Vaccino (View of the ‘Cow Paddock’ [the Forum]) (1765-78). In the tighter rendition, with the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina (141, AD) and the church of San Lorenzo in Miranda visible on the left, herdsmen are watering their cattle before leading them to nearby carts. Piranesi assisted Giovanni Battista (Giambattista) Nolli (1701-56) in 1748 during his lengthy work towards an ichnographic plan of Rome (1736-48). Commissioned at the behest of Benedict XIV, the project resulted in the Pianta Grande di Roma (1748), now universally known as the ‘Nolli Map’. Another advisor to Nolli during this project was the painter Giovanni Paolo Panini (1691-1765), which is probably when he and Piranesi first met. Panini, known as one of the vedutisti (‘view painters’), was popular with the Grand Tourists for his fanciful treatment of ruins. The Cumaean Sibyl Delivering the Oracles (c.1741) included here, refers to the prophetess of Cumae near Naples, familiar to the readers of Virgil as the advisor of the Trojan hero Aeneas. Piranesi’s less fanciful Altra Veduta del tempio della Sibilla in Tivoli (Another View of the Temple of the Sibyl at Tivoli) (1765-78) depicts the small temple associated with a sibyl who prophesied the coming of Christ to Augustus, NEXT SPREAD: Giovanni Paolo Panini, The Cumaean Sibyl delivering the Oracles (c.1741), oil on canvas, 53.7 x 82.1 cm. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. (Presented through the NGV Foundation by Primmy and Charles Bright, Founder Benefactors, 2001). When in Rome ... / Inga Walton
a subject he’d tackled previously (c.1761). English artist and caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827) provides a near-contemporary satirical view of a group of finely dressed Grand Tourists with High Life in Venice (c.1790). Conscious of their status and immersed in their privileged clique, they stand in conversation outside the Doge’s Palace with their dogs, seemingly oblivious to the sites and the local people who surround them. Holden singles out the contribution of Megan Atkins, the Exhibition Designer and Producer from the State Library’s Collection Interpretation team, for the lively and evocative look of the exhibition space. The yellow walls, reproduction figurative panels, decorative borders and scrolling flourishes seek to recreate the atmosphere of an eighteenth century print room. “Well from the 1670s down to almost 100 years later, grand houses in Europe often had a room where prints were shown”, he explains. “Not behind glass like we have them now, but pasted directly onto walls and with cut-out frames, cartouches and swags pasted around them, and the walls would be a strong colour which would lift the prints, the black and white, into relief”. Only a handful of examples of this practice have survived the subsequent changes in fashion and interiors, such as those at Blickling Hall (the former estate of the Earls of Buckinghamshire in Norfolk), and at Tullgarn Palace in Sweden, the residence (from 1778 to 1793) of Piranesi collector Prince Frederick Adolf (1750-1803). Aged only twenty-three, Piranesi described the effect that Rome’s ancient ruins had on him in Prima Parte, “I would only say that these speaking ruins (queste parlanti ruine) have filled my spirit with images of a kind which even the most accurate drawings, such as those by the immortal [Adriano] Palladino [c.1610-80], could never have succeeded in conveying, though I always kept them before my eyes”. Thus, Piranesi acknowledged that his output needed to communicate a certain historical depth, but also that he was sensitive to the ability of art to perpetuate memory. Piranesi is also talking as an artist, someone with the aesthetic vision and confidence to interpret what he sees; to convey the emotional charge of these bygone architectonic wonders, not merely reproduce them. It is for this reason that his sublime works continue to resonate. The ‘speaking ruins’ murmur to us from a realm somewhere between the eroding forms bequeathed by history and re-shaped by circumstance, and Piranesi’s insightful and reconstructive imagination. Piranesi’s People, a series of ten short films, and Printmaking in Piranesi’s Time, both written and narrated by Colin Holden, run as a forty-minute audio visual loop at the rear of the Gallery. His lavishly illustrated accompanying book, Piranesi’s Grandest Tour: From Europe to Australia (2014), eloquently conveys Piranesi’s continuing influence across a wide range of the visual arts and design, with particular emphasis on the collection practices of Melbourne’s libraries and galleries.
When in Rome ... / Inga Walton
As part of the wider ‘Piranesi Project’, Guerra e Amore (2013), two large-scale hand-printed linocut works by Melbourne-based artist Angela Cavalieri have been installed in the Trescowthick Information Centre (until 15 June, 2014). Cavalieri was the Library’s Creative Fellow (2012-13), “I wanted to create a new body of work that was based on music and art. At first I wasn’t sure how to approach this, but it became obvious that, given my work is text-based and strongly focuses on storytelling, that researching into the State Library of Victoria’s collection would be a valuable place for me to start”, Cavalieri recalls. “I wanted to focus on the music of the early Italian Baroque composer Claudio Monteverde [1567-1643], especially his madrigals, where poetry is put to music. At the State Library, I began exploring Monteverde’s influences and interest in word-painting, where the musical forms reflect the lyrics and the emotions. I focused on the Eighth book, the Madrigals of War and Love (Madrigali dei guerrieri, et amorosi) (1638)”. Cavalieri, whose family hails from Calabria, received an Australia Council (Overseas Development) grant to complete an artist residency at the British School at Rome in 2003. During this time, she became interested in the aesthetic and conceptual possibilities of creating images that combined language with architecture. Classical inscriptions are a prevalent feature of Roman buildings and ruins, denoting the importance of the written word in the history and culture of the Empire. In Piranesi’s works we literally see Rome as ‘a city written over’. ABOVE: Angela Cavalieri, Guerra 2013, hand-painted linocut, acrylic, oil on canvas, 290 x 500 cm. Photography: Greg Wallis. When in Rome ... / Inga Walton
“Piranesi has always had a presence through my artistic career and I certainly was continuously exposed to his work both in Europe and here in Melbourne. When looking at Piranesi’s prints at the State Library I felt a strong connection and familiarity to Rome”, Cavalieri notes. “I could identify with the buildings and places he depicted. For me, Piranesi’s buildings and architecture had presence and imaginary possibilities that I wanted to re-invent and use to create my own structures to house the stories of the Madrigals”. The two prints took over a year to produce, and although Cavalieri’s printmaking process is very different to that of Piranesi, she identifies with the ‘hands on’ manual nature of it. “I also think that, for his time, the scale is very, very impressive and the fold-outs of some of the prints in the bound copies are huge and amazing!” The accompanying short film by Greg Wallis documents Cavalieri’s initial research and sketches, followed by the labour-intensive process of drawing, painting, and carving on the floor of her Brunswick studio. “When I was drawing the text, it all had to be done back-to-front, so then when it’s printed it would be reversed. I spent up to two months working on both the linos, the structure was to house the text so if I didn’t get the drawing right then the whole thing would fall apart eventually ...”, she recounts. Seven assistants helped Cavalieri ink-up and position the lino blocks for the canvas to be laid down on top of it, and then burnish and rub the back to facilitate the transfer of the image. “I think the printing process with these prints took about six hours, and it was so good at the end to see it hanging on the wall!” • Keith Murdoch Gallery & Trescowthick Information Centre, Ground Floor, State Library of Victoria, 328 Swanston Street, Melbourne (VIC) - slv.vic.gov.au/rome • Artist site - angelacavalieri.com
Inga Walton is a writer and ar ts consultant based in Melbourne who contributes to numerous Australian and international publications. She has submitted copy, of an inceasingly verbose nature, to Trouble since 2008. She is under the impression that readers are not morons with a shor t attention span, and would like to know lots of things.
NEXT PAGE: Felice Polanzani, Portrait of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, 1750, Frontispiece in the 1st edition of Piranesi’s Le antichità Romane, 1756, etching.
how to define
nothing TWOONE interview and pics by Naima Morelli
When Twoone (Hiroyasu Tsuri) first arrived in Melbourne from Japan in early 2000, he didnâ€™t speak a word of English. Lucky enough for him, if you paint walls and skate around all day, your style speaks for you. A few years later he became a reference for the thriving Melbourne street art scene, earning him a Distinguished Talent Visa.
Twoone alternates between working in the street and exhibiting in art galleries. His last show, Define Nothing at Backwoods Gallery, was a great success. Animal-headed characters with human bodies are his trademark. For these mystical-looking figures he is inspired by western psychology and Zen philosophy.
Naima Morelli: You moved to Melbourne when you were eighteen. Why this decision, and why Melbourne? Twoone: I came to Melbourne to explore the world. When I finished high school in Japan, I wasn’t exactly sure about what I wanted to study next. That was bad for me because in Japan what you study in University pretty much sets what you will do as job for the rest of your life. I was stressed by that decision and I just wanted to get out of what I knew. So I decided to go overseas but I didn’t just want to go somewhere where anyone went to. At that time if you wanted to go overseas the popular options were US or UK. That’s why I’ve chosen Australia basically, because it wasn’t a very popular destination. For the same reason, everyone going Australia was choosing Sydney or the Gold Coast. I’d never heard of Melbourne before, so that’s why I chose it.
How to Define Nothing: Twoone / Naima Morelli
“ ... Someone skates and you skate together. I got some spare paint so we just started to paint!”
NM: It turned out to be a pretty good decision. So at that time were you already making art? T: I studied art but only at high school level, so very generic. I couldn’t really say I was making art seriously or anything, but I was already painting shitty pieces in the streets in my spare time, and I was doing some paintings. NM: When you came to Melbourne you found out that art, and the street art scene in particular, was very lively in the city. T: Yeah, at that time I was doing a lot of skateboarding as well, which, along with street art, was very popular in Melbourne. At the time I couldn’t speak English much, but with skateboarding and street art you don’t need much language to communicate. Someone skates and you skate together. I got some spare paint so we just started to paint! How to Define Nothing: Twoone / Naima Morelli
“ ... I want it to be understood by anyone.” I painted all my skateboards when I was a kid, and that was my first approach to the style of graffiti. Before that I’d only seen artists in textbooks, which aren’t appealing when you’re young. Well, they weren’t to me, so skateboard graphics were my introduction to art. NM: In Melbourne you quickly became a prominent part of the local street art scene. Was the scene different at the time? T: When I arrived in 2003 or 2004 stencilling was really popular. Everyone was doing it. I never really liked it so I didn’t do much of it, and I know there is not much stencil going on anymore. I guess street art or graffiti are becoming really big now. There are a lot of websites just about street art and it seems like they can’t contain all the art that people make every day. There is so much going on! I don’t think it was like that back in the day. NM: What are the differences of approach when you paint a wall or a canvas, as opposed to sculpture? T: I think the fundamental attitude is the same. I like it, I enjoy it and that’s why I do it. In the studio work I probably don’t care too much about the imaginary. Sometimes dark and violent stuff comes out. When I paint on the walls or I do illegal stuff I feel I should put something a little bit more positive and not too specific. With specific I mean that I don’t want to do just, say, a Japanese animation character. That’s why I paint a lot of animals, things related to the human body and not constricted by any kind of culture or religion or anything like that. I try to keep it loose so that everyone can relate. I want it to be understood by anyone. NM: It’s interesting because with this combination of human, animal, geometrical figures and skulls your subjects look a little bit mystical. At the same time you can’t associate them to a specific religion or … T: …country or anything like that. I think my tension is to make it universal so that is not directed just to a specific type of people. NM: Do you think your Japanese background influences your way of making art? T: I think it’s definitely influencing my work, for example in the way I balance the canvas. I feel like Western painting is about adding, adding, adding, to fill the whole space, especially traditional stuff. But if you look at Asian painting often it’s about the balance between the negative spaces and the main subjects. There is a lot of space which is not painted. I think this way of painting strongly influenced my work.
How to Define Nothing: Twoone / Naima Morelli
NM: I’m curious to know how you work with subjects. Do you concentrate on a particular series or subject for a period of time? T: Yeah, my subjects change all the time. Last year my concept was based on this idea of psychological portrait and physical landscape. It naturally developed from the characters with human bodies and animal heads. What I wanted to do was to show human emotions through characters, as a symbolic portrait of the characters’ personalities. That was also the theme of my exhibition in 2013 at Backwoods Gallery in Collingwood, where I was inspired by the characters of Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. NM: In your work there are a lot of skulls and references to death. Are you fascinated by death, or are such representations your way to exorcise death? T: The skull is obviously a symbol of death generally, but to me it’s more a symbol of the core of human beings. If you think about it, your face changes over time, you can change your expression when you talk with different people, you can even surgically alter your facial traits, but the skull is always the same. Your skull is what you really are. NM: This is a fascinating concept. How has your art changed over time? T: I guess my interests have matured a bit so the evolution is not just about the subjects. I have grown up technically as well. My work ethic is about not doing the same things over and over again, because when I’m working I want to feel excited. Making always the same things doesn’t make me excited. I’m constantly pushing myself, using different mediums, and different inferences in the way I make my work. That’s how I get over my limits and far away from what I know. NM: What about the title of your last show? Why try to Define Nothing? T: Define nothing … that’s actually a phrase that I heard in a BBC documentary. It was about a group of scientists somewhere in the US. Basically they gathered together to think and come up with the answer for what was happening before the
How to Define Nothing: Twoone / Naima Morelli
“ ... Western painting is about adding, adding, adding, to fill the whole space ...”
Big Bang. People usually say that before the Big Bang there was nothing, so what these scientists were doing was trying to define “nothing”. NM: That’s quite the ultimate question … where we come from, who we are … T: I feel it’s also a good metaphor for human interests, as in how far you can go. That’s what I do every day by painting and sculpting. For me, to define nothing is to look for new ideas, to make more work, to go through a lot of crisis and to talk to a lot of people. That’s how I expand my universe.
Naima Morelli is a freelance ar ts writer and journalist with a par ticular interest in contemporary ar t from Italy, the Asia Pacific region and ar t in a global context. She is also an independent curator focusing on Italian, Indonesian and Australian emerging ar tists. At the moment she is working on a book about contemporary ar t in Indonesia.
Twoone, pic by Naima Morelli
1. Marily CINTRA, Still life with Wool 2013. Unamde Edges Legacy Exhibition, Belconnen Arts Centre, 118 Emu Bank, Belconnen (ACT), 4 â€“ 17 April - belconnenartscentre.com.au/ 1.
2. Patrick POUND, From Darkness to Light 2013, 54 books. Installation view: Geelong Gallery. Reproduced courtesy of the artist, Fehily Contemporary, Melbourne, Melanie Roger Gallery, Auckland, and Hamish McKay Gallery, Wellington. Photography: Jeremy Dillon & 3. Danny DIGBY, Richard Billingham — Ray’s a Laugh 2012, inkjet print. Reproduced courtesy of the artist. Ex libris — the book in contemporary art’, Geelong Art Gallery, Little Malop Street, Geelong (VIC), until 25 May geelonggallery.org.au NEXT SPREAD: Payam KHAJEH, White Gazelle Blue 2013, acrylic, ink, pencil and marker, 70 x 100cm. Courtesy the artist. PAYAM KHAJEH: The Freedom Space, Gallery Two, Manningham Art Gallery, Manningham City Square (MC²), 687 Doncaster Road, Doncaster (VIC), 9 April - 3 May manningham.vic.gov.au/gallery
4. CHOQ, The Great Escape 2013, enamel on canvas, 80.0 x 120.0cm. Courtesy of the artist and Juddy Roller Studios. Urban & Iconic, Bundoora Homestead Art Centre, 7-27 Snake Gully Drive, Bundoora (VIC), 26 March â€“ 27 April - bundoorahomestead.com 5. Albert TUCKER, Self Portrait 1983, synthetic polymer paint on canvas board, 61 x 61.5 cm. Portraits by ALBERT TUCKER, Ledger Gallery, Benalla Art Gallery, Botanic Gardens, Bridge Street, Benalla (VIC), until 29 June - benallaartgallery.com
april salon 7.
6. CONTROLLED FALLING PROJECT at the Phee Broadway Theatre, Mechanics Lane Castlemaine (VIC), Thursday 17 April at 8pm. Tix at pheebroadwaytheatre.com.au or available on the door. 7. Susan WALD, The Exile Trilogy 1 2014 oil on linen, 48 x 44cm. A Survey Show of Theatre and Figure Work, The Art Vault, 43 Deakin Avenue, Mildura (VIC), 19 March - 7 April - theartvault.com.au
PREVIOUS SPREAD: Talitha KENNEDY, My heart is a rhizome 2012, ink on paper, 60x42cm. A General Map of Caves (drawing show), Hawkesbury Regional Gallery, Deerubbin Centre -1st Floor, 300 George Street, Windsor (NSW), 18 April - 15 June - hawkesbury.nsw.gov.au 8. Owen LEONG, AUTOevacuation 2005, digital video, 4:3, colour, silent, 4:29 minutes. Courtesy of the artist and Dianne Tanzer Gallery + Projects, Melbourne. Made in China, Australia, a Salmanca Art Centre (Hobart) exhibition curated by Greg Leong and toured by Contemporary Art Tasmania. Ararat Regional Art Gallery, Town Hall, Vincent Street, Ararat (VIC), until 11 May - facebook.com/araratgallery 9. THE LEPIDOPTERS, A Space Opera: World Premiere, Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall, 521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne (VIC), 12 – 13 April - artshouse.com.au Photo: Lara Merrington (MONA) 10. Guy GREY-SMITH Skull Springs country 1966. Oil and beeswax emulsion on hardboard, 122 x 183 cm. State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia. Purchased 1967. © Susanna GreySmith and Mark Grey-Smith. Guy Grey-Smith: Art as Life, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth Cultural Centre, Perth (WA), 21 March – 14 July - artgallery.wa.gov.au NEXT SPREAD: Julia DAVIS, Headspace (Lake Brown) 2010. Image courtesy and © the artist. Spaced: Art Out Of Place, Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery, Swan Hill (VIC), 4 April – 11 May - swanhillart.com
ACTease DATELINE: APRIL 2014 Courtney Symes
What is your favourite children’s book? No matter how hard I try, I can’t choose one. Now that my eldest daughter is nearly two, I have to confess that I’m enjoying rediscovering my old favourite children’s books, in addition to all the new ones that have been published since I was a kid. It is no wonder, then, that in the midst of a number of exhibitions that appeal to our playful inner child, A Little Bird Told Me at Belconnen Arts Centre (2 – 20 April) is my perfect fit this month. I adore the illustrations in children’s books, but I often feel they are not appreciated in the same way that work from other artists is appreciated. This might be because there are often a number of illustrations in a book that is designed to be read or ‘flicked through’ quickly by children, who don’t savour the images in the same way an adult would if they were on a gallery wall. To my delight, children’s book author Mimi King and illustrator Lindy Longhurst have teamed up to present the original acrylic paintings that accompanied King’s book, A Little Bird Told Me. “Together the text and the artwork are an expression of both Mimi and Lindy’s desire to bring pleasure and to promote contemplation in both adults and children.” Don’t miss the exhibition opening on 4 April at 5.30pm, as well as Mimi’s workshop for 5-12 year-olds on 15 April from 10am-12pm belconnenartscentre.com.au
Mimi King, Front cover, A little bird told me, 2013
Deserted homesteads, shearing sheds and railway stations (many built during the mid-1800s) are the source of inspiration behind photographer Ray McJannett’s latest exhibition, The Rural Series at Belconnen Arts Centre this month. McJannett is fascinated by the hilly region of Southern NSW, in particular the districts of Yass and Gunning, as well as the small village of Jerrawa NSW where he lives. “I began photographing old buildings about four years ago. At first my interest was mainly in the architecture and the building methods used. But gradually I came to hear the history of these buildings and of the people who helped shape this district. I heard stories of the railway, pioneering families, of soldiers and shearers and men who thought little of pedalling a bicycle 200 miles over corrugated dirt tracks just to find work,” explains McJannett. Runs until 20 April 2014. Also at Belconnen Arts Centre, artists in ‘fringe’ Canberra communities such as Uriarra, Tharwa, Hall, Pialligo, Stromlo Settlement and Oaks Estate have joined forces in Unmade Edges Legacy Exhibition. Each artist participating in this exhibition was supported “to conceive, develop and present a creative response to the exploration of the place naming and the history of their village” (an extension of Canberra’s centenary project, Portrait of a Nation, which encouraged Canberrans to research the people that their street, suburb or local parks, etc. were named after). Artists delved into the history of their local area through interviews with local residents and historians, as well as their own research. Runs from 4-20 April 2014. Don’t miss the exhibition opening on 4 April at 5.30pm, as well as a chance to meet the artists on 13 April at 3pm. One of my favourite annual Canberra exhibitions, Behind the Lines is on again at the Museum of Australian Democracy. This is one exhibition where it’s perfectly acceptable to wander around, chuckling out loud as you look at each work. Australian cartoonists were spoilt for choice with material in 2013, as the September election provided plenty of fodder for poking fun at our Nation’s leaders. As well as works that focused on the looming election, there were works that covered the day-to-day antics of politics, such as corruption scandals, policies, cabinet reshuffles and opinion polls. Works featured in this exhibition were selected from nearly 900 submissions, and cartoons from the museum’s own collection. Many of the cartoons also include a number of fun topical themes, from Tony Abbott’s budgie smugglers to Game of Thrones and Canberra’s Sky Whale. One of my personal favourite cartoons was Sean Leahy’s Budgie smuggler flag, published in the Courier Mail, 9 September 2013. This cartoon simply featured a large, red pair of budgie smugglers, hoisted from the flagpole above Parliament House to mark the election result. If you don’t read the papers, this is an excellent chance to catch up on some of the best work from Australia’s political cartoonists. Runs until November 2014 behindthelines.moadoph.gov.au
ACTease / Courtney Symes
TOP: David Rowe, 24 hour news cycle, Courier Mail, 22 February 2013Â BOTTOM: Dan Stewart-Moore, Unamde Edges - Loop 2013
April offers the last chance to capture a couple of National Gallery of Australia (NGA) exhibitions: Gold and the Incas: Lost Worlds of Peru, and Toyshop. We know that many of the ancient South American civilisations, such as the Incas were incredibly advanced during their halcyon days. Now Australians have the opportunity to appreciate the brilliance of these ancient civilisations first-hand with a collection of over 200 objects on display at the NGA until 21 April 2014. Pieces showcased in the collection include jewellery, ornate vessels and other intricate objects made from gold, silver, precious stones, and ceramics. Elaborate textiles and woven items are also included in the collection. The collection reveals a couple of interesting facts about the ancient culture of the Peru: firstly that the creators of these pieces were highly skilled craftspeople, and secondly, the importance the natural world played in all aspects of this civilisation’s political and religious beliefs. Viewers of the exhibition will notice continuous use of animal motifs such as birds and fish, as well as gods in many of these pieces. Pieces included in the exhibition have been lent from the Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Antropología e Historia del Perú and its fraternal collections, the Fundacion Museo Amano, the Museo Larco and the Museo Oro del Perú, as well as the collection of the National Gallery of Australia.
Balineesch dansmeisj in rust (A dancing-girl of Bali, resting) c 1925 ink; paper photogravure, printed in sepia ink, from one plate image 21.1 h x 15.9 w cm Purchased 2007
Toyshop is a concisely-curated exhibition showcasing a unique collection of toys from the past, and from different cultures, that will take viewers on a nostalgic journey back to childhood. Whilst the selection of pieces included in this exhibition is limited, I was impressed by the variety of toys presented, such as puzzles, games (like Jiggle-Joggle), blocks, and models – to name a few. The toys featured in the exhibition are also complemented with paintings, sculpture, prints and photography. This exhibition will bring a smile to the face of the young, and the young at heart. Runs until 6 April 2014. Also at the NGA, Garden of the East: photography in Indonesia 1850s–1940s is a beautiful collection of over 200 photographs, albums and illustrated books that document last century’s colonial rule of the former Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). The exhibition documents a variety of subjects, including Indonesia’s industrialisation through the creation of ports and establishment of gas, oil and tin mining operations. Various building projects, as well as the development of agriculture and cash crops (such as coffee, tobacco, and sugar) have also been visually recorded in this exhibition. By contrast, the exhibition includes striking images of the landscape, as well as the people and exotic Indonesian culture. A personal favourite is W.R. Wallace’s Spectacular Borobudur c. 1925 (a striking temple built by the Sailendra dynasty between 750 and 842 AD). The exhibition also marks the changing trends in photography from the 1800s to the 1900s. Throughout this period, there was a shift from formal studio photography towards natural landscape images and sympathetic portraits of the indigenous people to capture cultural practices (linked to a government sponsored tourist initiative). For me, this exhibition was a beautiful presentation of an historical era and a culture that I wasn’t previously familiar with. I’m sure other viewers will also appreciate this historical journey through these fascinating photographs. Runs until 22 June 2014 - nga.gov.au
Courtney Symes is a Canberra-based writer, small business owner, and mother. When she’s not writing, you will find her enjoying a run around one of Canberra’s beautiful parks and seeking out Canberra’s best coffee and cheesecake haunts with the family. Read more at alittlepinkbook.blogspot.com.au
DATELINE: APRIL 2014
The satellite exhibition The Piranesi Effect at the Ian Potter Museum of Art (until 24 May, 2014), curated by Jenny Long, looks at the influence and intersection of Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s work in the practice of seven contemporary artists. A further twenty-eight framed Piranesi works and four bound volumes drawn from the University of Melbourne’s Art Collection, the Baillieu Library Print Collection and Rare Book Collection, the State Library of Victoria, Hamilton Art Gallery, and private lenders are arranged along one wall. Piranesi’s Carceri d’invenzione (Imaginary Prisons), sixteen prints published between 1750 and 1761, has long been the subject of fascination and debate. Produced as capricci, architectural fantasies using various elements in fictional combinations, they depict enormous subterranean caverns with no discernible entrance, exit, or light source. Winding staircases climb out of the frame. Galleries, towers and vaulting roof structures loom over ropes, pulleys, wheels, steam vents, furnaces and great machines. The purpose of this fierce industry, the (largely indistinct) overseers, and the fate of the captive workforce remains ambiguous, but the sinister and claustrophobic undercurrent is palpable. The Carceri are Piranesi’s most psychologically complex works; expressive perhaps of a deep inner turmoil, the feeling of being oppressed by the patronage system within which he was obliged to work, or used as a metaphor for his views about contemporary political structures and exploitative socio-economic conditions.
Installation image at Ian Potter Museum of Art (including works by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Peter Robinson, and Mira Gojak), Photography: Viki Petherbridge.
Harkening back to ancient Rome, the Carceri could conceivably be a representation of Tartarus, the deep abyss within Hades where the souls of the sinful and impious are condemned to torture and suffering. Of this influential suite, Prisoners on a Platform (Plate X) (c.1750) can be seen at the Keith Murdoch Gallery in folio form, while four prints are included at the Potter. The Well (Plate XIII) and Pier With Chains (Plate XVI) (both 1761) are echoed in the polystyrene sculptures of Maori artist Peter Robinson, whose work explores the interplay of seemingly discordant elements. Dominating the central floor-space, Bound (200708) is a series of interlocking links draped with chains of differing sizes. Nearby, Minimal Baroque (2007-08) resembles a white boulder hung with a curtain of discarded chains, as though some sort of mass break-out of inmates has occurred. Ten works on paper (1994-2011) by Rick Amor add to this sense of unease and isolation, with stark environments populated by a few random figures, if at all. The Ship (2003) and Desolate Place (2004) both show a single darkened vessel standing idle, perched like a sentry looking down over unpopulated docks with crumbling structures devoid of any signs of industry. Amor was introduced to Piranesi’s work via reproductions in art books brought home by his sister, and first saw original impressions when he was a student at the National Gallery of Victoria’s art school, where he enrolled in 1966. He was principally interested in the prints from the Vedute di Roma, and the way in which Piranesi uses lighting effects, scale and spatial ambiguity to disconcert the viewer. This can be seen in Amor’s atmospheric Ithaca (2010-11), home of the mythological hero Odysseus in the Ionian Sea, which has a brooding, ominous quality. What appears to be a temple complex stands sombre and abandoned, great slabs of stone toppled over amidst an already rock strewn outcrop. Though Amor does not share Piranesi’s delight in luxuriant undergrowth, the work bears some resemblance to Frontispiece with statue of Minerva (1748-78) hanging opposite, and Vue des restes de la Celle du Temple de Neptune (View of the remains of the cella of the temple of Neptune) (1778). A range of small figurative works, vases, and miscellaneous objects from the University’s Classics and Archaeology Collection, comprising Greek, Roman, and Egyptian antiquities, serve to represent the kind of objects that travellers on the Grand Tour would have purchased to display in their libraries alongside the volumes of Piranesi. From 1761 until his death, Piranesi occupied the former palazzo of Count Tomati on the Strada Felice (now Via Sistina), which also housed his printing workshop and a museo (a showroom of antiquities). This was extensively patronised by Grand Tourists in search of prints, interior design pieces and statuary, some of which Piranesi had restored, others were classically-inspired hybrid pieces. To assist their deliberations, Piranesi issued new publications that complemented the merchandise available from his museo
Melburnin / Inga Walton
Rick Amor, Ithaca 2010-11, lithograph and charcoal, 50.5 x 71 cm (plate). Courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries.
such as Diverse Maniered’ adornare i cammini (Various Ways of Decorating Apartments) (1769) and Vasi, Candelabri, Cippi (Urns, Candelabras, Pillars) (1778). Multidisciplinary artist Andrew Hazewinkel’s recent body of work questions how objects of antiquity might be re-imagined and used towards a discourse about contemporary society. “Both [my] works present twists and turns in how history might be constructed, read and re-read. The same can be said of much of Piranesi’s œuvre when we consider both the formal aspects and economic implications of his practice. In many ways, Piranesi is the first ‘mash-up’ artist”, he quips. “I have always found a profound sense of dread in the work Piranesi and identified with his interest in cycles of burial and exhumation; which to me reveal a circling sense of monumental melancholy. Piranesi always presents this to us with a simultaneous air of appreciative and detailed wonder”.
Melburnin / Inga Walton
Two Figures (after Caillois) (2013) derives from recastings Hazewinkel made from an 1885 plaster cast, created for use in the drawing exercises integral to a nineteenth century art school education, that he sourced from a Sydney opportunity shop in 2013. The 1885 ‘original’ that Hazewinkel has worked with is a detail of the polychrome terracotta bust of the Gonfaloniere Niccolò da Uzzano (1359-1431) in the collection of the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence. This famous bust bears a clear relationship to the formal and civic portraiture of imperial Rome. The title refers to the French intellectual and philosopher Roger Caillois (1913-78), a founding member of the College of Sociology (Collège de Sociologie) during the interwar period, whose work covered subjects as diverse as animal behaviour, Game studies, and the sacred. Caillois developed a theory about the hidden language of stones, specifically ‘image bearing stones’, which combined geology with mysticism. His collection of geological samples was recently exhibited in the Encyclopaedic Palace (Il Palazzo Enciclopedico) at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013). Hazewinkel has been using polished agate as a material for some time, and is quite aware of its popularity during the Roman Empire, both for decorative purposes, and as a more personal adornment in jewellery and hard-stone signet rings. He uses slices of it here for the faces of these figures, literally image bearing, “...affixed to the recast reinterpretations of an ancient past, they address each other across the space occupied by the contemporary viewer, absurd, mute in conversation and melancholy”. These companion busts are reminiscent of Piranesi’s Antiquus Bivii Viarium Appiae et Ardeatinae prospectus (View of the Junction of the Appian and Ardeatine Ways) (1756), from the Baillieu Library’s Special Collections, but displayed as part of Rome: Piranesi’s Vision at the State Library of Victoria. In this plate, numerous examples of statuary and monumental stonework, some of it broken and in a state of disrepair, form part of the Catacombs of Rome on the Via Appia Antica (Old Appian Way), the main highway leading south from Rome. Various tombs, churches, the decaying ‘Crypt of the Popes’ and the Mausoleum of Caecilia Metella, the subject of another Piranesi etching (1756), are reconstructed as a fantastical cityscape. Perhaps with this work in mind, Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford (1717-97) wrote in his Some Anecdotes of Painting in England (1762) that Piranesi, “has imagined scenes that would startle geometry, and exhaust the Indies to realise. He piles palaces on bridges, and temples on palaces, and scales Heaven with mountains of edifices”. Hazewinkel concurs, “In this particular work of Piranesi’s, I find a sense of someone wildly drunk on history, pouring together pasts, inventing new forms of intoxication. This is interesting to consider both philosophically and in the commercial context of the Grand Tour, which provided much of Piranesi’s clientele. Visually this work presents a junction of two roads, yet the imagery makes me think of the exquisite turbulence often found at the confluence of two rivers; the site where forces do not so much collide, [as] rather mingle, creating a new force”. NEXT PAGE: Andrew Hazewinkel, Two figures (after Caillois) (detail) 2013, plaster, agate, steel, 170 x 30 x 30 cm (each figure). Photography: Andrew Hazewinkel Melburnin / Inga Walton
Untitled (Julia Acquilia Severa) (2013) is a close-up of the full-length bronze figure (c.221-222, AD) found in Sparta, Lakonia, and housed in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Iulia Aquilia Severa, daughter of the consul Quintus Aquilius, was the second (and fourth) wife of the short-lived Roman Emperor Elagabalus (Heliogabalus) (c. 203-222) whose controversial reign ended in his assassination. Severa was also a Vestal Virgin, so her marriage to the Emperor (after which the praenomen of Iulia/Julia was conferred) was considered to be a great affront to Roman law on the grounds that Vestals took a vow of chastity. The punishment for breaking this vow was immurement, as a Vestal could not be executed, but the brief marriage was annulled by the Emperor. Elagabalus then married the noblewoman and heiress Annia Aurelia Faustina, whom he divorced in under a year, only to re-marry Severa. Owing to the controversial nature of her marriage, and Elagabalus’ disregard for Roman religious traditions and sexual taboos, Hazewinkel wondered if the brutally damaged statue of Severa had fallen victim to the practice of damnatio memoriae (‘damnation of memory’). This posthumous condemnation of public figures – the elite, emperors, and their close family – involved the defacement of images and sculptural representations of these individuals. In this instance, the poor condition of the statue is stated to be as the result of a fire in the building in which it was erected, which then collapsed. Hazewinkel is not particularly convinced, “I cannot however get away from a sense of intent in the damage wrought upon this figure ... for me this image talks about violence in its many forms; visible subjective violence, and invisible symbolic and systemic violence ... the personal violence we see in our daily news feeds, and the kind that Walter Benjamin called ‘Mythic Violence’. In some ways this image speaks less about Julia’s time and more about ours”. Other artists included are Michael Graf, Simon Terrill, Mira Gojak and Jan Senbergs. Grimwade & Annex Galleries, The Ian Potter Museum of Art, the University of Melbourne, Swanston Street, Parkville (VIC) - art-museum.unimelb.edu.au Artist sites - rickamor.com.au & andrewhazewinkel.com At the ninth annual FotoLeggendo exposition in October last year, Italian photographer Graziano Panfili was the recipient of the Giovanni Tabò Award (2013) for the portfolio They are among us (Sono tra noi), which explored both the fascination and foreboding generated by the prospect of extraterrestrial visitation. For his first exhibition in Australia, A Traveller’s Dream: Piranesi and Rome (until 30 April, 2014), Panfili takes viewers on a somewhat different narrative journey. NEXT PAGE: Andrew Hazewinkel, Untitled (Julia Acquilia Severa) 2013, pigment print on paper, 44 x 66 cm. Photography: Andrew Hazewinkel Melburnin / Inga Walton
Commissioned by the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, the forty photographs are intended to provide a contemporary counterpoint to Piranesi’s views of Rome and its environs. Dispersed around the Institute, based at historic Elm Tree House (built in 1853), the majority of the works deftly echo the locations and monuments depicted in the earlier prints. “I already knew Piranesi’s work fairly well thanks to my artistic studies. I also used to draw a lot, I collaborated with architecture studios, and I worked with hand-drawn perspectives a lot too. I know a lot of drawing techniques and this allowed me to better get into the Vedute di Roma”, says Panfili. The topography and character of the ‘Eternal City’ has altered radically over the centuries, and particularly from the Late Baroque-to-Rococo period of Piranesi. The challenge for Panfili was to recapture that indeterminate and ‘timeless’ quality that makes the Vedute so compelling, “Piranesi’s etchings were a starting point – the framings he used, his compositions – but many of the perspectives he etched can no longer be represented today because everything has changed ...” Panfili’s gauzy images are suffused with a golden warmth, like the blush of the late afternoon sun; achieved not by digital trickery, but by employing a customised filter in front of the camera lens. This distinctive effect creates harmony within a series of views encompassing both the grandiose ancient structures and picturesque ruins, and their often unsympathetic, hard-edged modern counterparts. It also helped alleviate a major challenge any photographer in Rome inevitably faces: crowds, traffic, signage, and other visual distractions. “I wanted the scenes to be as free from these elements as possible, and for them to take me back to a time closer to the views of Piranesi. As I was composing the image, I kept the elements that created too much disturbance out of the frame”, Panfili comments. “I tried to shoot on days and at times of the day when very few people were around, but even so, in some places, like the Roman Forum, there were always tourists. To solve this problem, I positioned a kind of coloured transparency in front of the lens, which created a ‘vignetting’ and out-of-focus effect, and made everything at the edges of the photo more dream-like and less defined”. Panfili includes a number of images of Hadrian’s Villa (Villa Adriana) at Tivoli, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999. Constructed for the Emperor Hadrian (76-138, AD) it was a complex of over thirty buildings covering an area of at least one square kilometre, most of it still awaiting excavation. Piranesi made expeditions to Tivoli and surrounding sites many times in the 1760s, to sketch, and also to search for decorative antique fragments either to sell in his museo, or incorporate into designs. He was often accompanied on these visits by his friend, the architectural draughtsman and artist Charles-Louis Clérisseau (1721-1820). Such was his fondness for the Villa, Piranesi twice left his name and a date on surfaces, areas now out of bounds to the ordinary tourist. Panfili first shot a portfolio of images there in 2012, “[It] was an assignment for an Italian weekly magazine, where a specific vision was required. In my project, however, I turned everything on its head, interpreting the Villa through my own artistic vision ... [it] is a magical place and lends itself to a thousand different visions. It is like a temporal jump in history”.
Melburnin / Inga Walton
A striking side view of the Colosseum with its armour of scaffolding represents a kind of mergence of the ancient and the modern aspects of Rome’s architectural landscape. Panfili takes up this theme in thirteen images of the more recent additions to Rome’s visual character such as the ‘Settimia Spizzichino’ Ostiense Bridge, the Torre Europarco skyscraper, the National Museum of XXI Century Arts (known as MAXXI) designed by Zaha Hadid and, strikingly, Rome’s mosque. The Parco della Musica Auditorium is a particularly appropriate subject, as its construction was delayed by a year when excavations uncovered the foundations of a villa and oil press dating from the sixth century BC. Architect Renzo Piano redesigned the facility to accommodate the archaeological remains and house the recovered artifacts. “After about three months of work around Rome, I asked myself what Piranesi might have etched if he had been in Rome today and from then on, I looked at everything with a different eye”, Panfili reveals. “I used the ‘Stanislavski system’ as it is known in theatre, trying to really put myself in Piranesi’s shoes and see through his eyes the places that he would have considered interesting to etch today ... You have to be ‘curious’. In every city I go to, I try as much as possible to breathe in its sounds, colours, faces, traffic … then I get lost photographically inside the places, and shoot”. (Graziano Panfili’s responses translated by Lisa Golden from OnOff Picture). • Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Elm Tree House, 233 Domain Road, South Yarra, (VIC) - iicmelbourne.esteri.it Artist site - grazianopanfili.com ABOVE: View of the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina in the Roman Forum (Veduta del Tempio d’Antonino e Faustina in Campo Vaccino) 2013, archival inkjet prints on Canson Rag Photographique, (ed. 7) 20 x 30 cm. © Graziano Panfili NEXT SPREAD: View of the Ruins of the Canopus in Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli (Rovine vicino al Tempio del Dio Canopo nella Villa Adriana in Tivoli) 2014, archival inkjet prints on Canson Rag Photographique, (ed. 7) 20 x 30 cm. © Graziano Panfili Melburnin / Inga Walton
stralian stories with Klare Lanson
The Heart of Storytelling
hewton is a place in Central Victoria that doesn’t cry out for attention. Although it heralds a time in our recent history of opportunity, gold, murder, The Monster Meeting and related intrigue, these days it’s all about family, community action and living slightly off the grid. The stories here are rife and as beautiful as the storm that’s currently threatening around me. I’m sitting in the hideout of a woman who is the cofounder of one of the best Australian independent publishers in the country – Melbourne-based Sleepers. We’re a few lazy kilometres from Castlemaine and the afternoon sky is a dark, gun metal grey. There’s a window with a view that’s almost panoramic. It‘s all about the gaze. It encourages thinking. The wind is pushing a stunning Chinese Elm into compromising scenarios, in stark contrast to its graceful stature. The tree is the centre point for a pack of kids who are practicing the art of running and testing boundaries through play. The house seems to surround the tree, and it’s a home that breeds imagination, welcomes fiction. This is where the passion lies for Zoe Dattner.
“The reason I love fiction is because it has the capacity to reveal the truth above and beyond how real-life stories can … you fall into character’s lives, all of your empathy in that situation – it asks ‘what would you do?’ It’s a really wonderful way to hypothesise about all of those scenarios that don’t occur in our lives but help us understand truth for ourselves.”
Stralian Stories / Klare Lanson
Zoe’s been writing from a young age (Dear diary, what the fuck are we doing here), and cheerfully remembers her first rejection letter at age 9, a poem sent to The Bulletin. She immediately transformed it into a song, spent her teenage years writing short stories and never looked back. It’s this innate ability to transform her writing into diverse realms that attracted her to the Professional Writing & Editing Diploma at RMIT, a course that continues its morph to meet new demands in the literary world. It was here that she met her partner in crime Louise Swinn, where they sharpened their red pencils on Visible Ink and then later at Macmillan. “It was right on the brink of that analogue to digital transition when the internet was really starting to have a bigger impact on how books were published, even just getting books printed – it was the end of creating film for printing material.” The timing of Zoe’s creative trajectory; her talent for production, typesetting and design combined with global technological development (making publishing more accessible) enabled her to grasp the opportunity of joining forces with Louise and starting their own company. They set a date, quit their jobs and in 2003, Sleepers was born. They started off jumping into author promotion and events. The highly successful Sleepers Salons took the Melbourne Lit crowd by storm. Here was something fresh, dynamic, inclusive and, above all, fun. The salons took on an edgy chat show format, in the fertile environment of a bar. It changed the way many thought about the book world, expanding audiences and adding artists, writers, musos and critics to the mix. This cross disciplinary approach worked a treat, publishers wooed them for promotion opportunities, and it sat well with their overriding desire to develop community and make writers more accessible to the trade. Inspired by McSweeneys, it seemed the perfect time to start an anthology. Sean Condon launched the first Sleepers Almanac in 2005 and since then it’s become a fantastic vehicle for featuring contemporary storytelling of both emerging and more established authors. “Any kind of story anthology by it’s very nature requires risk-taking readers, because you don’t know what you’re going to get. After nine issues, the Almanac has become a kind of catalogue for Sleepers and also an excellent way to promote emerging authors, many of whom have gone on to get publishing deals through other companies. We first found Steven Amsterdam through publishing in the Almanac.” What stands out with Sleepers is the absolute integrity of the novels they publish. Zoe assures me that they were on the hunt for compelling works of fiction even before the first Almanac came out, before they even knew their company’s real direction. Back in the day, for a six-pack or a bottle of wine, they had an appraisal manuscript service so they were reading novels from the get-go. The irony is not lost on me when I think of a ‘sleeper’ as a book that ‘achieves unexpected success after originally attracting very little attention’ – in fact Things We Didn’t See Coming by Steven Amsterdam, the very first novel they published, won the Age Book of the Year and was book listed for VCE. Integrity and heart are the benchmarks. These things take time. “For us to stand behind the author at their book launch and talk about it like it’s one of our children, we have to really love it and that’s basically the reason why we publish so few books …” Stralian Stories / Klare Lanson
The conflict with only publishing fiction in a world that wants to hear true stories is strikingly apparent. That blur between memoir and fiction causes heated dialogue at the best of times and the stories Zoe loves are the ones that often blur beyond recognition. Last year’s titles Holy Bible by Vanessa Russell (A family in the Christadelphian sect) and What was Left by Eleanor Limprecht (Post Natal Depression) both hit the hard issues embedded in family, motherhood and relationships. This year, beyond their 10th year of publishing, it’s no different. Sleepers will publish their first Young Adult novel in July. The debut novel The Boy’s Own Manual to Being a Proper Jew by Eli Glasman is about a homosexual boy in the Melbourne orthodox Jewish community, and will be released on July 1st. Found on everyone’s watch list, if it’s anything like his blog then we’re in for an incredible reading experience. It’s timely, and a necessary perspective on something that we unfortunately still seem to struggle with. The intense clash of homosexuality and religion. Storytelling is a huge part of Zoe Dattner’s life, and whilst the stories published through Sleepers may not be high literature, they are authentic reflections of our cultural landscape, well written and also highly entertaining. They have compassion, diversity and above all are intelligent perceptions on life. They are full of heart and they’re not patronising to the reader. In fact, Sleepers values the reader as a thinker, and does well to provide the stories we need to navigate through our lives. ¢ Zoe Dattner is the Creative Director and co founder of Sleepers. They publish works of fiction, anthologies and eBooks that can be purchased at all good retailers and via their site at sleeperspublishing.com The Sleepers App is available through iTunes for iPhone, packed with hundreds of stories to make the commuting lifestyle a breeze.
Klare Lanson is a writer, poet, mother, performance maker, sound artist, data consultant, arts worker, past editor of Australian Literary Anthology Going Down Swinging (goingdownswinging.org.au/). She also presents Turn Left at the Baco every Saturday night on Castlemaine based community radio MAINfm. Her current project is #wanderingcloud (klarelanson.tumblr.com/).
GREETINGS FROM ...
Hindustan PART TWO: The Communists of Kerala
words & pics by Ben Laycock
In which your intrepid wayfarer stays in a Rajaâ€™s palace then communes with the Communists of Kerala ... After the crowded slums of Mumbai we felt so much more comfortable at our next stop, a palace in Rajasthan. It was built by the Mughals, who were actually descendants of Genghis Khan, along with almost the entire population of Afghanistan. Apparently Genghis was a randy old womanizer who always got his way. The entire palace was made of marble: marble floors, marble walls, marble tables, marble salt and peppershakers. The ceiling was made of huge slabs of the stuff. Even the windows were made of exquisitely delicate marble filigree. I guess they are more worried about termites than earthquakes around these parts. I could definitely get used to this lifestyle: being waited on hand and foot, obsequious servants at my beck and call. So how do humble Ozy battlers get to live such a life of kings? We can thank Mahatma Gandhi. The Mughuls and Rajas had been living off the fat of the lamb since Methuselah was a lad, but after Independence Mahatma told them in no uncertain terms to stop bludging off the poor, and cancelled their pocket money, forcing them to rent out their sumptuous homes to commoners while they made do in the game keeperâ€™s cottage. 4
After the usual elephant rides and tiger shoots we head off down to Kerala. It is a long and soporific journey, punctured by the occasional near death experience. ‘Holyday’ is an Indian word and l can see why. India is quite possibly the most culturally diverse nation on earth. For every day of the year there seems to be a deity and each deity demands a birthday procession down the middle of the road. Add a herd of goats, a phalanx of rickshaws, a few chauffer driven BMWs, and a Brahmin bull directing traffic, and it’s starting to look a little chaotic. At one stage we did find ourselves zooming along a freeway … on the wrong side of the road. Dodging three lanes of oncoming traffic. This went on for at least a kilometre, just so we could access a japarti stall on the other side of the road. As you can well imagine, it was a welcome relief to find ourselves at the end of our perilous journey on a sumptuous house boat in the middle of a tranquil lake, ensconced once more in the luxury to which we had become accustomed, waited on hand and foot by hovering lackeys, sipping G&Ts and admiring the happy peasants with their dug out canoes and perfect bodies. I pretended to catch fish for our amusement. Meanwhile there were other not so happy peasants toiling away from dawn till dusk, eking out a megre existence collecting sand. Employing the age-old method of diving into the shallows and dredging up a basket full at a time. I felt exhausted just watching them. When the boat was full they returned to the shore to sieve it and bag it for making concrete. Why didn’t they just dig up the sand on the beach with a front-end loader? Well, the beach was for tourists to sunbake on, and besides, that just isn’t the way things are done over here. You see, India has about 1.4 billion inhabitants. It is now the most populous nation on earth, streaking ahead of the Chinese who thought one billion was probably quite enough. So how do they keep all those people alive? By making sure everyone has just enough work to survive. The bureaucracy has four times the public servants they need, the wealthy have four times the servants they need, the streets are crowded with beggars and hawkers gathering just enough to buy some dahl and a japati. Why use a wheelbarrow when three people can replace it? Why use a bulldozer that will throw a hundred workers out of a job? In Kerala even the gravel for the roads is broken down by wizened old women with little hammers. India is a very poor country, but nobody actually starves to death. It’s crazy, but it works. IN THE NEXT EXCITING EPISODE: your intrepid wayfarer visits a Jaine temple and a Bihar temple, meets a Sadhu, sees the burning of the ghats, and finally gets to that big, fat Indian wedding. benlaycock.com.au
Greetings From Hindustan / Ben Laycock