Around the galleries – July 2009

July 23, 2009 § Leave a comment

Published: The Age, A2, July 18, 2009.

Around the galleries Dan Rule

Lindeka Gloria Qampi

WHAT Transitions: Contemporary South African Photography
WHERE Alison Kelly Gallery, 1 Albert Street, Richmond, 9428 9019, alisonkellygallery.com

There are some definite standouts amongst this expansive survey of mainly post-apartheid South African photography. Curated by Anthea Fawcett and jammed into the relatively compact Alison Kelly Gallery, the most poignant works from Transitions tackle the flagrant disparities and contradictions of the modern South African city. Series by Greame Williams and young township photographers Lindeka Gloria Qampi and Mandla Mnyakama capture the collision between that nation’s contemporary visage and – in the case of its marginalised black communities – shantytown realities. Flashy fashion posters and advertisements adorn rotting boards and rusted tin. Elsewhere, David Southwood’s large-scale documentary photographs evocatively recontextualise the classic American road-trip in a South African setting. Tues to Sat 11am–5pm, until August 1

Tim Craker

WHAT Tim Craker: Take(n) Away
WHERE The Substation, 1 Market Street, Newport, 9391 2736, thesubstation.org.au

There’s an engaging sense of paradox to Tim Craker’s Take(n) Away, showing as part of a group exhibition at the spectacular old substation building in Newport. His mobile sculptural installation is decidedly planetary, comprising a series of hanging, variously scaled spheres that slowly rotate about the space with even the slightest off of breeze. His materials – hundreds of rectangular take away tubs – however, hold another set of connotations. But while the obvious reading is one of environmentalism, Craker’s work resonates on more of an aesthetic and spatial level. Take away containers aren’t often a thing of beauty. Wed to Thurs 10am–4pm, Fri noon–7pm, Sat–Sun 10am–4pm, until July 26.

WHAT Peter Lyssuotis and Theo Strasser: Eyewitness
WHERE Gallery Smith, 170–174 Abbotsford Street, North Melbourne, 9329 1860, gallerysmith.com.au

Working with words can be something of a trap for visual artists. While text can contribute a new layer of meaning to an otherwise figurative work, some artists tend to use it as an insurance policy; a kind of indemnity for their intended message. Peter Lyssiotis and Theo Strasser’s blood-spattered new exhibition employs text as one of its chief devices, repeating reductive newspaper headlines and imagery of war. But its use is a little more complex than it first seems. These confronting, large-scale canvases and prints invite that we decode their very messages and question their supposed truths. The show’s title, Eyewitness, is a calculated misnomer. Every account is suffocatingly subjective. Showing alongside new acrylic works by Robert Colvin. Thurs to Fri 11am–6pm, Sat 11am–4pm, until August 1.

WHAT Kate Just: A New Day in a Strange Land
WHERE Nellie Castan Gallery, level 1, 12 River Street, South Yarra, 9804 7366, nelliecastangallery.com

Having exhibited her infamous knitted sculptures for the best part of a decade, Kate Just’s first solo show at Nellie Castan Gallery sees the Melbourne-based artist dabbling in a palette different forms and materials. Her New Day in a Strange Land features various clay, epoxy, car paint and found object sculptures, an ambient soundtrack (courtesy of Erik Gorton) and a series of photo and paper collage works. This definitely comes across as experimental show from Just. Some of the works aren’t fully realised, though Just’s thematic thread – a kind of eco-feminism that investigates the comparison of women to flora and fauna in literature and mythology – is as strong as ever. A feminine hand extends into a scaly, fish-like body in the sculpture Nesting, whilst fishnet stockinged legs entwine a flower stem in the collage Spider Legged Lily. Tues to Sat noon–5pm, until July 25.

Giles Alexander

WHAT Giles Alexander: Smoke and Mirrors
WHERE Kristian Pithie Gallery, 27 Gipps Street, Richmond, 9428 2020, kristianpithiegallery.com

Giles Alexander’s exquisitely finished paintings of monolithic religious interiors work to subvert their very premise. Using monochromatic oils and high-gloss resin, the Sydney-based artist seems to be drawing us toward the architecture and engineering as a point of reverence, as opposed to the theological dogmas they supposedly denote. While the iconography is recognisably religious, it seems diluted. It is the vast, darkened spaces – the meticulously detailed architraves, arches, surfaces and stained glass – that dominate our attention. Alexander, it seems, is aware of his own role in all of this. While these stunning architectural vistas are transportive, their mirror-like resin surfaces remind us of their two-dimensionality. Ultimately, these are the works of an artist – not a builder, an architect, nor a grand architect. Tues to Sat 10:30am–5:30pm, until August 1.

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Iron Designer – Lifting the lid on design feats

July 19, 2009 § Leave a comment

Published: The Age, The Arts, July 17, 2009.

IronDesigner_Main

Inspired by its Japanese cooking counterpart, Iron Designer II pitches Melbourne’s finest design talent against one another in no holds barred a battle for bragging rights. Dan Rule reports.

While it would be a stretch to suggest that Jeremy Wortsman recalls it with pride, he does have lucid memories of last year’s Iron Designer event at Trades Hall. Regurgitating sticky dots onstage in front of hundreds of your peers isn’t something that you forget so easily.

“It didn’t look good and it didn’t sound good,” says the co-founder of Fitzroy graphic design studio Chase & Galley, who along with director Stuart Geddes and Jessie Fearweather of The Foundry, prevailed in last year’s inaugural Iron Designer event as part of the State of Design Festival. “In fact,” he admits, “it was kind of stupid.”

Inspired by the cult Japanese series Iron Chef, in which respected chefs compete against each other for the honour of challenging a master (or Iron) chef, the format of last year’s Iron Designer allowed each competing design or architecture studio a verb and a ‘key ingredient’ as way of a brief, before giving them a mere 20 minutes to realise a winning project onstage.

“We were given the verb ‘choke’ and Jessie was given ‘poke’ and our key ingredient was those little sticky dots,” recalls Wortsman, whose studio clients have included the Melbourne Design Guide, Rooftop Cinema, Meanjin and Tourism Victoria. “What we ended up doing is making a little salad of the sticky dots and then Stuart fed them to me and I kind of choked on them, before Jessie poked me with this big stick and I regurgitated them back over the table.”

Although it could hardly be accredited with producing appealing design outcomes, Iron Designer – which this year will run as the State of Design Festival’s marquee closing event at BMW Edge, Federation Square – certainly brings the usually closeted worlds of design and architectural practice out into the open. While State of Design bills itself in terms of increasing “awareness of the value of design” in Victoria, Iron Designer offers something of a more playful take on the idiom.

“This is really about the process, and the terror of having to come up with an idea,” laughs Laura Cornhill, one third of Richmond graphic design company Studio Binocular, Iron Designer’s founders and organisers.

Hosted by author and media personality Tony Wilson, the event will pitch seven of Melbourne’s leading design studios (Cromwell Design, Maddison Architects, Wooden Toy Quarterly, PHOOEY Architects, Six Degrees, 21-19 and ERD Communications) and one student group from Monash University into battle for the honour of facing off against 2008’s reigning Iron Designers. Each of the teams will be supplied a palette of basic materials – pens and pencils, scissors, sticky tape, paper and cardboard – a ‘key ingredient’ and a brief comprising three words pulled randomly from a hat.

“The festival’s theme is ‘Sampling the Future’,” explains Cornhill. “So there’ll be a futuristic element to the words that people have to respond to. We’re thinking hovercrafts and jetpacks and those sorts of things.”

Suffice to say, the competition is shaping up to be fierce, and as Cornhill giggles, dirty tricks and sabotage are “welcome”.

“We’re stabbing each other in the back when we’re in our own studios – why not do it with each other in front of a crowd?” cackles challenger Peter Ho of PHOOEY Architects, who recently came runner-up to Sir Norman Foster’s Washington Smithsonian Institute at the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona for their children’s activity centre built from shipping containers and recycled building materials in South Melbourne.

“I think designers pride themselves on their ability to think on the run,” he says. “This is what we train for.”

While all should be frivolous enough, the event does offer a rare insight into the nuts and bolts of design. “I think there’s an intrigue to design process,” offers another challenger Peter Maddison of Maddison Architects, whose projects include Transport at Federation Square and the fit out of the Eureka Skydeck. “A lot of people get really nervous when confronted with design. I think to watch a collaborative process with a roving microphone will really demystify it.”

Cornhill agrees. “People usually think of design in terms of a finished product, whereas Iron Designer really helps to show off the actual design process.”

The event will, however, present some dangers. “We’re going to have to have a first aid consultant on board for any paper cuts that come to light,” assures Cornhill.

“The biggest danger, of course, is bruised egos.”

Iron Designer II will close the State of Design Festival on Friday, July 24 at BMW Edge, Federation Square. Visit: stateofdesign.com.au for details

Beats – July 2009

July 19, 2009 § Leave a comment

Published: Music Australia Guide #67, July 2009.

Beats with Dan Rule

Mos Def
The Ecstatic
****

The Ecstatic is an elusive beast. But what at first seems a contrary clutch of tracks turns out to be Brooklyn rapper-turned-actor Mos Def’s strongest and most sophisticated statement since legendary late 90s joints Black Star (with Talib Kweli) and Black on Both Sides. The Ecstatic may be loose, but it’s precisely this unhinged sensibility that makes it so magnetic. Drawing on the wonky exotica of Madlib, OhNo, Preservation and Dilla – plus verses from Kweli and the wonderful Georgia Ann Muldrow – this is a record that grows, expands and ultimately crystallises with each listen. The raw, liquid funk of Pretty Dancer is one of his finest moments.

Downtown/Inertia

Chali 2na
Fish Outta Water
***1/2

Chali 2na’s debut solo album has been a long time coming. The Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli icon has been plying his subterranean baritone flow to some of hip hop’s stronger moments for 15 years now. Fish Outta Water is a typically seamless affair from 2na, as he unfurls a reflective string of narratives over slick, bass-driven beats (thanks to Jake One and hit-maker Scott Storch). There are plenty of fine moments. Comin’ Thru is a classic, organic J5-styled jam, while Don’t Stop floats over a stunning hook. But this all feels a little polished and contained. 2na has crafted a bunch of likeable, electric grooves, but Fish Outta Water never quite feels definitive.

Decon/Shock

Wu-Tang Clan
Chamber Music
***1/2

To label Chamber Music an album is a bit of a stretch. Only eight of these tracks are full songs, while the remainder of the disc comprises a bunch of esoteric RZA spoken word pieces. That said, the new songs – rendered by RZA and Brooklyn live soul ensemble The Revelations – are something worth waiting for. Pairing Wu rappers with a roster of hardcore, 90s-era New York MCs, Chamber Music is a return to the crew’s golden era. Inspectah Deck, Sadat X and U-God explode over the stabbing brass of Sound the Horns, while the lurking Ill Figures (featuring Raekwon, M.O.P. and tearing verse from Kool G Rap) is as potent and understated as anything the Clan have done.

E1 Music/Shock

Major Lazer
Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do
***

Responsible for some of the most hyped beat production of recent years – think MIA and Santigold – Diplo and Switch could release a spinning turd and the hipster press would swear it doesn’t stink. Luckily, we’ve avoided such a scenario with Guns Don’t Kill People…, the pair’s debut outing as a collaborative unit. It’s not the classic it purports to be, but this mutated dancehall record does a lot right.  Recorded at Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong studios, it takes some of the genre’s young stars and mashes them into a paste of scattershot rhythms, dub step frequencies and bizarre auto-tune weirdness. An exhilarating but largely inconsequential listen.

Downtown/Inertia

Kanye West & Malik Yusef
G.O.O.D. Morning, G.O.O.D. Night
*1/2

There’s a certain danger in artists running their own labels, especially when the artist in question is Kanye West. Outside curatorial direction can be blessing; without it, bloated, self-adoring concept records like G.O.O.D. Morning, G.O.O.D. Night make it past post-production. Employing hip hop poet Malik Yusef, West  delivers 30 tracks and two discs of cheesy RnB production, ridiculously auto-tuned vocal hooks and an unfocussed rabble of guests. KRS-1 rules the strident My People, but that’s about where the joy ends. As for Yusef’s ‘poetry’: “You are so beautiful, I could have bought you as a gift to roses,” he deadpans on Mean to Say. Says it all really.

G.O.O.D. Music/Stomp

Hilltop Hoods – The Golden Era Begins

July 19, 2009 § Leave a comment

Published: Music Australia Guide #67, July 2009.

Hilltop Hoods re-wrote the book on Australian hip hop with The Hard Road, but the Adelaide trio’s new opus State of the Art, released through their own Golden Era label, opens a whole new chapter. By Dan Rule.

Conversation with Dan Smith assumes a distinctly philosophical bent when broaching the topic of success. “I don’t think being anywhere in life is a limitation to your work as long as you’re still passionate and still very much into what you’re doing,” he tells MAG, sitting between his two Hilltop Hoods band mates at a bar overlooking an icy Yarra River on the fringe of Melbourne’s CBD.

The man better known as MC Pressure gives a shrug and stares out over the water for a time before laying down his hand.
“I think the more experiences you have in life and in the industry, the more you have to give back to an audience,” he offers measuredly, re-establishing eye contact. It’s rare moment of calm in an otherwise raucous encounter – the Hoods all beers and light-hearted bluster – but one that encapsulates colossal new record State of the Art.

In a career that has spanned a decade and a half and four five independently produced and released studio album, the Adelaide trio – Smith, MC and producer Matt Lambert (aka Suffa) and DJ Barry Francis (aka Debris) – have defied a record industry that makes stars in a flash and forgets them just as quickly. The Hoods’ narrative is one of gradual, self-made success and longstanding commitment to their art. The chart-topping success of 2006’s ARIA award-winning The Hard Road and 2003’s breakthrough The Calling (the first Australian hip hop release to gain Gold and later Platinum sales accreditation) aren’t the story, but mere chapters.

“Each record made the next record seem more possible,” says Francis of the Hoods’ early material, long-players Matter of Time (1999) and Left Foot, Right Foot (2001) to name a couple. “The only difference now is that we just have more time and more resources to make an idea reality.”

The point is repeated when canvassing their split from a seemingly synergistic relationship with iconic Melbourne hip hop imprint Obese. Having released The Calling, The Hard Road and The Hard Road: Restrung (their 2007 joint with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra) via the label, and together, effectively dragged Australian hip hop into the mainstream on its own terms, news of the Hoods’ decision to go it alone with their new Golden Era imprint was read by some in the scene as glaringly narcissistic.

Lambert puts it in very different terms. “Well, the thing about Obese, really, was that it was a fairly short relationship in the context of how long we’ve been doing this,” he says, “and before that, we were doing all our records by ourselves.”

“We just wanted to go back to that and control our own shit.”

It’s something of a return for the Hoods. Forming in the early 90s, after Francis – who hailed from Noarlunga in Adelaide’s outer southern suburbs – hooked up with promising rappers Lambert and Smith from nearby Blackwood, the Hoods roots were about as unassuming as they come. Taking their cues from the classic golden era hip hop of the time – from KRS One and Common Sense to Nas and Organized Konfusion – as well as a “terrifying mentor” who went by the name of Flak, the Hoods would spend their spare time hanging out and freestyling in the local park, blissfully unaware that it would get them anywhere.

“We used to freestyle before we even know what freestyling was,” recalls Lambert. “We thought we’d invented it,” he laughs.

But it wasn’t until they came across the seminal 1993 album Knights of the Underground Table by pioneering Sydney crew Def Wish Cast, that the Hoods realised the possibilities of rap.  “We were rapping but you have no idea that you can make records,” says Lambert. “It just didn’t even enter your mind back then.”

“They were are who made us realise that we could do it, you know, that it was possible,” adds Smith.

State of the Art sees the Hoods push their brand of rugged, straight-up hip hop to its furthest reaches yet. A meditation on the state of music industry and hip hop community, the record pulses with abrasive, rock-based hooks (The Return, The Light You Burned, Parade of the Dead), reggae flecked grooves (Still Standing) and flashes of downbeat orchestration (Last Confession, Fifty in Five). It’s some of Lambert’s most intricate production work to date, not to mention some of he and Smith’s most adept verses.

They’re not alone. In something of a coup, they managed to enlist legendary NYC rapper Pharoahe Monch, who flew out to Australia to lay a blistering verse on the funk-ripped soul of Classic Example.

While something of a proud moment, the Hoods aren’t about to give themselves a congratulatory slap on the back. They may have conquered the hard road to mainstream success in Australia, but according to them, their biggest and best is still ahead.

“We want to sign and develop artists who we think deserved it and we want to make inroads overseas and we want to take Oz hip hop to the world,” urges Lambert.

“I think good music can do well wherever it’s from.”

State of the Art is out now via Golden Era/Universal

QnA – Matt Fitzgerald, Decoder Ring

July 19, 2009 § Leave a comment

Published: Music Australia Guide #67, July 2009.

decoder_ring

Having garnered a name for their work scoring films like Somersault and Jewboy, Sydney band Decoder Ring are back with their most ambitious, challenging and fully realised album to date. Founding member Matt FitzGerald chatted to Dan Rule about They Blind the Stars, and the Wild Team and the synthesis between sound and vision.

Your music has always transcended traditional song structure as such. What opened your mind to more experimental forms?
“To me it’s not about looking to do what has been done in the past and emulating that, but allowing yourself to be inspired by the reasons behind why artists played the way they did. For me there were things like Bitches Brew by Miles Davis, which is just crazy in terms of that notion of un-tethering, albums like Meddle by Pink Floyd, which is just such a journey, and of course, My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless and the whole shoegaze aspect, which was all about disorientation and having it just wash over you and leave this indelible mark on you as well.”

Decoder Ring has made its name on creating a visual as well as a sonic experience. What was the original impetus behind that?
“I’ve always found music as easy to see as to hear, from an early age. It’s always had a visual aspect for me. And that’s what’s so great about music; that it can open up the imagination and the subconscious in such a way. As a band, we’ve always had this thing of music, sound, vision, which were just three words on our first EP. But for us, they’re the three things that are Decoder Ring and we see them as being of equal substance and importance and it’s what, in combination, they create.”

Tell me about working on films. I can imagine it becomes much more of an analytical process, rather than a purely creative one.
“That’s exactly right. I mean, working on films is so much fun, but we really didn’t want to get trapped in that world. For one you have to really pick your projects, but also, it’s just this tiny narrative of one person’s life. What we’ve tried to do with the new album is use some of those elements of the soundtrack, but not to have it confined to the story of a movie.”

On Fractions, you seemed to be heading in more of a song and pop-based direction. They Blind the Stars… is more abstract than ever.
“It was an interesting kind of foray for us, but we really wanted to get back to what we were designed to do. When you really construct songs, you gain certain things, but you also lose other things. We spent a lot of time individually exploring sounds and then when we came together it was all very improvisational. We wanted to do something where you couldn’t really define instruments in a traditional sense and everything blurred together as a whole.”

What do you hope people can gain from your music?
“For us, it’s about rejecting the idea of the passivity of just listening and turning it into more of a shared sensory experience. I suppose that’s always been at our core. At an intellectual level, it’s sort of that abstract expressionist notion of overwhelming people to a point that brings it back down to an abstraction, which creates a pure emotion.”

They Blind the Stars, and the Wild Team is out July 11 via Inertia Recordings

Visit: decoderring.com.au

Tinariwen – ‘Imidiwan: Companions’

July 19, 2009 § Leave a comment

Published: Music Australia Guide #67, July 2009.

Tinariwen
Imidiwan: Companions
****1/2
(Independiente/Shock)

The Tinariwen story is the stuff of myth. Branded ‘war poets’ by the Western music press, their story is one of cultural and geographical dislocation, of war and struggle and hostile ecological environments, of hope and music and kinship. For the uninitiated, the players in Tinariwen are of the nomadic Kel Tamashek (or ‘Touareg’) people who once roamed the southern Saharan lands that now make up northern Mali. They formed in a Libyan refugee camp in the early 1980s; exiles forced from their homeland in the wake of a Malian government crackdown. But it would be an injustice to merely frame Tinariwen’s agile, abrasive blues-rock with their exotic by-line. As new album Imidiwan: Companions proves yet again, Ibrahim Ag Alhabib and his band transcend history and heritage. This is just plain, old, exhilaratingly good music. It is also their most settled and comprehensive statement thus far. The stabbing, fractured guitar hooks, tumbling percussion and haunting vocals of their early records such as 2004’s landmark Amassakoul are there in force, but so is the full-bodied rock dynamics of 2007’s Aman Iman: Water is Life. The surging blues of tracks like Tahult In and Imazaghen N Adagh make for some their richest and most fully realised melodies to date, while tracks like Intitlayaghen and the stunning Chibiba are two of their most tender. Indeed, what makes this suite of tracks so impressive is its completeness as a record. Imidiwan is about melody, tone layer and timbre. Its words may be foreign, but its language is universal.

Dan Rule

Around the galleries – July 2009

July 14, 2009 § 1 Comment

Published: The Age, A2, July 11, 2009.

Around the galleries Dan Rule

Richard Lewer

WHAT Richard Lewer: Nobody Likes a Show Off
WHERE Monash University Museum of Art, Building 55, Monash University, Wellington Road, Clayton, 9905 4217, monash.edu.au/muma

Richard Lewer’s mutterings of the soul are as absurd as they are astute in this major survey of recent work. Via “subjective encounters” with sport, crime, religion and culture, the Melbourne-based New Zealander’s wonky paintings, peg-board text works, charcoals and performative videos function as a hilarious, warts-and-all unveiling of ethics (or lack thereof). While the fragmentary, found text and re-imagined storyboards of his True Stories: Australian Crime installation makes for fascinating, sinister viewing, it’s Lewer’s Pegboard Confessions that are the real joy here. “I use the C-word a lot” reads one piece; “I will lie to your face” offers another. Whilst droll, these works transcend mere belly laughs. This is about social convention, denial and our collective moral reality. Tues to Fri: 10am–5pm, Sat: 2pm–5pm, until September 5.

David Hempenstall

WHAT David Hempenstall: Camp Slayer
WHERE Monash Gallery of Art, 680 Ferntree Gully Road, Wheelers Hill, 9562 1569, mga.org.au

Davide Hempenstall proffers a very different perspective of the Iraq war in this incisive Polaroid exhibition at MGA. Hired by the US State Department to photograph mass gravesites from 2005 to 2006, Hempenstall spent his spare time recording the surrounds of Camp Slayer, the US military base where he was stationed on the outskirts of Baghdad. Eschewing the politicisation and dramatism of war photography, these tightly framed photographs capture mere snippets of the pragmatic, everyday details: tyre prints in dust, a fuel drum, the rusted wall of a shipping container. But what makes them so effective is what they choose not to disclose. A crudely laid concrete path leads to nowhere; the entrance to a nylon tent remains securely zipped. These snapshots, crops and abstractions act as evidence of something much greater and more sinister. Tues to Fri: 10am–5pm, Sat to Sun: noon–5pm, until August 2.

Bindi Cole

WHAT Troy-Anthony Bayliss, Bindi Cole, Clinton Nain, Duncan Robinson: Just Can’t Get Enough
WHERE Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts, 26 Acland Street, St Kilda, 9209 6794, lindenarts.org

There’s no denying Bindi Cole’s commitment to the confessional. Showing alongside three fellow young Indigenous artists – the acrylic and bitumen paintings of Clinton Nain, the queered craft of Troy-Anthony Bayliss and the static-based audiovisual work of Duncan Robinson – Cole’s exhibition (dubbed Unboxing Bindi) is raw confrontation and catharsis. Unearthing childhood diaries, soft toys and photographs that she had hurriedly packed away before moving to Melbourne following the death of her mother, Cole’s video, photo-collage and object-based installation traces her re-engagement with both her personal and artistic past. In the video piece, we see Cole scouring her old diaries and calendars. She keeps only some, running the remainder through a paper shredder. An affecting and genuinely courageous work. Tues to Fri: 1pm–5pm, Sat to Sun: 11am–5pm, until August 2.

Peter Daverington

WHAT Peter Daverington, Alex Gibson, Bernhard Sachs: Langscapes
WHERE Conical Inc., Lvl 1, 3 Rochester Street, Fitzroy, 9415 6958, conical.org.au

Comprising a video piece by Alex Gibson, two paintings by Peter Daverington and a reconfigured version of Bernhard Sachs’ wall-sized 2001 work Mytho-Poetic Federation Painting…, Langscapes approaches landscape as a form of discourse, and offers a post-colonialist, globalised rethinking of landscape’s place in an Australian narrative. Sachs’ work implies the constructed, edited nature of Australian mythology and hollow celebration that was the 100th anniversary of Federation, while Daverington’s paintings offset landscape against its virtual successor. Gibson, meanwhile, reduces landscape to a solitary architectural space at a particular moment in time, offering a three-dimensional animation of Conical itself. Wed to Sat: 11am–5pm, until July 18.

WHAT Sarah Smuts-Kennedy: Pretty, as a Picture
WHERE Sophie Gannon Gallery, 2 Albert Street, Richmond, 9421 0857, sophiegannongallery.com.au

There’s a wraithlike sensibility to Sarah Smuts–Kennedy’s washed out oils. They capture the skeletal ruins of where forests once lay; smoking tree stumps and pillaged landscapes are all that remain. Including paintings, sculptures and video, the New Zealand artist’s new show Pretty, as a Picture wears its politics on its sleeve. Her video works see a montage of lush forest imagery; the soundtrack juxtaposes the gentle burbling of a creek with harrowing field recordings of forestry workers violently intimidating environmental activists. But whilst arresting, Smuts-Kennedy’s work sets up such a stark polarity between good and bad that there’s almost no where to go with these works. The message of environmental respect and responsibility is strong, but it doesn’t seem to resonate with the necessary complexities. Tues to Sat: 11am–5pm, until July 25.

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