Around the galleries – November 2009

November 20, 2009 § Leave a comment

Published: The Age, A2, November 14, 2009.

Around the galleries Dan Rule

WHAT Paul Marc Joffe: Interior Oblique
WHERE Lindberg Contemporary Art, 48 Cambridge Street, Collingwood, 0403 066 775, lindbergcontemporary.com.au

There’s nothing passive about Paul Marc Joffe’s work, neither in terms of subject nor gaze. His voyeuristic, nonetheless formally realised documentary photographs have a gritty, kinetic quality. Taken largely on the streets of urban South Africa, Israel, Southeast Asia or in the case of the wonderful Movement Untitled, an Indigenous community on Mornington Island in Queensland, his layered photographs capture visceral movements, actions and their signifiers. The show’s money shot, Such Soft Hands, is cropped at waste level, revealing a group of Durban youths, pistols relaxedly in hand; TH8537 (pictured) captures a child midway through an acrobatic somersault. But what makes this collection truly interesting is its freedom from context. Joffe draws us towards potential narratives, only to leave us ponder the circumstances and consequences on our own. Wed to Sat 11am–5pm, until November 21.

WHAT Andrew Liversidge: Nothing for Nothing, Ka-Yin Kwok: A Bike Ride With Melissa
WHERE Kings Artist Run Initiative, Level 1, 171 King Street, city, 9642 0859, kingsartistrun.com.au

The latest show at Kings reveals a couple of interesting new works. Running alongside Peter Fifer’s new series of painting and collage works, Andrew Liversidge’s somewhat elliptical Nothing for Nothing is a spectacular imposition on the space. Comprising a towering, wall-like sculptural installation of stacked and tethered schlock-romantic paperbacks, as well as an oblique video work, this piece seems a reflection on written communication. The graph-like wall of texts gradually decreases in size, the further you follow its perimeter. Ka-Yin Kwok’s video work A Bike Ride With Melissa – in which she takes a personal and historical two-wheeled tour of St Kilda with a veteran working girl – is the real surprise here. We may never witness the husky-voiced Melissa’s likeness (the camera is mounted to her bike helmet), but the experience is oddly and affectingly intimate. Wed to Sat noon–6pm, until November 21.

WHAT Graham Guerra: We know no time when we were not as now
WHERE Nellie Castan Gallery, Level 1, 12 River Street, South Yarra, 9804 7366, nelliecastangallery.com

American artist Graham Guerra’s compact, nonetheless meticulously detailed charcoal and graphite works offer something of a religious and secular conundrum. Reframing what he poses as the “tangible fruits” of contemporary culture in an artistic context informed by Catholic and devotional art, his sleek renderings of interlocked skulls, interwoven, headless human bodies and sports ground floodlights could be read in a couple of ways. On the one hand, Guerra’s reappropriation of religious imagery could be interpreted as a heavy-handed critique of secular existence. The contemporary female form he chooses as his model is surgically enhanced to the extreme – massively scaled silicon “fruits” and all – while his male form wears Nike. The other reading, of course, is one of the celebration of such forms. Both leave you a little cold. Whether censure or salute, Guerra’s reading of the contemporary seems albeit shallow and one-dimensional. Yes, we are bombarded with mainstream media and advertising imagery of bone-skinny women with gigantic fake breasts and muscly blokes wearing Nikes, but surely the prolificacy of citizen media, blogs and communications has marginalised such imagery to that of a genre. Tues to Sat noon–5pm, until November 21.

WHAT Sara Hughes: Buy, sell, hold
WHERE Sutton Gallery Project Space, 230 Young Street, Fitzroy, 9416 0727, suttongallery.com.au/projectspace

For those unscathed, sans the unavoidable plunge in super savings, the GFC was passé dinner table conversation within months of its grand proclamation. In that sense, you’ve got to feel for New Zealand artist Sara Hughes. By the time she would have developed Buy, sell, hold – her striking new body of work at Sutton Gallery’s Project Space – everyone was sick of talking about it. That said, Hughes’s seems a reflection on the language (or cultural white noise, you might say) of commerce rather than its machinations. She recasts otherwise drab graphs and indicators in vibrant acrylic and vinyl, while a vivid sludge of commas and zeros gather on the floor. Fri to Sat 1pm–5pm, until November 21.

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