Ulcerate – Music Review

By David Matthews

Ulcerate – San Francisco Bathhouse – 22/05/2015

“Ulcerate” is a New Zealand three piece experimental music group, with Jamie Saint Merat-drums, William Cleverdon-guitar, and Paul Kelland-bass/vocals. Their music borrows from aspects of many different genres, the most obvious being a combination of progressive/melodic/blackened/technical/death-metal. They are currently touring Australasia for the release of their fourth studio album “Vermis”. Ulcerate produce their work from the specific perspective of “deathmetal”, both in theme, and sound. They incorperate within their imagery a traditional (somewhat cheesy and generic) style of death-metal, which could be described as “brutal”, “anger”, “dark”, “morbid” etc. Aiming to generate sound of an oppressive, and aggressive nature. Though their latter compositions have progressed to sometimes suggest a “nicer”, “delicate”, dynamic, and emotive side.

This was the fourth time I have witnessed in the flesh, what is the powerful experience of being subjected to such intensity that is an Ulcerate live performance. And as you may assume, I have been listening to their recordings for the better part of a decade, and I still find myself unearthing something new each listen, of even the oldest material. It’s layered thick with subtle brilliance, and some (not so subtle) musical skill. It in itself is a showcase of musicianship, both traditional and more unconventional. Ulcerate produce great sound production and world class technical professionalism. While their sound could be described as intense, noise, experimental, or brutal, using heavy distortions, and low bass frequencies, their compositions do though show some relationships to the traditional notions of both classical music and sonic art categories. Following the rules set out by music theory, but also bending, and breaking them intentionally to create mood and emotion, and to contrast against the harmonic and the dissonant. Ulcerate use a lot of dischord harmonies, though these are almost always responded with clean, tuneful parts which help to hold different pieces and sections together, and give the listener some breif respite from full time extremity. The combination and layering of different scales, modes and key signatures work to create its own natural harmonies and dissonance to which blend and distort to become almost inaudible interpretations of scale and chord. This dynamic movement creates mood and atmosphere, with builds and breakdowns as an important part of their makeup. The timekeeping is that of a mathmatical genius (drummer, Jamie Saint Merat), who combines layers of double/tripple/quadruple timing, easily playing around the beat over odd and displaced rhythms, and switching tempo, which seem to trick you into finding the solid downbeat, only to flip it yet again and change direction entirely; again juxtapositioning the intense with a more easy-listening approach, and creating an intriguing visual experience.

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Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War – Exhibition Review

By Saskia Willox

Te Papa approached Weta Workshops about a collaboration to create an exhibition commemorating the 100-year anniversary of Gallipoli. This exhibition showed through the eyes of real New Zealanders who were there the tragedies of the 8 month long campaign in which 2779 New Zealanders lost their lives. Te Papa set out with the intention to unpeel any myths that remain around the 8 months of the Gallipoli campaign. I think they did this very successfully. I did not know a huge amount about the experience of the New Zealand soldiers and left feeling incredibly informed. Weta and Te Papa really set the tone for what it was like for New Zealanders and how they felt and remembered the war.

The exhibition contained various artifacts such as weapons used in the war, three-dimensional maps and projections as well as countless photographs some of which were taken by the soldiers on the front line. Some parts of the exhibition were extremely intimate. You got the opportunity to hear recounts from veterans and read letters written by the soldiers at war, some who were killed soon after. There were eight giant sculptures of the men who were actually at Gallipoli. They were so realistic it felt almost as though they might suddenly move or get up and walk off.  They were 2 ½ times the average human size and this made the detail of these figures even more amazing. You could see their pores, veins, hair and even beads of sweat rolling down their face. They were truly spectacular. The team at Weta did not shy away from the brutality or the gruesomeness of Gallipoli and showed disease and infestations of lice and flies as well as blood, dead bodies and the wounds of soldiers. They really captured the cramped and filthy conditions in with the soldiers endured.

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There was a perfect combination of things to read, things to look at and things to interact with at this exhibition. I could imagine people from all age groups being fascinated in something there. This is not the kind of thing that I would usually be interested in but this exhibition made me forget the world outside. I was completely encapsulated in all that was Gallipoli for the 2 hours it took me to navigate my way through the exhibition. The only thing that tainted my experience of this exhibition was the amount of people that were in there. I had thought as it was during the week and quite a long time after the exhibition had opened that it might be quite quiet but I was constantly tripping over people and there were queues to use any of the interactive pieces. This project took an estimated 24 thousand hours to produce and cost a ridiculous 8 million dollars. While I think this exhibition was breathtaking and will be very important in framing future generations perceptions of Gallipoli I find this kind of money really difficult to justify. Although I was pleased that it was still a free entry exhibition.

Text by Louise Rutledge

I Love You / But I Want More – Exhibition Review

By Jordana Bragg

For nine days of  August (Monday 11 – Thursday 21, 2014) an undergraduate Fine Arts exhibition was held in the Engine Room Gallery (Block 1, Massey University Wellington, CoCA), open on site 12-4pm / 5.30-7pm.

Curated and facilitated by then fourth year Fine Arts (with Honours) student Louise Rutledge, by the pointed and seductive title: I Love You / But I Want More

The majority of the 17 Massey University Bachelor of Fine Arts undergraduate artists who installed over the nine day course of I Love You / But I Want More were curated by Rutledge to feature in the space for one day (12-4pm / 5.30-7pm), with particular artists assembling more permanent features that were apparent in the space during the closing event Thursday 21 (5.30-7pm).

All works which inhabited the space over the nine days (whether intermittently or permanently), when applied to Rutledges’ extremely considered approach and application of how best to optimise the space, made for a constantly engaging experience. With each day bringing traces from the day before, and every new piece installed adding something new to the conversation.

Upon entering the front foyer of the space to the immediate right sat the portable bookshelf Art Print Space alongside a small table offering tea, immediately encouraging a relaxed conversational space. On Tuesday August 12 2014 (day two), Robbie Whyte installed a participatory drawing space (in the form of a large sand pit and costume made rake), which emodied the space playfully and made room for serious contemplation.

As a constantly inviting and evolving process, (don’t disregard the next sentence as purely lip service), I Love You / But I Want More is currently incomparable to any past Engine Room exhibition that I have attended during my time as a BFA student at Massey University, Wellington.

(Header text: Louise Rutledge)

Bouquet III – Exhibition Review

By Louisa Beatty

Title: ‘Bouquet III’

Artist: De Rijke/ De Rooij

Venue: Sydney Biennale

Date: 2012

‘Bouquet III’ is the third sculpture in a series of bouquet’s arranged by collaborators De Rijke/ De Rooji. The sculpture is a live flower arrangement consisting of various native Australian flora, presented in a traditional style of vase, standing alone on a conventional plinth.

Aside from being so aesthetically drawn to the idea of a bouquet- so beautiful and so obvious, elegant, tacky, complicated and socially loaded- I more so gravitated to the projects on going form of documentation and recreation. The collaborative duo continuing their ‘Bouquet’ series each time employing written language as their form of sculptural documentation. Once initially made and exhibited the original ‘Bouquet’ exists only on paper through a detailed 360 degree description facilitating future constructions.

This process of documentation paired with the use of native and/or accessible, ephemeral materials allows for a shift in the treatment, placement and physical content of each ‘Bouquet’. The sculpture then both speaking specifically to site/location/country as well as the poetic, romantic notions of translation and personal interpretation.

The series grows and shifts as the artist’s adjust to each others language as well as placement. The piece becomes a romantic narrative of the two artist’s understanding and communication whilst remaining an accessible artwork to it’s spectators – reaching to them through localised material.

To me the work is a seriously cute echo of the societal associations placed on the object, the bouquet -just something to be looked at yet maybe the recognition of feelings or a thank you or death.

Being that there are no photographs of ‘Bouquet III’ -obviously- I became aware of this work through the informative DVD provided with the ‘On Emotions and Reason’ Book where the two artists spoke together about their project.

So technically this is just another interpretation/translation/description of the work

flowers ❤

Bond Street Pop Up – Exhibition Review

While most of us have been admiring the new look in Bond Street, one of our elected councilors is claiming that it’s an abomination, Lindsay Shelton said.
When presenting public art or installation your work becomes open to criticism. This work here done by the council as a pop up space was fun and unexpected to me. The swing is fun and relaxing within the weather proof shipping container. Also within is an image of nature and rivers. the fake grass adds to the nature theme and relaxing space.

But I think the isolated swing is to stage like and intimidating for me. As you swing alone and can’t relax knowing someone else might want to go on. The bean bags were successful and the fun polka dots on the ground made it fun. After reading that some shop owners were mad at the pop up I was baffled as to how this pop up was effecting sales. I would never walk down bond, apart from taking a short cut down this boring street. With the pop up space i was pulled into the space and it court my attention. I found out about the space from word of mouth as lots of people had seen and chilled in the area or had taken photos.

The work was successful in advertising its self as everyone talked and spread images on the media. I hope with my own work a label like pop up space or anything will become a means of finding tagging the image online.

David Horvitz – Art Review

By Maddy Plimmer

During his artist residency at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, David Horvitz created a publication to coincide with his stay there. He sent regular emails over a week documenting his experiences in Dublin, and anyone was able to sign up to receive the emails. Horvitz sent poems, photos and sort of diary passages. These emails were then printed, scanned into a computer and compiled into a .pdf file which is now available on his website.

In the emails he discusses art works that were not a part of his then current residency. He discusses his ongoing restaurant spoon collection, and the joys of taking them out of their natural cycle and grouping them together like a bouquet of flowers. He reveals that he has always wanted to make a series of photographic self-portraits standing next to trees. This publication focuses on his personal experience of the residency, rather than the art that came directly out of it.

The format of the online publication, although very digital, actually becomes presented more as a print publication. The emails have been physically printed then scanned into the computer in order to reintroduce them into a virtual space, which places value on the material qualities of the printed email. The photos in the emails becomes cropped and spread across several pages, and the printer was running out of ink, which has left faded streaks in the images.  Horvitz could have easily taken screenshot of the emails and presented them in their screen form, but there has clearly been a desire for the materiality of the printed email. It gives these emails a greater relationship to a traditional correspondence, and also makes me think of a treasured message. Unless an email has some really important information, or has great sentimental value, it would seem unusual to print it. To allow this information to occupy physical space unnecessarily, speaks to me about a cherishing of the content.

This publicly available, yet intimate set of communications is a fresh interpretation of the publication that assists the exhibition. It gives insight into the artist’s process, and brings his art into a broader context.

The entire publication is available in the link below.

http://www.davidhorvitz.com/DublinFoxes.pdf

Mang Mang – Artist Review


By Judith Yeh

http://www.mangmang.me/en/index.php

It isn’t often that one comes across a portrait artist who predominately takes portraits of themselves. So it is quite refreshing when I came across ShenZen, China-based artist – Mang Mang.

Mang Mang crafts sharp studio portraits embodying many facets of her own psyche. For Mang, an image can’t be too stylized for intimacy. She is unafraid to cut, re-arrange, blur, and distort otherwise straight-forward photographs of herself to better represent a concept. Unlike the material excess of Sherman—an undeniable inspiration—Mang’s prop choices are minimal and singular. Innocuous household items morph into emotionally charged fetishes and their relative harmlessness become a point of contention.

Mang’s stark white website reflects her noticeable aesthetic through her body of work, which often conveys themes of identity, travel, and sometimes violence. All through a clean, open, sharp composition and view point. However, there is a strong hidden idea of “love”; even if her work is filled with violence, gore, psychosis, metamorphosis, and beauty, they all connect to “love.”. While often turning the camera on herself, Mang is open to photographing others. As for the male figure she occasionally presents, “He was my fiancé, but we separated in the end.” Born Zhao Bing Bin, “Mang” means “blind,” a choice to “remind myself not only to rely on my eyes, but to use the heart to see the world.”