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)

Emoji Ink – Art Review

To construct the face from emoji’s, is to say perhaps, that emoticons (emoji) are the contemporary emotional currency, taking precedence over copresent emotional connectivity.

Emoji.ink (link attached) is a interactive online application produced by artist Vince Mckelvie. Opening the link to emoji.ink surfaces all currently available apple emoji (displayed translucently, transposed over a white background), with the simple instruction: select an emoji. Once selecting the pink and yellow sparkling love heart emoji for instance the other emoji dissapear, (and can be accessed again by pressing the space bar). The white background now becomes an empty drawing scape, with a size icon in the lower right hand corner and the instructive:

click to draw

press any key to select an emoji

save the image

site by Vince Mckelvie (hyperlink to Mckelvie’s Tumblr attached)

The only function unaccounted for which is of importance would be the ability to undo, although I appreciate how the inability to delete makes choices more committed. With each emoji, its placement and size needing to be considered in relation to the next. The online interactive application, along with others developed by Mckelvie, (avaliable on Tumblr, link attached) are captivating with their consideration of simplicity, functionality, form, colour and movement.

The interactions with ‘emoji art’ vary in ‘skill’, time taken and approach. An artist by the name Yung Jake noted the applications potential, by adopting emoji.ink with its use of recognisable emoji icons and applying them to produce celebrity portraits from online images, and dispersing these images across social media.

Miley Cyrus, Ellen DeGeneres, Drake, Kim Kardashian, Madonna, Taylor Swift (among others) all rendered in appropriately assorted emoji’s. With the formal qualities of each emoji being considers, and I speculate, an awareness of how emoji’s operate as loaded symbols. For example Taylor Swift’s portrait as rendered in love related symbols operates in relation to her love life being capitalised on by the media, which saturates her career, personal romantic relationships and Yung’s Emoji portrait. Positioning Swift as an embodiment of the classic heartbreaker / heartbroken ‘women scorned’.

Engaging with Yung Jake’s ‘emoji art’ and the application Emoji.ink are recommended, enjoyable and crediable sources, that open up consideration around the potential usages of cyber tools in the production and situation of art online.

Luke Munn: swfer – Exhibition Review

By Jordana Bragg

swfer | Luke Munn | Blue Oyster Art Project Space | 9 May 2015 – 06 June 2015

swfer continues Luke Munn’s investigation into the relationship between immaterial, sterilised technology and the intimacy and physicality of our moistmedia bodies.

[moist media] is a term coined by Roy Ascott to signal the emergent confluence in media art of (wet) biological processes and (dry) computational systems.

The bold typeface proclaiming swfer, as the title of Luke Munn’s current exhibition at Blue Oyster Art Project Space (open 09 May 2015 – June 06 2015) had me at its lurid use of hot pink. Fortunately, on Saturday May 09 2015 I found myself in the Octagon in Dunedin at approximately 2:30pm with half an hour to idle. With the large-scale exhibition Private Utopia at Dunedin Public Art Gallery (open 28 March 2015 – 09 August 2015) looming over me like an obligation I could not fully commit to, and the awareness Blue Oyster was to close in half an hour, I ran to Blue Oyster, and right into an artist talk with Luke Munn and Matthew Galloway.

In the front gallery space on the right wall behind those seated at the artist talk I noted a small-scale pink wall text stating: ‘i-chatmobi’, (iChat – 2015) and upon further investigation it was understood to be a provocation to interact with an online messenger application iChat:

iChat is a messenger application embodied by a ‘Tumblr teen girl aesthetic’, when interacting with iChat a conversation reformation occurs between a ‘decoy adolescent female’ + a ‘predator’.

Citing directly a conversation from Perveted-Justice.com, the application articulates entrapment strategies and the importance of human connectivity/representation/vulnerability online, (whether genuine or constructed).

Against the end wall of the front gallery space a projected text work (Code Swishing – 2014) screens currently circulating Internet acronyms, for example: ‘SWM’, and beneath this the expansion: ‘Single White Male’. This work was initially humorous, yet after time with the work the specific acronyms selected and their intentions became more sinister, asserting a critical awareness, potentially of how these text reductions and their cyber perpetuation simultaneously over simplify and complicate identity politics online (FWB: friends with benefits, GBM: gay black male, BBW: big black women).

Moving into the back gallery space I encountered a disk drive painted white and situated on top of a white plinth (SeeDee – 2014), with a faint soundtrack of the disk burner in operation underneath. At this point I overheard Luke and Matthew discussing “breathing shallow while waiting for emails to load”, which I found extremely applicable and entered back into the front gallery space to stand within ear shot while reading over the titles and work descriptions. In the medium section of SeeDee (2014), it outlined semen as a component of the materials alongside the plinth and disk drive. This particular involvement of the body and, furthermore, bodily fluid evident in the title, yet invisible to the viewer prior to reading the description, provoked me to consider this action in relation to anxieties surrounding uploading the body online and the ever-present yet often ‘invisible’ or little discussed under current of pornography online.

As an exhibition which considers / reconsiders the intrinsic relationship between the gallery space, cyber space and URL / IRL human connectivity and experience, I position this text as anecdotal, a provocation for others to experience swfer IRL (in real life), and to engage with the online components: iChat and the artist talk available on sound cloud (links attached).

Matthew Galloway in conversation with Luke Munn: https://soundcloud.com/blue-oyster-dunedin/luke-munn-talking-to-matthew-galloway

Link to application iChat: http://i-chat.mobi

The Artist’s Body – Publication Review

By Jordana Bragg

The Artist’s Body first published in 2000, reprinted in paperback 2006 and abridged, revised and updated 2012, is a comprehensive catalogue of canonical works of performance art, spanning an entire century (1900-2000).

The publication’s cover features a glossy full colour reproduction of Tracey Emin’s Exorcism of the Last Painting I Ever Made, (1996) and opens up into a full colour two page spread of Yasumasa Morimura’s Portrait (Futago), (1988).

Provided within the introductory stages of the publication is an outline of it’s contents, with clear use of headings, sub headings and page numbers, outlining that which follows will be:

A Preface by curator Tracey Warr (page 10)

A Survey by curator Amelia Jones (page 16)

Works (listed in alphabetical order under each subheading)

Painting Bodies (page 49)

Gesturing Bodies (page 70)

Ritualistic and Transgressive Bodies (page 92)

Body Boundaries (page 114)

Performing Identity (page 134)

Absent Bodies (page 162)

Extended and Prosthetic Bodies (page 178)

Appendices

Artist’s Biographies (page 190)

Bibliography (page 199)

Index (page 202)

Acknowledgements (page 204)

By way of introduction the Preface (by Tracey Warr) and Survey (by Amelia Jones) serve as two poignant introductory essay’s, with Tracey Warr discussing the wider implications of canonised performance pieces/art and Amelia Jones discussing such implications in direct relation to the publication.

The largest portion of the publication is afforded to the Works section, which is divided into subsections such as Body Boundaries, Performing Identity, Absent Bodies et cetera, with each subsection beginning with a brief introductory statement, offering a useful insight prior to engaging with the text available alongside images of each work.

The Appendices section offers brief artist biographies, a bibliography list, an index and acknowledgments of those included in the publication. The Appendices section, as it outlines clearly basic information of each artist/artwork was, (along with the cover image of Tracey Emin’s Exorcism of the Last Painting I Ever Made, (1996) the defining factor in my decision to purchase The Artist’s Body. I would recommend this publication to anyone with an interest in all those performance works that are constantly referenced and misquoted at art gallery openings, with a disclaimer that The Artist’s Body offers a useful, yet very specific, (potentially exclusionary) scope.

Bas Jan Ader Website – Publication Review

By Jordana Bragg

Bas Jan Ader website
http://www.basjanader.com

Dutch/Californian photographer, filmmaker, conceptual and performance artist Bas Jan Ader (born 19 April 1942- died 1975) continues to have an influential presence via a powerful body of works developed throughout his brief career/ lifetime. His website is a select documentation and articulation of such works.

Navigating http://www.basjanader.com is effortless, with each section of information outlined under five separate headings: home, biography, selected works/homages, books/films and blog.

Each section is foreground by ambient music and a brief looping section from one of the select video works avaliable on the site:

Fall I, Los Angeles, Bas Jan Ader, 16mm, duration: 24 sec.

Fall II, Amsterdam, Bas Jan Ader, 16mm, 19 sec.

I’m too sad to tell you, Bas Jan Ader, 16mm, duration: 3 min 34 sec.

Broken fall (organic), Bas Jan Ader, 16mm, duration 1 min 44 sec.

Nightfall, Bas Jan Ader, 16mm, 4 min 16 sec.

Broken fall (geometric), Bas Jan Ader, 16mm, duration 1 min 49 sec.

© 1971, Mary Sue Ader-Andersen

The ‘home page’ opens with a repeated 5-second clip of Bas Jan Ader’s 3 minute 34 second silent black-and-white film I’m Too Sad to Tell You, which comprises of Jan Ader crying (1). The ‘biography’ section, (foreground by a repeated 5-second clip of Broken fall (organic) outlines Jan Ader’s formative years, art school experience, and continues on to outline the circumstances of his presumed death during the work In Search of the Miraculous, (1975).

Bas Jan Ader was last seen in 1975 while embarking on the work In Search of the Miraculous, which was proclaimed by the artist to be an approximately 60 day journey across the Atlantic in a 12½ foot sailboat. Six months later the boat was discovered off the coast of Ireland, with no trace of Bas Jan Ader.

The ‘selected works’ section, (also foreground by a repeated 5-second clip of Broken fall (organic) features the seven works listed in the third paragraph, and also a ‘homage’ section, which and invites contemporary artists to submit works influenced by Jan Ader. (1) The original works content includes several photographs and postcards mailed to his friends with the inscription ‘I’m too sad to tell you’.

BraggBoeuf

#IAMSORRY – Art Review

By Jordana Bragg

Shia LaBeouf official twitter page: https://twitter.com/thecampaignbook

Late in 2013, Shia LaBeouf published a stream of tweets on twitter under the hashtag #IAMSORRY, including the statements “got lost in the artistic process” and “I fucked up”, in retaliation to the plagiarism scandal surrounding a 12 minute short film he produced titled: Howard Cantour.com that aired at The Cannes Film Festival, (2013). Howard Cantour.com was noted by many critics and audience members as a direct counterfeiting of the graphic novel Justin M. Damiano, (2007) by cartoonist Daniel Clowes, with the comic’s publisher Eric Reynold proclaiming LaBeouf’s short film to be “shameless theft”.

Shia LaBeouf’s independent exhibition/performance piece #IAMSORRY ran for six days in March 2014 out of the Cohen Gallery Space in Los Angeles. After standing in line outside, once inside the main foyer participants were instructed by security to enter a small exhibition space one at a time. Upon entering, two tables became apparent to the participant. One displayed several objects, including: an Indiana Jones whip, a model transformer toy, a bouquet of plastic daisies, a pink ukulele, a bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey, a basket of abusive tweets aimed at LaBeouf and the book Hershey Kisses written by Daniel Clowes, (the author he was accused of plagiarising). The other table featured LaBeouf sitting alone, opposite an empty chair, with a paper bag over his head with the hand written text ‘I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE’ concealing his face.

The objects laid out on the table were intended to be used by the audience on LaBeouf as they wished, while LaBeouf sat staring forward through the cut outs in the paper bag over his head, (reportedly looking disheveled as if he had been crying) passive to any attempt on the audience’s part to prompt interaction and conversation. With the passive artist sitting at a table and inviting the audience to use objects on him as they desire, there can be no denial of the fact that this performance could be considered both an adaptation and/or a direct usurping of original content from already canonised works within the history of performance art, including:

Yoko Ono | Cut Piece | 1965 | (Yamaichi Concert Hall, Kyoto, Japan).

Marina Abramović | Rhythm 0 | 1974 | (Modern Galerija, Ljubljiana).

Marina Abramović | The Artist is Present | 2010 | (Museum of Modern Art, NYC).

I consider #IAMSORRY as an ironic artistic retaliation to plagiarism (allegations). LaBeouf’s ‘apology’ comes in the form of plagiarising other artists, with this feigned ignorance serving to demonstrate his awareness of artistic authenticity.

Preliminary Materials For a Theory of the Young-Girl – Semiotext(e) intervention series – Publication Review

By Jordana Bragg

Preliminary Materials (2012) For a Theory of the Young-Girl translated by Ariana Reines is a relatively short compilation of largely academic found text first published in 2007 by Semiotext(e), as part of their intervention series. The publication opens with the quote ‘I did love you once’ from William Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet, which by way of an introduction was profoundly compelling from the onset.

The next ten pages under the heading PRELIMINARIES proceed to outline the theory of the young-girl, yet for all the elaborate attempts at utilising subheading and italics for emphasis I was left very uncertain of this ‘theories’ origin/definition.

‘Listen: The Young-Girl is obviously not a gendered concept. A hiphop nightclub player is no less a Young-Girl than a beurette (slang for a French woman of North African descent) tarted up like a porn-star’.

I will be the first to admit getting to page ten of the introductory PRELIMINARIES sections was arduous, with the thick academic text and terms imposing over what would have otherwise made for very engaging material, (I do not mean to imply this section of text is without merit. I attribute my disengagement with it due to my stunted attention span for heavily academic text and my limited knowledge around this particular theory).

However my prior uncertainty was quickly absolved by a statement in the final paragraph of the introductory PRELIMINARIES section:

‘So as not to give a false impression – which could well be our intention – the jumble of fragments that follows does not in any way constitute a theory’.

Following on from this the text opens up into an eclectic assortment of fragmented quotes, (accumulated by the authors via chance encounters, cited from sources such as online chat forums and magazines).

The quotes are sectioned off under various contextual headings:

  1. The Young-Girl as Phenomenon
  2. The Young-Girl as Technique of the Self
  3. The Young-Girl as Social Relation
  4. The Young-Girl as Commodity
  5. The Young-Girl as Living Currency
  6. The Young-Girl as Compact Political Apparatus
  7. The Young-Girl as War Machine
  8. The Young-Girl Against Communism
  9. The Young-Girl Against Herself
  10. Putting an end to the Young-Girl

    As someone who enjoys a thorough list and well-considered contextual framing I found these titles, not unlike the titles of an artwork, implicit in my understanding of the content.

Header image/quote from section 4. The Young-Girl as Commodity