What is Live Art? by Julian Sofaer – Art Review

By Callum Devlin

28 August, 2002

In the video a man steps swiftly from the side of the frame directly into a close-up.

“What is live art?” he says. The camera zooms out slowly, revealing a crowded footpath of pedestrians floating by. The man speaks directly into the camera, with the articulate air of a broadcast journalist. “Well,” he continues, “at its most fundamental, Live Art is when an artist chooses to make work directly in front of the audience in space and time. So instead of making an object, or an environment and leaving it for the audience to encounter in their own time, Live Art comes into being at the actual moment of encounter between artist and spectator.”

He is speaking to the camera, to the audience, but he is performing for the crowd around him. People stop, stare at the camera and at the man. He is a spectacle, a curiosity, but not un unfamiliar one. The image of a journalist performing their to-camera monologue in the public is a well-worn trope. It instantly connects the content of the story directly to the city, to the people they are speaking about, and that their story seems to be affecting. But the curiosity of the crowd around him is electric, overly so. The content of his monologue directly matches the form that it is taking. Moreover, the content is echoed in the reaction of the crowd around him, creating a feedback loop that builds between the two.

The punchline is the hole in his pants, revealed as he turns on his heel at the end of his speech. A perfect circle exposing his ass to the world, visible for a moment before he disappears into the crowd. Instantly the speech is recontextualised, and a second viewing is called for, as you are now “in” on the joke.

The video is a curious statement. Initially it serves as a clear description of an art movement, it’s history and priorities. The text itself is cohesive, entertaining, and informative, while the performance slick and assertive. However, in it’s form as a video, it seems to initially contradict the art movement that it seems to be a part of. Live Art is defined as taking place in the moment of creation, between the viewer and the audience. The video acts as a permanent ghost of the initial performance.



The Unbearable Lightness of Art by Simon Mark Smith – Exhibition Review

By John Fuller

Little Chelsea Gallery, UK. – 7 – 29 June 2014

Simon Mark Smith is a UK based artist with an eclectic mix of talents, ranging from digital art, photography and writing through to traditional painting. He is also a singer/songwriter. This particular exhibition sparked my interest, not because of the art itself, which is almost incidental in my view, or the slightly deadpan presentation, but because of the philosophical and far-reaching questions Smith is asking through this art and the innovative methods he has used to set up a dialogue with the viewer .

This artist uses digital photo frames, iPads, paint, photography, QR codes and mixes them all up to create what I would best describe as an artistic quandary, a situation where the questions asked have no clear answers. In fact if anything they possibly lead to more questions.

The Unbearable Lightness of Art opens up a Pandora’s Box of debates around the value of virtual art vs the value of printed art vs the value of traditional media. It questions how and who decides this value and even tackles the issue of the value of the artist’s name.

Thrown into the mix are hybrid works, which utilise digital photo frames with real paint added directly to the screens. There are digital photographs of objects, which are printed, painted on and then re-photographed before being digitally altered and displayed virtually in digital frames. These are displayed next to the same images printed on paper. Again questions around value (both monetary and artistic) are asked. Does a digital image on an iPad have any value? When the same image is printed does its value change? Again more questions than answers.

Smith goes on to explore the longevity of virtual art, or more accurately its lack of longevity. Will it survive over time, or will it be lost? Does it exist at all if it is not printed? Is its lack of permanency a good thing or a bad thing? Finally he uses QR codes to generate dialogue and some virtual images, including one of a self-portrait which was constructed entirely on his iPad using graphics software. This is a highly realistic rendering of the artist generated by his use of software. Is it a self-portrait or a portrait produced by a machine? Again more questions than answers. I have a head ache.

Bonus Simon Mark Smith music track. WARNING don’t watch this if you hate Elvis.

Work&Play: Confession Ritual – Exhibition Review

22 March 2014, Dowling Street Project Space

by Judith Yeh

It is significant how the long history of art has developed into this 21st Century movement called “contemporary art”. The spectrum of this significance covers a wide range of various expressions, sometimes the definition of what constitute as an art form becomes obscure. How does one define an exhibition? Does an exhibition only limit to inhabitation of physical objects? I question myself as I stand before a mad and emotional Korean man ritualistically scrawling toothpaste all over a mirror.

Throughout the series of Work&Play, which consist of fifteen performances over two weeks, and across four different locations; Confession Ritual is, without a doubt, the most intense and emotional one out of all. Although the title may have already suggested that this isn’t going to be some self-indulgent, paint splattering musical dance number, it has not prepared one to be so directly confronted with the artist’s immense agony and excruciation. Samin Son’s practice is largely formed by his experience in the two-year compulsory military service in South Korea. He draws upon the endurance and the meticulously directed aggression demanded by the mundane military life, as well as his struggles with identity and race politics. This piece, which sees him enter and circles the room while intoning some unrecognised phrase, is enchanting, displacing and confrontational. One moment he is tying select people together with one of those everlasting public toilet hand towels, forming a defined space to accentuate displacement and uniformity; then he is coming up to each individual, staring into their eyes and commanding them, shrinking the audience in size and individuality. While these actions already put members of the audience on edge, Son takes it to another level by repetitively and laboriously cleaning the mirror with toothpaste, scribbling with it and wiping it off again. The intensity leaves the audience stuck fast, petrified and fascinated.

An art form is the way of expressing one’s emotions. If comparing Son’s display of performance to that of a painting; his movements as the brushes and strokes, and the space as a blank canvas, what really is the difference between Son’s “exhibition” to an “expressionist exhibition” or perhaps an “abstract expressionist exhibition”? It is safe to say, that Son’s style of expressionism has most definitely become one of the most memorable exhibitions I have seen so far.
Video shown is part of Samin Son’s “Toothpaste Action #10”, at DEPOPULATE 01 presented by White Fungus.


By Laura Duffy

Short film – alongside exhibition at MOMA

This short film by MOMA goes along side Isa’s Retrospective show in New York. I found this video with a quick Google search after being referred to her work by a Tutor. The film doesn’t do too much explaining of itself, instead re-directs to the MOMA website where you can and read more about the artist and her work as well as purchase the retrospective publication in the form of a hearty book.

The German artist is said to be one of the most influential of the past couple of decades, explained to be always ahead of the times. Colleagues, mates and strangers talk about her with an accompanying rock’n’roll-esque soundtrack that set a funky vibe. Rather than reading the book, the video feels like having a conversation with various people who know with the artist, it’s much more relaxed and much more fun. It’s also great that no-one is speaking in pseudo-academic-foreign-language-poetry, I found everything to be easily understood. Yay. Although it’s obviously edited it’s refreshing to hear people speak unscripted and genuinely – rather than reading something laboriously worked upon, they’re speaking therefore their opinions are closer to the surface and more true. It’s great seeing a New Zealand artist getting amongst in this, Simon Denny features briefly talking about how he first came across her work. Which was in an art journal where the photos were black and white. I’m grateful to be privileged with easy accessibility to this film from the comforts of my computer screen.

I’m unsure of if this resonates with other humans aside from myself but I often get this frustrated feeling when I find something I really love that I want to soak it up as quick as possible, that I want to look at it, read it, eat it and inhale all simultaneously. This succeeded at satisfying my need of eating my computer screen but giving me all of it quickly, photos music and words. Boom. My main critique is I would enjoy hearing from the artist, I assume she wants the work to speak for itself. I’ll forgive her. Without the artist being interviewed and the absence of someone speaking in first person it has a tiny tickle of feeling like the artist has died, although Isa Genzken is very much alive.