Monday, February 23, 2015

White Night Melbourne, and 'the corporation as artist'

My article about White Night, an event in Melbourne modelled on Paris's Nuit Blanche which itself takes its name after Saint Petersburg's White Nights festival, was published over at Spook Magazine.

The article makes an argument for these city-festivals concealing their true objectives - raising capital and branding the city, and appearing as 'arts festivals' to the detriment of art and art dialogue. This is inevitably an unpopular argument in Australia, where the distinctions between public and private are seldom visible - making it a perfect melting-pot for new forms of creative capital. The Audi Artcar is a sad example.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Staging a Dialogue's Collapse: Artist Orginisations International

First, a disclaimer, or perhaps a statement. It's now been three weeks since Artist Organisatons International, over which time your correspondent has found himself more than usually stranded, and unable to publish anything. The cause: the feeling of... well, dread, that the event inspired, together with a frustrating combination of self-reflection, a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between different positions (not at all in a healthy way) and an overpowering dose of pessimism. No-one can deny this was a difficult event at a difficult time.

Writing under such circumstances is also difficult, and this might indeed be my worst writing. Reaching a firm conclusion is impossible - and has resulted in several different attempts over the past three weeks to fill this yawning void (shared by most audience, judging by the various explosive groans and mutterings around me at different moments).

One such feeble attempt can be found below. I do not deny that I have failed to meet the task of critic in this event, and for that, I blame the extraordinarily high stakes, as I perceive them. This sense of dread is overpowering and nauseating. My decision to publish an incomplete argument should not give the idea that I think these things are unimportant.

Artists Organisations International may prove to be a landmark moment - possibly for the wrong reasons. The decision to publish is because of this. I don't pretend to give a definitive or privileged account here - rather, a selective one, divided into some key concerns. There are some which are urgent, and which Artist's Organisations International may represent. As to the significance or validity of the event itself, I will leave that to others to discuss (at length, no doubt).




Everything is lost.

That was my feeling walking out of HAU on the first dramatic night of Artist Organisations International, a Ted-Talks style 3-day art forum curated by Johanna Warsza, Florian Malzacher and Jonas Staal. 3 hours of exhaustive, chest-puffed dissent, in the form of staged contests - so much futile expenditure of energy, and only a particular variety of nothing to show for it.

Art is an elusive feeling, thought I. It's an energy. It's non-tangible, and indirect. Perhaps as consequence, its agents - artists themselves - are elusive creatures, traditionally not prone to explanation or other causal processes associated with the outside world. Rarely do they talk about what they really mean. Art is symbolic, after all.  It's a code. It operates among that which cannot be spoken in words.

As a result, art says one thing and means another. I wasn't the only one left fairly bewildered by the, sometimes furious, but always tense, dispute. Over what, exactly? Was it simply a fight for dominance? Was it supposed to be some kind of metaphor? For what?

Sadly - my conclusions that night as I left HAU were quite dark. But then, maybe it was the time.