Sorry to be rude, but last week we really fucked up. There’s no way around it. Every time we think about how Guan Wei was transformed into Guam Wee (and other screamers) we shudder with embarrassment and groan, ‘how could we have been so stoopid?’
Last week also boasted a brand new feature at The Art Life , our first honest-to-god flame war. The Comments attached to the story on the SH Ervin Year in Art show glowed red as posters slagged each other off, rude invective was slung and baseless claims were made. It was a rather unedifying experience but at least we can now claim to be a proper web site, what with readers viciously attacking one another.
Another claim for full blown web pest status was the unfortunate double mailing of our update email on Wednesday. We then discovered that a select group of readers who signed up for the Bloglet update – and which we thought we had canned about three months ago – were still receiving updates every time we made a correction, changed a comma to a full stop or republished the blog. One reader returned an email to us with ENOUGH ALREADY in the subject field claiming to have received six emails in a row. We then looked into it and discovered a technical glitch, fixed it and now hopefully, there will be no more emails. That at least was a plus.
Another upside to last week’s week of hell was the continuing receipt of emails from people asking us random questions or making suggestion for updates to our links. Christian Capurro wrote to us from Melbourne asking if we could include his Another Misspent Portrait of Etienne de Silhouette site to our Sorted list. This we have done.
Then someone with the name of ArtLifer666 sent us an email headed oh adam! and then this in the email itself:
“i like adam geczy. most of the time he has good insight. and definitely a better writer and a broader knowledge base than our old friend peter. recently though the guy is seriously becoming sentimental. either that or he has fallen in love with the sound of his own voice.
for example at grantpirrie he writes – “Kershaw exhorts us to remember well. For there is no use in communicating with ‘absent others’ unless it is for the betterment of those who are with us, just as it is the function of a memorial to ensure that the dead remembered thus will not die in the same way again. Today, with the recrudescence of political lies, (unapologetic) racial intolerance, torture and war, work such as this could not be more apposite. ”
its so hyperbolic it turns into pure bathos. having bumped into kershaw around the traps – i cant find an artist more apolitical and more a moral neutral. my bet is he is probably just really missing his old friends…. oh adam! you who can write so well – why have you not practiced more restraint? just because something rhymes and flows and sounds poetic does not mean you have to publish it. It might sound great – but that maybe all it is. pretending otherwise is deceitful. “
We certainly know what you mean when it comes to tenuous essays in exhibition catalogues and rash and bold claims they make on the behalf of modest art works. On the other hand, we’re starting to think that catalogue essay writers should be free to talk about whatever they want to talk about and in fact, if they didn’t mention the art work at all we’d be happy. Catalogue essays seem obliged to discuss the art work in reference to something that is not readily apparent – say, the history of the artist’s work, their influences or interests.
Critics and essayists are tempted to take an oblique angle to the work and talk about some tangentially related topic that does not seem to be relevant at all and then, in a dashing moment of authorial brilliance, bring it all back to the art works at hand. That this second tangential subject be thematically or conceptually related only in the mind of the writer is all part of the approach. Unfortunately, it rarely works. For example, we’re thinking of an incredibly dodgy review of the 2004 Sydney Biennale that’s in issue 72 of Photophile by a bloke named Robert Cook. He draws nonexistent parallels between the art in the Biennale and “indie music” and name checks, along with the artists, the band My Bloody Valentine. Please!
As far as we’re concerned, the writing of reviews and essays for catalogues should be free to discuss the history of boxing, flower arranging, the philatelic arts, ocean currents, ornithology, jazz or whatever the hell the writer wants to talk about and sod the art work. If you’re at the exhibition, you can look at the work yourself and no amount of brilliant and cogent writing will make you believe if the art work is a load of old toss. So Adam Geczy, shine on you crazy diamond!
Heidi Boudet wrote in with a simple enough request:
“I was wondering if you could possibly explain the problems with the current Artspace show. At the opening there were apparently some technical glitches but now there is a notice up saying that it is a work in progress that wasn’t there on the opening night. I am just a bit curious given that these are all reasonably established artists – is it true that it was not a clash of civilisations but a clash of egos? Don’t worry if it’s too much bother. I was just wondering if you had some insights.”
No bother at all, Heidi – the artists in question are George Alexander, Maria Cruz, Zina Kaye, Jacky Redgate, Julie Rrap and Cathy Vogan, so we can’t see any continental sized egos there – and Artspace is such an efficiently run organization we can’t believe that it all fell apart on opening night. But this is just mere speculation on our part and anything could have happened.
Unfortunately, Artspace is rather like North Korea to us these days, inscrutable and silent, and even if we asked them straight out, they wouldn’t tell us. You may recall some months ago we emailed them and asked if it were true that Nick Tsoutas was leaving his tenured position as Dear Leader of the gallery. We’ve had no reply. We did receive an email from Dr. Brad Buckley, a board member of Artspace and man about town, asking us where we had got the information that Tsoutas had been initially appointed for two years. We emailed the venerable Doctor and said, hey, it was just something we were told, was that not correct? And is Tsoutas really leaving? Of course, acting as an official spokesperson for the gallery, Buckley did not reply to our questions. So our advice to you Heidi is to make something up and go around and tell as many people as you can because no one from the gallery will contradict you.
Of course, we can’t expect Artspace to talk to The Art Life. Why should they? The Art Gallery of NSW will reply to polite emails asking for factual verification of things we have heard, but Artspace does not dignify gossip with a response because, after all, the AGNSW is a publicly funded gallery with public servants as staff whereas Artspace is not. Right?