Our latest favourite TV show on cable is Safari Chef. This bloke wanders around Africa with some black guys in chef hats following ten paces behind, stopping three times a day to make meals from African animals – Antelope hoof puree with scrambled ostrich eggs and fluffy white toast for breakfast, Swamp Hen and braised Hyena brain with fennel and dill salad for lunch and a roast dinner featuring Rhino eyeball soup for starters, red wine marinated Elephant shanks for main course and a feast of native berries served on ice shavings from the Mount Kilimanjaro summit for desert. We’ve been seriously thinking of synergizing The Art Life into some sort of hybrid art/food experience but it seems that real life has already beat us to it.
Having lunch at Morgan’s on Victoria Street, Darlinghurst recently we were a little surprised to find that the newly revamped restaurant has a massive Bill Henson on display as you walk through the door. With an artfully placed flyer from the Art Gallery of NSW just under the picture you could be fooled into thinking that the restaurant has some sort of official connection to the exhibition but it’s just a coincidence. Asking a very accommodating waiter what the story was, she explained that Morgan’s owner thought that it was a good idea to display the work in the restaurant what with the official exhibition being on and all… As we admired the work – a sullen girl in a singlet in a chilly landscape – we noticed in the newspaper that Henson is doing a stand up comedy tour.How’s that for synergy!
Shopping for a birthday present at Ariel Booksellers on Oxford Street we discovered another hybrid moment of arts-meets-commerce in the form of Mathieu Gallois Social Body video work installed at the back of the store. As we stood there flipping through magazines and glancing up to see occasional shots of a naked flight attendant with her fingers up her fanny, it became obvious that if Gallois is trying to sell more copies of the work he’s showing the video in the wrong sort of shop – or it should at least be placed a bit closer to the TASCHEN titles.
Across the road at Berkelouw Books someone had the bright idea of using blank wall space as a gallery for emerging artists and in theory it’s a lovely idea. Unfortunately the practice is rather bad – the artists who’ve shown there are for the most part terrible, the second problem being that the exhibition space is a section of blank wall on the stairwell, a hard, unforgiving space that’s impossible to view properly.
Plonking art in shops rarely works – witness the latest installation of Art Express in the windows of David Jones for a particularly egregious example – and even artists being involved directly with the planning and installation of their work has always seemed to create mixed results at best. By the looks of the photos, the work Sky Trace may fair a little better. An installation by Vienna Parreno & Krysztof Osinski atBlacktown Train Station (until March 12), the artists have used plastics over the glass windows overlooking the station to create a pleasant scrim. We’re not entirely certain that busy passers-by will notice the work, but subtlety is good and hopefully the loveliness of the art will stop brutes hurting kittens.
The only bona fide synergistic art-meets-real-world example we’ve been able to find is that the latest copy of Australian Art Collector – all 258 pages of it – can be used to squash spiders. It’s very heavy and the goo wipes right off the glossy cover.