Little Beaudies

Uncategorized Apr 14, 2005 No Comments

They call it The Tin Sheds Gallery at Sydney University even though they’re no longer in the Tin Sheds but it’s still a gallery just down the street. What’s also very confusing is which door to walk through. As you come off City Road, there’s a door way to the Tin Sheds Gallery to your left but when you go into the space, the main desk and the signage faces out into a hallway on the other side of the room. There’s always this feeling that you’ve come in the wrong way and orienting yourself takes a few minutes. At the gallery’s latest show, the numbering of the art works isn’t sequential, with 1 and 2 next to 13 and 19 or whatever. Up is down, black is white, cats living with dogs… what next?

Seven Beauties is a show featuring the work of seven artists, all women, curated by Robert Lake who takes the title of DJ/Curator, which is like a regular curator but is someone with an immaculate taste in art and who owns two turn tables and a microphone. We really believe that people should start expanding the whole notion of what they do in similar directions to Lake. We’re arts writers with a sideline in barbeque design and we know a solicitor who has a sideline in dub reggae. Synergy people, that’s what it’s all about, synergy! Perhaps Lake mixed this show together, swapping the beats of the works back and forth until we’ve got an experience which is 19 art works laid over one another – that would certainly explain the crazy ordering of the pieces. Lake is in fact a charter member of The Wild Boys and a real DJ, so when we realised who he was the show became a kind of analogous experience to a fantastic mix tape where both the choices of individual tracks compliment the DJ’s good taste, but that the choice itself can be celebrated for its own unique qualities.

It would have made a lot of sense, mix-tape wise, if Elizabeth Pulie’s Retrospective Display, which features a painting called One, had been the first piece in the show, but it’s the last, which is just downright perverse when you consider it’s the first piece you see when you walk in the wrong door. Accompanied by a small photocopied booklet that explains that the painting is one of Pulie’s very first pieces from art school in 1988, this is one of the most genuinely affecting works we have seen recently. The sincerity of the work and the artist’s genuine gesture of self doubt and effacement is touching. Pulie wanted this early painting to be slick and cool and postmodern without any trace of the artist’s hand, but in the end, the work is more personal and idiosyncratic than she first imagined. We don’t like throwing this word around very often, but in the context of the story and the humble gesture, this work really is beautiful.

We’re not sure how we feel about Maria Cruz’s work. We can appreciate it intellectually, it looks great together, but it leaves us a little cold. One big piece in the show features the words:

“18 Trucks with 200 Cops passed this spot at 12 midnight 1.2.77 taking, sneaking Uranium to White Bay. What more can I say.”

We remember that graffiti and it may have been on a wall near White Bay on the other side of what is now the Anzac Bridge. As a way of keeping a social history alive, Cruz’s text paintings are a lot more interesting than her works using Yoko Ono song titles, and we look forward to FREE CHILE and TROOPS OUT OF VIETNAM.

Sadie Chandler’s Drive is a video of cars driving at full pelt down Broadway, many in the bus lane, and if the artist would like to top up her earnings by snitching to the RTA, there’s a bit of money to be made in fines. The video monitor is accompanied by a very niftily painted hearse done in the artist’s appealing graphic style. The message of the piece couldn’t be clearer and we urge artists to drive carefully during the holiday period – it’s double demerit points over the Anzac weekend and if the speed cameras don’t catch you, Chandler will. You have been warned.

When Homer Simpson fell through a crack in space/time, didn’t he end up going into a cake shop called “Erotic Cakes” in our world? Perhaps Mishka Borowski works there, what with her porn drawings done in icing sugar and another work which is a rubbing of the first one. We have to admit to getting a little flustered looking at this piece, what with all the thoughts of putting these art works in our mouths, it was all a bit too much.

We saw Elizabeth Day’s exhibition at The Tin Sheds last year and although it had many fine points, we were left a little uncertain about the entire installation. For Seven Beauties, a series of works called The Spat Out Ones is on display and any doubts were dispelled. Day’s work, which can seem disparate and unconnected, is to us about accretions of similarly themed objects. The Spat Out Ones are gobs of chewing gum stuck on to hessian and stretched out like large minimal paintings. From a distance they appear to be formalist canvases but up close the works are seething little spots of sweaty gum. Looking at other pieces in the show, especially the Destiny of Objects photo from an installation at Casula Powerhouse, we realised that Day’s works have such a deep awareness of their phenomenological possibilities they’re hard to take in in one viewing. We’ll be back.

In a similar vein, Sarah Goffman’s huge Shrine To All Women is a collection of objects all lovingly wrapped in tinfoil and paper and which includes (in part) plates, bottles, cups, boxes, frames, brushes, wire, money, canisters, rocks, shells, rubber, raffia, iron, crystal wood and so on creates a votive niche for the everyday. The detail of the piece is overwhelming and a little hard to take in, but it was hard to keep our eyes off it.

Lisa Andrew’s installation of a DVD called Oh yeah! featuring the exhibition artists around a microphone is disturbing. She also has some works on paper, but it was the sight of the exhibition artists all around a microphone going “la la la” that really got to us – sort of Ash Ra Temple meets Amon Dull II in a conceptual art stylee, there was something so ineffably 70s about the work we broke out into a sweat. Have a look and you’ll see what we mean.

The Art Life

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