Editorial: Dead

In High Art (Lisa Cholodenko, 1998) career driven Syd (Rhada Mitchell) works as an assistant editor for Frame, a highbrow New York art magazine. Fate brings her together with Lucy Berliner (Ally Sheedy) a Nan Goldin-esque photographer whose practice long ago lost out to a co-dependent relationship with Greta (Patricia Clarkson) and their shared heroin addiction. Syd brings Lucy to Frame with a pitch to revive Lucy’s career. It works and Syd is promoted to ‘editor’, allowing her to work closely with Lucy on the cover feature. In the process they fall in love. When they go away for the weekend, Lucy sets the camera on auto-timer and takes intimate photographs of them snuggling in bed, the morning light streaming through the room. The photos make the cover, Lucy dies from an overdose and Syd’s career is assured, however momentarily compromised by the blurring of that invisible thread separating life and art. read more…

Inside Issue #13

Matthew Hopkins: Sick Shaman

Ella Barclay

Elephant Man death masks. Elephant Man death masks with penis features. Elephant Man death masks with penis features in the style of a 1930s Surrealist Men’s heath magazine. Elephant Man death masks with penis features pictorially representing the keen rationalism of the Elephant Man intellect while also speculating that the keen rationalism of the Elephant Man intellect is in fact just another mental mask and beneath this, the Elephant Man hidden intellect is really just as deformed mentally as the Elephant Man physique. Let’s have more of this. Seriously.

Mourning Half Begun

Marise Williams

I’m thinking of having my cat stuffed when she dies. It’s just a thought, a way of preparing for the inevitable, unbearable as it is. At the moment she is a memento vivere, a reminder of life and the pleasure of living. I show a painterly, posed photograph of her in lectures to explain visual semiotics and the difference between denotation and connotation as defined by Roland Barthes in his essay ‘Rhetoric of the Image’. Will I continue to use the photograph when she is dead? I doubt it. The personal connotations of future grief and loss already fill me with dread. I know I will be completely, bewilderingly bereft when she is gone. Students always want to know my cat’s name and how old she is. Can you imagine? Present: Mitzy. 12 years. Future: Mitzy. Deceased. Although, a posthumous showing might prove useful in illustrating how the context of viewing affects connotation and that meaning is determined by how we contextualise images. It would also elucidate the present and past, death and life, the temporal collapse that occurs when we gaze upon images of those who are no longer living that Barthes writes of in his landmark book Camera Lucida: she is dead and she is going to die.

Michael Butler: Beyond the Bold and the Beautiful

Christine Dean

One of the great things about being an artist these days is that you don’t have to be a disciple of any particular style or theory. The battle lines that divided artists into distinct camps throughout much of the 20th Century were often associated with the obligation that required individuals to sign up as either conceptualists or formalists. In this way the position underpinning an individual artist’s work as well as the structure of their career was determined by the false choice of being classified as either theoretically bold or aesthetically beautiful.

The Number Made Flesh

Ross Murray

The Death Channel – Channel 13 – is really a laugh-riot. Logo so completely clichéd with stylised coffin used as the number ‘1’, the ‘3’ comprising curving bones all laid over a watermark fanged skull. Yawn.

Wake Up, You’re Dead!

Carla Cescon Scott Donovan

Scott Donovan: You’ve said the world is full of people who don’t realise they’re dead. Are you talking about actual zombies or someone you might encounter at IKEA or an MCA fundraiser? How can you tell the difference?

Review: Live Lanes – By George!

Mark Brown Sophia Kouyoumdjian

Tanks, Tetris and formation dancing hit the streets of Sydney in a collective public manoeuvre to shake up the CBD grid for Live Lanes – By George! One element of the annual ‘Art and About’ event showcasing contemporary art and culture in Sydney’s CBD, Live Lanes attempts to reinvigorate pedestrian level activity with ephemeral works in the city’s ‘forgotten’ laneways. Inaugurated in 2007, Live Lanes 2008 invited metropolitan-based Artist-run initiatives Reef Knot, Peloton, Firstdraft Gallery and Gaffa Gallery to curate and develop a series of works in public spaces.

Review: Dream Merchant

Josephine Skinner

Slicked white hair, dapper shirt and slacks, arm languorously draped with cigarette dangling between fingertips. His look says casual yet confident. It also says that the nude striking an erotic pose beside him is not the first and won’t be the last. Framed against the backdrop of beautifully manicured gardens she seductively clutches her breasts as if pointing them at the camera, and you note that he is probably old enough to be her Grandfather.

Review: Linden1968

Emma Crimmings

As years go, you would be hard pressed to beat 1968. With a smattering of globe-shaking assassinations, evaporations of prime ministers, simultaneous riots, revolutions and war, 1968 had it all. Often quoted as the year that changed the world, it is one of history’s great modern chapters and as a result presents as a spectacularly ripe and bountiful wellspring for artists. So why, when faced with an exhibition of exactly this, was I reminded of an all but forgotten 80s pop song? (More on this later).

Review: New Victorians

Ella Mudie

Like an issue of Vogue defining the new ‘it’ look for the season, there was an air of fashionability to the recent Sydney University Art Gallery exhibition, New Victorians. But unlike in fashion, where most references pass unexplained, curator Louise Tegart was quick to contextualise her muse. In her introductory essay she reminds us the Victorians were those who lived through the period of Queen Victoria’s rule, which spanned 1837 to 1901, then maps the more complex defining characteristics of the period. All the same, the title still seemed surprising. For why should the seven relatively young and fresh-faced antipodean artists selected for the exhibition be concerned with an era that for so long was considered not only prudish and stuffy but also the locus of a colonial legacy to be done away with?

Review: Jon Wah: A Retrospective

Alex Gawronski

The exact extent of the biographical content of an artist’s work always raises difficult and potentially awkward questions. This is especially the case when it is less than apparent where an artist’s work ends and life starts. The situation is further complicated when an artist dies young, ‘at the beginning of a promising career’ as they say, or in the case of the artist in question Jon Wah (1980-2008), at the paradoxical beginning of their ‘anti-career’.

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