Daily Archives: November 8, 2008

Kitchen Passions

The readymade is, in an odd way, a part of the history of still life painting or photography. Duchamp’s readymades are best known through photographs reproduced in art history books. Duchamp’s readymades hardly exist, those that actually exist are mostly limited edition reproductions; this is of no importance because they are not ‘retinal’ works of art but ideas. The artist chooses an object and make it art; it really doesn’t matter if the object exists in a photograph or physically because ultimately it exists as art only in the mind of the viewer.

Maree Alexander’s exhibition of photographs, Behind Closed Doors at Jenny Port Gallery is a beautiful and surreal use of readymades. The relationship that Alexander creates in her photographs between readymade objects creates new Surreal meanings. Surrealism included Duchamp’s idea of the readymade in their repertoire of techniques. Surrealism is a way of understanding the world, a world charged with unexpected meanings from the unconsciousness. And the Surreal unconscious is, not surprisingly given their Freudian influences, a sexually charged world.

Alexander’s readymades, like Duchamp’s, frequently have sexual overtones. Alexander’s kitchen ceramic objects are animated. Lemon squeezers mate with each other, a jug and teapot kiss as honey runs along their lips, a round jug presses a curved glass into a corner. There is a masculine or feminine aspect to many of the objects that Alexander has used. A small ceramic bird begs for food from the leg of a larger upturned jug.

Duchamp’s readymades were frequently purchased in a hardware shops; Maree Alexander’s readymades are found in kitchens (sourced from friends, op-shops and garage sales)

Alexander’s photographs of these surreal readymades have pale tones and a cool gaze. But behind the closed cupboard doors Maree Alexander’s objects are passionate entities.

Art Decks

No Comply is a touring exhibition of decorated skateboard decks featuring local and international artists. It is currently on at No Vacancy Gallery, Red Cape Lane in the QV centre, Melbourne.  (Red Cape Lane takes its name from the very large red awning with white spots that hangs over this street level path through the QV shopping centre.) Next month the exhibition will be moving to Sydney.

The “ply” in No Comply refers to the shaped and moulded plywood that forms the deck of a skateboard. For decades skateboards have been decorated but the decks on show at No Comply are too elaborate, too beautiful or modified to have wheels fitted to them and used. These decks are just works of art. And as a skateboard deck is long and narrow many of the artists used 2 or 3 decks to create a bigger picture.

The exhibition is “produced” (rather than curated?) by the NiceProduce Team, Alex, Karl and Stuart. And appears to has been very well produced, the exhibition has been well hung with didactic panels on each artist. But there is more to producing an exhibition than simply to hang it. Appropriate sponsorship must be found, promotion and advertising organized, artwork transported, and more – a production. The entrepreneurial spirit of these producers, like the NiceProduce Team makes Melbourne’s street art a strong and dynamic scene.

A curatorial effort seems to have been made for this exhibition. There is a good selection of artists. There is a good balance in the styles of artists from the lowbrow illustration to contemporary art, from elegant designs to old school hip-hop. There are so many excellent works in this exhibition, so many significant local and international street artists, that it is difficult to make comments on particular works without ignoring others of equal quality.

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