*UQ/Midsumma Queer City at Platform Artist Group, curated by the Art Pimp (aka Din Heagney), is a fun exhibition. The artists selected by the Art Pimp are playful, even trivial rather than serious. (“Life is too important to be taken seriously” Oscar Wilde) And there is enough variety in the art for the viewer to find something that appeals to them from photographer Linsey Gosper’s installation in Vitrine to Sam Wallman’s comic illustrations in the Majorca building cabinets.
Frame cabinet has an exhibition of records and flip animation books by the artists involved in TAPR Tape Projects. Neither music records nor flip animation books for a good exhibition in a glass case, so two videos display these works in operation.
The Underground Garden by Matt Shaw is a miniature cityscape at night. The succulents planted in a black pebble ground are trees next to the metal grates that form skyscrapers. Matt Shaw is the garden artist for Collective Melbourne, a craft/art/garden/coffee-shop in St. Kilda.
In the Platform cabinets there is, from the USA, Jombi Supastar’s extravagant multi-media drawings have the intensity and primitive power of an outsider artist. And from NZ, Jason Lingard’s elegant erotic idols are the thinking person’s eye candy. For me local artist, Freddie Jackson’s digital print morphing a mirror-ball and the death-star is one of the stars of the show; Star Wars is such high camp.
Hannah Raisin’s “Suger Mumma” in Sample is an installation that uses a lot of Fruit Loops, the brightly coloured breakfast cereal. Mounting the Fruit Loops on cling-wrap she made a one piece bathing costume and bathing cap. Then she takes a milk bath by the sea. This is all recorded on video and photos and displayed in the Sample cabinet. The sickly sweet Fruit Loops provided a counterpoint to the excitation.
Platform and the Art Pimp do not appear to be suffering any chill effect from the censorship by the City of Melbourne last year of the nude photographs in exhibition, ‘The Puma, The Stranger and The Mountain’, by Cecilia Fogelberg and Trevor Flinn. The work in *UQ are fun, erotic and sexy.
Some people froth at the mouth at the mention of Duchamp, I know as my master’s thesis was about Duchamp’s readymades and I have been on the receiving end of their vitriol. Marcel Duchamp is still seen by them as the ultimate slap in the face to their idealization of art. Other people, like Rosalie Gascoigne, find Duchamp’s readymades as an inspiring liberation.
The Rosalie Gascoigne retrospective exhibition at the NGV shows how from a starting point of Duchamp’s “Bicycle Wheel”, along with training in Sogetsu ikebana. Gascoigne developed her own unique style of formal abstract collage with found wood and corrugated iron. Gascoigne’s style is so clearly defined that a few years ago I saw some fake Gascoigne’s (not forgeries since there was no claim of authenticity) on sale in a trendy Fitzroy furniture store.
The NGV was encouraging the children to this exhibition to imitate Gascoigne’s style. Tables and chairs had been set up in the third floor foyer outside the Rosalie Gascoigne exhibition with glue sticks and exhibition promotion material to cut up and collage. It was school holidays and the chairs were packed with children, parents and grandparents all making Gascoigne style collages.
Art always starts with imitation and Rosalie Gascoigne started her artistic career imitating Joseph Cornell’s boxes of collaged material. Aside from the boxes with an obvious Australian references, like “Pub” (1974), or her use of local materials, like Toohey’s Flag Ale beer cans, Gascoigne’s early boxes are very similar to Cornell’s. Gascoigne, like Cornell, would include references to European art in her boxes and early assemblages, including a bicycle wheel for Duchamp. Imitation is a learning experience and after successfully imitating Cornell Gascoigne found her own style.
Gascoigne then recognized what was different about her boxes from Cornell’s. Her materials were more weathered by the harsh Australian environment than Cornell’s American materials. Gascoigne was familiar with the wabi-sabi of Japanese aesthetic from ikebana and looked for it in the materials she selected.
Moving on to the rest of the rest of rooms of the Rosalie Gascoigne exhibition at the NGV there were some curatorial problems. The narrative of the retrospective was occasionally confused by a work that chronologically belonged in the previous gallery. There was only one short didactic panel explaining the exhibition but did not even note her death a decade ago.