Daily Archives: April 25, 2009

Art Market @ No Vacancy

On Friday night I was at the opening of No Vacancy’s Art Market. It was a mini-art street art fair with over a dozen little stalls. There was free entry, unlike at the major art fairs. There were photographs, stencil art, drawings, illustrations and prints of illustrations; custom toys, soft toys and sculptures; jewellery, badges, cards, packs of cards, t-shirts, skateboard decks, artists books and zines all by young emerging artists and designers. The range of merchandise that is being produced in this young art scene with its street art and illustration influences is amazing. This is not like the stuff on sale at some Sunday market’s craft stalls; it has been better organized than that, even, in a way, curated as there is a consistency of style.

The art market also had a 2nd hand book stall and a stall selling clothes. On Friday night a one-man band was entertaining the hundreds of people making good use looping on a digital delay.

Many young people are participating in an affordable democratic art market. That people are choosing to buy art and fashion from local practicing artists rather than the mass marketed images or picking up the crumbs from the high-end art market. Rock’n’roll, punk and hip-hop have all played their part in forging resilient independent tastes. People know what art is and they know what they like. And the Art Market at No Vacancy gives them the opportunity to buy it.

I didn’t go to the The Weekend Australian Art Melbourne 09 at the Royal Exhibition Building. I’ve been to previously when it was known as the Affordable Art Fair and I’ve been told me not much has changed. I wouldn’t go unless they paid me; I can go to several of these galleries for free four or five days any week, why do I need to pay to go to The Weekend Australian Art Melbourne 09? Art Asia Pacific (#60. Sep/Oct 2008) reported on the proliferation of mega-exhibitions in “Biennials Gone Wild”; where art fairs have grown in budgets and visitor numbers into the millions. The effects of the current economic depression have yet to impact on these events although Art Brisbane 09 has been cancelled. I enjoyed No Vacancy’s Art Market as it is more alternative and more affordable.


New Sculpture @ Michael Koro

On Friday night I went to the opening of Obecjkt (new sculpture) at Michael Koro Galleries. Adrian Doyle and Joel Gailer curated the exhibition; selecting a wide variety of contemporary sculptures from notable sculptors ranging from the monolithic to the street.

The opening was worth attending not just to drink the wine and to talk to the curators and artists. I was shown work in progress in Blender Studios out the back, watched Michael Meneghetti’s performance and the live spraying in the laneway. I almost forgot to look at the Melbourne Propaganda Window by video artist Pip Ryan; this is the first time I’ve been there after dark.

Michael Meneghetti "Vixen"

Michael Meneghetti "Vixen"


Michael Meneghetti did a performance of “Vixen”; body art is another type of contemporary sculpture. The leather and pine wood harness that Meneghetti uses in his performance are displayed vestigial remnants propped up against the gallery wall. The actual performance was impressive for the modification of human movement and Meneghetti’s half-hour endurance. Meneghetti did not restrict his performance to the art gallery; he dodging traffic crossing Franklin Street and wandered around. The performance incorporated sado-masochistic references in the saddle and headwear and also the idea of objectifying the body.

I had seen Natalie Ryan flocked animals earlier in the year at her solo exhibition at Diane Tanzer Gallery. Combining the kitsch aesthetics of flock covered toys and taxidermy Ryan has produced uncanny sculptures – a pink fox, a white skunk and a black hare. Taxidermy only preserves the skin of the animal, the eyes, the tongue and the form of the animal underneath the skin is artificial. Ryan has replaced the skin with synthetic flock fibers. The viewer might want to stroke the flocked covered animal forms but is stopped by the artificially unremittingly gaze of their lidless prosthetic eyes.

Ben Fasham has been a finalist in the Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award 2008 and the Montalto Sculpture Prize (2009). His elegant formal geometric sculpture is exhibited in a study maquette and in monolithic scale in white painted aluminum. His “Unexpected interruption” is a geometric phallic erection.

There were three of the bent skateboards of Jason Waterhouse from the Federation Square Skateboard Series. The worn decks had been carefully sawn up and reassembled so that the plywood decks bent around corners.

English culture-jammer street-artist, D*Face Big Mouth Project was previously on exhibition at Lunar Park. It had been moved to the end of the laneway adjacent to Blender Studios. Big Mouth is a large open mouth. This is an old take on an old image: the mouth as a gate, like the mouth of Hell in medieval mystery plays or Melbourne’s own Lunar Park entrance. It is crude but effective.

D*Face Big Mouth

D*Face Big Mouth


I was un-impressed by Tim Sterling post-minimal assemblages of white paper clips, black cable ties and colored pins form rectilinear areas on the wall particularly as I had seen many better works by him. I also felt indifferent towards Andrew Gutteridge’s basic sculptures; in  “Twisted Ink” the dynamic ribbon of twisted aluminum spans two points.

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