Tag Archives: Andrew Liversidge

Melbourne Art Fair 2022

Melbourne Art Fair has re-emerged in a new location after an eight-year break. The Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton Garden, the previous art fairs venue, is currently used as a vaccination centre. Now it is in Jeff’s Shed (aka Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre) on the banks of the Yarra. A space paradoxically less cramped than the old location but also somehow smaller. Perhaps because the spaces for the individual galleries was not in long rows. 

I was invited to the press preview on Thursday afternoon just before the fair opened to the paying public. The highlight was artist Sally Smart doing a remarkably concise and coherent explanation of her collage technique and its relationship to the women artists, puppets and dance in Constructivism and Dada. 

The press preview did answer my question about what the Art Fair is doing to decolonise this place. From physical: five Indigenous community arts centres were included in the galleries, a prize-winning work donated to Shepparton Art Museum and three giant necklaces by Maree Clarke. To the symbolic: the location of the galleries is listed with their Indigenous name first and the colonial name second, e.g.  Naarm/Melbourne. (But not as far as being the “Naarm/Melbourne Art Fair”?)

The not-for-profit organisation that runs the Melbourne Art Fair demonstrates that an art fair can be more than just promoting the neo-liberal idea that private ownership of art is the cornerstone of the art world.To disrupt this perception of a trade fair for galleries, the art fair has solo shows and other “works of scale and significance”, where Maree Clarke, Sally Smart and four other artists are involved. Along with a program are events, including the Nicholas Building “Up Late”, an open studio event on Wednesday night, the international video section of the fair, and a book launch for Let’s Go Outside: Art in Public.

On the other hand, the art fair has to be financially successful for the sixty-three participating commercial galleries. The proposed art fair of 2016 never happened because of the withdrawal of several Melbourne galleries as it was not economically viable for them. I didn’t notice or hear about any damage to Melbourne’s visual arts in the years without the art fair, but I’m not looking at art galleries’ books. 

Back to the business of the art fair, bottles of Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte, the Fair’s official “champagne partner”, are on the desk of every gallery. And at the Glenfiddich Bar, the fashionable designer Jordan Gogos and Ross Blainey, Glenfiddich Brand Ambassador, discuss “the collaboration and the power of artistic experimentation while enjoying bespoke cocktails.”

Gertrude Contemporary had art for sale that parodied the relationship between art and money including the blocks of melted dollar coins by Andrew Liversidge. Ironic take or just another exclusive commodity? Take your pick, but I just walk away when someone mentions NFTs. (I should have asked about the fair’s carbon footprint.)


DADA at MUMA

“Reinventing the Wheel: the Readymade Century” at MUMA (Monash University Museum of Art) pays tribute to Duchamp’s conceptual invention. A century after Marcel Duchamp’s lost Bicycle Wheel, 1913 and Bottle dryer, 1914 it is a difficult challenge to sum up the impact of this seminal work of contemporary art, even if this is only from public and private collections in Australia, but this exhibition has succeeded.

Andrew Liversidge, IN MY MIND I KNOW WHAT I THINK BUT THAT’S ONLY BASED ON MY EXPERIENCE, 2009, 10,000 $1 coins

Andrew Liversidge, IN MY MIND I KNOW WHAT I THINK BUT THAT’S ONLY BASED ON MY EXPERIENCE, 2009, 10,000 $1 coins

There are over forty artists – from internationally renowned artists of art history textbook fame to notable Australian artists. This is an important exhibition for anyone interested in the history of the last century of art. It takes the viewer to some of the most important works of 20th Century artists: Duchamp, John Cage 4’3”, Christo and Jeanne Claude’s Wrapped Coast, Gilbert and George’s The Singing Sculptures and Martin Creed’s Work No.88. The art alternated from the sublime to the ridiculous, the sacred to the profane, from transfigured value to ordinary stuff. I particularly enjoyed seeing Meret Oppenheim Eichhörnchen (Squirrel) 1969 because I hadn’t seen it before, Rosslynd Piggot’s etched glass because I haven’t seen her work for a while and pages of Peter Tyndall’s blog, Blogos/HA HA because I’ve seen it often (there is a link in my blogroll in the right bar of this page).

At the opening of the exhibition, once the noise from the bar and cheese table had subsided, there were a number of speeches including one from Scott Tanner, Chief Executive of the Bank of Melbourne. Tanner commented on the work by Andrew Liversidge IN MY MIND I KNOW WHAT I THINK BUT THAT’S ONLY BASED ON MY EXPERIENCE, 2009. Liversidge consists of 10,000 $1 coins that the Bank of Melbourne had loaned for the exhibition. Tanner talked about the coins or art “going in and out of circulation.” This an important point about readymades because they do not exist at all times, they go in and out of circulation. We take chocolates from Gonzalez-Toress’ Untitled (a corner of Baci) but there is an endless supply as long as the factory keeps manufacturing them. Martin Creed’s Work no.88 A sheet of A4 paper crumpled into a ball, 1995 exists in an unlimited edition of which this was #625. The readymade art on exhibition does not necessarily exist in W.E. Kennick’s imaginary warehouse as distinguishable objects. (See: Kennick, “Does Traditional Aesthetics Rest on a Mistake?” Mind v.67 1958) It does not necessarily exist in a real studio as Susanna Duchamp demonstrates when she threw out the original Bicycle Wheel and Bottlerack when cleaning out Marcel’s Paris studio.

The idea that a readymade is not be warehoused or the art might return to the circulation of ordinary objects is a not a mistake. As a banker Tanner would know banks do not actually have all the money on paper sitting in a vault. That Liversidge’s art exists, like money, in the documentation and the power of the authenticating signature and the physical instance, when required. That money exists in the same way the Michael Craig-Martin’s An oak tree, 1973 exists in the exchange of the idea represented by the tokens of the exchange.

“We do not so much need the help of friends as the certainty of their help” – Epicurius. This was the message wrapped in the Baci chocolate that was part of Felix Gonzalez-Toress’ corner. Readymades do need the help of friends but not the certainty; they need the galleries, the plinths, the curators and gallery attendants for without them we might trip over them or shovel snow with one of them (a gallery worker really did shovel snow with Marcel Duchamp’s In Advance of the Broken Arm). Once again praise to the curatorial team of Max Delany (former MUMA director), Charlotte Day, Francis E. Parker and Patrice Sharkey.


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