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Tag Archives: Carl Scrase

Scrase for Mayor

“My early sculptural work was about connecting ‘objects’ so they form beautiful structures. My current interest is making connecting ‘people’ so they form beautiful communities.” Carl Scrase

Carl Scrase is an emerging Melbourne sculptor, who inspired by Melbourne’s Occupy movement has announced his candidacy for Mayor.

I first encountered Carl Scrase work at Seventh Gallery years ago where I was amused by his sculpture made of super-balls and toothpicks. He moved on to working with bull nose paperclips and won the $5000 2010 Archangel Prize. Recently I saw his paper sculpture with a plinth made of tall stack of A4 paper at Dianne Tanzer Gallery.  Connecting ordinary objects as the small units into larger structures is the essence of Scrase’s sculptures. They made post-minimalism appear fun.

Is our empathy on the rise, image courtesy of Carl Scrase

I’ve also seen his “is our empathy on the rise?” paste-ups around the streets of Melbourne and Fitzroy. The blank space underneath the question and the arm high level of the paste-up invites responses and responses to responses. This is the kind of street dialogue that graffiti has always engaged in but Scrase has given it a paste-up forum.

Following the script from the propaganda model for attacks on the Occupy movement, the current Mayor Robert Doyle has attacked Carl Scrase for receiving art award (that he richly deserves) and arts grants from the city of Melbourne. These attacks were amplified by the Herald Sun newspaper who ran the story: “Occupy Melbourne protester Carl Scrase takes the cash” by Anne Wright and Stephen Drill, December 06, 2011 (see my post: Newspaper Wreaks City). I don’t think that Mayor Doyle’s attack is motivated by any fear that Carl Scrase and his team will damage his re-election chances rather just another attacks on the Occupy movement, even if it is a ridiculous argument. Mayor Doyle’s argument exposes his idea that the reason for artist’s grants and prizes is to buy the loyalty of artists.

It is interesting to know that Occupy movement has inspired people, like Scrase and the people on the Council election ticket with him, to engage with the political process. Scrase believes in democracy and that “the age of professional politicians is over”. In contrast the main political parties have encourage popular disengagement and the political machine that have kept them in power.

The banker, Max Rothschild, wrote (regarding the Italian Futurists but consider it in the response to the Occupy movement) – “When there bursts froth from one mansion a song of youth and originality, even though harsh and discordant, it should be received not with howls of fury but with reasonable attention and criticism.”

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Platform – April 2010

Vexta “Extinction in Technicolour” occupies the main set of cabinets at Platform with paintings of flying figures that Vexta is famous for and installation elements.

Who are these figures? Is their extinction from our distant past or the near future? The painted animal skulls and bones made me think of an archaic cult. The animal skulls are often decorated creating a new zoology, where beaks protrude from skulls as if all creatures had the potential to transform into birds. In the paintings I kept on seeing myths from archaic Crete: Icarus with his wings, and Pasiphaë, the mother of the Minator. But that might just because I’m immersed in that mythology.

The images could also be from our future. The psychedelic colours, the scatter of broken glass and mirror cubes that adorn the animal skulls reminded me of the remains of a rave. Those little mirror cubes are so fashionable right now, decorating so many accessories. Is the wax that holds our civilization together melting like the wax holding the feathers onto Icarus’s wings?

Although Vexta comes from a street art stencil background, in Vexta’s images are mostly brush painted. However, the colour separation and design techniques used are common stencil art techniques. There are a few stencils and lots of aerosol spray dots. The paint drips from the aerosol dots and the paint drips from the run down across the black ground. Referencing her street art background Vexta’s large unframed paintings are propped up on aerosol cans, like Chris Ofili’s using elephant dung props for his paintings.

At first I thought that Jordan Wood’s untitled installation in Vitrine was part of Vexta’s show. The scatter of black objects matched the black bones and black background in her exhibition. The objects, the melted black plastic, the black ritual artifacts made from the remains of our own culture, like the cluster of golf clubs, are both threatening and useless.

In the Sample cabinet there is an installation of digital prints by Kumiko Michishita. Conversational phrases are painted in white on the glass of the display cabinet, like “It’s getting cold and harder to get up in the morning”. In the background amidst the mosaic of color digital prints are more eccentric statements: “sleep in blue”, “wear orange”, “breath in green”, and “eat red”.

In the two glasses cases at the Majorca Building there are two enlarged photocopies of a hand making a V sign in both directions. One is palm front, a symbol for “peace” the other, with the back of the hand, a symbol for “fuck”. It is Carl Scrase’s work “The Generative Power of Opposites” – crude but effective.


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