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Tag Archives: Mailbox 141

In the Post

Mailbox Art Space, formerly Mailbox 141, in Flinders Lane is the perfect location for this mini retrospective of Pat Larter’s mail art from the mid 1980s. Mail art was an international, underground art movement from the 1960 to the 1990s. It was the analogue equivalent to the internet driven, artistic side of street art.

Pat Larter, Untitled Mail Art (Art Risk Pat) c.1980, Screen Print on Paper, 29 x 24 cm. © Courtesy the artist’s estate.

Pat Larter, Untitled Mail Art (Art Risk Pat) c.1980, Screen Print on Paper, 29 x 24 cm. © Courtesy the artist’s estate.

Mail art incorporated aspects of print art, conceptual art and in Pat Larter’s case performance/body art. “Sex drama artist” is the text on one of Pat Larter’s publications. Another image is titled “‘artist action’ swinging the bag”. Photos of Pat wearing a bra with scurried faces sewn in the cups. In another photo she sits in a stiff parody of a poor porn pose, wearing fake breasts and fake vulva.

I like Pat Larter’s anti-erotic, laugh at pornography, making art from slippage between the public display of what is usually consumed privately; it is a more realistic approach than the current neo-con attitude. Pat Larter’s attack on the boys club of mail art, her ‘Female art’ rubber stamp is a pun on male art. There is a photograph of the ‘Female art’ stamp on Pat’s shaved armpit.

Pat Larter uses several print techniques include rubber stamps, photocopy, photographic and Print Gocco.

The mail boxes in the lobby of 141 Flinders Lane are full of zines, rubber stamps, props from photos and a some ceramic objects; a breast, a penis and an apple core. This exhibition shows that even a very small artist run space can host a significant retrospective exhibition.

For more on Pat Larter:

“Pat Larter from Kitchen to Gallery” by Joanne Mendelssohn

“In defence of bad taste: the art of Pat Larter and Lola Ryan” by Gemma Watson

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Two Stars

Platform, Blindside & Mailbox 141

I saw some exhibitions in the city that I would give on average two stars. The problem of writing a three star review that I mentioned in my last post has come back minus one star. Two stars would indicates that it is less than average, that I am not recommending it to anyone and that I didn’t like it. But unlike films, music, and restaurants visual arts reviewers generally don’t use stars or any other comparative rating measurement. It is hard on the art and the artists to be summed up in a couple of symbols; a few nuanced words might be kinder to the artists but I’m not writing this for the artists but for their potential audience.

I know that I recently praised “raw, brutal and rough” art in my review of Brunswick Arts February exhibition but I didn’t like what I saw in the vitrines at Platform. Perhaps because it was just more of the same or that there was so much of it. “House me within a geometric quality” a group exhibition curated by Patrice Sharkey was a crude but systematic exploration of ways to fill the vitrines, either by covering the glass or putting objects inside. There are lots of plates of glass with interesting textures along with other lumpy things in the cabinets. (I can’t remember the exhibition of the same title from 2011 also at Platform and also curated by Patrice Sharkey but Dead Hare has a review of it.)

In Blindside’s Gallery One Jon Hewitt’s “Feel The Confidence” was just boring, the same photo of the top of Hewitt’s balding head over and over again along with repetitious name-dropping of contemporary artists. If it has any quality it probably went over most heads.

Sarah Bunting’s “Incessant Ruthlessness” in Blindside’s Gallery Two are a series of bad painting, not awful but not working either. Buntings painting are ugly crude and lumpy but they do have an unsettling sci-fi dystopian atmosphere. There is hope I’ve seen artists who painted as badly but after years of practice are now painting well and are successful.

Sue-Ching Lascelles @ Mailbox 141

Sue-Ching Lascelles @ Mailbox 141

A passing woman summed up Brisbane-based artist Sue-Ching Lascelles exhibition at Mailbox 141 with one word: “cute” but I can’t sum up an exhibition in a single word, I have to explain myself. Mailbox 141 is a difficult space to fill; the fifteen small glass fronted former mailboxes in the tiled foyer of 141 Flinders Lane are not easy for artists. Sue-Ching Lascelles filled each of the mailboxes with a cute animal, bird and fish painted heads on bodies of un-worked rock crystals. The exhibition was titled: “Cabinet of Cities. Invisible Curiosities” and I could see that there were two problems with the title.


Looking for a story on Flinders Lane

Looking for something to write about for a blog post I looked at the galleries along Flinders Lane.

When I went into Arc One I knew that I could write a blog entry about Lyndell Brown and Charles Green’s “The Dark Wood”. Their exhibition is a critical wet dream – I can tell my notebook: “collaboration…war artists…background field of green and browns…the paper sky has been wrinkled, the landscape becomes paper…the contradictions in Aust. foreign policy.” However, I have already reviewed their 2009 exhibition at Arc One.

I went downstairs to Fortyfive Downstairs and there was another possible story. Not the bland plywood architectural influenced work of Dayne Trower – the title says it all “Slow Decline”. But Mike Hewson’s “Under Standing Loss” could make a good story. Mike Hewson is a New Zealand artist whose studio was destroyed in this year’s Christchurch earthquake. He has even tried to recreate his studio in the backroom as well as framing a drawing pinned to the plaster studio wall that he sawed out before the building was demolished. Unfortunately I couldn’t get excited about Hewson’s paintings.

At Mailbox 141 Owen Hammond has a fun exhibition – “The Wonderful House”. Lots of fun with the simple form of a house: “Newton’s House” hangs in a series of pendulums, “Muybridge’s House” rotates on the dark time lapse photography grid, “Barb’s house” is a barbed wire house frame. It’s not substantial enough for a full blog post, and I’d get tired of the puns, but certainly worth looking at.

Flinders Lane Gallery was showing a surreal couple of exhibitions: Jon Eiseman’s quirky sculptures “Ships of the Night” and Juli Haas “Visions after Midnight”. Ann Schwartz Gallery had monumental video work by Gabriella and Silvana Mangano in the main gallery but upstairs Laresa Kosloff had a fun exhibition collecting artist’s signatures on her leg cast at the Biennale de Venezia, 2011. Charles Green and Lyndell Brown signed the cast along with Stuart Ringholt and about 17 other artists. Lots of Duchamp references could be made about this work but that means regurgitating my Master’s thesis, not a fun prospect.

Gingerbread Arts Centre

Later in the day I looked at a gingerbread city at the City Gallery at Melbourne’s Town Hall, very seasonal story, but not really as the Art Centre is shown with icing snow. The RMIT BA Gold & Silversmith Graduate Show, “It Was Like A Fever” at No Vacancy is also seasonal story – ‘tis the season student exhibitions.

When you look at a number of Melbourne galleries chances are one of them will be closed installing an exhibition. This time I was out of luck and two were installing: Craft Victoria and Until Never. While I was at Craft Victoria, I picked up a copy of Das Super Paper. I was looking for this month’s InTrouble to see if my article was in the print edition or just in the online copy. Anyway Das Super Paper is a great read, lots of excellent articles about art.

There are millions of stories in this city and hundreds of them are visual arts stories and these are some of them.


Photo, Film, Tape

A few exhibitions at Artist Run Initiatives in April 2010 – Kings ARI : Eliza Gregory “The Californian” & Jessi Imam “Bereft of the Corporeal” – Mailbox 141: Sally Tape and Candice Crammer “Now”.

Eliza Gregory’s breezy series of photographs, “The Californian” are coolly exhibited on a band of fresh aqua blue painted walls, a very different feel to the usual white walls. The photographs have a relaxed personal mood but are carefully composed vignette portraits of her Californian family and friends. This is a parallel exhibition to Gregory’s, “The Local”, shown earlier this year at the Yarra Sculpture Gallery of people from Melbourne. Gregory is lightly examining her trans-Pacific identity. Like Eliza Gregory, I also have a trans-Pacific identity with a brother, niece and nephew living in California but I didn’t discover any great insights from the exhibition. It would have been good to see some but I doubt that they will be found in portraits of people. People are people where-ever they live; their identity is rarely about their appearance. Or perhaps the trans-Pacific identity has become too homogenized to be able to see differences.

Jessie Imam, Bereft of the Corporeal, 2011 Super 8 film installation (looped), (thanks to Jessie Imam for the photograph)

Jessie Imam’s installation, “Bereft of the Corporeal” is a triumph of the classic technique of Super 8 film loops. It is also the antithesis of motion picture technology as nothing moves in the installation except for the two loops of film going through the two Super 8 projectors and the dust on the two screens. The images on the film doesn’t move – the taxidermy coyote and an antelope stand in the alien habitat of a green suburban landscape. The two loops of film return to the projector after navigating around the wall of the gallery on 9-10 rollers, like many contemporary installations using string and nails to map out space. I almost missed the 3 birds nests of human hair in the installation, the space was so dark; they too are bereft of the corporeal, the body that they came from.

Jessie Imam, Bereft of the Corporeal, 2011 Super 8 film installation (looped), (thanks to Jessie Imam for the photograph)

Jessie Imam, Bereft of the Corporeal, 2011 Super 8 film installation (looped), (thanks to Jessie Imam for the photograph)

Sally Tape and Candice Crammer’s “Now: I steal from work and I steal from You Tube” uses stolen images and stolen tape. Sally Tape, as her name suggests, has consistently used multiple rolls of commercial tape in her post-minimalist work, as well as, collaborating with other artists. In this exhibition Candice Crammer uses photographs in the mailbox like flip book frames using still images from a YouTube video “the funniest falls ever (I think)”. And Sally Tape adds lines of colored tape.

Has anyone else seen these exhibitions?


November 2010 Exhibitions

Tim Sterling’s solo exhibition, “Metamaterials” at Michael Koro Galleries is a post-minimalist exercise in sculpture and drawing. Post-minimalism is like minimalism but with a lot more. Sterling’s sculptures use a lot and lots of paper clips held together with cable ties most impressively a small I-beam (17x73x80cm) supported between two perspex pillars. His drawings are made up of a many, many small marks with a pen, his drawing “Wall” is made up of repeated marker pen marks that form bricks in a wall.

At Mailbox 141 Tasmanian sculptor Ange Leech has a small solo exhibiting “Hand of the Composure”. Leech has carved small wooden puppets and masks along with collages that are pinned together. These collages are subject to alteration like the articulate joints of the puppets.

This time of year there are many exhibitions by graduates of art, design, photography and jewellery courses.

RMIT Diploma of Photoimaging Graduates are exhibiting at First Site (“photoimaging” is a portmanteau word includes both photography and digital imaging technology). The reality that photography once implied has been replaced with fantasy and glamour. There is a lot of fantasy in this exhibition to the extent of visionary art, fashion and glamour model photography.

Box Hill Institute jewellery graduates their work at Guildford Lane Gallery. It is not just rings and necklaces there are wall pieces, cups, spoons, an hourglass of luminous sand and a wizard’s staff with a crystal ball. Some of the jewellery is inspired by Alice in Wonderland themes from a course assignment.

Guildford Lane Gallery is strange place to visit during on a weekday; they obviously don’t get a lot of visitors. It is an old factory/warehouse with a music space/bar on the ground floor. Whenever I go in someone asks if I’m here for some exhibition, I say yes and they tell me that it on the 2nd floor. They then follow me up the stairs to turn on the lights.

 


3 Unrelated Reviews

Catherine Asquith Gallery had ‘Allure’ an exhibition of paintings by Sydney artist, Catherine Abel. Abel’s paintings certainly have an allure; luxurious female nudes adorned with jewellery and draped with rich fabrics. Catherine Abel’s nudes are allegories of styles. Each painting imitates a different decorative style from the history of art deco, art noueveau and pre-Raphaelitism. The profusion of stylistic indicators are piled on from the background decoration to the foreground details. There are other references to art history in the titles of the paintings like Kiki of Montparnasse. Although Catherine Abel’s paintings are studies in style paradoxically they are all in Abel’s own clear style. The model is the same in all of the paintings with different hairstyles to suit the style.

Read an interview with Catherine Abel.

“Water” at Mailbox 141 by Thornbury artists Rebecca James is a series of drawings. However, Rebecca James used the small exhibition space with imagination creating more than just a series of small drawings. The installation of the drawings of a woman swimming transforms the lite glass-fronted mailboxes into windows looking into a swimming pool. It creates relaxing vision for the office workers and visitors to the small, art deco foyer of 141 Little Flinders Street.

‘Views from a Speeding Train’ by Amanda Van Gils at Jenny Port Gallery is another attempt by a painter to represent the fast moving perspective presented to a railway passenger. Painters have been struggling to depict this view for over a century, a common view that emphasises our relative position. Van Gils uses motion trails to represent this movement in paint. Van Gils has selected vistas from Mediterranean France and Spain make for attractive landscapes paintings. I’ve travelled by train through some of that area. And, although there are no obvious landmarks in Van Gils paintings, I felt the views in the painting were familiar before I read their titles that refer to locations.

Read an interview with Amanda Van Gils.


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