Tag Archives: Matthew Shannon

Nice Fans

“Who the hell’s this Margaret? Nice fans… more art…my shoes hurt. I shouldn’t have worn these shoes. Not today anyway.” I loved Oslo Davis artwork on the A4 card invite to “Margaret Seaworthy Gothic”. It is a great realist view of the gallery experience and the best exhibition invite that I’ve seen for ages.

“Margaret Seaworthy Gothic” is a group exhibition by five artists at the Margaret Lawrence Gallery at the Victorian College of the Arts.

Dane Mitchell’s signs made me pause before entering the gallery: “Do Not Enter” but rendered backwards. There wasn’t much else to see in the gallery, it looked almost empty apart from these signs… was the exhibition still being installed? Looking at the other side of the sign it was clear that this was art and not a prohibition. I explored further into the gallery.

A reporter once asked Salvador Dali; if the Prado was on fire and he could take one thing out of it, what would you take? “The air,” replied Dali. Nigel Lendon’s two fan works, “Maquettes for Invisible Sculptures” and “Untitled Invisible Work of Art”, play with the air in the gallery. Invisible unseen forces as a medium for sculpture sounds oxymoronic because how can you see them? You certainly notice Lendon’s sculptures when the motion sensors turn them on full force.

Andrew Liversidge’s molten form of one-dollar coins is a bit obvious. But it fitted in with the tone of the exhibition and the nickel, copper and aluminum alloy blob looked attractively golden on the gallery floor. Also a bit obvious are Colin Duncan’s black silhouettes of Duchamp’s “In Advance of A Broken Arm”, Brancusi’s “Endless Column” and Smithson’s “Spiral Jetty” – but that’s the point of them. It is a demonstration of how recognizable these icons of modern art that they can be evoked in a silhouette.

The exhibition is an anti-thesis to “New 11”, the current exhibition across the road at ACCA, with its focus on materiality. “Matter is not banished in the world, but it does take on spooky properties – its scale and identity having been permanently displaced by the network of communications within which it exists.” Matthew Shannon wrote on exhibition invite. Matthew Shannon is an artist worth keeping your eye on (see my review of one of his installations).

“Margaret Seaworthy Gothic” is a clever exhibition, perhaps too clever, conceptual and insubstantial for some people, but I enjoyed it. It doesn’t it take itself too seriously from Oslo Davis’s invitation to Matthew Shannon own comic about the artist talking to the white paint on a gallery wall.

Nice fans. I can’t see all the art in this gallery but it is still there. My shoes don’t hurt.


Guitar God

Upstairs, above Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, there are a lot of studios.  In Studio 12 Matthew Shannon was showing an installation: Infinity of Wind Muskets.

So there I am, alone standing in the doorway of the studio looking at a neatly written and beautifully presented and framed play list. When I was in a band a play list was written on a scrap of paper and gaffer taped somewhere. Matthew Shannon’s play list looked heavy on heavy metal but further down the list there was a few of my favorites – Bowie, Eno, Jesus and Mary Chain.

In the centre of the room on a small podium or plinth was an electric guitar. The podium was splashed with white paint reminding me of the film of Pattie Smith painting a television with white paint that I had just seen at the Centre for Contemporary Photography.

Surrounding the guitar, hung from the ceiling in odd positions were some flashing floodlights. Some of them were flashing but mostly the room was dark. This is because some of the lights were not on. I wondered if the installation was interactive and if the guitar was plugged into an amplifier somewhere. I decided to approach the guitar and then to tap on the strings.

Is Shannon tempting the viewer with the bright lights and the guitar? What more could we want than to be a guitar hero? The ecstatic shamanic performance of the guitar-hero is a step to deification. Rock’n’roll is the new religion and art must portray what is holy to us.

I plucked on the E string and watched the lights flash with greater intensity. The intense flashing lights were beginning to hurt my eyes but I persisted. The more I plucked at the strings the more lights came on. I considered picking the guitar up off its stand and playing one of the songs from the play list. Should I take over Shannon’s installation with my own rockin’ performance? Would all the lights flash as I struck a power-cord. But can’t play guitar – I play keyboards.

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