Monday, March 23, 2009

Art Break

I spent most of last week bed bound with a heavy cold. All I wanted to eat was tomato soup and toast. I felt like I'd been punched in the nose. My brain was too tired and blocked to write so I consoled myself with the Satanic Verses. Gibreel and Saladin's adventures were keeping me happily soothed in the half hour between the tome and my pillow, and I thought Salman Rushdie's most labarynthine work would be nice company for the end of the tome.
alas no. in a fug of sudafed and paracetamol, I consumed it all, then returned to the computer screen for a feverish read of the e-book version of Kant's critique of judgement.

It had been a hard week

On saturday, I decided to feed my eyeballs and, and so i staggered up to brunswick bound for a tea-party launch of Jessie Willow-Tucker's tea drawings.
The weather was a crazy 35 degrees, and I had airplane ankles from lying around all week, so I panted and sweated, scuttling along my now familiar shaded maze of bluestone alleyways. Refused tea, and sipped fruit punch, and eyed the cupcakes. (btw what's this weird deal with hettie girls and cupcakes - some kind of pseudo ironic stepford wives thing?)

not that Brunswick Bound was a hettie girl kind of cupcake fest - more like a generally delicious arty sugar fiend delight. yum yum.

Sugar sated I checked out the walls. and like what I saw. Jessie did a series of "tea portrait" drawings in graphite, watercolour, and tea..... each image based on a particular flavour of tea. Our Lady Grey was a red headed sacred-heart-tattooed virgin mary, sipping tea in the grey clouds, flagged by an electric jug and a serpent, her red cup and saucer glowing in the pit of her belly. Earl Grey was a Brian mannix style retro mod, that brought back the 1980's Decore shampoo ad-ripoff of that sixites song...... the drawings are exquisite, witty and warm, and are still on show upstairs.

Downstairs, I found a paperback of The Brothers Karamazov. I fear my thesis is going to be completed accompanied by abject images of Schemrdiyakov and his poor daughter. hmmmm......

I had planned on doing the full circuit of the West Brunswick Sculpture Triennale - but the weather was really hot and sticky. I came home and lay around for an hour, before venturing out to the base station launch party - which is a short stroll from home...

It's *weird* going to art launches in a foreign city - because I find myself looking at people and seeing weird anonymous replicas of the familiar faces I know in Sydney - only they are anonymous here, and so am I and it's kind of scary and weird, because I feel like a weird fly on the wall, wathcing myself - or at least my class (with a more middle class accents and designer clothes), and definietely my cohort - bright eyed GenX ratbaggers, greying into middle age.

Renaissance girl and I sat on the impeccable green couch grass, sipping execrable wine and admiring the mini hilsl hoist, and enjoying the shade. then we wandered through the "base station" which is someone's house, with a few rooms filled with installations.... which were mostly quite cold, (convenient on a hot day). and difficult to identify form the artists statements. Someone had a video loop taken from a rotating hills hoist in a backyard similar but not the same as the one where the house was. (replica, presence, absence, simulacra, rotation) tres nice, and I *think* it may have related to the following artists statement?

Regular collaborators Geoff Robinson and Jennie Lang have developed a new work for the wBST that is a visual conversation between the artists.

Created in accordance with geographic and recording parameters predetermined by the artists, this video ‘call and response’ uses spatial observations, arrangements, interventions and movement to establish an informal dialogue about form, light and time.

The footage was recorded within each artist’s local surroundings – more specifically their home boundaries - and the work was sequentially created in the months preceding the triennial.

Scary stylised conceptual minimalism aside, the looping weight of the camera/photographer, reminded me of swinging on my mum's hills hoist as a kid. Nice. And I loved Mikala Dwyer's hanging garden - bits of melted clear plastic sculptures - made into hanging baskets for budding succulents, offset the fibreglass verandah shell really nicely - and became something to walk through and appreciate while standing - much like the fuzzy felt pennants festooned around the driveway. the highlgight of the opening though was Lucazoid's entrance with a goat called Bob, who was also commemorated in a brown and beige fuzzy felt pennant. Lucas and Bob had wandered the baking streets of west Brunswick, avoiding the laneways (and the free fruit), but getting lots of attention from residents, including the former Mayor who asked for a photo of himself, Lucas and Bob in his front yard. My aunt made a comment about Brunswick summers, saying they made her wonder what all of the greek immigrants, arriving fresh from Anatolian goatfields thought of this strange flat gridded place. so i'm glad that Lucas and Bob did a bit of retrospective imaginative topography. I told Lucas that his entrance into the OSW launch, complete with Hat and sensational beast reminded me of Joseph beuyss. bob wasn't quite a coyote though - but there was a definite happening aspect. Bob also reminded me of Rushdie's character Saladin Chamcha, morphing into a goat in Bricklane - but I didn't share that with Lucas.


I had more art yesterday when Stephen Mori flew into town, and insisted that I come along to him for the Modern Times launch at Heide. I hadn't been to Heide yet - and was astonished to see green grass, and green trees and slowly ripening tomatos. (most of melbourne is scorched brown). My favourite bits were the towel shorts and tops and woolen knitted swimtsuits that looked like flash gordon.

I saw Anne Dangar's ceramics and nearly cried (I've never really recovered from Helen Topliss's biog of Dangar which describes her miserable exploitation in the neoprimitivist artists colony in Moly Sabata. Poor Anne Dangar, only managed to create her work, in between slaving for Maurice and Madame GLieze, she was fired through the freezing neo-feudalist french winters by her disgust and rage at Australian provincialism).

Heide is a wonderful testament to the bravery and brilliance of the Reeds, fostering a rare vision that bourgeoise Australians could be more than crypto-fascist cashed up bogans, and could support and promote contemporary art, architecture, and literature. the modernist show is wonderful... *sigh* I walked past Dangar's glassed in plinth with a tear in my eye, and gasped at the room of Roy de Maistre's colourful wonders! ah! swirls! One wall had a series of high coloured landscape studies of Berry's Bay and other bits of Sydney Harbour. I imagined Datillo Rubbo sending De Maistre out to the harbour to sea and dream the colours that sing through the shuddering light, water and air of sydney (I'll admit I am still homesick). My reverie was interupted by a wrinkled version of Tru and Pru "err, yairss, this is ma feverrite arff orll, Ahh rarely lark thes warn" "Theers err the best" " Ahh rarely lark thes larnskepp, ther meyooted ternes, arr serr suttle, en ahh lark ther carmposishun" "Err yairss".

I felt a technicolour vomit coming on so I went outside for a glass of chandon and admired the sunset glinting off some big brush steel sculpture....

then went inside to fest on Narelle Jubilen's cannibal feast. this had everyting I love: sewing, a radical critique of primitivism, poignant ironic juxtapositions, found objects, and more sewing. I love how ever single component is rigorously catalogues. the obscure genealogies weaving together other richer histories.....

Monday, March 02, 2009

Big Butch *Blush*

IMAGE © Deborah Kelly Big Butch Billboard 2009

My thanks and general admiration to Debora Kelly for creating the wonderful image and intervention above.
In the spirit of "Hey Hetero" and "Beware of the God" Kelly has done a nice detournement of Maria Kozic's bitch billboard of 1989 to drag around a very sexy image of a butch - on the back of the truck.

There's also gonna be a MArdis Gras entry - of butches and fans dragging alongside the billboard up Okker st. on Saturday night.


And i'm stuck in smellbourne, receiving freaky fire updates on my phone, trying to finish my tome (it's getting there, slowly, but surely)

It's not all bad down south. I've got my own butch icon at home, and she makes me blush and swoon, and sign, and giggle, and sigh some more.....

Big tattooed biceps, hairy musky armpits divided by voluptuous breasts. Real tits, real tats, a soft mo and softer lips. The brut 33 in the bathroom, the collection of cocks in the bedroom. The incredible infinite queerness of a woman who is big and butch and strong and so softly sexily female throughout.

I don't buy into the "butch femme thing" as some rigid sapphic category, but I *adore* having a buxum butch wench so much that bits of me involuntarily water on a regular basis. somehow with her, a lot of stuff seems to be resolved, and a lot more stuff made possible. I feel proud of myself, like i've grown up enough to catch the big fish I always dreamt of. She takes me, and lets me take her places where we both switch and sigh and laugh and fuck and sing across out many genders and many selves.

I desire and respect tranny boys, but the butch wench is what really gets me giggly and happy and exited.... so elegantly striding, sliding along the fence of gender ambiguity. calmly holding herself as a woman in the world, who is not a girl, not a femme, not a man in transition, but a strong, sexy, masculine and feminine, divinely ambiguous woman. Staying outside of the gender privilege of passing as a man, or slipping into the masquerade of closetted femininity, she is confronting, and yet so calm, and so incredibly beautiful.

As i get older, I'm more aware of the exaggerated femininity of young insecure girls, twittering in frills, frocks and shite shoes. Long hair, long nails, high voices. Part of me is tempted to blame the young, because I wasn't ever like that myself, and I feel like echoing the cliched chorus of old feminists "but we weren't like that when we were young"...... and of course I wasn't, and of course my friend's weren't, and fortunately most of us aren't "yummy mummies" either, pushing 3-wheeled designer prams between the four-wheeled drives and pilates classes.

To categorise all younger women as oppressed or unfeminist , ignores the enormous amount of deviation that does exist among younger women; which are still in a minority - like the young student radicals, the anarchists, the baby-dykes, the other young radical student feminists. Thing is - we are always in the minority... and its only when you get older that you see young people as an anonymous cohort; as separate, generally conformist and strangely sexualised, and so incredibly insecure..... It's great to see the variety of genders in dykedom - the differing femmes, the differing genders the variation from andro to butch, to leather daddy, from coy bois to T-d up transmen. My hazy memories of 15 years ago had 99% of dykes looking like bad KD Lang clones, so it's good to see women pushing our genders in all shapes and styles.

Butch women give all of us more space, to breathe, to desire, to walk and stand, and we all have to claim that space, to do our genders differently, more openly, more fluidly, more sexily. To happily and ostentatiously display the infinity of ways in which our bodies, our desires can be and become impossibly exquisite wonderful things..... to take the spaces we can, when we can.

Of course, I'm writing this having not yet left the house. I'm still in my pyjamas, and alternating between opening up the flat, and closing it, as cool cloudy breezes alternate with hot cyclonic blasts. Melbourne weather is more moody than a butch with PMT, and a lot less sexy.