by Tim Silver and Russell Storer
Stephen Birch, Mikala
Dwyer, Simryn Gill, David Griggs, John Meade, Robert Pulie, Paul
Saint, Tim Silver
7 - 29 November, 2001
When I was at art school in Dunedin in the mid 90s it was
cool to sell your art. There was only one real art space at that
stage, called Stupid Street Gallery, located, naturally enough
in Stuart Street, in a sagging, creaky old warehouse. Art School
kids used to flog off their retro-kitsch cute stuff for $5 - $20,
probably earning enough per show to buy that weeks booze
Then every one grew up, realized that art was a real commodity
and started making sprawling installation art which now (doesnt)
sell for thousands of dollars. Sandwiched between the video projections
and the site-specific works making up your average project space
exhibition program, OBJECTion looked like a throwback to the Stupid
Street days, only with real artists, who show at real dealer galleries,
for real money. Dozens of gorgeous objects were strung randomly
round the gallery, some works spilling into others in a kind of
artistic pot-pouri. OBJECTion was a salon style presentation of
some of the currently more interesting Australian artists, and
was both democratic and sensible in its makeup - it was small,
portable, enjoyable, looked damn good, and there was something
This is not to say that sensible equals boring. No
way. This show was less Mums hard wearing raincoat and more
that sexy little number you always wanted but couldnt afford.
And this is also not to say that sensible equals non-critical,
because to my mind, the kind of dealer show on acid feel
to this exhibition was as engaging as any piece of overblown conceptualism.
Eschewing the prim and proper layout of any museum protocol much
of the work sat happily on the gallery floor, Mikala Dwyers
handmade clay numbers (Number Sculptures) marching along one wall
in a giant line, and above, perched precariously on the very top
of the wall.
Their chunky, homemade feel and their childlikeness
drew you in, they begged for interaction and they offered you nothing
but charm in return.
A return to childlike pleasures was also apparent
in Tim Silvers work (Untitled (Baby I wrote a song for
you) ), an electric guitar cast entirely from crayons, its waxy creamy
exterior emitting the smell of a primary school supplies store.
David Griggs cardboard skate ramps (Griggs and Murphys
Ramp 1991 and 1992) were mini versions of the big boys playground, etched
with painted webbing. One was placed deliciously atop a raw plywood
plinth, its plain chipboard exterior a perfect foil for the ramps
sleek surface. Simryn Gills table of metal implements in
the corner (Untitled) provided a darker edge to this array of lolly
objects; laid out like surgical equipment were all the tools an
artist could need; scissors, knives, scalpel, hooks, and, immediately
post-September 11, my first thought was that it was the contents
of the confiscation file at Christchurch airport. A definite case
of less not being more.
View OBJECTion - curated by Tim Silver and Russell Storer - Essay by Emma Bugden as a PDF
This essay originally appeared in
The Physics Room Annual
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