2011: A post-annual review

After reading my on-line horoscope for 2012, and discovering that I am in for a rough year, including financial troubles, difficulties with employment and strained personal relationships, I figured a bit of topical nostalgia was in order. [Not that I subscribe to that kind of stuff...]


Firstly, I'm not sure what my top art experience of 2011 was. MONA was amazing. That was an experience entirely unto itself. I especially loved the evil-Bond-villain-lair vibe of the place, with it's transparent circular elevator and carved underground chambers. The highlight there was probably...everything. The work by Gelitin, Locus Focus was the most memorable. [Hint: look in the toilets.] I also loved Michael Stevenson's mini-retrospective at MCA in Sydney. Taking the old freight elevator downstairs into a 'secret' part of the exhibition was an inspired touch, and used the in-built history of the museum to great effect [alas, soon to be lost in rubble as the new extension takes shape]. His work, The Fountain of Prosperity was one of the best works I saw all year [although the work itself is old].

Working at the NGV, I'm privy to a lot of beautiful art work, quite regularly. Of course, there is also a lot of stuff I see that I dislike, too. Actually, more of the latter than the former. That said, there were some beautiful drawings in The Vienna exhibition, and the Tjukurrtjanu exhibition of Western Desert paintings was a delight to work on, mainly because I was surrounded by people who had a sincere and infectious love for this work, and during the installation I heard some interesting stories about how this artistic phenomenon began. Also the Mad Square exhibition of German post-WWI, pre-WWII art contains some really interesting stuff.
Some of the great works I saw were at the new Westspace, at Utopian Slumps, and Sean Bailey's show at Daine Singer. But I am embarrassed to admit that I didn't venture out to the local artist-run spaces as much as I ought, so I probably missed a great deal of wonderful art, that was tucked away in one of the many nooks and crannies of Melbourne's art world. 

My favourite film of last year was probably Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams, in 3D. But as a self-confessed Herzogophile, it's not really a surprise. The funniest character was the perfumer who sniffs at the cracks in a hillside, looking for new caves to discover. But I was an awe when Werner finally let the paintings do the talking as the camera quietly scanned the entire surface of the inside of this cave - even the overly dramatic choral piece that accompanies this scene seems appropriate. 
Another film that I found myself unexpectedly moved by (although I did fall asleep at one point) was Pina (also 3D - what's with the glasses, people?), Wim Wenders' tribute to German choreographer Pina Bausch, including personal tributes in the form of dance by members of her troupe, Tanztheater Wuppertal. These emotive performances dedicated to Bausch, who died in 2009, are incredibly powerful.

I listened to a lot of excellent new music in 2011. Dirty Beaches, Kurt Vile, Bill Callahan...plus lots of new-old music too - Michael Hurley, Karen Dalton and Elvis to name a few. The best gig [and one of the only ones I recall going to] was probably Kurt Vile at the Corner Hotel, despite the fact that we ended up standing with the infamous column right in front of Kurt himself [this was actually kind of beautiful, and a bit 2001-esque: a giant black, shiny monolith right in the centre of my field of vision, with bright light emanating from all around it. It gave me an idea for a picture that can't be looked at properly...stay tuned for more on that one]. One great point of this gig was probably when he played 'Downbound Train'. It wasn't until after I'd turned to Kim and said, 'Wow, it's amazing how much the Bruce Springsteen influence comes through in the music', that I realised what the song was. Also when he played 'Baby's Arms' by himself it was verging on sublime...

Other random highlights of 2011 include: quitting the hospitality industry, growing my first vegetables (beetroots and carrots), helping my mate Dan Moynihan on his work, Warm Memorial-The Dan Moynihan Experience at ACCA, seeing glow-worms on NYE in the Otways (not my photo) and driving through the desert in western NSW, while camping at the Murray River.

Lowlights of 2011: being told by a balding wrestler at a wedding that my hair was 'gay as aids', seeing my own breath while eating breakfast at the kitchen table in the warehouse in winter [associated resolution: get a better heater].

On that note, here are a few new year's resolutions, apart from the usual exercise more, eating healthier, stop playing on the iphone, drinking less etc.:

- get a haircut
- update blog more regularly
- wean myself off Facebook completely 
- reduce impulsive ebay/online purchases
- document exhibitions properly
- listen to more records
- read more about art
- talk more about art
and finally, and most importantly, make better art. [There were a few low points in my output last year that seemed to resonate with me long after the show was over, much more so than works that I was happy with...]

phew. Now - If you're not completely bored shitless after having read all that self-gratifying banter, then maybe you need to get back on Facebook...

And to finish, here's a bit of uplifting music to bring in the new year, courtesy of Abner Jay.

1 comment:

  1. wish i'd not been asleep on my feet at kurt vile. good blog sir! keep it up. jem