Posts Tagged ‘Safety Zone

17
Dec
10

melbourne’s magnificent eleven 2010

December 2010

 

Here’s my pick of the eleven best exhibitions in Melbourne for 2010 that featured on the Art Blart blog (in no particular order). Enjoy!

Marcus

 

1/ Jenny Holzer at The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)

 

Jenny Holzer. 'Right Hand (Palm Rolled)' 2007

 

Jenny Holzer (American, b. 1950)
Right Hand (Palm Rolled)
2007
Oil on linen
80 x 62 in. (203.2 x 157.5 cm)
Text: U.S. government document

 

 

The reason that you must visit this exhibition is the last body of work. Working with declassified documents that relate to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan Holzer’s ‘Redaction’ paintings address the elemental force that is man’s (in)humanity to man (in the study of literature, redaction is a form of editing in which multiple source texts are combined (redacted) and subjected to minor alteration to make them into a single work) … I left the exhibition feeling shell-shocked after experiencing intimacy with an evil that leaves few traces. In the consciences of the perpetrators? In the hearts of the living! Oh, how I wish to see the day when the human race will truly evolve beyond. We live in hope and the work of Jenny Holzer reminds us to be vigilant, to speak out, to have courage in the face of the unconscionable.

 

2/ ‘Pondlurking’ by Tom Moore at Helen Gory Galerie, Prahran

This exhibition produced in me an elation, a sense of exalted happiness, a smile on my dial that was with me the rest of the day. The installation features elegantly naive cardboard cityscape dioramas teeming with wondrous, whimsical mythological animals that traverse pond and undulating road. This bestiary of animals, minerals and vegetables (bestiaries were made popular in the Middle Ages in illustrated volumes that described various animals, birds and even rocks) is totally delightful … What really stands out is the presence of these objects, their joyousness. The technical and conceptual never get in the way of good art. The Surrealist imagining of a new world order (the destruction of traditional taxonomies) takes place while balanced on one foot. The morphogenesis of these creatures, as they build one upon another, turns the world upside down … Through their metamorphosed presence in a carnivalesque world that is both weird and the wonderful, Moore’s creatures invite us to look at ourselves and our landscape more kindly, more openly and with a greater generosity of spirit.

 

Tom Moore. 'Birdboat with passenger with a vengeance' (left) and 'Robot Island' (right) 2010 and 2009

 

Tom Moore
Birdboat with passenger with a vengeance (left) and Robot Island (right)
2010 and 2009

 

3/ ‘Safety Zone’ by John Young at Anna Schwartz Gallery

What can one say about work that is so confronting, poignant and beautiful – except to say that it is almost unbearable to look at this work without being emotionally charged, to wonder at the vicissitudes of human life, of events beyond one’s control.

The exhibition tells the story of the massacre of 300,000 people in the city of Nanjing in Jiangsu, China by Japanese troops in December, 1937 in what was to become known as the Nanjing Massacre. It also tells the story of a group of foreigners led by German businessman John Rabe and American missionary Minnie Vautrin who set up a “safety zone” to protect the lives of at least 250,000 Chinese citizens. The work is conceptually and aesthetically well resolved, the layering within the work creating a holistic narrative that engulfs and enfolds the viewer – holding them in the shock of brutality, the poignancy of poetry and the (non)sublimation of the human spirit to the will of others.

Simply, this is the best exhibition that I have seen in Melbourne so far this year.

 

John Young. 'Flower Market (Nanjing 1936) #1' 2010

 

John Young (Australian, b. 1956)
Flower Market (Nanjing 1936) #1
2010
digital print and oil on Belgian linen
240 x 331 cm
image courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery

 

John Young. 'Safety Zone' 2010

 

John Young (Australian, b. 1956)
Safety Zone
2010
60 works, digital prints on photographic paper and chalk on blackboard-painted archival cotton paper
Installation shot, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne
Image courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery

 

4/ ‘To Hold and Be Held’ by Kiko Gianocca at Gallery Funaki

 

Kiko Gianocca. 'Man & dog' found image, resin, silver 2009

 

Kiko Gianocca (Swiss, b. 1974)
Man & dog
Found image, resin, silver
2009

 

 

A beautiful exhibition of objects by Swiss/Italian artist Kiko Gianocca at Gallery Funaki, Melbourne, one full of delicate resonances and remembrances.

Glass vessels with internal funnels filled with the gold detritus of disassembled objects, found pendants: Horse, Anchor, Four leaf clover, Swan, Hammer & sickle … Brooches of gloss and matt black resin plates. On the reverse images exposed like a photographic plate, found images solidified in resin.

The front: the depths of the universe, navigating the dazzling darkness
The back: memories, forgotten, then remade, worn like a secret against the beating chest. Only the wearer knows!

As Kiki Gianocca asks, “I am not sure if I grasp the memories that sometimes come to mind. I start to think they hold me instead of me holding them.”

 

5/ ‘Jill Orr: Vision’ at Jenny Port Gallery, Richmond

The photographs invite us to share not only the mapping of the surface of the skin and the mapping of place and identity but the sharing of inner light, the light of the imaginary as well – and in this observation the images become unstable, open to reinterpretation. The distance between viewer and subject is transcended through an innate understanding of inner and outer light. The photographs seduce, meaning, literally, to be led astray … I found myself looking at the photographs again and again for small nuances, the detail of hairs on the head, the imagining of what the person was thinking about with their eyes closed: their future, their fears, their hopes, the ‘active imagination as a means to visualise sustainable futures’ (Orr, 2010) …

In the imagination of the darkness that lies behind these children’s closed eyes is the commonality of all places, a shared humanity of memory, of dreams. These photographs testify to our presence and ask us to decide how we feel about our life, our place and the relation to that (un)placeness where we must all, eventually, return.

.

Jill Orr. 'Jacinta' 2009

 

Jill Orr. 'Jacinta' 2009

 

Jill Orr (Australian, b. 1952)
Jacinta
2009

 

6/ ‘AND THEN…’ by Ian Burns at Anna Schwartz Gallery

These are such fun assemblages, the created mis en scenes so magical and hilarious, guffaw inducing even, that they are entirely delightful.

There is so much to like here – the inventiveness, the freshness of the work, the insight into the use of images in contemporary culture. Still photographs of this work do not do it justice. I came away from the gallery uplifted, smiling, happy – and that is a wonderful thing to happen.

 

Ian Burns. '15 hours v.4' 2010

 

Ian Burns (Australian, b. 1964)
15 hours v.4
2010
Found object kinetic sculpture, live video and audio
Image courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery

 

7/ ‘Night’s Plutonian Shore’ by Julia deVille at Sophie Gannon Gallery, Richmond

 

Julia deVille. 'Nevermore' 2010

 

Julia deVille (Australian, b. 1982)
Nevermore
2010

 

 

This is an excellent exhibition by Julia deVille at Sophie Gannon Gallery in Richmond … This exhibition shows a commendable sense of restraint, a beautiful rise and fall in the work as you walk around the gallery space with the exhibits displayed on different types and heights of stand and a greater thematic development of the conceptual ideas within the work. There are some exquisite pieces.

In these pieces there is a simplification of the noise of the earlier works and in this simplification a conversant intensification of the layering of the conceptual ideas. Playful and witty the layers can be peeled back to reveal the poetry of  de Sade, the stories of Greek mythology and the amplification of life force that is at the heart of these works. Good stuff.

 

8/ ‘Mari Funaki; Objects’ at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia

 

Mari Funaki. 'Object' 2008

 

Mari Funaki (born Japan 1950, arrived Australia 1979, died 2010)
Object
2008
Heat-coloured mild steel
36.0 x 47.5 x 14.5 cm
Collection of Johannes Hartfuss & Fabian Jungbeck, Melbourne
© The Estate of Mari Funaki

 

 

Quiet, precise works. Forms of insect-like legs and proboscises. They balance, seeming to almost teeter on the edge – but the objects are incredibly grounded at the same time. As you walk into the darkened gallery and observe these creatures you feel this pull – lightness and weight. Fantastic!

And so it came to pass in silence, for these works are still, quiet and have a quality of the presence of the inexpressible. Funaki achieves these incredible silences through being true to her self and her style through an expression of her endearing will. While Mari may no longer be amongst us as expressions of her will the silences of these objects will be forever with us.

 

9/ ‘Up Close: Carol Jerrems with Larry Clark, Nan Goldin and William Yang’ at Heide Museum of Modern Art

When looking at art, one of the best experiences for me is gaining the sense that something is open before you, that wasn’t open before. I don’t mean accessible, I mean open like making a clearing in the jungle, or being able to see further up a road, or just further on. And also like an open marketplace – where there were always good trades. There is the feeling that if you put in a certain amount of honesty, then you would get something back that made some room for you in front – some room that would allow you to look forward, and maybe even walk into that space. Seeing Jerrems work gives you that feeling.

 

Carol Jerrems. 'Mark and Flappers' 1975

 

Carol Jerrems (Australian, 1949-1980)
Mark and Flappers
1975
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of James Mollison, 1994
© Ken Jerrems & the Estate of Lance Jerrems

 

10/ ‘John Davis: Presence’ at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia

 

John Davis. '(Spotted fish)' 1989

 

John Davis (Australia 1936-99)
(Spotted fish)
1989
Twigs, cotton thread, calico, bituminous paint
55.0 x 145.0 x 30.0 cm
Private collection, Melbourne
© Penelope Davis & Martin Davis. Administered by VISCOPY, Australia

 

 

This is a superlative survey exhibition of the work of John Davis at NGV Australia, Melbourne.

In the mature work you can comment on the fish as ‘travellers’ or ‘nomads’, “a metaphor for people and the way we move around the world.” You can observe the caging, wrapping and bandaging of these fish as a metaphor for the hurt we humans impose on ourselves and the world around us. You can admire the craftsmanship and delicacy of the constructions, the use of found objects, thread, twigs, driftwood and calico and note the ironic use of bituminous paint in relation to the environment, “a sticky tar-like form of petroleum that is so thick and heavy,” of dark and brooding colour.

This is all well and true. But I have a feeling when looking at this work that here was a wise and old spirit, one who possessed knowledge and learning … a human being who attained a state of grace in his life and in his work.

 

11/ ‘Mortality’ at The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)

 

Fiona Tan. 'Tilt' 2002

 

Fiona Tan (Indonesia, b. 1966)
Tilt
2002
DVD
courtesy of the artist, Frith Street Gallery London

 

 

I never usually review group exhibitions but this is an exception to the rule. I have seen this exhibition three times and every time it has grown on me, every time I have found new things to explore, to contemplate, to enjoy. It is a fabulous exhibition, sometimes uplifting, sometimes deeply moving but never less than engaging – challenging our perception of life. The exhibition proceeds chronologically from birth to death. I comment on a few of my favourite works below but the whole is really the sum of the parts: go, see and take your time to inhale these works – the effort is well rewarded. The space becomes like a dark, fetishistic sauna with it’s nooks and crannies of videos and artwork. Make sure you investigate them all!

 

 

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09
May
10

Review: ‘Safety Zone’ by John Young at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 15th April – 22nd May 2010

 

John Young (Australian, born Hong Kong 1956) 'Flower Market (Nanjing 1936) #2' 2010

 

John Young (Australian, born Hong Kong 1956)
Flower Market (Nanjing 1936) #2
2010
Digital print and oil on Belgian linen
240 x 331 cm
image courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery

 

 

What can one say about work that is so confronting, poignant and beautiful – except to say that it is almost unbearable to look at this work without being emotionally charged, to wonder at the vicissitudes of human life, of events beyond one’s control.

Simply, this is the best exhibition that I have seen in Melbourne so far this year.

The exhibition tells the story of the massacre of 300,000 people in the city of Nanjing in Jiangsu, China by Japanese troops in December, 1937 in what was to become known as the Nanjing Massacre. It also tells the story of a group of foreigners led by German businessman John Rabe and American missionary Minnie Vautrin who set up a “safety zone” to protect the lives of at least 250,000 Chinese citizens. The work is conceptually and aesthetically well resolved, the layering within the work creating a holistic narrative that engulfs and enfolds the viewer – holding them in the shock of brutality, the poignancy of poetry and the (non)sublimation of the human spirit to the will of others.

On the left wall of the gallery are three large mixed-media paintings of screen printed photographs of the Nanjing Flower Market taken the year before the massacre (see three images directly below). The printing of the press photographs at such a scale (a la Marco Fusinato) emphasises the dot structure of the photograph, the intensity of a newspaper reality ‘blown up’ to a huge scale. Unfortunately, you cannot see this deconstruction of the image very well in the examples below (clicking on the lower two images to get a larger version will give you a better idea), but believe me it most effective in creating a spatio-temporal distance between the viewer and the image. The dissolution of the image into dots is surmounted by painted cherry blossoms, bleached corals and piles of logs that overlay the photographic text. The reason-ances are sublime. The mind tries to process the distance between the death of the people and the photograph, the knowledge of what is about to happen to them, and the sensuality of the buds and flowers: new life!

To my friend and I the coral in the last painting reminded us both of the emanations of psychic phenomena at a seance, a series of radiations originating in the godhead.

On the right wall of the gallery is a grid of three rows of twenty images that make up the work Safety Zone (2010, see bottom image). Made up of chalk drawings on black paper (a la Rudolf Steiner), writings by the Europeans including Vautrin and Rabe, statistics, gruesome photographs of the massacre and observations by the artist, this is in part both a confronting and benevolent work.

Archival photographs are printed digitally (the dot structure working to less affect here); some vertical photographs are shown horizontally. Text written in chalk is erased with a sweep of the hand. Thoughts of the Buddha, the infinity symbol linked to the Buddha’s Ray and the Buddha’s Heart are a physical presence. Two blue chalk lines intersect and cross over, so poignant and sublime amongst the destruction that surrounds. Golf clubs, beer bottles, bayonets.

 

‘THERE IS NOTHING LEFT’ 13.12.37 (Robert Wilson)

‘HOME SICKNESS’

‘Simulacrum > Heart’

A simply drawn coffin shape on black ground

‘I began to roam around the city preventing further atrocities myself’

‘They will not do so, if it is in my power to prevent it’ (Minnie Vautrin)

UNSPEAKABLE ACTS OF EVIL … BECOMING BANAL

 

At both ends of the gallery is the last element in this play of hope, mutability and madness. Two large oil-on-linen paintings, titled The Crippled Tree #1 & #2 (see images below) “provide another register to the memory of the event. According to Young, the battered and split logs, painted in the negative, resonate and recollect the violence done to the victims of the massacre.” Unfortunately the two small images below cannot really give you an idea of the metaphorical power of these paintings. Like twisted and broken bodies larger than life size they become the glue that holds the other elements of the exhibition together. Without them there would be no transition from one side of the gallery, one element of the work to another. In their solarisation they emote an energy that flows down the length of the gallery = is this possible? Yes it is!
You feel the cracking of their branches, the amputation of their limbs but their spirit, their efflorescence (which, most appropriately considering the use of the Flower Market photographs, means “to flower out” in French) shines on. Such is the nature of the human spirit. Take the time and see this work. It is well worth the journey.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the artist, Serena Bentley and Anna Schwartz Gallery for allowing me to reproduce the images in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

John Young (Australian, born Hong Kong 1956) 'Flower Market (Nanjing 1936) #3' 2010

 

John Young (Australian, born Hong Kong 1956)
Flower Market (Nanjing 1936) #3
2010
Digital print and oil on Belgian linen
240 x 331 cm
image courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery

 

John Young (Australian, born Hong Kong 1956) 'Flower Market (Nanjing 1936) #1' 2010

 

John Young (Australian, born Hong Kong 1956)
Flower Market (Nanjing 1936) #1
2010
digital print and oil on Belgian linen
240 x 331 cm
image courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery

 

 

Safety Zone, John Young’s latest project presents a series of intricate paintings that reassemble historical reminiscences of human survival by linking experimental contemporary art with investigative visual reports, in historical photographs and documents.

This body of work draws attention to incidents across the city of Nanjing in Jiangsu, China, just moments before the onset of the Nanjing Massacre, which followed the capture of the city by Japanese Imperial Forces on 13 December 1937. In the six weeks following the invasion, a quarter of a million Chinese citizens were killed in what the American historian Iris Chang described as the ‘forgotten holocaust of World War II’.

Through Chang’s book, The Rape of Nanking, the world was introduced to the personal memoirs of foreigners living in Nanjing who had been working on creating a ‘safety zone’ that would protect 250,000 Chinese citizens from the invading Japanese troops. Two of the twenty-one foreigners who stayed in the city to help set up the Nanjing Safety Zone were the American missionary Minnie Vautrin and the German businessman John Rabe. Their experiences have been noted by Young, who travelled to Nanjing, Berlin and Heidelberg, conducting first hand interviews and research for this compelling multi-layered project which exemplifies the transformative function of art.

The installation Safety Zone consists of three series of works which reference acts of resistance by individuals to protect fellow human beings against these atrocities that were underpinned by autocratic regimes and nationalist ideologies.

In the Flower Market (Nanjing 1936) series, carefully painted spring flowers and bleached corals are superimposed over historical photographs taken in Nanjing a year prior to the massacre. The meticulously rendered impressions of logs in The Crippled Tree #1 & #2 provide another register to the memory of the event. According to Young, the battered and split logs, painted in the negative, resonate and recollect the violence done to the victims of the massacre.

The carefully assembled bank of 60 chalk drawings and digital prints that make up the centerpiece of Safety Zone provides an intricate understanding of the humanity that lies beneath this tragic event through the revelation of extraordinary acts of self-sacrifice.”

Dr Thomas J. Berghuis
Department of Art History and Film, The University of Sydney

Text from the Anna Schwartz Gallery website

 

John Young (Australian, born Hong Kong 1956) 'The Crippled Tree #1' 2010

 

John Young (Australian, born Hong Kong 1956)
The Crippled Tree #1
2010
Oil on linen
274 x 183 cm
image courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery

 

John Young (Australian, born Hong Kong 1956) 'The Crippled Tree #2' 2010

 

John Young (Australian, born Hong Kong 1956)
The Crippled Tree #2
2010
Oil on linen
274 x 183 cm
image courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery

 

John Young (Australian, born Hong Kong 1956) 'Safety Zone' (installation view) 2010

 

John Young (Australian, born Hong Kong 1956)
Safety Zone (installation view)
2010
60 works, digital prints on photographic paper and chalk on blackboard-painted archival cotton paper
Image courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery

 

 

Anna Schwartz Gallery
185 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, Victoria 3000

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday 12 – 5pm
Saturday 1 – 5pm

Anna Schwartz Gallery website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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