Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cordeiro & Healy / Primavera at the MCA - 8 November

This was a midweek lunchtime visit to the MCA to see both the Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro retrospective and in the spirit of a good old fashioned 'two-for-one' Thursday also Primavera 2012.

First up was Claire and Sean, also because their plane is on the front lawn so you kind of can't miss that on your way into the gallery.  It is bright and demands attention but I didn't really get the whole 9/11 angle.  I mean 9/11 was on a massive scale and this is a little red cessna that looks like it would come off second best against the solid sydney sandstone of the old maritime services board building.  Inside was much better.  I really liked the small plane that they had cut into pieces, posted by air mail over to the US and then posted back ("Par Avion", pictured top).  I think this is their strong suit, when they play to their nomadic nature and moving.  Packing rope and tape is everywhere.  Their projects photograph well, the images from "Deceased Estate" (above) and where they piled up all the video cassettes ("Lifespan", below) are great, but these are also very big photos so it would be interesting to see them a little smaller (in photoland, bigger is usually better).  I think I saw that video stack or something similar on cockatoo island a few years back but I love how it looks in the palace in Venice, the contrast between the centuries old building and the tapes is great.  The Ikea stuff is also pretty clever, the shelves stuffed with books and the dinosaur strapped into some other furniture, "Future Remnant" (not that it was immediately obvious why the dinosaur was there, but it looked cool).

Primavera was just like you'd expect, things you will like mixed with things that make you go hmmm (thank you Freedom Williams). The first big hmmm was Kate Mitchell's pile of peanuts.  Kate has counted out one nut for each day of her life.  She was quoted in the SMH as saying that "it is really all about context. If you make bread in the bakery you're a baker, if you make bread in the gallery you're an artist".  Maybe, but are you an artist taking the piss?  In hindsight it might've worked if she had used activated almonds.  This was contrasted with her video, "Fall Stack" (production still below).  This was fantastic.  Kate has lined up 5 screens vertically and so gives the effect of falling through (in a roughly synchronised manner) 5 different shop awnings.  I was interested to see Anastasia Klose's performance work.  This is where she sits in a recreated living room and from what I gather just bums around.  Unhelpfully she takes her lunchbreak outside of the gallery.  Hmmm, maybe the MCA could spring for a sandwich to be delivered and she could take a break later in the day when all the corporate crowd has returned to work?

Points: 3 for Kate's Fall Stack. This was great, how come no postcards of this.  I have to buy the Primavera book?  2 points for Healy and Cordeiro's Par Avion, this really suits a big gallery space.  1 point will go to Lifespan, in a way it is similar in concept to the nuts but just executed on a grander scale (with the nuts being a days of a life and the tapes running times representing the average life expectancy of someone born in the 70s).  And also because 'I have to return some videotapes' is probably my all time favourite alibi ...

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