Saturday, August 2, 2014
ENGAGE at .M Contemporary - 2 August
So I thought this was the last day of the group show of emerging artists at .M contemporary, despite the wall text proclaiming it would run to the 24th. Turns out that we are both correct. The show is closing in the main space and the last few weeks will be upstairs, and if something has sold it might not be transferred up. Even Liz Ann Macgregor was confused, as her assistant had noted this show as 'last day' in her calendar. Now as an aside, there is something the MCA should promote, what commercial shows is their Director off to see. I'd be interested. But enough of the intro, lets get on with the show ...
I'm always excited to see some emerging artists, more so if I see a familiar name. Eloise Cato took the 2 points at the National Art School grad show last year so I was keen to see more of her work. And I also recognised the name of an artist that complained bitterly on twitter about a Big Lamington reference, so we won't mention them again! First up was a random looking installation (image above). Turns out this was the end state of a performance called 'The Arrangement' by Adrian Clement. All those little balls are pink and blue bubble gum that started out mixed in the middle perspex vessel and Adrian's performance sorted them. Well, I'd probably be more impressed if they were from Bubble O'Bill's but this was still a clever little concept. It made more sense when I got home and had a look at the catalogue online and saw the 'before' shot (see image bottom). I also like that Adrian is merchandising this performance through a video (set of 5), although I didn't get to see this as the technology was on the fritz. Very zen and in my mind I can link the performance here to the Marina Abromivic documentary where I remember seeing the artist get her volunteers to 'get in the zone' by sorting out different coloured rice grains. Moving through to the back you come up against a giant framed silver survival blanket. This was a memento attaching to another video work, this time by Jacobus Capone (Dark Learning, image below). To me this evoked a Warhol factory look. The framed silver blanket that is. The video, which ran for a little over 8 minutes, didn't seem to have all that much action in it. That's likely the point, and whilst it does force you to slow down to try to appreciate it you are left wondering what the artists intent was. Looks like it is back to the catalogue, and boy is this artist statement a doozy: " 'Dark Learning' is an ongoing process attempting to integrate all action into the wholeness of one lived experience utilising certain experimental gestures that earnestly strive for the sublime." Maybe. I kind of like the one word artist statement I had imagined before reading the catalogue. Contemplative. I recognised Eloise's work next. The resin/polyethylene/charcoal mix is quite a unique signature (image top, Untidaled Artithesis). I think I heard the Director of the MCA describe this work as very 'tactile', no wonder she gets paid the big bucks. I only remember her resin finished works from before, but in this show she has contrasted those with some very matte finished pieces. Still all Johnny Cash in feel, that is all black, they look very good in a gallery setting against a white wall.
Points: 3 points goes to the bubble gum performance of Adrian Clement. This is a bit of a leap of faith as I hadn't actually seen the performance, and the video wasn't working. But thanks to the before and after photos and a little bit of imagination I think this would've been cool (note: if I do ever see the video, and if it sucked, then I might reverse the points!). Nevertheless a great concept and quite a decorative outcome. Eloise will pick up another 2 points. I do like the effect she gets with resin. Very shiny, tactile even! Also, I think Eloise was the pick of Liz Ann, based on observed iphone photography! 1 point will go to Jacobus Capone for Dark Learning, I did like the merchandising here, with the 'special collectors edition' of the video coming with the framed survival blanket. Keep up the good work.