Saturday, August 13, 2011

Joan Ross at GBK - 13 August

My little art critics are big fans of video work and when we heard Joan Ross had a new work debuting at GBK the whole team was keen to go. Would Joan Ross' latest video get the thumbs up? Let's see ...

I like Barry's gallery as everything is on show. You can have a good sniff around the stock room and there are a couple of exhibition spaces. In the front room he has a group show from past students of Cofa (the uni of NSW's art school - college of fine arts) that he has sponsored a prize for (appropriately titled, "where are they now"). We didn't spend too long in this room. Just long enough for the team to pick out their favourites. The back room contained the object of our quest, a video called "BBQ this Sunday, BYO". Great title, so far - so good. Now on with the show. This work is very similar to the video she had in the curious colony show (and we had seen last year). That edition of 5 was a sell out so it was good to see more punters available to get on the Ross train with an edition size of 20 this time around. However, this was $4,750 ... hmmm. I mean I really like her videos, this one again sources imagery from colonial artist Joseph Lycett and animates and updates with some of her own trademarks (like the fluoro yellow safety vests from her previous show). As an amateur vexillologist I also really like the flag she has in it - a southern cross but with actual stars photoshopped in there. This edition was expected to sell out so it was good to see only 9 dots when I was there and a couple of halfs which were meant to be institutions who had to go through committee. Well my committee thought the price a bit steep for an edition of 20 so we asked a gallerina at a competing shop about their thoughts regarding video. Her recommended checklist was to make sure you get the work on both dvd and usb stick to avoid technical obsoletion in the future (Joan passed this one) and to avoid editions greater than 5. Joan obviously doesn't subscribe to that limitation and I'm not sure I do either. But then edition size is one of those interesting topics that I think is well abused. Generally in this day and age there is no limit to reproduction (certainly true with digital works like videos) so the constraint on supply is an artificial one designed to push up the price. This is my top reason for not buying prints and only buying unique works - at least it is the only one. At nearly 5k a throw are there 20 punters out there who would want a Joan video? I am on the fence. I would be all over an affordable one like the proverbial (and wouldn't personally care if it was an even bigger edition). Apparently the main bit of value in the video edition is the certificate of authenticity. Really? How 'bout I take an undocumented usb stick for 5 hungy?

Points: 3 to Joan for the great video, as of posting we had passed on it given the internal conflict in my head regarding appropriate pricing for digital editions, but never say never. Of the Cofa stuff my 3 year old liked another video work - 2 points to Hugh Marchant and my 2 year old really liked the 'sculpture' of Lachlan Anthony - 1 point for the office chairs with precariously high seats.

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