Earlier in the week I was at the Art Gallery of NSW for the first of this year’s art appreciation lecture series (theme Collectors & Collections, starting with the Medici), and spent some time earlier looking for collections of vessels.
Liu Jianhua Container Series (2009)
The gallery website for Liu Jianhua’s work shows a different arrangement, the pieces close but not touching, on the floor in the corner of a white room. It is just as effective in showing them as a series.
Unlike my proposed collection, there is a depth of cultural references and symbolic meaning in Container Series. China’s ceramic heritage is referenced in glazes and some of the forms, but combined with other forms and a distinctly contemporary installation. China as a producer of consumer goods, and its position as a growth art market add to understanding, appreciation and meaning of the work.
The bottles in Dale Frank’s Ambition 25 + regrets 10 + death 21 = 56 are one part of a larger whole. The grouped placement is significant, referring to the title of the work. In the group of 21 bottles each has a coin placed on top, I assume linking to the tradition of coins on the eyes of the dead to pay Charon. The total number of bottles is the artist’s age at the time. Is this the sum of his life, placed in service to art exemplified by the varnished plexiglass above? I took my photographs at an angle, wanting to avoid my own reflection, but perhaps I should have embraced the opportunity to create my own self-portrait. Given the title, ideas of life and death, this work seems in the tradition of still life, a commentary on a brief and shallow existence.
Dale Frank Ambition 25 + regrets 10 + death 21 = 56 (2014)
The individual bottles are anonymous, mass produced. The ideas behind the grouping contain the importance of the work – although it is also visually striking, being large, reflective, a glow of colour.
I feel uncomfortable about this work, as if I’m not in on a joke or there’s a conversation going on over my head. I don’t see this world of ideas as relevant to my current research purpose, my focus on materials rather than concepts.
Fiona Hall Slash and Burn
Suspended in dim light are dismembered remains, knit from video tape still connected by an umbilical cord of tape to video cases lying on the ground. They are war films – Hamburger Hill, Apocalypse Now, Gallipoli. “Slash and Burn” can be clearing land, or more darkly, ethnic cleansing.
The media glorify violence, and make money from it. The victims are voiceless, anonymous, without number. The AGNSW website includes “Hall believes there is no hope for the sustainability of nature until human beings begin to treat one another with greater respect and understanding.”, but I see no hope in this installation.The use of knitting is poignant. Elsewhere in the AGNSW is The sock knitter by Grace Cossington Smith, showing the artist’s sister knitting socks for troops in World War 1. It is full of colour and quiet determination, comfort and hope. There is nothing quiet or domestic in Hall’s work.
Once again I find it difficult to find ideas to bring back to my own work. The individual parts were displayed in a strict grid pattern. There is variation in detail but the similarities mean the parts build as a group to create impact. In this post I am presenting works in the order I came across them – the AGNSW is constantly changing and all the works bar Liu Jianhua’s were new to me – and each seemed more serious, had greater depth of ideas, making my student explorations seem trite. I’m posting despite this, in a way demonstrating what my plans are not. However it is the next, final piece which silences me.
Doris Salcedo Atrabiliarios (1992-1997)
I stand quiet before this memorial.
T1-MMT-P5-s2 Collections of vessels at the AGNSW
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 5: A final piece
Stage 2: Research
Collections of vessels at the Art Gallery of New South Wales