Book Details
Foreword: Richard Shiff
Afterword: Amanda Rowell
Publisher: Pigment Publisher
Publisher place: Sydney
Print length: 50 pages
Language: English
ISBN: 978-0-646-91593-7
Specifications: An ebook for iBooks
Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iPad with iBooks 2 or later and iOS 5 or later, or an iPhone with iOS 8.4 or later, or a Mac with OS X 10.9 or later.


Four Sculptuations by Gail Hastings

Released: 26 April 2014
Price: $14.99 AUD
Available at: Apple iBooks Store

With a foreword by Richard Shiff

Actual art, not the documentation of art, comprises Missing by Gail Hastings. Here, the ebook purchaser becomes art collector. With this latest edition, Hastings presents us with four new sculptuations in the (relatively) democratic medium of an ebook made broadly available online for the first time. The ebook interface encourages our situational relation to the work where, in one, friends gather to take comfort in their card-carrying doubt of contemporary art while, in another, beholders suspect they have missed something integral that prevents them from ‘getting it’: the plot. Implicating, these pages also extricate us through opposing realities — actual and virtual — that build a material space we can hold, while it holds us. Are the actual and virtual equally real? It is a question art historian Richard Shiff considers while discussing a copy’s relation to the original, and the non-being (and being) of Missing.

Annabel Crabb

When Charles Saatchi’s gallery opened in South Bank, with its notorious list of headliners (chunks of frozen human blood, sump oil lagoons and rooms full of chopped-up cattle), one small corner was devoted to a collection of newspaper cartoons lampooning the works.

My favourite was one in which an Eskimo, gazing at Damien Hirst’s pickled tiger shark, turned to a fellow visitor with the remark: “My five-year-old son could’ve done that.”

Interaction with art can be an occasion for hilariously multi-directional anxiety. The artist, observing someone observing her work, feels an unbearable cocktail of solicitude and vulnerability. The observer, knowing she is observed, frets that she’s missing something.

Is loud art—sledgehammer art—trying to abolish this moment of tender confusion? A message delivered by means of a decomposing rattlesnake chained to a chocolate wheel may still prove confounding to some viewers, but at least there’s something to talk about in the interim. No awkwardness need ensue, when the spectacle itself fills the silence.

Quiet art, like the work of Gail Hastings, chooses instead to inhabit that moment and furnish it with humour.

Am I missing something?—the timeless fretful self-interrogation of the enthusiastic but apprehensive gallery-creeper—becomes, in Missing, the shape of the artwork itself.

It’s funny, because everyone recognizes this tendency in the civilian art-lover; this scrupulous and obedient hunt for scraps of meaning hidden here and there by the artist, failure to spot any of which might constitute a serious inadequacy.

It’s courageous, because of all the compulsions that I imagine might grip an artist in the act of creation, the temptation to spell it out must surely be one of the hardest to resist.

And it’s generous, because the greatest expression of faith and trust an artist can possibly articulate in the unknown person who will—somewhere down the track—pause in front of her work is to invite them in to it. To allow them the run of the place. To give them the thrill of being in on the joke.

Gail Hastings’ work achieves quite a remarkable state of grace. Taut control in design and execution, coupled with an exhilarating and generous capacity to turn things over, at exactly the right time, to the viewer.

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This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.