Sites of communication: when art takes your breath away

Friday 18 March 2005, and I am sitting downstairs in the Art Gallery of New South Wales main auditorium listening to Professor Ross Gibson give a keynote address as part of a two-day art museum’s symposium ‘Sites of Communication 2’. My job this afternoon is to give a response to Ross Gibson’s address ‘Theatres for Alteration’ . …

Truth ‘at home’ —Walter Burley Griffin’s Winter House

To feel ‘at home’ somewhere suggests one feels comfortable in a strange place. To be ‘at home’ with oneself suggests one is not at odds or out of kilter with oneself, not estranged from one’s truth but accepting of it. Compared to its opposite—not to be ‘at home’ suggests one is outside oneself, foreign to …

For Gough, it was time for the Arts—as well

’If Australian galleries were limited by the comprehension of the right honourable gentleman they would be very bare and archaic indeed.’  Gough Whitlam in defence of his purchase of Jackson Pollock’s ‘Blue Polls‘, 1952, in Parliament. This morning Australia woke to the news of former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam’s passing. Amongst the many liberating achievements of his …

The black tea of space

If we eliminate the recurring dismissal of women through discredit to avoid any facts they might speak,(1)Leigh Sales, a reporter for the ABC’s flagship news program ‘7.30’, interviewed the then Opposition Leader Tony Abbott who revealed himself to be misleading, ill-informed and contradictory (i.e. dishonest). The following day a leading strategist for the Opposition called Leigh Sales …

Exhibition: To Do performed as a musical score

Clarinetist Megan Clune ‘played’ Exhibition: To Do, 2014, on the last day of its exhibition at The Commercial gallery, Sydney. Exhibition: To Do can be played as a musical score given it is, ostensibly, a composition of spacial measures not unlike beats in a bar. The measured beats in Exhibition: To Do are punctuated by wooden uprights that separate …

Space with a phoneme of its own

When someone a couple of years back asked what sort of art I make, I hesitated. Easy to answer if one makes either painting or sculpture; difficult, if one makes neither. Worse, still, if one makes a spatial art that is not ‘installation’. For which reason I asked, in response, ‘Do you know of installation’? …

Art Month Presents Collector’s Disgrace—Art frame: red removed

The title above is harsh, but so was the insult to the collectors of Art frame: red and to the sculptuation, itself, discovered last night at the opening of Art Month’s Collector’s Space. Art frame: red is a sculptuation. As a sculptuation, it activates the physical space within which one stands to look at its …

Making space for the invisible architecture of the social

Room for love (1990) by Gail Hastings

Gail Hastings professes to be a sculptor, but she is an unusual one. Her works often consist of such unfamiliar sculptural media as watercolours or pencil drawings. Her subject matter is equally unusual. It often features pages that look as if they have been transplanted from some esoteric encyclopaedia or otherwise may contain snippets of …

A note on ‘Leave the line standing’

2010-Leave-the-line-standing

We were squabbling over how best to cut the piece of wood when, with jigsaw in hand, I decided to ignore Mick and get on with the job as I always do — uncomfortable with and annoyed by his audience. Then Mick made a last ditched effort and said, ‘leave the line standing’. Standing? Line? …

On the habit of spatial shifts

Habit is something we are unable to live without. If the many menial tasks we complete each day were not a matter of habit, they would absorb all the attention we have for other more important things. Habit allows us to add a couple of spoonfuls of sugar to our tea, without having to register the …

Happy New Year: ‘You didn’t look, did you?’

Detail: 'situation no. 41: happy new year', 2000 - Gail Hastings

A ‘Happy New Year’ card is a common greeting sent at this time of year to convey best wishes. This particular card is part of a sculptuation by me exhibited in 2000. It may be 13 years too late, but I return to it to send registered readers with a wish for 2013. The wish …

Withdrawal from ‘Less is More’

On Monday 3 September 2012, ABC art: red cube (2008) was taken off the exhibition wall of  Less is More at Heide Museum of Modern Art before the exhibition’s conclusion, upon my request. This was a drastic and, for me, painful action made necessary given there was no retraction of the curator’s views expressed in the …

Four notes on a work by Donald Judd at the AGNSW

Untitled 1975 Donald Judd

Note 1: In each of the six units that comprise this piece, we find a division of its space into two: an open lit space and a closed un-lit space. Each of these two spaces is the opposite of the other: open as opposed to closed, lit as opposed to unlit. By opposing the other, …

Thank goodness Donald Judd wasn’t a misogynist

While browsing iTunes one fine July 2007 day, I happened upon a new release by Austin Indie band ‘Spoon’ with a cover image of the artist Lee Bontecou by photographer Ugo Mulas, taken in 1963. Instantly impressed, I eagerly investigated further and came across an interview. Here, singer/guitarist Britt Daniel explains that, although he was …

Wholeness no longer a dirty word

The School of Athens (detail) Raphael, 1511

The term ‘aesthetics’ was first ascribed the burgeoning discipline in 1735 when the German student of philosophy Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten coined it in his master’s thesis to mean ‘epistêmê aisthetikê, the science of what is sensed and imagined’. (1)Paul Guyer, “18th Century German Aesthetic”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008). The first book published under its name was …

Aesthetics is for the artist as ornithology is for the birds

Everyone agrees that ultimately one essential of art is unity. After that the agreement breaks down. This fact of unity doesn’t seem to say much, which is an ancient characteristic of aesthetics, the most uncertain and least developed branch of philosophy and the most ignored by those it concerns, including myself until now. Barnett Newman …

Upcoming exhibition [space holder]

Donald Judd, 'Untitled', 1975, AGNSW - Gail Hastings Exhibition Studio

For one reason or another I have had to put words to paper in preparation of my next exhibition. They namely concern the title of the exhibition: [space holder]. It is a title that aspires to benefit a discussion on space as an art object that is fraught, from the outset, for a few reasons. The …

Why I make editions: A space for possibilities

A ‘limited edition’ is a term we generally associate with printmaking or photography in contemporary art. Both involve the reproduction of an artwork a number of times. If the ‘number of times’ is limited to, say, 100 prints, then the artwork is an edition of 100. There is a problem here, however, with the word …

The art of noticing Part III

Mistakenly, some say Anthony Caro was the first to make pedestal-less three-dimensional art. (1)Many will be fortunate to remember having seen Anthony Caro’s abstract sculpture in Sculpture by the Sea at Bondi Beach, Sydney, in October 2010. As for who did what first, when it comes to boycotting the pedestal (or plinth, as we are more likely to call …

Art in Atheism 2.0

Art in Atheism 2.0

The image above is Caravaggio’s Conversion on the Way to Damascus, c.1600-01, commissioned for the Cerasi Chapel, Santa Maria del Popolo church, Rome. Fallen from his horse, sword strewn useless by his side, we see a prostrate Saul of Tarsus startled by a brilliant light through which, he later tells us, he heard Jesus ask …

The art of noticing Part II

Donald Judd, DSS32, 1962

Often, it is not long before a sculpture student at tertiary level discovers their enthusiasm dinted by a definition of sculpture by the American painter Ad Reinhardt, as ‘something you bump into when you back up to look at a painting’. Just as often, though, the bad bruising quickly fades as one succeeds in one’s …

The art of noticing Part I

From the Tate Channel, Donald-Judd

The art of illusion is, for many, art per se. Through it, our unconscious absorption into representational imagery transports us somewhere other that the reality in which we stand. This remains the desired effect we request from art. Since the beginning of the previous century, however, various artists and art movements have endeavoured to shatter …

Loopedosity Lost

Front page of Gail Hastings Exhibition Studio website

It happens, a website goes down and, along with it, the readership hours, article writing, comments, thoughts, images, debates, mistakes and good will it contains. It happened to me, recently. ‘Loopedosity’ is no more. I sighed some grief for about a week, then started on this new website. Nevertheless, along with losing my previous website, I basically lost …

Flowers from the opening talk

Article entitled 'flowers from the opening talk' - 'Space you can't sit on'

You’ll have to excuse the nasty looking signs that say ‘please don’t place your wine or food on the table’, but I’m a little anxious the watercolours might easily be ruined. You see, the porosity of watercolour paper allows it to absorb pigmented water very easily. While this is a characteristic of most paper, I …

Let’s knock knees and talk fees: Proposition no. 3 : A meeting

Okay, Okay – let’s face it. The purveyors of art etiquette in this artworld of ours have won. All you diplomats of the curatorial unspoken word who hold artists hostage to unpronounced exhibition terms – have succeeded. Victory is in the air, your silent, courtly codes and enfeebling procedures are now empowered. Etiquette has well …

At war with seeing visual art: Do I get it or does it get me?

Deception is in the eye of the beholder, the beauty of which can be seen in the work of Bridget Riley. For example, take her painting Cantus Firmus, 1972-3, presently on view in ‘Bridget Riley: Paintings and drawings 1961-2004’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Sydney. From a distance we see a vertically aligned …