August 09, 2007
May 01, 2007
COMMENT | Plonk Cultural Infrastructure
Particular types of public art can be criticised as ‘plonk art’. This refers to an approach to public art that does not reference its site in any way – it lacks integration with its context or local community and does not contribute to a sense of place. This is regarded as undesirable in the placemaking endeavours of current planning and design practice. Many public art strategies and policies make provision for the minimisation of plonk art.
In reading through various policy statements and planning guidelines, there appears to be an emerging temptation to plonk cultural infrastructure into communities and localities in the view that it the infrastructure will do something or produce some effect. Increasingly, we see urban regeneration strategies that prioritise the cultural effect without any significant sense that cultural infrastructure requires ongoing maintenance or attention, that infrastructure and the practices it intends to support or enhance needs some sustainability. The view seems to be that the infrastructure is an end in itself. Typically, in developments at various scales, there may be some condition for a cultural effect such as public art and design. Major initiatives often include provision for cultural infrastructure such as galleries and museums, particularly in regional areas. Having worked briefly in the regional galleries and museums sector, it is evident to me that resourcing deficits plague this field particularly in relation to staffing and programming.
In Queensland, there have been some minor language shifts, perhaps consolidations, in the way cultural policy is constructed, particularly in its references to cultural infrastructure and arts industry. This is also inflected in the South East Queensland Regional Plan, which includes provision for cultural development through the provision of infrastructure and spaces. Prior to the state government releasing its Arts Industry Sector Development Plan, several arts service and program organisations were referred to as cultural infrastructure (as soft infrastructure), providing much needed cultural services and opportunities in reasonable secure funding agreements for several years.
The policy language now emphasises industry rather than infrastructure. In industry, those organisations must now operate more competitively, potentially in a procurement environment, and with less secure funding and, in general, less funding on offer. Yet, there is some concern expressed in the Arts Industry Sector Development Plan that the arts resource and development agencies need to be more sustainable. Apparently, the way to do that is to fund fewer of them (or fund them less) and construct buildings for them for them to occupy for which they will need to pay commercial rents. However small scale initiatives in Brisbane have seen some government owned buildings refurbished as providers of affordable rented space, indicating that government can, when it chooses, provide incubators for small to medium organisations.
The running joke over a decade has been that government funds the buildings but not the content, except perhaps for the flagships like state or major galleries, events and theatre companies, which are better equipped to operate in the sponsorship and/or philanthropic environment. The facility often does not pay for the content either - exhibitions, I often hear, are good for artists' careers and thus they are not paid hires fees for work. Government funded facilities, usually suffering their own funding shortfalls, are just as likely to operate on a hire basis and artists rent the spaces to present work. In the endless cost shifting, finding the dollars falls to the artists. It should be ok though because there are so many offerings of enterprise development training for cultural enterprises and this is emerging as a pillar in both arts industry plans and creative industries activity.
What are the implications of continued financing and investment of large scale facilities with little resourcing to the individuals and groups who are shaping the culture? It's enough of an issue in the United States to warrant initatives such as Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC) http://www.lincnet.net. This is a ten-year national initiative to improve the conditions for artists working in all disciplines: "as a vital and immeasurable component of our cultural and collective identity, artists help us interpret our past, define our present and imagine our future. Working artists make resonant contributions to the daily lives of our communities, not only as creators, but also as entrepreneurs, educators and involved citizens ... LINC believes that providing artists with a relevant system of support and resources will enhance their creative output, enabling them to make greater and more meaningful contributions to our communities and society as a whole. "
For sure, buildings and architecture are culture and they inflect in the cultural environment in ways that are constructive, defining and productive. However, there are many cases where major capital works simply are not sustainable or necessary and without strong cultural or economic argument for their commencement. This is what I refer to as plonk cultural infrastructure and it should cause us to consider what types of cultural infrastructure are needed or warranted to sustain a dynamic cultural sector and creative industries. Where government continues to count its successes and commitments in terms of the money it spends (did you notice that the state government continually reported on the cost of GOMA?), we begin to wonder whether it is money appropriately spent in effectively meeting a genuine need.
While I am not arguing against cultural infrastructure or cultural funding, I can’t help but wonder how it can be done better or more meaningfully. At this juncture I do not have any particular approach in mind other than to wonder about the ‘plonk infrastructure’ approach, which in many instances seems to attempt to replicate what is happening elsewhere rather than enhance local strengths and develop locally unique creativities. I am calling for more innovative and open-ended approaches to policy that have spatial, social, economic and cultural diversification. In the scrambling for more creative cities and towns, it would seem a lost opportunity to deliver a veneer of 'creativity' or 'city', as something to be consumed rather than experienced or imagined.
April 05, 2007
BLOG | Arts-for-all
Read it at:
February 22, 2007
BOOK | Critical Mess
Charles Giuliano writes of the anthology, "No child aspires to grow up and be an art critic ... Like virtually everyone who answers to the tag of art critic I got there by luck and circumstance. Having washed out of the Institute of Fine Arts as a student of Egyptology, that’s another story, I answered an ad in the Village Voice and landed the job as director of an artist’s cooperative, Spectrum Gallery, on 57th street. This is when I first encountered the notion that there was a crisis in the field of art criticism."
Read the full review online at:
Read a transcript of an interview with Raphael Rubenstein at:
February 06, 2007
PROJECT | Ten by ten
As one of Los Angeles' foremost forward-thinking non-profit contemporary art spaces, LAXART offers access to a broad range of visual art, architecture and design. Uber is an artist-driven social network that gives users an opportunity to share their work in an environment that expands beyond the boundaries of the conventional gallery setting into a trans-national virtual realm.
Ten by Ten is where these strains of information intersect. Each artist and writer's Uber page is linked to the Ten by Ten space; it is a hub from which the Uber user can embark on any number of pathways. It's a place to experience art and writing, and also a forum that will foster further collaboration, camaraderie and discussion within Uber's diverse community of artists, musicians, makers and discerning media users. Future editions of the portfolio project will continue to feature new and emerging talent from within the community that is gathering at Uber, LAXART and Ten by Ten.
To enjoy Ten by Ten go to http://www.uber.com/ar
tFor more information on LAXART programming http://www.laxart.org
February 02, 2007
PUBLICATION | New writing in pylon
Andy Gracie: Symbiotic Circuits
by Mitchell Whitelaw
Beside Ourselves, Sometimes
Kris Cohen on Hamilton and Southern
Eureka Moments: A Background to aura, Sonic Augmented Reality by Steve Symons
By Helen Sloan
The texts will be published on the re-designed pylon website (in html and downloadable pdf formats).
For further information, please contact Michelle Hirschhorn, pylon project development manager:
January 29, 2007
NEW | Slart
Richard Minsky, an artist and founder of the Center for Book Arts in New York City, is launching the first magazine dedicated exclusively to the art scene in the burgeoning online universe of Second Life. Dubbed Slart -- as in Second Life Art -- the publication is designed to bring "real world art issues" into the virtual sphere, and to make sense of an imaginary art scene that already involves some 100 online galleries. Among the articles on tap for the premiere issue are "Will virtual artworks appreciate in value?" and "Is all virtual art illustration?"
January 19, 2007
MAGAZINE | Rouge, Issue 10
issue 10 (January 2007)
Contributor: Adrian Martin, Rouge Co-Editor
There is a ‘Japanese connection’ running through the new issue of the Melbourne-based, independently produced film/arts magazine ROUGE, which was recently described by the CHICAGO READER as "the best film magazine going that's exclusively online ... far and away the most international of film magazines in English ... attentive to what's going on in movies around the planet."
Young Japanese critic Kiyoaki Okubo writes about the reception of Mikio Naruse in USA in the ‘30s – and about a surprising link to American director John Ford. Japan’s greatest Ford scholar, Shigehiko Hasumi, writes about Portugal’s Pedro Costa. Costa himself speaks of his Masters – Eastern and Western – in a lecture delivered in Tokyo. And the workers at a Japanese multiplex figure in Selina Ou’s striking photograph, recently exhibited at the Sophie Gannon Gallery …
Costa returns in another thread: Miguel Mariás’ moving visual tribute to the recently deceased radical filmmaker Danièle Huillet. Also in the issue: Yvette Bíró on the Sarajevan film Grabavica; archivist Paolo Cherchi Usai on his foray into filmmaking, Passio (premiering in February at the Adelaide Film Festival); Julia Vassilieva on the remarkable recent Russian film 4; Adrian Martin on Terrence Malick; Ivone Marguiles on the ‘chambre Chantal Akerman’; Jonathan Rosenbaum on Indian director Ritwik Ghatak; Mark Rappaport on hidden details and relations in Sunset Boulevard; Nicole Brenez on the rediscovered British experimentalist/documentarian/scene-maker Peter Whitehead; and a jaunty introduction to the singular voice of Libération movie columnist Louis Skorecki … plus, in the RougeRouge close analysis section, Alain Masson from the long-running French magazine Positif on architecture, décor and space in Singin’ in the Rain.
All back issues of Rouge (co-edited by Helen Bandis, Adrian Martin & Grant McDonald) can be perused, free of charge, on-line.
January 18, 2007
EVENT | ARTEFIERA ART FIRST 2007
Books, conversations, meetings and debates about contemporary art
Bologna, 26 – 29 January 2007
For the community of modern and contemporary art experts and enthusiasts that visit ARTEFIERA ART FIRST each year, the numerous appointments in the programme are a pleasant tradition as well as a unique opportunity to exchange views with leading figures in the art world. ARTEFIERA ART FIRST 2007 will focus on books and conversations about contemporary art and will address topical themes and problems of contemporary art with the contribution of key international players.
More info online at:
January 11, 2007
VIDEO | Vulture on YouTube
December 30, 2006
BLOG | Critical Spatial Practice
THEORY | Jane Rendell
"My current research, Site Specific Writing: Art, Space and Criticism, draws on conversation as a mode for writing contemporary art criticism. The research draws on intellectual debates around space and subjectivity advanced by post-structuralists feminists such as Rosi Braidotti and demonstrates the importance of this work for spatialising art criticism, particularly Howard Caygill's speculative critique, Nicholas Bourriaud's relational aesthetics, and Mieke Bal's focalisation and encounter. Discussions by literary critics, for example, Italo Calvino and Roland Barthes, concerning the different subject identities or of a writer suggest new configurations for the positions a critic can adopt in relation to an artist, a work and the site of a work. With reference to the writings of Gloria Anzaldua, Hélene Cixous, bell hooks and Susan Rubin Sulieman, this research extends into art criticism the poetic possibilities offered by texts woven out of the autobiographical and the theoretical. It is important to note that conversation is not the subject of this research, but rather modes of conversation underlie, inform and become manifest through the research in three key ways: through voice, encounter and composition."
JOURNAL | Art-omma
December 27, 2006
OPPORTUNITY | European Journalism Fellowships
Thanks to the European Journalism Fellowships, 76 journalists from 27 nations have had an opportunity to pursue research in Berlin between 1999 and 2005. Reputable news organizations have granted leaves of absence to their journalists. Over the years, a network of journalists has emerged in Europe. Participants have developed heightened sensitivities for other perspectives and attitudes against the background of various cultures, and have developed into “Germany experts” who are capable of reporting competently about Germany in their home countries. All in all, the European Journalism Fellowships have contributed both to raising the quality of journalism and to European integration.
Each fellow pursues a custom-made program that is organized around a specific project defined by the applicant: an individual journalistic research project whose results will later be published. The objective of studies in Berlin is to broaden professional knowledge and specialized expertise while building upon previous journalistic experience. Fellows are free to take advantage of course offerings at the Berlin Universities, and to participate in events organized by other scholarly and cultural institutions in the German capital. At the same time, journalists have an opportunity to meet colleagues from Eastern and Western Europe and the United States.
To apply for fellowships, candidates must submit the following typewritten documents in either German or English: a completed application form a curriculum vitae copies of academic diplomas, certificates etc. 2 letters of recommendation (in English or German) a selection of articles, books, or other samples of applicant's work proof of German language skills (by DAAD or Goethe-Institute); a proposal summarizing the applicant’s individual research project (3 to 5 pages) review of research proposal by expert scientist or professor.
Deadline: 15/01/07 - receipt deadline
Freie Universität Berlin
Journalisten-Kolleg der Freien Universität Berlin
3D - 14195 Berlin
tel: +49 - 30 - 8385-3315
fax: :+49 - 30 - 8385-3305
BLOG | CultureGrrl
December 22, 2006
PUBLICATION | Artreader published
Edited by Lee Weng Choy, co-Artistic Director of the innovative Singaporean contemporary arts centre, Artreader includes reviews, interviews, features and focus pieces. It looks back on the history of APT5, and to its future in the new gallery. Writers include Jon Bywater, Ulanda Blair, Ellie Buttrose, Lilly Hibberd, Stella Brennan, Jessica Campbell, Holly Arden and Kris Carlon.
Ten thousand copies of Artreader are now available at select venues around Australia, New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific region.
For more information, a list of distribution points, or to read an online version:
ARTICLE | Wall texts in galleries
Date: 21 December 2006
Writing a caption can be an art in itself
Didactic doesn't have to mean dumbing down in art galleries, writes Rosemary Sorensen
IN the 19th century, art museums described as didactic the printed text on the gallery wall identifying a painting or sculpture. "Art was meant to enlighten the masses, improve their social behaviours," says Lynne Seear, deputy director of the Queensland Art Gallery, "so the didactic was about educating, which is probably not applicable now."
Full article online at:
December 10, 2006
PUBLISH | Some URLS
Two European Art Publishing Houses ...
Aimed at all those who love, study, teach and work in the field of "Fine Arts" and the symbolic thinking which accompanies it, with a particular focus on architecture, art and design. ME targets the world of contemporary creation, yet never refrains from touching on major figures or historical movements.
And one art journal ...
Issue #21 of the magazine and a debate on the cultural scene in Brussels. The magazine has been away from the scene for a while after Jan Fabre, who founded it in 1998, decided to interrupt its publication last year. In April 2006, Charlotte Bonduel, Luigi di Corato, Giovanni Iovane, Frank Maes, Nicola Setari and Marleen Wynants accepted Jan Fabre’s challenge to continue the project and compose the new editorial board. If you missed the launch of issue # 20 (it came out in June and was presented in Milan at the Pavilion for Contemporary Art, in Basel at the Contemporary Art Fair, in Antwerp at the Museum of Fine Arts, in Munich at the Lenbachhaus and in Turin at the Contemporary Art Fair) you cannot miss the launch of issue # 21 at Argos in Brussels.
December 09, 2006
EXPERIMENT | LAB MAG
But, the publication is more than a little unstable. It is always shifting, as works are added, filtered and reworked. By privileging its electronic format, and dividing each of the contributions into separate chapters, LAB MAG encourages an active participation by the reader, selecting which pieces constitute their copy of the magazine, which are printed and in what order. The publication then is a loose constellation of ideas, printed occasionally but never on a set schedule. Every copy is a new reading of the project.
Nine characteristics begin to describe its point of departure. LAB MAG is:
1. A Framework, Not a Content
2. A Collection and A Collector
3. Portable Document Format
4. Printed On-The-Fly
5. Organized by the reader
8. Never Completely New, Never Completely Old
9. Always, Just-In-Time
LAB MAG will be available:
1. As a free PDF from welcometolab.org, which can be sorted and printed by the reader, to any scale.
2. In a variety of print formats using diverse methods of reproduction and distribution.
Contributions include development notes and images from Thomas Hirschhorn; an essay on appropriative politics from Seth Price; new work by Renée Green, Jason Dodge and Johannes Wohnseifer; projects by architect-artists Pedro Reyes and N55; posters by poet Jena Osman; a Kelley Walker spread; graphics from design innovators Experimental Jetset; and a LAB inspired play on old work from Pierre Bismuth.
The publication is co-edited by Adam Pendleton and Bartholomew Ryan, and designed by David Reinfurt and Sarah Gephart of O-R-G.
December 08, 2006
IN PROGRESS | GOMA & State Library of Qld
Both are astounding buildings. They have the kind of monumentality that we have come to expect of 'great public buildings'. They are certainly sights. Like a number of people I have spoken to, I can't help but respond more warmly to the State Library for its democratic ambience, its intimate flexibility and its networked spatiality.
GOMA is certainly a majestic building to behold. However, I couldn't help but think, once inside that it had the spatial quality and feel of a shopping centre. Perhaps that's because I have been reading about Jon Jerde's retail architecture. We enter into a large atrium and are then transported up escalators, after which spaces are hived off into multiple boxes. It has the kind of circular peramabulation and faux glam experience of a shopping centre. The volume diminishes into those smaller spaces although not in an intimate-looking-at-art way. As we walk, we circle back to the massive atrium space that dissects the building like a gorge. Looking across this while riding the escalator, there is an edifice of blank white wall. It continually emphasises the grandeur of its scale - the smallness of us and the art it houses. Space seems to leak and seep away. This is quite unlike the spaces of the existing gallery, which in my viewings always seemed to recede. They gave that all important sense of framing - it is a gallery afterall and its frame matters.
Walking through, there is certainly the experience of a building and that it a worthy experience in some respects. However, it is a building that emphasises itself at every opportunity - dominating the art. For all its volume, the artwork seems crowded, sometimes hanging in what is more like a corridor or passage way than a work of starchitecture. Here is a building that says rather a lot about the state government's desire for grandiosity. This is most strongly indicated in the placement of the signage for Indigenous Australian Art gallery - right next to some toilets. In fact a particularly powerful work by Vernon Ah Kee, featuring a series of images, is hung with the toilet entrance smack bang in the middle of it. You have to wonder, when so much about curating is couched in terms of care and thoughtfulness, about the thought that went into that.
To be continued.