NEW FRIDAY - CATALOGUE ESSAY

 

Works HERE

 

Social pics HERE

 

 

 

"We must become preoccupied with and even dazzled by the space and objects of our everyday life." Allan Kaprow[1]

 

New Friday is a Wandering Room project that presents the work of six artists to the dining audience of Piaf and the pedestrians of the South Bank precinct, Brisbane, QLD. All of the exhibiting artists are former graduates of the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University. The overarching theme that brings these artists together within the context of New Friday is their interest in transforming and subverting the everyday.

 

Perhaps the most obvious appeal to the everyday begins with the very space in which these works are presented. Gone are the conventional white walls of the galleries we so like to fill, and reversed is the ceremony of filing towards the exhibition space. Here, the usual static show becomes an experience. Working within self constructed cavities and the spaces we pass daily, these artists purview is to embrace audience and community without institutional bias. What better day to present these works - Friday, a good day for beginnings, curiosity and engagement; and the 13th, a lucky number in Peru, Italy, India and China.

 

As a consequence of their engagement with the everyday, the artists exhibiting in New Friday share a temporal and non-object dimension that raises issues pertaining to skill and artistic product. For some, the absence of skill and labour in contemporary art is a quandary. The phrase "I could do that" is a common reaction to work that lacks evidence of traditional time consuming practices, such as painting and sculpting. Since the end of the nineteenth century, however, artists have circumvented the need for mimesis and embraced more eccentric and plastic definitions of what defines art. In the process, what constitutes artistic "labour" has expanded beyond practices that result in commodifiable art, and to this day new definitions of art continue to challenge the elite circles that traditional art still represents.

 

The issue of labour is central to the work of artists in New Friday and most evident in Eric Bridgeman's performance where he is both artist and Aussie labourer. His fictitious character of Boi Boi ironically twists the notion of artistic practice into a jumbled performance of unskilled manual labour servicing everyday needs. Traditional divisions between the mental and manual unite in a clownish vein when we witness his over dramatic enactments of daily activity, such as untangling electrical cords and inflating balloons. While the work examines "archetypal fantasies of Aussie tradesmen and attempts to deconstruct the regulation of normative and socially sanctioned protocols or race and gender"[2], it also returns to the traditional role of the artist: Boi Boi works hard all night to make his art.

 

Historically, this concern with artistic labour was a unifying characteristic of the otherwise diverse field of post World War II avant-garde art. In Helen Molesworth's essay "Work Ethic” (2003) she quotes the critic Leo Steinberg's description of Robert Morris' Box With the Sound of Its Own Making (1961): A plain wooden box and a tape recording of the sawing and the hammering that put it together.[3] The work strips the adverb from the definition of art. A thing done- period".

 

This attention to basic construction is evident in Madelin Bouwman's work where she relinquishes traditional artistic materials for more industrial materials. Bouwman embraces the idea of working by hand and producing 'objects', yet the materials she collects to do so are usually used for binding, attaching, fastening or gluing. Her visual "list making"[4] is somewhat reminiscent of the artist Richard Serra's "Verb Lists” which feature actions such as: to spill, to impress, to knot or to suspend. However, Bowman's focus on what holds things together In the everyday world projects beyond action to an investigation of their materiality, in which modular components compile to suggests the repetitive strictures of labour that might occur on a factory assemblage line today.

 

Similarly, Nancy Stillianos continues this investigation when she reassembles boxes and packages that have been broken down by the businesses surrounding Piaf. The ephemeral nature of deconstruction/reconstruction/deconstruction underscores how fundamental the experiential is to her work, her piece does not exist without its performance. As Kaprow suggested, experience is physical not intellectual. Of his ephemeral work Fluids, Kaprow said "an ironic and humorous (reflection), perhaps poignant of our whole culture, which is sustaining itself by increasing, each decade, the number of its obsolescent functions”.[5] Here, Stilianos' work highlights the repetition of everyday life, and the superfluous packaging of consumer culture; is it all that necessary?

 

This emphasis on temporality is also present in the films of New Friday in which concerns about leisure, work and play feature prominently. Natasha Cordasic's film Waiting for New Friday 2009 documents Mr and Mrs Clause waiting for days amongst random and obsolete objects. In today's society, Santa equates to the promise of objects and the beginning of materialistic desire. Cordasic describes their wait, and all waiting, as "the ordering of western public space that is uni-informational and results in the death or the subject".[6]

 

Projected in the same space, Andrew Forsyth's film examines the relationship between human beings and objects, and how objects mediate thoughts through learning and play. In Johan Huizinga's Homo Ludens, a book which broaches this very issue, he states "Play is older than culture".[7] Indeed, play has been identified as central to the development of children and general adult mental health. Yet In today's society the role of play has either been somewhat denigrated or professionalised to the point where it becomes business, not play. Of Forsyth's film we may question: Is his work play?

 

In Chloe Cogle and Luke Walsh's projections of old, decaying and forgotten slides they interfere and disrupt the audio-visual through their use of mirrors and glass; and through sounds that echo or seem delayed. Together, these random effects allow chance and fate to dictate what they term their "unreliable narrator” [8]stories. What seem to be quite poetic narratives possibly unfold on a more serious level, as metaphors of documented histories which reintroduce the voices of others. Like whispering ghosts, the disruptive audio-visual effects suggest that those who might have been otherwise absent are now present.

 

Together, the artworks of New Friday playfully bring art into a broader social realm. The social space of Piaf is the ideal venue for these artists to present their work - work that gives pride or place to the everyday, expands our notion or artistic labour to embrace spontaneity and play, and most of all, bridges divides between artists and their local community.

 

- Madeleine Kelly (February 2009)

 

[1] Allan Kaprow cited n Molesworth Work Ethic, The Baltimore Museum of Art, Pennsylvania, 2003, p171.

[2] The artist's statement to The Wanderlng Room.

[3] Cited in Molesworth, p25.

[4] The artist's statement to The Wandering Room.

[5] Cited in Molesworth, p173.

[6] The artist's statement to The Wanderlng Room.

[7] Cited in Molesworth, p192.

[8] The artist's statement to The Wanderlng Room.