Thursday, December 17, 2009

Immaculate Conception

Tacita Dean, Tate Christmas Tree 2009
In sound, in text, in image - and in concept - there is a moment when the tuning seems to have found that perfect note. Without static, free from unnecessary embellishment, focussed and pure, there is the sense of an immaculate moment. Tacita Dean's Tate Christmas tree seems such a moment. Like Dean's work in film and photography, the tree embodies aspects of memory, of pasts present. The tree is an iconic Christmas tree - a Nordmann fir - decorated only with candles. Made from beeswax, the candles are calibrated to mark the diurnal fading of light. Lit at 4pm when the light fades in the gallery, they burn for precisely 2 hours until the gallery closes, underscoring the passage through twilight. The lighting of the candles, their eschewing of technology, and the image of the candlelight, suffuses the tree with the ritual of Christmas's past.
Tacita Dean: "I was struck when I arrived in Berlin by the simplicity of Christmas there. I felt the Germans had managed to hold onto something of its purity and magic despite commercial pressures. As many of my films encompass twilight and the transition from day to night, it seems appropriate to light the candles at this moment of each day."
Seasons Greetings ...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Surface Paradise

Gitta Gschwendtner, Animal Wall, Cardiff Bay, Wales

The surfaces which surround our bodies in space are imbued with a phenomenological potentiality. Surface as skin presents the possibility of intensification of moisture, dryness, gravity, lightness, being. And the surfaces in themselves breathe, inhabit, co-habit. Gitta Gschwendtner's Animal Wall provides space for bats and birds. As a faunal parallel to the adjacent housing development, 1000 nesting boxes are provided in the eerie eyrie wall. The wall of R&SIE[N]'s 'I'm lost in Paris' house infuses the surface with flora, where some 1,200 ferns are grown hydroponically, with the fruit-like glass vessels feeding them with bacteria, nutrients and rainwater. Each wall provides a dissolution of the thick black line of separation, and presents an encounter zone.

R&SIE[N], 'I'm Lost in Paris' House, Paris, France

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Beauty All Over Again

Richard Wright

Richard Wright, guitarist with Correcto, has won the Turner Prize ... with a return to beauty. Painting that is all over the wall, and painting that is soon all over. The ephemerality of the painting is fundamental to its beauty, the fleeting beauty of that which passes. Reminiscent of Oscar Muñoz's painting with water there is a poignancy in that which is made to not endure, the intensification of the experiential, such that it must be fully consumed by the senses as the mind is always already aware that this is a fleeting immersion ... somehow a counterpoint to Jorge Otero-Pailos' wall castings, the dialogue with the wall, the direct engagement. In Wright's case to always be painted over, in Otero-Pailos's to be a momentary embrace which yields the trace.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Love and Landscape

Fifth panel of Colin McCahon (1958) Northland Panels ['a landscape with too few lovers']

Tears on leaving. Not a lover, but a landscape. The childhood landscape. The one which was loved too little then. Resenting its insularity, its rurality, its lack of all that was in Other Places, let alone Overseas. Not the landscape of hill, cloud, scarred paddock, not McCahon's Northland, but the epigraph is still apt. Instead it is mountains, sea, one road in, one road out. On this last visit the landscape sulked, the mountains hid behind the curtains of cloud. The sea glowered and slopped about, uncooperative. However much amends might have be sought, for the lack of loving, an audience was not even granted. Can one betray a landscape? Will a landscape forgive?