Nov 4, 2015

Poem #23

     feeding Lake Disappointment

 

              scabbed. flat. scaly. but fabling.

creek sutures. dances between

          these. edgeless. scats. unswathing,

saline. and crow’s breath. erem-

 

                  ophila. smears. palm of land.

while grit. unpastel. starts hard.

bleached. pewless. and brailled so. sand,

scree. frail sky. but unfleshed. shards

 

                             of. urgeless. periphery

greets. these two. cirrus fingered

                        just. cathedraled. confetti

blurs. two states. uncussed. lingers

 

  so. shushed. on the tongue. and thieves,

staveless. states of being. grieves



   Kevin Gillam

Aug 29, 2015

Sawtooth Review #19

Bruce loves Michelle

Oana Paula Vainer (GER/ROU)

7 August - 29 August 2015

Review by: Tanya Bailey

This month the Portal at Sawtooth ARI took me to Paris and presented a different take on the phenomenon of the “love locks” that tourists had been attaching to the Pont des Arts bridge.

 For years loved-up visitors from around the world wrote their names on padlocks to symbolise their passion, attached the locks to the wire mesh of the iconic bridge then tossed the key into the River Seine so that nothing could ever break the bond. However, such was the weight of the thousands of locks that part of the bridge began to collapse and after petitions from locals the city decided to remove the whole lot and replace the wire with Perspex.

Before the locks disappeared, a determined artist residing at the Cité Internationale des Arts taught herself (with the help of “DO IT YOURSELF internet tutorial”) how to pick the locks and then undid and took as many as she could. In her own words “This demand a lot of time, exercise, skill and sensitivity”.

In her video piece Bruce loves Michelle this Romanian/German artist, Oana Paula Vainer, shows herself linking together a series of love locks to form a necklace and then placing it around her neck and wearing it. It made me smile and it made me think.

This work got me thinking about tension between longevity and the ephemeral – in passion, in love, in art. As these thousands of couples engraved, painted or scribbled their names on a lock symbolic of their undying love, did they have any idea that it wasn’t to last forever? Did they even consider that it may be removed by the city or even a self taught lock picking artist? Probably not.

I wondered what Stephan and Sonaly would have thought about their carefully engraved lock ending up in a necklace. Would they care anymore than the couples whose clumsily penned names had faded or rubbed off their locks would? Would they be quite pleased that at least their love symbol was not removed en masse and melted down with all the rest?

I also wondered what the artist’s motivation was. Perhaps she disliked the whole love lock phenomenon and found it ugly and invasive (like so many Parisians did) and wanted to play a part in removing them. Or perhaps she wanted to save as many as she could from an ignominious end, repurpose them and give them a new kind of permanence. I kept thinking about this work for days after seeing it.

I was eventually inspired to write this review on a recent morning run as I passed under Kings Bridge here in Launceston and noticed that the street art that used to coat the bridge supports and pylons is being covered over with stark white paint. Our iconic bridge too is undergoing a transformation and a removal of works that would likely have great meaning to some people but be despised by others. While not at the same scale as the Pont des Arts, the painting of Kings Bridge also points to the tension between maintaining heritage and supporting spontaneous popular culture.

Opinions are obviously divided both here and abroad as to what is appropriate where in our cities. For a local point of view on the Parisian love lock phenomena check out Sawtooth Director Patrick Sutczak’s blog from Paris. For a home viewing of Bruce loves Michelle, see the artist’s  website where you will also find a guide to picking love locks made by the artist (with the disclaimer that the information given in the video is for people interested in love locks, not for any kind of thieves/burglars!) http://www.oanavainer.de/bruce%20loves%20michelle.html.

Jul 19, 2015

Sawtooth Review #18

Sweet Mysterious

Simone Hooymans (NL) Mari Kvien Brunvoll (NO)

3 July - 25 July 2015

Review by: Tanya Bailey

A brilliant new addition to Sawtooth ARI gallery has opened up this month: The Portal. A reverse-tardis like space (it looks smaller on the inside than from the outside) that was a cupboard and is now a theatrette for experiencing international video art. Inspired. While the space is small, it does not feel claustrophobic and much goes on in there....

Stepping into The Portal for the first time transported me into the world of Sweet Mysterious, an animated piece by Dutch artist Simone Hooymans with music by Norwegian singer and composer Mari Kvien Brunvoll. The first sequence I saw was beating human hearts morphing into trees. With me being a plant ecologist with a passion for trees, this had me enchanted from the start. Indeed the whole piece kept me transfixed as it flowed from waterscapes to landscapes to bits of both, all tied together with the repeating themes of hearts and trees and sea creatures. I stayed around and watched it from beginning to end again.

The music was pulsating, sometimes ethereal and sometimes piercing. It surrounded me in the small space and played a major part in the show. The audio blended beautifully with the visuals, sweeping me along with its rhythm. The hearts beat along in time with the music as they transform into octopuses, their arteries become tentacles, which in turn become tree roots and branches and back to hearts and arteries again.

Throughout the piece we are rhythmically submerged underwater, brought back up through the surface again, taken through a portal in a heart to a pulsating desert then mountain landscape and back to the water again. The intensity of the music matches the busyness of each scene, reaching a crescendo half way through when the screen is full of bright beating hearts and translucent sea creatures pulsating in an underwater scene. From these intense heights we are slowly soothed by a calming desert scene until finally we arrive back at a single tree in a similar scene to that with which the piece starts. A beautiful, engaging journey through the artists’ imaginations indeed.

As I stepped out of the Portal back into the chilled yet warm atmosphere of This must be the place in the Sawtooth Space gallery, I felt happy and heartened by what I had experienced in there. Bring on the next journey to places yet unknown...

Jan 28, 2015

Finalists

2014 Sawtooth Writing Prize Finalists are...

Poetry Prize Finalists
Ryllton Viney
Karen Knight
Kevin Gillam
Peter Schonefeld
Ross Jackson
Luke Wren Reid
Bert Spinks
Lyndon Riggall
Louise Oxley


Review Prize Finalists
Tanya Bailey
Brigitte Trobiiani
Mara Schneiders
Marcus Colla
Lois Murphy
Luke Wren Reid

Folio Prize Finalists 
(Finalists for this prize are chosen for a folio of 3 or more poetry or review entries)
Tanya Bailey 
Brigitte Trobbiani
Ross Jackson
Luke Wren Reid
Karen Knight
Kevin Gillam

The winners of each category will be announced at the opening of our February 2015 program.
6pm, Friday 6 February 2015.

Sawtooth Poem #22

Notes from the inland
Poem by: Louise Oxley
Inspired byThe notes by Troy Ruffels as part of the Sawtooth ARI Fundraiser
August 2014


Troy Ruffels, The Notes (2014) Edition 12 Variable dimensions 60x60/107x107cm, digital print on aluminium. Courtesy of Bett Gallery.

 

When he goes into that country,

a man loses his thinking

- Patrick Mung Mung

 

 

A tree opens

a crack in the landscape –

 

stars bolt from daybreak

and earth themselves in the underworld.

 

Look long enough

and creatures will emerge from the walls

 

to spin webs of coppery light

over tussock and spinifex,

 

cloud will rise and run

from the smouldering fire-stick

 

of the sun-woman,

long-eared bat will flap out of the gorge.

 

I will sit here

until the day’s last cockatoo has screeched,

 

sand frog has dug himself out

and sinks to his belly in a rockhole,

 

the moon-man has torched the hills

and taken back the stars

 

and I have held my tongue long enough

to lose the names

 

I have learned this country with

Dec 9, 2014

Sawtooth Poem #21

We Write With Our Skin.
Poem by: Lyndon Riggall
Inspired byA body residing by Wendy Morrow (TAS)
January 2014
Sawtooth ARI

Photograph by Mel de Ruyter 

We write with our skin.

In sound and in silence;

Every movement, every moment,

A tapestry.

The story told in a hundred

layers and lines, creaks and echoes.

We write with our skin

To find who we are.

Dec 7, 2014

SAWTOOTH REVIEW #17

Geocritical: don’t just agitate – decorate 
Sue Henderson (TAS)
@Sawtooth pop-up #exhibition, Sawtooth ARI
28 November - 20 December 2014
Review by: Lois Murphy
Photography by: Mel De Ruyter

Melting into the Landscape

It could be argued that Sue Henderson wields paint and paper as if they were sculptural mediums, the 2D works she produces are so textured and embracing. She describes herself as being ‘fascinated with how the material qualities of ink and paint might reflect perceptions, histories and experiences of places’, and this preoccupation is beautifully articulated in the painted work currently shrouding the walls of the Sawtooth Gallery. The paintings contain such palpable life, and have such tactile depth to them, that the boxlike white space is arrestingly transformed into a surprisingly seductive, tactile vista.

‘Geocritical: don’t just agitate – decorate’ is a wholly appropriate title for this installation, which manages to achieve both directives, fusing the idea into the work, and the work into the space, with striking effect. Rather than creating ‘in your face’ pieces that require the translation of an artist’s statement, Henderson’s installation melds her ideas skillfully with the work itself, allowing the viewer to literally sink into it. There is no discord; the walls metamorphose into the paintings, which are more like a textured, encompassing landscape than a two dimensional representation.

In the panels the contrasts between subtle and vibrant colours are suggestive of variations in climate and times of day; each work is like journeying through a landscape as the day or season flows over it, or the reach of light transforms it. Trees appear and fade, their foliage blurring into the landscape, while sudden chasms of white cut through the lushness, stark reminders of the unfathomable depths of the natural environment, its dangerous and unpredictable edges. Here is nature in its rawness, gorgeous but also remote, full of menace.

The unpredictability of nature is echoed in the production and presentation of the series of lichens; stunning individual pieces of controlled chaos, which have been pasted onto the walls in tightly regimented lines, beautifully embodying both the agitation and the decoration of the exhibition’s title. Each lichen is uniform in size and shape, but each one is handpainted and contains its own unique organic mayhem, its individual life cycle through colour, allowing them to both enhance and overcome the formally structural, ‘decorative’ aspect of their display.

Sue Henderson’s GeoCritical exhibition is sensational in a literal sense; it takes the viewer on a journey that is both visual and sensory, another aspect of her sculptural skill, in producing work of such incredible depth. The sense of place created is mesmerising. At times you feel like you are perched on a cliff face, with a landscape stretched in front of you; other panels enclose you within the stifling clutch of a jungle terrain, where the air is thick with the sensation of colour and fertility; you brush against the clammy wall of a rock path, or emerge into the entombing, subdued dimness of a cave. The alluring conversion of gallery walls into visions of natural landscapes that are both sublime and claustrophobic is masterful, a powerful blend of artistry and technical craftsmanship.

The result is an exhibition that is transformative, transporting the viewer into a symbiotic world where the combination of the agitative and the decorative is both harmonious and embracing. A world to sink into, and an installation worth experiencing.

SAWTOOTH REVIEW #18


Sentimental Blokes
Shannon Field (TAS)
28 November - 20 December 2014
Middle Gallery, Sawtooth ARI
Review by: Luke Wren Reid

Photograph by Mel de Ruyter 

I was asked once by a Kung Fu teacher in my first ever class what the words Kung Fu meant.  I imagined flying enchanted swords and magical punches that could shatter rock.  The teacher looked at me rather wryly and said. “It means hard work”.

I hate the word review, especially when it relates to art.  Because art is not glamorous, it is not the sum total of what you see in a gallery, nor should it ever be considered so.  Real art is hard work.  It is lived work.  Not a peanut in the corner of a white room with a university approved justification as to why it matters.  Art is not good grades nor is it good reviews or even praise.  It is the hard work of the artists pregnant with horror, chaos and great beauty birthing anew the world in which they exist.

I normally walk through galleries like some lost guest in a hotel who has chanced on some strangers wedding and in the excitement been overlooked long enough to get some free booze and a canapé. 

I did however stop to contemplate for sometime the installation of Shannon Field.  I even skimmed through the piece of paper on the wall.

What struck me were the group of crude little men with erect wooden cocks, multicoloured legs and infantile eyeballs buried under their primitive painted skulls. 

He had invoked the wickedness and sincerity of anglo men marching in circles stitching together a collage of patriotism and homesickness; with some long lost sense of purpose, of escape.  I saw the words man and convict, violence, Tasmania.  I have seen these men, I see them every day, babies who have built bodies around some post colonial wound.  Hidden. 

I am very much a product of my Tasmanian heritage, the displacement, the anger and the isolation.  I wondered if the naïve eyes poking out of these primordial skulls were as much a metaphor for the power of unrealised immature men to cause suffering.  As it was for the convicts hiding from a brutal past.  We never escape the carapace of injustice until we ourselves are put on trial.  The sentence is the Kung Fu, the hard work undergone by the artist.

Never resolved until babe is cut from it’s false history and made to grow into a product of inclusion in it’s future.

I don’t endeavour to comment on the good or bad of the work.  If I liked it or not.  But I like contemplation, and these strange devils made me think.

SAWTOOTH POEM #20

Charles Gould in the Cuvier Valley
Poem by: Bert Spinks
Inspired by: Papering Topographies by Sue Henderson (TAS)
3 October - 25 October 2014
Front Gallery, Sawtooth ARI
Photograph by Mel de Ruyter 

The heat beneath the surface squeezed itself to life.
Edifices of russet rock heaved themselves up through sea.
Time swept the upmost strata away;
the scrape of glaciers carved the valleys;
a geologist stood in its midst
and saw stones more precious than gold
for the fact of their being the memory of a planet.

All things ached and throbbed,
were folded and twisted,
like the product of aeons of Chinese burns, or age.
Lichen, child of a mixed marriage,
layered and multi-coloured,
sprawled on every surface
as if searching for a landmark. Or to become one,

“Every landscape,” the geologist thought, “is a living thing.”

Sawtooth Poem #19

Poem by: Luke Wren Reid
Inspired by: 2014 RACT Insurance Tasmanian Portraiture Prize
31 October - 22 November 2014
Front & Middle Gallery, Sawtooth ARI
Photograph by Mel de Ruyter  

I don’t go to enough exhibitions
When I do its usually just for the free drinks

I wander aimlessly and stare at things
Trying to avoid eye contact with people

Who stand between me and the bar

I feel bad for the artists
Mingling

Having to speak to people
And explain the unexplainable

I have done it myself
Exhibited, I left the opening

And cried

Because I just wanted to be left alone
But artists exhibit that’s what they do

Sometimes people even buy things
Sometimes people care

But mostly they just amble past
Staring

Wishing they were a musician

This is the terminal condition
Artists have ears in their eyes that listen
To the songs hung like voices of innocent children

On white walls
To be picked apart or ignored

So mostly I go to galleries
For the free drinks
And wander like a drunk uncle
At a zoo

Sawtooth Poem #18

Statues
Poem by: Luke Wren Reid
Inspired by: Sentimental Blokes by Shannon Field (TAS)
28 November - 20 December 2014
Middle Gallery, Sawtooth ARI
Photograph by Mel de Ruyter 

These tortured wooden statues
With baby blue eyes

Were not born
They were carved from the cunt

Bound to it
By the purple yoke

In remembrance
We choke the cord between our legs

Though it never breaks
We stand like carved statues
With baby blue eyes

And wait like convicts in bondage
Bound to cruelty
Until all pleasure is guilty

The original boat people toiling in camps
Waiting for the father to see us

It was purple yoke, the umbilical noose
The furious violent cable
The ever extending Colonial erection

That brought us
Here

Our dreamtime serpent has but one colour
Though it lies breathing in our bloodlines

The arterial coil
The knot in the guts of every colonial man
Forever rusts

Until we honour
The sacred connection to the Medean mother
We are toiling in a foreign womb
Not yet born

Surrogate children without skill to love her
Wounded men
Building bodies like barges

Tortured wooden statues
With baby blue eyes

Sawtooth Poem #17

Rock paper scissors wood
Poem by: Luke Wren Reid
Inspired by: Sentimental Blokes by Shannon Field (TAS)
28 November - 20 December 2014
Middle Gallery, Sawtooth ARI
Photograph by Mel de Ruyter 

The primordial wand
What would deliver life
Between broken fingers drowned

In rivers of misery
The desolation of the holy

Cocks cut like knives
Shrouded with pleasure
So many innocent eyes
Blinded with terror

The purple yoke, the balls and chain
A chromosome, a letter in difference
Written in slavery
Carved into modern human existence
Erased from history 

Xx two fallen crucifixes
X and a why have we burned our women
As witches 

Why have we enslaved, tortured and trafficked
The sum total of our very existence
Like poor currency, loose change
Though the profit befits us 

Millions of unwritten apologies
Can’t buy back the cruelty of indifference
Every finger that searches without invitation
Is a digit on an insurmountable scale of damnation 

In Australia weekly two by two we count them
But there are not enough fingers on all the hands
That exist or have ever existed
That can account for the horrors these dollars
From willing fingers
Have inflicted

The many bloody roads to hell
Are paved with blind eyes turning
The railings quiver with excitement
While the red lights like devils eyes are ever lit
And burning 

Rock, paper, scissors, wood
Is always played with a fist
let them be raised for once
in protest
not violence

Sawtooth Poem #16

You can't get sick on Saturday Sawtooth
Poem by: Luke Wren Reid
Inspired by: the 2014 Artistic Program
Photograph by Mel de Ruyter of our December 2014 Program

To appreciate art is to appreciate death
When you stand before it you are paying homage the life that was saved
In its creation  

Which is why I can’t come to your exhibition today
I am a million broken pieces
Still, without a meaning  

Clumsily yet lovingly repeating
Word by word
Tile by tile
A reconstruction, a renovation  

I wondered if the most beautiful artworks
Are mandalas broken into thousands of shards
Reunited by the loving repetition of small insignificant movements
By pairs of hands that keep falling in love
Every time they meet
As if it were the first time  

My hands are in an abusive relationship
With one another
There have been instances of domestic violence of late
There has been talk of a separation
But dividing up the house has been a nightmare  

Surrender to the repetition, the chaos
Sailing or drowning, you can be precious cargo
Or an ocean of mystery filled with artefacts and undiscovered species  

When I write I’m not digging for skeletons
I’m panning for the gold in my veins
If you want the rare and beautiful gems  

You need to be the mountain
And climb over yourself, scale the heights, plant some flags on your peaks
Be the first to get there
Take a mental picture  

If there is an avalanche on the way down
Admire it for its power
You might be buried for a while      

 

 

Nov 26, 2014

2014 Sawtooth Honours Award

Congratulations to Anna Van Stralen

 

This award is presented to a Visual Arts Honours candidate for an outstanding body of work as selected by the members of the SAWTOOTH ARI board.

The award itself provides an opportunity for the selected artist to exhibit in the 2015 program and covers the exhibition rental fee.
.

This award is made possible by a generous donation with the specific intent of recognising an Honours candidate from the Inveresk Campus of TCOTA.

SAWTOOTH REVIEW #15

Papering Topographies
Sue Henderson (TAS)
Sawtooth ARI, Front Gallery
3 October - 25 October 2014
Review by: Brigitte Trobbiani
Photography by: Mel De Ruyter


Papering Topographies 
literally and physically transformed the Front Gallery at Launceston’s Sawtooth ARI, creating a whimsical, forest perspective of a gallery landscape.

Transforming the Front Gallery into a figurative forest and landscape, Henderson’s collaborative use of Chinese rice paper, careful application of ink and precision of application, impressively represented the means and limitations of an exhibition. Part fine art, with elements of the popularised street art paste-ups, Henderson’s work captured a classical landscape approach with contemporary medium; transforming the ways in which the viewer engages with and translates an artwork. Simplicity at it’s best, Papering Topographies perfectly captures its viewer, sending them into a foreign place, familiar to their childhood yet removed from the environment they’re actually in.

Henderson’s artwork extends over the four walls of the Front Gallery space, creating two different landscapes within. The two longer walls feature a detailed forest image towering over the height of the gallery walls while the walls, which share the New Media gallery and the Middle gallery, feature an almost collage-like portrayal of a moss image. The collage pieces are reminiscent of fine art watercolour works with elements of Monet’s gardens (perhaps best recognised as a detail of Monet’s work) as well as the simple and effective work of Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama and her dots.  

Henderson so effortlessly creates a piece of work which is annoying because of its simplicity. She has managed to intrigue and ignites the viewer through a simple repetitive and considered notion of landscape achieved through her delicacy to the medium and consideration of size, space and scale.

 

Nov 26, 2014

SAWTOOTH REVIEW #16

The Fall of Icarus
Daniel Savage (ACT)
Sawtooth ARI, New Media Gallery
3-25 October 2014
Review by: Brigitte Trobbiani
Photography by: Mel De Ruyter

For two of the four weeks that The Fall of Icarus was presented, I gallery sat in the Pop Up Gallery, listening to the sound track accompanying the video on loop for five hours.

And while I can admit that the looping of such an emotive and draining audio left me feeling detached during the day and contemplative, the audio itself helped to strengthen my interests within the piece itself. The Fall of Icarus directly references the Greek Myth of Icarus who flew too close to the sun. This is strong and evident from the minute the viewer experiences the video and relevant sound track. Continuing on the reference and use of metaphor is the influence of the artist’s own experience which perfectly captures the essence of Icarus’ own fall, an experience which was similarly experienced by Savage himself.

The artwork was both beautiful and haunting at once. Yet if the viewer hadn’t known about Savage’s experience and the immediacy of the project to his own accident, maybe they’d only think it were beautiful, or just haunting. The influence of knowing is impactful in any case when reflecting on artwork. This is obvious to both my studies in Contemporary Art and my interests within the industry. We learn and consider the influence of the artist’s own identity and how this is impactful and reflecting within the artwork itself. In Savages case, I wonder if had I experienced the piece prior to knowing, what and how I would perceive the piece itself.

On one of the Saturdays, a mother and her young daughter came through Sawtooth, slowly taking their time throughout the spaces and then finally back to the Pop Up Gallery where I was sitting. The girl of four or five asked me whether Savage was sleeping and whether the feathers were hurting him as they fell one by one onto his entire body. She continued suggesting that maybe he was sleeping and comfortable there. 

SAWTOOTH REVIEW #14

It Is Not It That We See
Curated by Liam James (ACT)
Sawtooth ARI, Front Gallery
4 July - 26 July 2014
Review by: Marcus Colla
Photography by: Mel De Ruyter

The following is a condensed version of a catalogue essay for a Sawtooth show curated by Liam James, for which the curator invited me to discuss photographic themes related to the diverse works displayed.

 It is not it that we see – Observations of the Observer

Long has it been observed that the photograph conveys more than the image itself. It fools, it interrogates, it illuminates and it awakens. Ostensibly, it reflects reality, and thus the straw- photographer’s task amounts to little more than that of a conduit. But what self-respecting artist would ever be concerned with anything so tedious and rudimentary as the real world? Or, indeed, as the more philosophically-inclined photographer may query, what artist even could? Photography’s purpose can thus be reduced to proving the sheer ineffability of merely representing this reality. For the very act of creating the photograph introduces by necessity the subjective element.

But it was Barthes who wrote ‘Whatever it grants to vision and whatever its manner, a photograph is always invisible: it is not it that we see’. The photograph, then, is not the artistic entity in and of itself. It is defined by its ‘referent’ (the ‘real’ thing it depicts, spatial or temporal, made ‘meaningful’ through cognition), which itself assumes an objective quality; that is to say, the relation between the object and its representation. As ‘the sovereign Contingency’, the photograph gains authenticity from the singular Necessity with which it began. The very act of creating the photograph, then, is what authenticates it. The photograph, writes Barthes, ‘does not invent’.

Following this reasoning, our attention is inescapably drawn to the role of the photographer – the observer, the performer, the manipulator or the alchemist, depending on your preference. Reading Barthes’ assertion, it is impossible not to infer that he views the artist as secondary, even immaterial, as if she is as much the medium as the tools she employs. Yet is this not the illusion to beat all illusions? For the photographer can never be the mere observer, or even the mere transmitter. The very nature of the photographer’s work requires the passage through man and his technology. As such, the photograph is forever a human construct, and the photographer’s claim to ‘represent reality’ no more than the atavistic residue of a long-defunct empiricism.

But transcending the photographer is the ‘spectator’. And what the spectator experiences is something different again. Experiencing the photograph is not to experience its content. Indeed, we might go one step further and argue that experiencing the photograph is not even to recreate the experience of the photographer. Kant once wrote that experience of the sublime is the key to recognising the power of our rational being. So, can experiencing the photograph be qualitatively identical to experiencing the sublime of that which it represents? One would have to think not. Gone, then, is the idea of the photograph as a window, as if that was ever a satisfying notion to begin with. But in its place we have a sense that the photograph acts as a distortion on our experience of reality. This seems to me more fruitful. But it does yield some unexpected consequences for Barthes.

For one, spare a thought again for the photographer: if she is at once conscious of the travesty she has created and willingly dependent on her viewer, has she entirely capitulated to fiction and surrendered her impulse to convey? Kick and scream all she might, the proud viewer may argue, her work is about me! But then! (retorts the high-minded philosopher), the photographer has recaptured her role as conveyer, and the thing-in-itself again regains its essence! The photographer is again irrelevant, and the viewer and object wrestle only one another, in art as in life itself! Barthes is redeemed!…sort of.

What is now left for the poor photographer? A cursory glance at my initial list yields just one answer – the artist as manipulator. ‘Wrestle all you wish’, he says, ‘but you wrestle on a stage I have myself constructed’. The photographer is saved, and all that is lost is the autonomy of the viewer. The photographer is sinister, the spectator abused. ‘Never!’ scream in unison those who refuse to view the world solely in dichotomies, ‘return to us our independence of thought!’ The smirking artist acquiesces: ‘have back your independence, then! But now it is you who deplores, who hates, who sees the ugly, who bestialises, who sexualises, who objectifies!’ But the King is exposed. Grinning, the shrewd viewer need simply retort: ‘most certainly I do. Yet if this is so, then it is also I who bestows beauty upon the sunset!’

The haughty photographer, accordingly, realises his fate – an anonymous medium, incapable of communicating, and thus limp in his art…

SAWTOOTH REVIEW #13

It Is Not It That We See
Curated by Liam James (ACT)
Sawtooth ARI, Front Gallery
4 July - 26 July 2014
Review by: Brigitte Trobbiani
Photography by: Mel De Ruyter

Three months on and I still think of Liam James curated exhibition, “It Is Not It That We See”. Even though it was presented in the July of this year, James’ curatorial approach and the works themselves still cross my mind.

 Prior to enrolling into the Bachelor of Contemporary Arts degree (I really just enrolled to avoid exams so that I could travel to Japan), I wasn’t really exposed to the dialogues, interactions and notions of Contemporary arts. Sure, I had been exposed to art and design, mainly the latter but really, the industry is still new to me. I’m still learning.

 “It Is Not It That We See” was a curatorial project by Liam James featuring the mixed-medium work of artists from Tasmania and Victoria. Collectively, the works could be best described as the collation of emerging and established artist’s representations of space, place and self.

 Photographs constituted much of the exhibition’s content, featuring an elaborate display of portraiture, landscape and still-life elements which aimed to portray more about the artist’s themselves than the title-boards present.

 On two plinths sit curved two photographs of a farmhouse, pinned to the wall are iconic Hobart landmarks (a giant hedge, a swirly overpass), a Hello Kitty ‘cake decal’ rests diagonally against the back wall. There are detailed portraits of a man in a Brisbane Lions Guernsey next to my favourite; a photograph of a sculptural pink figure that represents a mound. Fluffy, course, pastel and soft.

The exhibition was installed in the Front Gallery, the largest of the spaces at Sawtooth ARI, hung using the pre-existing space alongside the use of plinths and the largest of the works, hanging from the trusses of the space. The work hung from the ceiling was perhaps the most impactful in terms of redefining the space itself, while recognizing and portraying the still life to the viewer.

The exhibition was a successful culmination of mixed medium, varied presentation and expansive representation of content. And while it’s often easiest to congratulate the artists in relevance to the show, it seems timely and appropriate to really regard James’s careful consideration as the fleshy ‘meat’ behind the show. The curating process itself (from the consideration of works themselves to the hanging and arrangement) was cleverly depicted in such a way that a certain atmosphere and energy was created in the Front Gallery.

 An exciting representation of both emerging artists come established artists was exhibited within the show. There was an explicable excitement accompanying the works themselves; the arrangement was exciting (helping to represent the artworks, while redefining the space at Sawtooth), collectively the content captured a familiar topic or theme (space, place, self) and yet, the presentation of each of the works made an old muse seem brand new, desirable even.

Personally the show “It Is Not It That We See” is memorable. James’s curating approach helped to realize that perhaps the standard framed artworks on the wall wasn’t the only way to present works, outside of the standard ‘sit on a plinth’ approach. The artworks singularly were strong but perhaps may not have been so well received if they weren’t accompanied by the pieces next to them. Creating an energy transcending from the artworks themselves was of great significance to my experience of the show as a both a viewer and learning creative.

 I’m new to the industry and I’m still learning but July’s Front Gallery exhibition, “It Is Not It That We See” curated by Liam James is of great weight to my learning.  

Nov 19, 2014

Sawtooth Poem #15

Remote Companion
Poem by: Ross Jackson
Inspired by: Drip Drawing by Bron Fionnachd-Fein as part of the 2014 Members' Exhibition
Sawtooth ARI, @Sawtooth Pop-up #Exhibition
2 - 24 May 2014
Image courtesy of Bron Fionnach-Fein


Remote Companion


It is the same moon.
So drab, so grey on that clouded lake.

It is the same moon
surfaced on our pond, delaying
for the dissolving noses of carp.
It is the same old companion
for the songwriter.
Same clear face far above
the spinifex plain,
the silver dish the dingoes howl at.


It is the same moon.
So drab, so grey on that lake.
The specialists trip to its shore.
They plan to treat it well.


One day guns or flowers may be there.
It is the same moon.

Nov 18, 2014

Sawtooth Poem #14

waiting
Poem by: Peter Schonefeld
Inspired by:
The Waiting Room
Josh Foley and Gillian Marsden (TAS)
Sawtooth ARI, Project Gallery
31 October - 22 November 2014

 Photograph by Mel de Ruyter

sitting here

somehow out of place

sitting here

like dead grass by the paddock gate

hung on a wall

somehow out of place

with the hum of organic machines

waiting

waiting

waiting

for the snapshot of an

immaculate creation

framed only by

chaotic lines of dark energy &

almost lost forever

like soiled ephemera  

waiting