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You won’t believe the next sentence I’m going to say. And that is I never win anything. Really, I don’t. But I did for the first time in a very long time. It was tickets to the Recycled Cinema session at the Sydney Underground Film Festival.

This spontaneously changed all plans for my day and now I sit here writing this. This was such a rewarding little surprise.

Recycled Cinema was a short film session that was particularly themed around recycled footage from all sorts of places like home video footage or YouTube clips.

So there was an incredible range of shorts in this session from burlesque performances, vintage erotica, The Wizard of Oz to footage of Jesus and Hitler to create wildy new narratives.

One particular short that stayed with me was Natalie Bookchin’s Laid Off (2009). This is an ongoing project for Bookchin which is a multi-channelled video installation

Bookchin explains

Testament is an ongoing series of multi-channel video installations made up of fragments from online video diaries, or “vlogs”. The project consists of a series of chapters, each of which focuses on a collectively told vignette, story, proclamation, or meditation on topics such as identity, the economy, illness, politics, the war, or work. Testament analyzes contemporary expressions of self, and the stories we are currently telling online about our lives and our circumstances. Clips are edited and sequenced like streams and patterns of self-revelation and narrative that flow and dissipate over space and time. As in a Greek chorus, individuals echo, respond to, contradict, add refrains, iterations, and variations, join in, and complete solo narrations. The series reflects on the peculiar blend of intimacy and anonymity, of simultaneous connectivity and isolation that characterizes social relations today.

I am really continuing to enjoy this new exploration of the arts world and the continuing to uncover the diversity within it. I love how this is such a unorthodox yet clever way of story telling. To me, it demonstrates the very essence of art being for everyone and being able to be created by anyone.

Let me know what your thoughts are on this video?

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Urban Uprising

Posted: September 12, 2010 by Tawar in Uncategorized
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So I recently found out about Urban Uprising, a street art gallery out in Surry Hills that aims

to bring street art from around the globe to a new audience in Australia

This is definitely a positive thing but I had a few reservations about this gallery when I read about it. What really got to me was the fact it was opposite to everything I was charmed by initially; that graffiti manifested in open and non-elitist surrounds. And there is a weird aura of stigma once anything is placed inside a gallery. Nevertheless, I trekked out to Surry Hills to get this unusual experience of viewing graffiti inside a professional gallery

I quickly observed it was located on Crown St in Surry Hills, a highly gentrified area bristling with yuppies emulating a ironically bohomian lifestyle, as French-American actor Julie Delpy likes to called them “bo-bo’s” – bourgeoisie bohemians.

Urban Uprising

This was a bizarre perversion of the origins of street art; a grass roots art form that has typically been appropriated by popular culture consequently commodifying it.

I went on inside to find a modest and eclection collection of graffiti

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So I was pleasantly surprised by the gallery’s artwork. I think, despite all my misgivings, it was inevitable for street art to head down this avenue.

As I was talking to Chris Tamm he highlighted that one of the postive of this new trade is talented graffers are able to make a living out of something that has so frequently been criminalised.

But this process of commodification works in other ways such as  artists being commissioned to do work on buildings or walls like I wrote in my previous blog.

So do you this is a step in the right direction for graffiti art or not?

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Mays Lane

Posted: September 12, 2010 by Tawar in Uncategorized
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I recently have taken up an interest in graffiti and in my last blog I described how it has been much more appealing than traditional art and I’m growing to understand why.

I recently took a short student stencil art course at Pine Street Creative Arts Centre in Darlington. The most appealing thing about it was there was no prerequisite to have any formal education in art. Then coming out of the short course I found the whole experience a  very open and welcoming one.

I ventured out to the very unique and famous Mays Lane in St Peters to check out the graffiti that is up there (for now anyway)

The moment you turn right to walk off the station there is graffiti everywhere.

Outside St Peters Station

Then the moment I walked into Mays Lane I felt like I stepped into this massively warped tunnel of graffiti. The art was overlapping and ranged from elaborate tagging in amazing fonts to a mix of sculptured graffiti!!

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And as usual there some graffers out there working on a piece

Graffers at work

So how it works down at Mays Lane is the panels on the buildings are assigned to each commissoned artist. These artist can be basically any graffer out there who applies with very little restrictions. You have graffers from all walks of life come and do some work on the panels.

One of the commissioned panels

Another commissioned panel

This has got to be the most appealing aspect about graffiti. The non-elitst and permeable foundations it is built on.

To hear more about the graffiti scene in more depth check out my interview with graffer Chris Tamm talking about how he got into graffiti, the developments over his 25 years of experience and where its headed!

Watch out for my next blog, I discuss the interesting path graffiti has taken by being installed in galleries!

But until then what’s your take on graffiti?

Does it appeal to you?

Post up any pictures of graffiti you’ve taken. Would love to see a better documentation of this amazing but sadly permeable art!

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Bob Dylan

Posted: September 12, 2010 by Tawar in Uncategorized
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I went to this cute (but now expired) photo exhibition at the quaint Blender Gallery down in Paddington. It has taken me a while to write about this particular exhibition because despite the artistically candid photograph’s which aptly capture the zeitgeist of Dylan’s musical era, I really had difficulties articulating my thoughts on it.

Bob Dylan exhibition

Bob Dylan exhibition

It was almost as if I was compelled to view this exhibition purely because appreciating one of the permanently famous fixtures of the 60s rock music era is an imperative part of learning about Western music history.

I started thinking of this notion of compulsory learning and its pervasiveness in art education that occurs at an early age. Art was always taught around a rigid and hackneyed syllabus as far back as I can remember. Every subject that was remotely related to art managed to include Monet, Picasso and Van Gogh. I clearly remember in year five the exercise in which we were instructed to imitate Monet’s White Water Lillies. What I can’t remember is the one time individual creativity was encouraged, or learning about unorthodox art. And if it was, the memory of the experience has, alas, not stayed with me.

Now what does that say about the way art is taught, if it should be taught at all.

Syllabuses should reflect the diversity in the art world because within this diversity the art world is able to charm and inspire every individual.

It saddens me that this was bereft in the syllabuses that I was taught by.

If art education was approached in a broader and more unorthodox manner, I believe, it would have spoken to more students and would have kindled their artistic selves within rather than repelling many becoming an outcast of the artistic world, something that has become a travesty of art.

On my way to Blender I found something else that spoke to me a greater deal than the actual photos

Street Art

Street Art: A lomo camera painted outside the Blender Gallery

This is what I will write about in my next post but until then…

What were your experiences in art education?

And what has become of your artistic selves?

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Being an Australian on a rainy day sucks. Having electric-blue skies and a spectacularly radiant sun almost all year round, you most certainly don’t expect a rainy day nor are you really ever ready for it. It ruins plans, moods and newly straightened hair.

My rosy trip to the indoor exhibitions at the Australian Centre for Photography was the perfect pick-me-up for such a wet and dreary day!

With everyone owning an SLR and an opportunity to get photos ‘out there’ on platforms like Flickr seeing Australian-born Robyn Beeche’s exhibition London Calling introduced a new style of photography to me which was a breathe of fresh air!

With a unique fusion of unorthodox uses of makeup as art and ordinary human faces as canvases, Beeche has captured the 70’s/80’s era with élan.

This collection of photographs truly showed the breadth of Beeche’s talent. I couldn’t help noticing a David Bowie vein in the makeup. The most mesmerising aspect of it all was the artistry in the makeup, which, veered on optical illusions!

Scarlett 3 Faces by Robyn Beeche

Along with the two-dozen photographs there was an über-quirky video of Beeche talking about her art. Something that stuck with me was one’s sartorial choice was once a form of expression, a way of rejecting the orthodox, the social norms of the day by creating your own identity in dressing up but nowadays, that has eroded with everyone replicating the norms and easily yielding to conformity. That made me really think more about how I visually and sartorially represent myself…

dressing up was a way of transgressing boundaries and declaring an individual identity. Beeche’s documentation of this period was as political as it was personal. Her images celebrated difference and diversity long before issues of gender, sexuality and identity gained mainstream acceptance

Have you ever thought of makeup and fashion as strong way of expressing yourself and creating a particular identity?

Do you conform to mainstream fashion or do you flout it and dress differently?

The exhibition will be running until the 28 August. Everyone must go see it!

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I wanted to visit Biennale on Cockatoo Island one last time before it ended on 31st Saturday. So I travelled into the city on bright and sunny 27th Tuesday afternoon. After a long trek I ended up at my penultimate stop Circular Quay where I would catch a free ferry over to the Island. But of course I missed it by just five minutes! And the next one was not scheduled to arrive until the next hour, naturally my luck!

So to make use of my sudden abundance of time I thought I would visit the Museum of Contemporary Art. Having viewed art in such spacious surrounds on the Island the MCA seemed much more confined, claustrophobic and artificial which made me feel uncomfortable making the whole experience less enjoyable. However something that really resonated with the venues mood was the Bonsai series fashioned by Beijing artist Shen Shaomin.

It was an eerie and unusual series of bonsai trees that had grown larger than usual bonsai sizes but were also constricted into extremely contorted and deformed configurations, which were controlled by various mechanical and metallic contraptions.

Shen Shaomin, Bonsai No.7, 2007, plant, iron tools

Bonsai No.7 (2007) by Shen Shaomin - Courtesy the artist and Osage Gallery

My initial reaction was deep anguish and sympathy for the bonsai trees’. I began to think how could I feel sorry for trees? Of course there is the environmental aspect that humans are a real detriment to nature but I felt that these trees could also represent other living and breathing organism such as humans ourselves. It was at this point where I could even empathise with the torturous pain the bonsai trees had been through to look so deformed.

As explained by one by the Biennale website

Simply and powerfully, these works address the artificial and sometimes painful aspects of beauty and control in society – allegorically exposing deeply rooted systems of thought formed by tradition and culture. In doing this, Shen implicates us as part of the system that allows such control to endure.

I think that Shaomin’s allegoric work which evokes such deep human emotions and reflections of our changing society is art of high calibre

What do you think?

How did you feel when you observed the Bonsai series?

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