Where in the world...
this website outlines the experiences and developments of my art tour. during this tour I will be fulfilling an artist's residency and exhibiting in Portugal and enacting performances and interventions. it will be an archive of visited galleries and art sites. i will also be contacting the Burdekin Library about having the website on display during particular times throughout the tour, highlighting particular performances, as a counterpoint—north queensland being my birthplace and the filter through which i see most of the places i travel to.
i sat at a computer and searched flights and accommodation and looked at guide books that i had bought for reference, booked flights and accommodation and organised insurance and what to take. i emailed the people from the residency, searched the seville biennale, found how to get there and packed my bags. i will take a taxi to the airport. remembering my passport and hoping that i have everything i need with me. including the money i exchanged before the rate dropped out, all kept in different forms for safe carrying.
the first destination is new york.
at the moment the only place i can think of going in new york is Ps1, Ps1 and just walking for days.
after a bit of an internet search I'm looking forward to anyspacewhatever at the guggenheim and the music and art show at MoMA.
it seems that the Burdekin Library link might become an artwork owing to the efforts it takes to have it happen. more of that later.
one day later and all accomplished. Burdelin Library happy to have link on three computers and a note telling the visitors about the work.
i'm in new york. have seen two galleries and walked f (sorry three galleries) from W20th st via Alexander and Bonin (Doris Salcedo) to MoMA and then from MoMA to New Museum. actually that's four—zaha hadid at some random gallery. obviously forgettable. the mechanical mult-story carpark nearby was more interesting.
bellweather, guggenheim, sean kelly, joseph kosuth, michaelangelo pistoletto, dominique gonzales-forester, pierre huyghe, chelsea, w22nd street, pizza slices, soho, uniqlo, manicures on 8th ave, etc.
and off to berlin tomorrow. i'll miss the brownstones and the new yorkers.
in berlin. went to the gemäldgalerie today. is it possible to see that many masterpieces in one day? rubens, rembrandt, jan van eyk, lucas cranach, brueghal, rafael, fra angelico, masaccio. any australian gallery would be content with one of those paintings and if it had one in its collection would be calling itself a "national gallery."
and beyond that i've seen the neue national galerie (klee survey and koons), the martin gropius bau was closed (tuesday) and saw anish kapoor at deutsche guggenheim (in one door and out again, in another door, looking and then through the shop / cafe for the final reveal of the void. but elmgreen and dragset's monoment for homosexual persecution during the nazi era was the highlight. sparwasser's closed and bethanien has nothing on. will look at index for more. berlin galerie also has documentary photography..so won't see that.
looks like its going to be susan philipsz, john armleder, aernout mik, duchamp, gregor schneider and if i have time fischli and weiss. and i have to try and fit hamburger bahnhof in there somewhere.
strange saying that memorials are a highlight but susan phillipsz work lowlands about rosa luxembourg was sorrowful and melancholy without nostalgia or sentimentality (not pictured—that's the actual momument where rosa got chucked into the canal). the lack of images helped there. more of an anti-memorial.
hamburger bahnhof...jesus. the andy warhol show was the one i think GoMA was trying to have. joseph beuys in a huge post-industrial space..without polished concrete floors thank you very much. much joseph beuys. very much. floors of it. and then a whole show devoted to artists playing around with killing an author. quite good really. oh and ayse erkmann. initial conceit for the show a bit overdone and quasi-rikrit-like but video installation, interesting. pitting a number of works against each other and allowing them to remain in dialogue with the idea of sneaking menace amongst the banal.
another stage of the collaboration with joel mu ended today with the walk around a backward f shape written across charlottenberg and mitte. markers were marked and appear on the from one tourist to another page connected to the 'project' icon. i'll put them up on the google earth website asap. the images i used to mark the spot were google earth frames printed onto sticker (label) paper. it was a good thing to do as its given me some ideas for the momento mori performance.
time for a bit of a two day break in oporto before heading down to evoramonte for the residency.
actually i'll probably end up seeing the gallery there.
yep and the casa de musica, rem koolhaas's opera house created for porto's year as the european culure capital. it was wet. my boots were soaked. it was the only place to go that offered extended free shelter. nonetheless i got lost on the way to the museum of contemporary art.
down at the residency now and have a great time looking around the alentejo. beautiful area. estramoz, evoramonte and evora. today evora with its chapel of bones. creepy and surprisingly solidifying. learning a lot about the area. roman ruins, celtic remains and all. the remnants of fascism reverberate and i'm interested in the song that signalled tbe beginning of the revolution away from it. a woman here is going to teach it to me for my performance. should be interesting.
I've also been looking around evora's public library as a possibility for an installation. just a small after site for the performance. if they let me. perfect place for the remnants of a travelling performance—with its history of visits by pilgrims.
speaking of more travel. i'm now down in seville on a roundabout course to barcelona. i have mentioned above that i was looking to come to the seville biennale but that was actually a bit of a ruse because i really just wanted to see the alcazar. i took so many photos of said that my camera ran out of juice and so did my mobile camera but that's also because i forgot my recharge chord. its a new feature of travel, needing to carry 50 chords for all sorts of nightitme recharging. anyway. i did see the biennale but have no photos except of the ephemera and i'm wondering if i don't have any photos of it does it exist? can i forget it like i hope i'm going to because as nice as the monastry was that it was housed in (the CAAC) the whole thing was awful.
it was called youniverse. i noticed grafitti on the way tagging youperverse. everything was meant to be participatory (except those 12 works that weren't working owing to a power outage and their needing recalibration or whatever). but all of the works were meant to be interactive and were so at such an uncritical or simple level that it was really quite patronising and i was a bit sorry for the lovely attendants who had to show the visitors how to play with the artworks. the cafe was the best part about the whole thing. really interesting people. truly participatory.
i guess no grand tour is complete without some adventure—as i was reminded recently—but at that moment i wasn't that peturbed. today has been a bit more challenging. i saw an old woman fall on the hard concrete floor of the airport in barcelona and then the taxt driver (i had decided to take a taxi as i felt so stirred up after cradling and old woman's head while she had a heart attack) the taxi driver decided to take me to a grand hotel up in the hills with the same name as my hotel and luckily i had the address in the city but he told me there was no hotel there by that name. i thought i'd be looking for another hotel until we drove up to the address and found the right one. next: no-one could change a 50 euro note at lunchtime. such kindness. and i finally scrabbled together enough change to pay the incompetent taxi driver. fantastic. but barcelona has already more than made up for it by feeding me good, accessible food and two great shops and now an interesting cafe with wifi. gorgeous. love it already. its just as i remember but better. and i'm staying right near the art school bohos everywhere. damn hippies.
also found macba. great. actually interesting show on documentary photography.
not much happening since then. all pretty much closed for christmas in london, including ica, white cube, gallery with michael snow show, shu uemura, fenwick and laduree (shopping obsessions for over a year). found the boxing day sales and selfridges seething with black parkers (including mine). brick lane mostly closed. etc etc.
barbican still open but noted the sponsorship board including macquarie bank and the cba. wonder if they also spend money on australian galleries? rafael lozano-hemmer reminscent of joyce hinterding and david haines' work—human bodies used as vehicles to tune radio waves circulating in the gallery space that are then projected on the wall. can't describe it properly. see london page via the itinerary link.
back in portugal and my head is spinning after three days in seville, two in barcelona (i have been there before), four in london (also been there), then a quick night stopover in lisbon because the flight came in too late to get back to estramoz.
i'd thought i booked a hotel in lisbon before i arrived but after getting myself into town and to the street where it was supposed to be i found (via a note on the door) that it had moved to another part of the city (and this from a hotel recommended by the lonely planet—have to say their maps and advice in seville and portugal has been the source of a lot of frustration). found the closest hotel i knew (the sofitel) and asked for the cheapest room available for one night. they found me a room. for the price of a single they put me in a king size suite. upgrade anyone? with hermes freebies! all the tiny hermes soap a person could need for about a year. cheers.
one day is lisbon is ridiculous especially if its a monday and raining. calouste gulbenkian was going to be my consolation for dragging my suitcase over paths made of little blocks of marble for a couple of kilometres, up a slow but insidious gradient. dragged said bag up more insidious flights of low graded stairs to gallery only to find that it was closed on mondays. should have checked that guide book. slogged back to sete rios bus station to find my way back to the lovely alentejo.
back to the residency but rain meant that i was inside fixing up website and reading, reading and finalising proposal for biblioteca publica, evora. i'm hoping to have the performance documentation made into an artist's book and that it will be on display there as well as the Burdekin library. it would also be great if they had a link to this. or at least the momento mori page (off the project link also has more info and might explain the para below).
i finished chipping away at the marble slab for the capela walk but decided to paint the second slab as it was looking a bit delicate. both are ready for the go tomorrow. also printing the songs and poems that will help make up the book and will also be recited as i walk. plans have been made for tomorrow for being dropped off etc and how to get home and now i just need to charge the video camera. better not forget it. annoyed that for some reason the internet's not working and i can't send the letter for the library to be printed.
tedium. no-one tells you that they deal with tedium on holidays—except on road trips with families..fights over music etc. well rainy days on a farm in portugal can be tedious too. i've rung my friends and one wants to come and drag me away to lyon a few days early—tempting—until the rain broke with some spectacular snow flurries and my birthday..and then a number of clear blue days..
i've done the performance. the marble sign wasn't removed after the 3 or so hours of the performance, so it didn't matter that i forgot to turn on the video camera until i was on the other side of town. the video was going to begin with the placing of the marble tablet at the capela dos osso but now begins on the other side of evora and it will now finish there in a circular gesture. the performance began as it should so doesn't really matter.
photos were taken of me walking off and i spouted byron on and off for a couple of hours, along with a poem about pilgrimage and a traveller's immortal soul and oddly enough flame trees. it occasionally relieved the tedium of walking for hours on end and sometimes produced it. i walked until the cobblestones produced extensive blood blisters and bruising under my feet. i followed an unclear 'official' green path and didn't realise i needed to go under the aqueduct rather than follow the nice wide open path. i discovered i was on private property when a large shaggy dog with a cavernous snout consistly and frighteningly reminded me that this was so. i backtracked and byron was forgotten for a moment. but i had just read the part where he says farewell to his dog and thinks it will bark at him for a stranger on his return. i also paused when i saw i was on another wide open section of the path and saw another dog waiting and barking. i later got redirected by a man in a cart driven by a burro. dropped off the second sign regarding being killed by a photograph and was relieved to get rid of the marble's weight.
i retraced my steps as per forma and returned to the capela hoping the sign hadn't been removed (which i thought it might be) so i had a shot of it. but it was closed for lunch. i was pretty certain that it would have been removed by the time i had done a round trip and as i was navigating the town, on the return to the death by photograhy sign, videoing and murmuring byron (still byron at this point) i was also wondering how i was going to factor that into the performance or its documentation. we hadn't taken any digital photos as i thought i had it on video. unfortunately the dog was still on the other side of the fence from the aqueduct and while videoing, spouting poetry and wondering how i was going to justify the lack of documentation of the marble tablet in the capela dos ossos (fundamental to the concept of the piece) i was also wondering if i'd survive a huge dog jumping over a remarkably flimsy looking fence. i returned to the photograph killing me sign and hobbled back to the aqueduct (which i was following for most of the way), i chickened out of facing the hound from hell again and changed course for the final burst of byron and padre ascenção's poem and lastly flame trees. i got the shot of the tablet, it hadn't been removed and paid the coinage to enter the momento mori all the while contemplating my feet and how i was going to make it to the other side of town when they were screaming for flat concrete or bitumen roads rather than sadistic marble cobblestones and rough stoney, sandy path.
survived to eat cake and celebrate another birthday.
but not without slogging back to the other side of evora, finishing and heading to the bus station for estremoz. i must be a magnet for event as i was almost there and heard the huge loud crash of car hitting stylish advertising signage and reducing it to its elements.i watched as the car spun. it seemed the most natural thing in the world that it should stop under the tree rather than wrapping around it. like a hollywood scene but in my time and dimension. shock stopped a motorcyclist and i in our tracks. it looked so much like a hollywood movie i was eventually numbed to it and got to the bus, but frizzled and fragile after walking and spouting and being barked at and contemplating mortality and immortality in such a graphic way.
these feelings didn't help when we went to the conference on lusitania at evora university the next day. my reduced mental faculties suggested i attempt a dialogue with visiting academics from uc irvine, cleveland state and columbia. michael taussig rescued me from an unthoughtout statement to catherine liu. i became the person that asks the annoying flacid question that seems off topic but contains some outdated logic in relation to it.
i should say that lusitania isn't just a sunken ocean liner but also a reference to the historical roman province of portugal. it was the name of a journal (created by a portuguese guy living in new york and using funds from u.s. foundations). lusitania, the roman province, also gets name-checked in byron.the journal contained a lot of the usual suspects (the artists, not theorists) for the 80s and was said to be a response to post-structuralism—the journal was putting post-structuralism to work apparently where other journals like october simply talked about it. they suggest this because it wasn't only in english, it was also in portuguese and occasionally another language. it had editorials that were cartoons. it was "engaging the other." these academics were primarily from the u.s. or from countries outside of the u.s but living and being educated and working there or in europe. they considered themselves to be 'other' or engaging with an 'other' and this seemed fairly hypocritical. someone suggested that this was a centrist ideology, (the magazine seemingly engaging with portuguese culture but often being critical of it and the conference being held in portugal), professor liu took offense and made a comment regarding the influence of the beaux arts tradition in taiwan.
this way of reading culture is dangerously close to dancing with commodification and liu made a pointed comment about australia being at the vanguard of 'creative economies'. while she was willing to trade on her identity to make her point about post-structuralism. speaking, as she claimed to, from the position of 'other,' she seemed to assume that a person from australia might not have some claim to that also (foucault's reading of the transgressive can contain a number of definitions apart from race) or be aware of people who would have a lived experience of post-colonialism and centrist theories (i'm not talking about myself here). anyway it was an interesting insight.
kudos to taussig for remaining interesting. he did mutter something about academics being monsters at one point in the seminar—under his breath—i was a couple of seats away so heard his utterance and was curious to hear whether he was applying that to those present. probably not. but i like to imagine. his discussion was the only talk to actively engage with portuguese history in a sensitive manner and to show visual material that extended the discussion rather than wallow in glamourous, funded, soho-lofted history. no-one bothered to ask how the magazine actually affected coeval portuguese practictioners or what they thought of it.
right, that's still a bit hazy. the university was gorgeous. i'll save the description. i'm a bit over decorative detail. i'm aware that's pretty confused but it will sort itself out over the next few weeks and will get a bit clearer.
but yes, the next day i had my birthday and so it goes on. i'm trying to export parts of the video for the web page. and will head to lyon on wednesday. the residency is nearly over. next time i'll travel differently. no short little side trips. i'll not consult others about my scheduling. i probably won't book so far in advance except with the major ticket. i'll go the short way around the world and i'll try and get some funding.
its been interesting having chats with the architect in residence who is designing a house to be built out of recycled materials (tires, glass bottles, mud etc.). i also have a lift to lisbon with a disaffected camera man who has traded publicity videos for a house without electricity or running water, and his dancer girlfriend, who is headed to zurich on the same day. he assures me he can fit my luggage on the roof. i'm hoping not. i'd rather be stuffed into a car.
which i was. he locked his girlfriends luggage in the car with the keys inside and had to break his window (mine was on the back seat). he had the help of 4 burly men to try and break into it but none were criminal enough. she narrowly made her flight but on checking in found out that she needed a ticket from zurich to lyon (her last destination) otherwise they wouldn't let her on the flight. it was too late for her to do this at an internet station and she couldn't print it there anyway so she had to pay for another ticket to zurich on a later flight and also a train ticket for lyon. i left them looking for alternatives in the airport in portugal.
but i arrived in lyon in good time and have enjoyed the winter. so beautiful. missed the musee d'art contemporain as it was closed to install a new show. went for a walk in the gardens nearby and saw ducks standing on the ice covering most of the lake. it was a gorgeous silvery blue colour.
this is my last destination before heading back to sydney. its a long, long haul flight has i booked with friend's travel in mind (in the end, 43 hours—something i've vowed never to do again). i am in the airport awaiting a flight to frankfurt to then fly to new york. dreadful that i then have to fly new york to la, then la to sydney. so its much longer than it should otherwise be. but its nice to be moving through new york a couple of days before obama's inauguration. i'm looking forward to the inauguration party on my return and reenacting the vital scenes with friends after the coverage.
its been over a year and i've completed a series of work and am set up for a show in tasmania in june / july at inflight. the phd (use phonetics—i find its less overwhelming) that i was researching for as i made this work is in limbo. i've passed on the work but have to rewrite the thesis.
i never got the computer link to north queensland or permission to have a small installation at the public library in evora, but i did make an artist's book of the poem's i used for the momento mori project and sent them to obras, the hague library (isbn purposes), i've an exhibition copy and one was given as a souvenir to a friend. I've also started making new work.
in 2013 i re-enrolled to rewrite my thesis. it was resubmitted in august and in november i was informed that i had received my doctorate.
my thesis can be read here. five words can be seen below and in august at kings ari as a work in post-tourist, an exhibition that i have also curated. post-tourist includes: louise bennett, charlie donaldson, artist duo, provoked, as well as kat sawyer/paul soulellis and vincent wozniak-o'connor.