Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Intersections between sculpture and neue musik: Rose McGreevy and Ensemble Offspring

Ensemble Offspring's (E.O) 'Plekto' concert the other night was brilliant. For those not familiar with Ensemble Offspring, the group is 'dedicated to a living classical music tradition'. The work that soaked into the my skin was by the Finnish composer, Kaija Saariaho (born 1952) and titled, 'Oi Kuu' (1990). The title of this piece loosely translates into English as 'for the moon'. To imagine, think and compose music is a gift. 

During the concert, and in between works, one of the Ensemble Offspring members stated that their collective wish was to produce electronic sounds using analogue methodologies/ instruments. On hearing this, I instantly smiled as it mirrored some of my own thoughts on creative processing of new work. As  some people will know, the drawings I have been producing over the last few months could be described as labour intensive. These drawings are also the direct result of my deliberate avoidance of digital technologies in my studio practice. I dislike the way in which digital technology frequently flattens and deletes time based and spatial elements in sculptural practices.

Sculpture and neue musik: I am inspired by the courage and determination of experimental and/or gifted classically trained musicians. Think Cage, Ensemble Offspring and all the neue musik composers and musicians that participate in events such as the Berliner Neue Musik Festival. For me, neue musik displays the conceptual substance, compositional dexterity, experimentation and playfullness (and the countless spaces in between all four anchors points) that I need to experience when I encounter a phenomenal sculpture. On this occasion, I smile as I am again reminded of Rose McGreevy's sombre floor work, 'Interrupting the spatial plane' (2014), which was presented at Articulate Project Space during the 'Fair Isle' project. McGreevy's work was an astute meditation on being. 

Listening to Kaija Saariahno's 'Oi Kuu' made me think on Rose's practice and her work, 'Interrupting the spatial plane' (2014). 'Oi Kuu' was performed on bass flute by Lamorna Nightingale and on cello by Judith Hamann. [The piece was originally written for a clarinetist and cellist.] The inspired delivery and conversation between the cello and bass flute parts in this piece instantly reminded me of Rose's parred back selection of materials and the conversations she has set up between her deliberately selected materials. For a moment during the concert I imagined a visual and auditory hybrid fiction where Rose's selection of materials transformed into the sounds of a bass flute and cello. [Working the other way, I also tried to imagine what Saariahno's work would look like if someone attempted to turn it into a minimalist sculpture. ] For those who have not seen this work by Rose, several pieces of roughly hewn wooden planks were arranged in conversation with, and astutely positioned to bisect, four mdf square panels that were delicately positioned as if they were frozen in a minimalist's pirouette. Several strategically positioned small stakes of dowel wood mapped the work into position. To see images of this work and other works, please visit Rose's blog:
Additional reference: Tacita Dean's collaboration with Merce Cunningham, 'Stillness', presented at ACCA in 2009.

I remain eternally grateful to my phenomenal Mother for my classical music education (theory and practical), which she juggled with my brother's and my extra curricular visual arts, museum education, Polish language and dance classes. Being a feminist and a Pole, my Mother went out of her way to provide additional extra-curricular educational activities. She warned me that I would need every tool available to me to counter the gender biases in society and in the work place. [When my Mother arrived in Australia in the early 1960s she was mortified to discover that she as a citizen and woman had significantly more rights in communist Poland than she did in the 'west' in 'free' Australia in the 1960+.] Her investment in my education has now come full circle. As I have mentioned to close friends, my trip to Germany to visit Dokumenta (2012) cemented a new standpoint: The only people who have a responsibility to promote Australian Artists are other Australian's working in the arts. 

I have now taken on new responsibilities and projects to help promote under recognised mid and late career Australian experimental artists working with spatial theory, installation and drawing. I am thrilled to announce that I will be working closely with Rose McGreevy to present her Survey exhibition in 2015. More details will be released closer to the date.

10/7/2014: Someone has just uploaded vid footage from the 'Paper' show at Factory 49:

Ich habe elf minuten.

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