Saturday, 28 March 2015

Getting ready for my solo Factory 49 show

My entire focus is now directed on getting everything ready for my second solo show at Factory 49. I am thrilled to be working with the funky Factory 49 gals: Marlene, Kate and Pam. I am also working with my talented friend, Ramie Moussa, who is helping me with the adjustments to an object. If you are reading this note, please come along. I will be uploading high resolution images after the opening.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

To be demolished: Otto Herbert Hayek's site specific work 'Adelaide Urban Iconography' (1977)

Otto Herbert Heyek, 'Adelaide Urban Iconography' (1977)

Otto Herbert Hayek, 'Adelaide Urban Iconography' (1977)

Otto Herbert Hayek, 'Adelaide Urban Iconography' (1977)

Otto Herbert Hayek, 'Adelaide Urban Iconography' (1977)

Otto Herbert Hayek, 'Adelaide Urban Iconography' (1977)

Otto Herbert Hayek, 'Adelaide Urban Iconography' (1977)

Otto Herbert Hayek, 'Adelaide Urban Iconography' (1977)

Otto Herbert Hayek, 'Adelaide Urban Iconography' (1977)

Vandalism: Otto Herbert Hayek's site specific work, Adelaide Urban Iconography (1977) is currently slated for demolition. This unique site-specific work was commissioned by the Adelaide Festival Trust during the Don Dunstan years.

The decision to engage Hayek in the early 70s for the Festival Theatre's forecourts project was insightful. When Hayek came to the Adelaide project he had already participated in the Venice Biennale (1958), Dokumenta 2 (1959) and Dokumenta 3 (1964). As Thomson notes,  
'Hayek's 'walk-through' sculpture in Adelaide was an exploration of the environment that aimed to leave the boundaries between art and the viewer behind, to encourage new forms of perception and to allow for the close experience of art.'  As a German post-war artist, Hayek’s practice created new spatial languages that inspired poetry, thought and spatial awareness.

Given that perception is framed by history, it is little wonder that my Mother who is Polish chose to emigrated to Australia in the early 60s. I can remember my Mother and her friends saying that they absolutely loved Adelaide and Australia. Sleepy Adelaide provided my Mother and her friends with the opportunity to raise their children in a small city that was unlikely to be bombed and decimated as Poland was during the war. Subsequently, the leafy inner-west Adelaide community that I grew up in was heavily populated by Poles, Russians, Germans, Italians, Greeks, Czechs and multiple communities from the former Yugoslavia who had fled Europe after WW2. 

While my primary school was a mostly peaceful environment, there was a dark underside to Kilkenny Primary School. Occasionally, long standing feuds between different language groups saw small children repeat hateful statements that they could have only heard from the lips of adults suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or those who sadly had their primary school education interrupted by WW2 and did not have the opportunity to complete their education due to extreme poverty after the war. As an 8 year old child in the mid 70s I can distinctly remember a 8 year old boy conveying his (and his families) want for blood lust, as a self identifying patriot from ‘x’ community. He spoke of wanting to knife another boy because the other boy, also 8 years old,  belonged to ‘y’ community. Luckily, children being what they are, either Elvis’s death or Abba’s arrival in Adelaide shifted the schoolyard conversation; and ‘y’ narrowly escaped having his spleen punctured by a knife. With this in mind, the decision to commission Hayek’s work for the forecourt was visionary and inspired. Hayek’s work has always suggested at the most simplest and symbolic level that accommodating multiple ways of seeing guarantees our collective future. 
In a recent Artlink essay, Giles Thomson notes, 'The artist's opening speech stated that the Plaza's "landscape varies in significance and focus. It becomes a positive form- space to be experienced in contract to the negative forms of the surrounding buildings. This place will also act as an element of provocation because it will stimulate an awareness in the people of Adelaide, of the values of other open spaces, squares and streets of the city". As some of Australia's most agile art minds grew up in Adelaide during the 70s, its inevitable that this work has played a pivotal role in the gentle unfolding of Adelaide's cultural life. Writing this blog note makes me think that I want to start collecting interviews with artists who have grown up with this work and/ or appreciate the ongoing positive contributions Hayek's work has made to the lives of people in Adelaide.
As there has been little public debate in the wider community and the Australian arts community regarding this unique site specific work, this raises a difficult question: Is the ongoing and willful mismanagement of a public cultural asset, in this case a site-specific sculpture, an act of vandalism? 

It pays to remember that Crown land on the Glenelg Beach foreshore was legally released and sold off to private developers in recent years. The SA government has also sold off SA Electricity. These recent events in Adelaide lead me to speculate that there's potentially a dirty underside to this story that is yet to be revealed. 

In closing I quote the poet and artist, Katja Hajek (artist's wife),
'The Plaza of Adelaide is a well-known in the world of art and became acknowledged as an artistically outstanding creation of the last quarter of the 20th century. Should the destruction of this complete artwork occur, it would be, I am afraid, seen as sheer vandalism that cannot be accepted in the civilised world of today.'

For more information on Otto Herbert Hayek's site-specific work, please see:
Giles Thomson, 'The art of vandalism and the vandalisation of art: (de)commissioning art in public space', Artlink, Vol.34#1 [2014] pp53-55. All quoted material noted on this blog stems from Thomson's essay.

The photos that I have uploaded were taken on a recent trip to Adelaide in December 2014.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Memento mori: 'PAM/MAP'(2015) & '2014' (2015)

Preface: The ongoing ill health of a family member over the last 15 months have caused me to think deeply on Anne Newmarch's seminal print work, Women hold up half the sky (1978).  By May 2014 the title of Newmarch's print became my nightly meditation of sorts before sleep set in. During this period I commenced a suite of autocartographical sculpture-drawings,  Die Papageien (2014-2105). 

Reflecting on Anne's work, which I first encountered in Adelaide at the EAF in the early 80s, led me to also remember Pam Harris (1946-1992). Pam and Anne were part of the remarkable, anarchic and unapologetic collective who gave voice to the Womens Art Movement in Adelaide. Luckily for me and many others, Pam Harris and Anne Newmarch were also Foundation year lecturers at Underdale CAE in the mid 80s.

More recently: Anne Newmarch's Women hold up half the sky (1978) and Pam Harris' print, Memory trace (1983) have helped frame the conceptual rational for Articulate Project Space's current exhibition, Taking up Space (TUS). TUS was an open call exhibition that invited Feminist identifying women to respond to the Australian feminist archive or feminist artists from an artist's country of origin. [For more information on this exhibition and participating artists, please see the blog entry that precedes this one and also visit the Articulate Project Space blog.]

The following momento mori works celebrate two Australian feminist artists who bookend my adult art viewing years from approximately 1985-2015. PAM/MAP (2015) celebrates Pam Harris (1946-1992) and her edgy feminist and gender politics. Pam and her work enabled me to imagine a parallel art universe that has long been my home. [Shorthand: Grace Jones met Tintin and the rest was fate.] The study, 2014 (2015) remembers Rose Ann McCreevy (1945-2014).

Both works are currently on public display: 
1. PAM/MAP (2015) is currently on display in the group exhibition, Notes towards a Future Feminist Archive at Affiliated Text, Cross Art Books. This exhibition has been curated by Bronia Iwanczak and Lynne Barwick. 
Address: 33 Roslyn Street, Potts Point, NSW
2. 2014 (2015) is currently on display in the group exhibition, Taking up Space at Articulate Project Space. It responds to Rose McGreevy's last floor work, Interrupting the spatial plane (2014).

India Zegan, PAM/ MAP (2015); Dimensions: 28cm (h)x 28cm (w) x 0.9cm (d). Materials: plywood, brass hinges

India Zegan, PAM/ MAP (2015). Notes: This piece pivots on two brass hinges. As light travels through the work, the shadow brings to light the full compass of this work.

India Zegan, PAM/ MAP (2015) Notes: This is my second hinged piece an follows my earlier work, 30 irregular minutes which was exhibited in the group exhibition, Splice at Articulate Project Space in January 2014.

India Zegan, PAM/ MAP (2015) 

India Zegan, PAM/MAP (2015) installation view Notes towards a Future Feminist Archive, Affiliated Text @ Cross Art Books, Sydney

India Zegan| 2014 (2015)| Materials: Plywood, archival Fabriano paper, watercolour pencils, dowel; Dimensions: 40cm (length) x 25cm (height) x 27cm (depth). As McGreevy noted at the time, Space incorporates visible and invisible planes as well as being consumed by form. In this work each plane of wood articulates the blueprint of the journey it is on. Balance, plugging and clearance are also concerns.