Das Platforms / Contemporary Art

Gap Year

by Sally Pittman

15 Oct 2012

Catchable fatal error: Object of class WP_Error could not be converted to string in/home/artsnsw/arts.nsw.gov.au/wp-content/themes/artsnsw-07/functions.php on line 260 Or so goes a Google search for "Helen Lempriere Travelling Arts Scholarship". The dead link on the Arts NSW website is unwittingly apt, given that the award, like others in NSW, has been put on hold while under review for 2012. As Artspace executive director Blair French noted in his Gap Year opening night address, in any other year he would shortly be handing over to a state government representative to announce the winner of a $60,000 prize. Tom Polo was a Helen Lempriere finalist just last year, and in returning to Artspace one year later, not as an early career artist but instead as one of three consulting curators who have brought together the exhibition, he neatly exemplifies the notion of a ‘gap year’ as a transitional period of experimentation, reflection, and preparation in which new directions can be forged. The exhibition works off a curatorial process that is rooted in notions of contemporaneity. Polo is joined by Society founding director Susan Gibb and Sydney artist Carla Cescon, all active contributors to a community of local emerging practice and contemporaries of the nine artists they have included here. In the text accompanying the exhibition, Gibb describes rediscovering the work of Mitchel Cumming at the recommendation of other local artists working within the same art community that she and Cumming inhabit. Cumming presents a series of abstract paintings that take the flag as their mode of display, and make reference within their own formal construction to their being informed by the practice of other artists operating within this space of local practice. Designs for Flags or Face to Face with Shane Haseman and Agatha Gothe-Snape, two paintings hung perpendicular to the wall and facing inward, construct a physical space of conversation rather than opposition between the two compositions. To view these paintings is to step within this space and enter the dialogue of Cumming, Haseman, and Gothe-Snape. The work of Jesse Hogan, included here by Polo, is referential of the artist’s own practice, as explicitly informed by and existing within communities of art making locally and globally. In a central sculptural piece, handles of hammers, mallets, and axes are labeled with the names of artists such as Bruce Nauman, Sean Kerr, Hogan himself, and the eyebrow-raising ‘Richard Cranium’. Along with building foundations of bricks and stones, these tools of construction rest on and around wooden supports. Displayed on these supports under a partially obscuring plexiglass layer are print-outs of the Google image search results for these artists. The work takes the process of art making, assigns ownership of the Hogan and other artists to this process, and situates it within a (literal) framework of the relationships between artists and art communities. Two paintings from Hogan’s Floor Talk series (which are painted from online exhibition documentation) hang nearby, depicting performances by Tony Schwensen and Guy Benfield Artspace in 2007. These faithful reproductions further notions of authorship as something that is fluid, and situates Hogan’s art practice as reciprocal to those working around him. Peter Blamey's Circuit Hut (the future is other people’s garbage) is an unstable-looking structure built from circuit boards and wiring stripped from amplifiers, mixers, and speakers. Recomposed into a Frankensteinesque shelter, the work emits a constant hum, but unlike the electronic equipment from which it was harvested, the vibration is from the outside out. It functions as something of a visual metaphor for Gap Year; as fate would have it, reconfigured at a grassroots level it pulses away in new directions. Gap Year 28 September - 14 October 2012 Artspace, Sydney The author is a front-of-house volunteer at Artspace, and was not involved in any aspects of the planning/delivery of the exhibition.