If it's not yet obvious, I've been going on a bit of an arts binge of late. Let's blame my enabler, the Melbourne International Arts Festival, with whom in past years I've had the odd brief dalliance without fully committing myself. 2005 has seen this inflate to a full-blown self-destructive relationship of all-or-nothing attendance, all most certainly winning out over nothing. I came to realise the depths I had sunk to when I surveyed my experiences with the Festival's visual arts component.
LET'S GET THIS PARTY STARTED RIGHT
I'm first confronted by Van Sowerwine's colossal images of dolls-gone-bad fronting the Republic Towers on the corner of Latrobe and Queen St, and it's a great way to kick off this bender - I'm NOT EVEN INDOORS and I'm sucking down the art. I'm a big fan of Van's stuff and it's great to see it in such a public space, even if strong winds and the limitations of the space (you can generally only show three pieces) keep the thing from really blowing the roof off. But the preceding exhibit was by Barbara Kruger, so she's in good company. The works in question follow Van's developing theme of childhood/toys/sinister ambiguity, with raised fork and slashed shirt making the doll in question something to keep hidden from the kids. Kids? What kids? It's time to PARTY!
Yeah, time to kick this thing into GEAR! WHAT'S A PARTY WITHOUT THE "ARTY"?
After the Republic Towers experience, I hit the road and headed off to Justin Harris' Theatre for One: The Late Great Libido Opera and hell, for $2 it's a bargain basement arts shindig. You know what? I had $1.90 on me, and I'd left my ATM card at home. What to do? Here I am ready to PARTY and I'm shortchanged! Is it wrong to haggle with an usher? Has anyone, ever, uttered the line "can you spare ten cents mate? I just need it for an arts experience, I swear"? I decided to let fate do the hard yards and headed towards Fed. Square (the venue in questi0n), hoping to spot a shiny dime on the way.
There once was a time when I could rely on this. In my late teens, if I ever needed to make a phone call and was ten cents short, I'd always find some shiny silver by the roadside. Is it a sign of the times that I spotted not a single coin between Sowerwine's exhibition and Federation Square? That, or a sign of potential vision issues I should have checked out.
Eventually I see Harris' thing, and it sets the party going! NO UNDERLYING MEANING! NO SUBTEXT!
Just a solid commitment to THE PARTYING.
It's Theatre for One, which means one chair and the show is entirely devoted to me. The show? It's a small-stage projection of videoclips composed and graphicised (I just made that word up) by Harris, and the tunes are KICKING. He's animated a bunch of dancing and music-playing silhouettes to accompany the music, and within seconds your shaking that good thing to the blaring-horn, plucking-bass, smashing drumkin feel of the show. What's that you say? Time to push this Festival party to 11? HELL YEAH!
Fiona Tan's Saint Sebastian GUTTED me with its dual projection images of Japanese women lining up for a traditional archery festival. It's art, BUT IT'S ALSO TIME TO PARTY, PEOPLE! I was air-punching my way through the entire thing.
Then: to ACCA. The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art you philistines! I was sweating and nervous all over when I walked into ACCA this week; after all, I'd been on this binge for a while, and now I was heading into the dragon's lair. I hit Callum Morton's Babylonia first, and yeah, it hit the spot.
A BIG motherfreakin' rock, into which you wander to find a The Shining-style expanse of mirrored hotel room doors, behind each of which is a bizzaro soundscape. Can you dig it? (Hint: yes you can).
AND SO IT'S ON TO THE BIG ONE:
The Lights Out at ACCA.
PARTY PARTY PARTY
An exhibit in which the artist takes (Martin Creed) three rooms of the gallery, and simply turns out the lights. That's it. Capisce?
PARTY PARTY PARTY PARTY PARTY PARTY PARTY PARTY PARTY PARTY
It's an arty party, right?