Very much back in Argentina now. A pity that this country did not economically repair itself whilst I was away but I guess that was a BIG ask. Seems like the corruption and general mismanagement of this land is to continue. Comedians have described Argentina as a land of millions of people trying to sink the country without any luck! Another gag was roughly that the only reason Argentina survives is that the government officials cannot steal when they sleep. Sad really.
The mountain views are still grand and our life on this rustic vineyard is mostly tranquil but it is frustrating and at times a battle to do many things here. Never mind as things could be a lot worse. As I recover from a head-cold/sore throat mess I clean out and reinstall myself into my asador studio where I plan to dive into a new body of work on paper and a series of paintings that want to become physical but are currently floating about in my head. Film work also keeps me busy... some stills below...
The concept of displaced people is not a nice one. People forcibly moved away from their homeland or have fled to another country due to instability or horror of some form are to be found in there millions across the planet. To be displaced is certainly not desired. Displaced person, evacuee, refugee, (economic, environmental or political) all describe movement not chosen or desired but most necessary. I can barely grasp the upheaval and sorrow felt by people in such situations and I have no experience at all of such awful predicaments.
With this in mind I have been working on small paintings that hint at displacement in a purely visual manner. Displaced Landscapes wander about my personal self inflicted displacement. My variety of displacement is self imposed and very far from the concept of forced displacement. I do consciously use this word ‘displacement’ to acknowledge the growing global problem of people forced to move.
So here I am or sort of am, painting places that I have been to, places that don’t exit or places I shall go to as well as the place I am in all at once. Here but not here, somewhere but nowhere or everywhere and nowhere on a single painting.
Watching pretty hummingbirds suck the nectar from the cactus and succulent flowers has been a recent pastime. To see these tiny birds hover and fly backwards is incredible. I just wish I could do all those maneuver’s. I think there is a scene in the 1984 movie Under the volcano where Albert Finney plays a very alcoholic British diplomat in Mexico who watches a bird intensely under the influence of a great deal of booze. As if in a trance Finney sees the creature with a lucid kind of trippy focus. This inebriated character “drinks himself sober” which makes me consider the concept of drunken-clarity as I just love a good oxymoron and to ponder how clarity can be located after buckets of tequila is a great mystery to me. So I watch the hummingbirds here in La Consulta as I mix dry vermouth on ice and then a bit later it is time for a red wine or two.
Over the past two months I have been painting, sewing and editing/doodling with digital film under the sweet squawky noise of 100 or more fruit bats. An occasional visit into the studio by a large possum or a blue tongue lizard or sometimes even odder creatures like humans all dropped in to see what I was making. I have been in a focused studio mode for many weeks now but that was broken up by a small show at the Short St. Gallery bungalow.
EMERGENCY CRAFT was whipped together to display some new paintings and a selection of films. I also drank beer with many friends living in this remote Kimberly town who all kindly gave me feedback about my new film work.
In Broome I have contact with the Australian Aboriginal art world as I can meet the artists, see exhibitions, watch artists paint and hear artists talk about their images. In these remote regions this art all revolves around “country” “my country” “that country” “our country” - basically landscape derived from an innate relationship with a homeland and the specific regions of earth where each artist was born or grew up. The form of abstraction often used in contemporary Aboriginal art could be seen as an aerial view or perhaps an inner view of the spiritual/dreamtime world or both or just plain old emotional responses created in paint on canvas referring to a place loved and respected. It’s a fascinating and phenomenally successful contemporary art style that feeds off 40,000 years of a particularly hardy culture’s stories, designs and mark-making methods. Quite amazing. The best Aboriginal art in my view has that massive weight of history unlike my work that has only my life experiences to feed off but I do cover a lot of geography. My work is a bit like a suitcase crammed with a great deal of curiosity as there are no treasured stories relating to landscape passed down to me from elders.
I could compare what I do when I make art with a variety of Aboriginal artists and I can see a similar love towards landscape but my landscapes are far and wide, diverse and many. Often a number of locations are melded together in one work. I do have intense love of land but not to one location in particular which is why I often refer to myself as ‘geographically promiscuous.’
I have no spiritual world to mine for shapes, stories, or song lines but I do have respect for the land; in fact I have respect for the earth. Every single bit of it. My land or “country” is the earth and my optimistic cosmopolitan worldview is about as fuzzy as the dreamtime but it is a positive worldview that I feel strong about even if I often embellish it with healthy dabs of pessimism.
Hello Broome’s Shinju Matsuri festival, bye Broome, hello Melbourne. Hello St Kilda Bowling club on a warm grand Saturday night where I found friends, a naked guitarist, zombies, beer, a bbq, brilliant weather, a raucous urban, country and western feed-back band, wine, dumplings and many laughs. On my final walk home through the park 3 or 4 possums scratching about in the bushes accompanied me as I wobbled down the track. There was also the screeching noise of city ambulances and police cars on their way to mop up possibly far too much fun that had turned into far too much chaos.
Bye Melbourne and hello New Zealand! I dropped into Auckland for a few days and found what I thought was a smaller, cleaner version of Melbourne. Very multi-cultural with lashings of art to be found here and there but unlike Melbourne this city sits on top of numerous extinct volcano which all make up the topography of this region of NZ. Lush and VERY rich in both vegetation and culture.
Bye Auckland, Hello Santiago, Bye Santiago, Hello Mendoza.
Once again I return to my hometown of Melbourne where things are all the same but very different each visit. Melbourne is a great town adorned with lashings of culture and a mostly pleasant climate that bamboozles and keeps the inhabitants guessing as to what to wear each day.
I found myself wandering about the city on a blustery eve with a small but very full rucksack. In the bag were my laptop, a camera, one earless toy Mickey mouse from my childhood, a pretty pearl shell, an umbrella, an Antarctic vest, a sarong and some clove cigarettes. There was also an art magazine, a Swiss army knife and a pair of socks. What more does one need? Then I was off to Sydney.
A few characters I have not seen for some time appeared at my Greenice exhibition opening which ended up to be a night out on the town and over the next few days there were visits to friends, food treats, cups of tea, art and even a short ferry trip.
Back to Melbourne involved a fair amount of frantic go go go activity which burnt both Carolina and I out so it was a fine plan to fly north to the Broome studio.
Time to work. I always feel comfortable and invigorated by the intense sunshine and colors of this remote town. One weekend we went out to James Price Point on a camping trip. This site is where the long and ongoing gas debate has been fought. Recently the West Australian Supreme Court ruled unlawful and invalid a number of the state's decisions to grant approval to the gas hub. The Chief Justice Wayne Martin issued damning rulings on three of the Environmental Protection Authority's approvals. The reason: major financial conflicts of interest. The Chief Justice said the majority of the board members had a financial interest in the matter but were still allowed to be involved in the approval process! Awful greed exposed and luckily this remote pristine region is saved … until the next battle.
I will be connected to Sydney for a short period of time via my exhibition GREENICE at Damien Minton Gallery. This show presents aselection of mixed media works created in Greenland and Iceland. If you happen to be in Sydney please come to the opening function on Tuesday 23rd July. 6- 8 PM. I shall be there. www.damienmintongallery.com.au
Recently after a studio clean up in Argentina I discovered some old exhibition invitations from previous shows in many places over many years. The printed form of invitation I rarely use these days so now these are all postcards from my past. Certainly a mobile past and as far as I can see ahead its a mobile future for me as well. Things move and things change that's all I know.
It is soon time for me to pack my bags again as there is a large list of things I must do in Australia over the next few months. I may see you there.
Click here to ediI shall be screening four short films at the Hong Kong PUFF International Underground Film Festival this JUNE. Anyone in that part of the world who attends some screenings please enjoy the festival. http://hkpuff.com
A selection of Arctic/Antarctic intimateGEOGRAPHY films will be shown in the experimental film category. The footage includes – a newly born Weddell seal pup, a waterfall of blood, a long trudge over blue ice and two male elephant seals battling over geography including the right to mate with female seals. I believe that we are all connected to a bit of geography via our senses but sometimes this makes no sense to me at all therefore I get confused about which bit of geography I should connect to. Perhaps this spatial fluffiness I speak of is a form of deterritorialization. If so I am one very deterritorialized character who has for years been attempting to lessen the space between “us and them” on a very personal but global level. While attempting this I have widened the space between myself and where I stand locally. As I move so often it is understandable that I have not sunk deep roots anywhere for thirty years but I have been able to somehow make the foreign familiar. The price I have paid for this is that familiar is now slightly foreign to me.
Autumn colours are here, grapes have been plucked and more snow falls on the mountains. This all adds up to the oncoming winter so I best chop some wood. The past months I am sure I have been consuming too much coffee and cigarettes. Such naughtiness must cease but it probably will not. A great deal more naughtiness is to be found in the Argentinean government who seem to be doing a great deal of naughty things on many levels. Making life for most Argentineans very difficult. To vent frustrations a wild night in Mendoza was implemented involving a Tango evening and then marching about in anti government protests. This territory needs some Spring cleaning but the weather tells me that sadly this is not possible now.
I have recently been interviewed in a popular website about how to establish a career as a fine artist. This I found a little surprising as for some reason it made me realize that I have somehow successfully managed to make art as well as travel for thirty years. A miracle for sure as the art-world is one flimsy, fad-driven, fuzzy and unpredictable beast at the best of times. The creation of art is indeed a tempestuous passion dressed up as a business these days so navigating through its exhilarating waters for long distances is certainly not easy sailing… but we paddle on! Like life that thing called Art just seems to find a way to survive.
Plucking almonds from the trees in the garden has kept me amused the past weeks. I sun dried the nuts, cracked them open, oven roasted them with salt, olive oil and sweet paprika then I opened a bottle of chilled Rose/Rosado. All that effort was actually done to say a big farewell cheers/salud to the end of the southern summer.
There was also the difficult chore of removing a very smelly Molina hog-nosed skunk away from the cactus garden. The defense perfume this creature sprays is like a sharp, rancid musk with a hint of smoke and something else very foul that hangs around for many days. The creature left the vacinity finally and is on its way back to the open arid bush in search of a mate I believe. I wish him luck.
New film work keeps me busy and some fresh works on paper appear. I have no idea where these schemes will take me… perhaps nowhere in a hurry but I do remind myself that even when we are lost we are indeed somewhere…
It's a summer of hot weather as the Argentinean government and economy also heats up with inflation and assorted corruption messiness. Is it just Latino style politics? This Latino manner generally I try to ignore or avoid as it usually involves arduous, tiresome and illogical drama. To expend energy loudly and abruptly could be a good way to rapidly discard frustration, stress or some anger but it seems to me that it can also flame more stress and emotional chaos inevitably fuelling further soap operas. “It’s the Latino way” I hear you say and I understand but it’s not my style. Making art is and this perhaps is just another peculiar method to vent any negativity or confusion one feels towards life. Speaking of life… here’s a pretty cactus to celebrate life.
As an artist I express, prod, distort, distill, present, gush, blabber, simplify, prompt, question, utter and if lucky I even communicate. Over the next few months I will “communicate” in a few venues very far from where I currently am.
- H Gallery in Bangkok will screen a film of mine in an International group show. METAMORPHOSIS AND FLUX.Opens in March 7th (www.hgallerybkk.com)
- Currently a massive Antarctic painting from 2009 titled - Big beautiful dead place/rafting sea ice is displayed at the Australian High Commission in Singapore.
- In the group show titled 10 YEARS 30 RESIDENCIES at Turner Gallery in Western Australia I show a selection of tiny Greenlandic works. (www.turnergalleries.com.au)
All whilst I sit in rural Argentina trying to work out how on earth to work on a film in Berlin next year. Woozy is one way to describe my mental movements.
What do I communicate these days? Well the films I now work on primarily revolve around the topic of xenophobia; which seems to float about the airwaves across the planet like a rancid smell. This aroma I often bump into as I travel and it is often sadly stoked by political manipulation making the stink even more oppressive.
I am not overly fearful, negative nor pessimistic about the state of the world but I do have a very normal hope that humans would operate more as a total unit rather than a sloppy bunch of tribes, sects, nations, cults, gangs, armies, hordes, throngs and flocks. I will not be holding my breath for such a time to arrive. Perhaps while we wait for world peace you will see some of my new short films somewhere on this rather hectic planet.
The Chinese New Year has arrived so now we all slither through another year. Carolina and I with some Mendozinean friends celebrated the Lunar year of the snake by driving up a rough curling road to visit the impressive Reserva Natural Laguna del Diamante. Diamond Lake (4600M) sits below the massive classic Maipo volcano (5264M) in an Andean caldera just south of here. Underneath mostly blue skies many guanacos scampered around the beautiful lake and in the ravines all making our short trip pretty fine and a very long way from complicated human business.
A Jolly 2013 to all family and friends from La Consulta !!!
2012 went rapidly. I moved across a dozen locations over 5 continents. It was a tricky and sad year in many ways. (What year is not tricky in some manner I ask!) At the commencement of 2013 I am in Argentina with Carolina and that feels very good.
Now it is the festive season meaning festive things on the menus and in this part of the Southern hemisphere it also means summer heat, long days, mountain thunder storms, fresh fruit, bbqs and wine of course.
I work on hammering and chopping, tweeking and butchering, clipping, editing and joining the many hours of digital film footage I have been gathering over the past year or two. Mostly footage from my recent residence in Asia but also Antarctic, Sub Arctic and Australian footage seem to be working their way into the short films.
“A cosmopolitan cocktail combo...a masala of fuzzy visuals and diplomatic ideas funked up with a blend of humour and fear spawned in too many places to make any sense at all. ” That describes the zone I am in at moment in the studio.
New years eve was a small party with the classic asado BBQ but no Tango dancing as Carolina badly damaged her ankle and will be off the dance floor for some months. I will continue to dance in the studio with my short films until some harmonization is obtained.