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D.Mystifying D.Mitchell

Forum > Rants

by Sam I am
Article of the Month September 2009

Editors note: Other worthy Artbash threads on Dane Mitchell's winning piece:
Thanks Dane Mitchell, waved one stick and pointed out all the Idiots
Pile of Rubbish or Work of Genius? Dane Mitchell on a pedestal
- Artbasher

the key to dane's work is not poetry, though it may be poetic; not concept, though it may be conceptual; not cleverness, though it may be clever; not excess, though it may be excessive; not futility, though it may be futile; not consumerism, though it may consume; not mystery, though it may be mysterious; not controversy, though it mat be controversial; not recycling, though it may recycle; not strategy, though it may be strategic; not effort, though it may be effortless; not mockery, though it may mock; not tautology, though it may be tautological; not paradox, though it may be one; not tribute, though it may offer one; and not, above all not, most clearly and significantly not, not not not not NOT RUBBISH!!! in fact dane’s work is not even made of rubbish - though of course, at first, it may appear to be. 

the key to dane's work is desire, aspiration, and ambition. the key to dane's work is hope. the key to dane's work are the hopes and dreams of his fellow contestants. the key to dane's work are the vey hopes and dreams his victory crushed. dane's work is NOT made from rubbish. dane's work is made from hopes and dreams. dane's work is made from the crushed hopes and dreams his victory created, and dane's victory is made from the defeat of those who lost. this is the key to his work. this is why it may be poetic, conceptual, clever, excessive, futile, consuming, mysterious, controversial, recycled, strategic, effortless, mocking, tautological, paradoxical, memorialising. this is why it might not be rubbish. this is why it might be art and why it might be interesting. nothing else. 

N O T H I N G.

if you do not understand this read it again, and again and again and again until you come to terms with it in your own way, in your own words, through your own feelings and though your own experience because that is what dane's work is about. dane's work is about experience. in shaping his winning piece from the discarded packaging of those that lost he imbues a single object, a pile of rubbish, with both an aura of success and an aura failure; with both victory and defeat; ulfilment and emptiness; truth and trash.

what is really contentious here (and what seems to be similarly lost on everyone but me) is that dane's work only works , really works, if it wins. without victory all that might be interesting, clever, poetic, or whatever is lost, set adrift like rubbish in the wind. what is really contentious here is that dane's work was not just dane's work. dane's work was a collaboration. dane's work was begun by dane but finished by charlotte. in fact, before it won dane's work hardly existed at all. it was not even art - it was a challenge. a challenge made directly charlotte and one she chose to accept. 

all artworks in competition say two things. firstly they say what all art works say - what they would say if they were not in a competition - firstly they say "i am art and i am about this or about that"  or "i am beautiful or  "i am clever" or some kind of combination of these kinds of things, and secondly they say "pick me! pick me! i am the winner!". the first voice is primary. it defines the art as ART, and, in competition, is used by the judge to determine the claim of the second... however, in a move that may be more radical, more thoughtful, more specific and more responive to its context than another competition entry anywhere in the world, ever, dane submitted a work that had no primary voice. a work that did not even claim to be art! a work with a secondary voice. only a secondary voice. a work that claimed only to win.

in this way dane's winning work uses the competition environment to invert in the extreme the typical mode of operation art uses to communicate its intentions. in this way dane’s work challenged charlotte not just to award it the prize, but to finish it, to make it work, and to make it ART. what we should really be asking is did he, did she, do we, does anyone, realise this...


1 to 20 of 51
1 articles & 19 comments since 25 Aug 2009
It seems to me that if Mittchel's art-work is only about what you say, and if he did not realize this or, like, intend it, than the art-work is rubbish on two cunts.
william blake
29 articles & 728 comments since 15 Aug 2006

  Sam what you say is pretty obvious, of course the detritus of the other contestants work only becomes art by the say so of the curators. And what a suck up that is (not the inversion you claim for Dane)

So Creed can pluck the Turner with the lights as Dane can in Ham with the wrappers. The landscape of academic contemporary art.

What will next years competition look like?

william blake
29 articles & 728 comments since 15 Aug 2006
Sam, a wee relational exercise if you will.

Take a bottle of milk out of the fridge, (represents Fonterra and all dairying production) and put it out on the front lawn (represents post colonial agrarian discourse), viola. art.

it is called, cheekily, 'out standing in your own field'. price $299.
cadmium hed
6 articles & 432 comments since 30 Apr 2006
why doesn't someone 'do' a pile of discarded curators?
Sam I am
4 articles & 37 comments since 10 Jan 2008

wb: love you work. really. and i get where your coming from, but part of the cleverness of dane's work - if in fact it is - is the way in which it so clearly presents itself as the archetype of the kind of art your feelings reflect, while simultaneously being so much more, and so much similar closer to the kind of art you may wish it was.

maybe i did not make myself, or the operation of the dane's work clear enough. i certainly did try. as an artist and TWNCAA 2009 participant, review, criticism, and art writing in general are not officially part of my job description (or training). however, the lack of intelligent comment from ALL concerned encouraged me to fill the gap. shocked as i was that no one else seemed to get it (perhaps even those who gave the award...), i really did think what i wrote was obvious, or at least obvious enough that once i wrote it it would be - obvious that is. maybe it is, maybe it isn't, or maybe i have it all wrong - i doubt it, but then i really did think i had the award in the bag. really.

what i have tried to express is, in part (the first part), not the boring and tautological truism that rubbish becomes art by the say-so of the curator/judge (which is often the case and partially true here as you point out), but that it works as art, as good art - perhaps great art - if and only if it wins. it is only through winning that dane's work can simultaneously embody both success and failure, only through winning that it can possess and aura of both victory and defeat, and only charlottle who can make this happen. it is this duplicity of presence, this bipolar essence of truth and trash in a single object that validates all other readings - and there are many. yes, charlotte made it art but not just in the way you seem to think - and in that way least of all.

if you or anyone else has strong feelings against anything i have said, read it again. read it compassionately. give it a chance and make of it what you will. i'm not trying to tell anyone what art is , how to think, or that dane's work deserved to win. all i want is to open up the discussion in what i think is an important and sorely lacking direction. the direction, i hope, dane submitted his work in, and the direction i hope led to his win, because if it didn't, then perhaps mine should have.

cadmium hed
6 articles & 432 comments since 30 Apr 2006
I'd 'do' a curator any day if it got me a show....
3 articles & 203 comments since 2 Oct 2007
I agree with some of what u say, Sam, but I do not see how it is a collaboration, nor do I see how it only works if it is the winning entry.

I will try a logical analysis here, if poss

The work has 2 components...one, by far the most important one, is its conceptual or metaphorical or poetic one.
This is the idea, as represented by Dane's written instructions,to pile on the floor all the ephemera of all the other artists' entries. Metaphorically these represent, as u suggest Sam, all the hopes and aspirations of the other artists. Or at least this is one reading of them...another could be that it represented all that wasn,t art about the other entries[as it was their cast-offs] The poetic or metaphorical significance is not clear, however simply the fact that both you and I and others have opined that it likely represents the other artists ambtions for their work is enough to assume that it does....by dint of majority opinion.
The second component of the work is its physical manifestation, its appearence, its objecthood. This I contend, is irrelevant...or it should be...to its value as a work of art. That is unless something occurs in its physical manifestation that has a conceptual value that feeds back or influences the works primary conceptual value.
And this is exactly what occurred.
The cast offs were not simply placed on the floor. They were selected and placed on a plinth, a pedestal. Now as we are operating in the field of contemporary art then so too must the plinth be seen in the light of this context. And the plinth has a strong signification in contemporary art, a metaphorical one. Many contemporary sculptors have a strong aversion to it as it has that association with safe, conventional scuptoral practice where the art's visual aspect is valued over its metaphorical aspect. The whole of installation art is predicated on this aversion to the plinth.
By "framing" the work in such a way its physical creators-not Dane-cut across its metaphorical original intent.
So, yes, I realize now you are correct in saying its a collaboration; one that succeeds or fails according to its physical birth in the hands of the musuem's staff.
Actually this is what Dane intended...I,ve just read his defence of the work where he says his aim was to implicate the staff of the museum in the works creation; to get the museum's "hands all over it"

He certainly succeeded in this.

Its just that in succeeding, in getting the museum to choose how they might"craft" his idea, the "craft" they employed paradoxically fed back and belied, undercut, what the majority view as the ideas poetic intention...to honour the other artists' ambitions.

By placing the other artists' hopes and dreams for their work on a pedestal, the museums staff has turned what could be seen to be a tribute to all the other artists into a parady of them. Now lets be clear here....who should bear responsibility for this result? Should it be Dane, who deliberately left his instructions vague so as to precisely implicate the physical craftors of the work in its creation....or should it be the museum staff who actually crafted it?
The responsibility must lie with Dane.

But wait....theres more.

Is there poetry in this idea that the art institution is always implicated in the artist's artwork...in this "bigger" idea that lies behind Dane's set of instructions, that contains within it "smaller" poetic ideas.

Maybe...but I see it as a fairly academic one....in any case such is its physical bebacle at the hands of the "craftors" that any larger poetic intentions Dane may have had for it are overcome by this failure.

If you see what I mean.
cadmium hed
6 articles & 432 comments since 30 Apr 2006
cadmium hed
6 articles & 432 comments since 30 Apr 2006
sorry, winners!
1 articles & 323 comments since 27 Dec 2007

Actually I like Dane Mitchell's work in general and almost always enjoy his playful anti-architectural gestures

... the rubbish pile debate didnt seem worth engaging with, at the level Campbell live and Mora's Panel on radio NZ took it.




5 articles & 245 comments since 11 Feb 2009

Kim Marsh called the piece 'old hat,' if that was regarding how she thought the work read as a historical narrative then that would be negative, or was it 'old hat' for the usual 'Dane Mitchell' style. If that was the case then she was criticizing that this award was about the reputation of Dane Mitchell's oeuvre work and not judged on 'Collateral’s' own distinguished strength, it seems likely, to me. Maybe Kim Marsh was implying that the moderators choice appears influenced on Dane Mitchell's already existing and promising reputation, due to the obvious or not so obvious weaker areas of the piece itself. Sure it might be good, but is it really that good.

Sam I am
4 articles & 37 comments since 10 Jan 2008

mathew, from eyecontact: dane's instructions stated "the packaging from all other contestants". however, collateral as it existed last friday was made from only a small proportion of this. this impossibility of realisation was likely intended by dane. it implicates the museum in the creation of the piece in an number of ways and forces them to modify the 'artist instructions' that, in conceptual work, are often considered sacrosanct... which brings us to the plinth. i have no idea whether or not this was dane's idea or a result of independent thinking on part of the museum - although i imagine not as in my experience museums are not known for their independent thought. either way the plinth was a great development. in the same way as the imperfectly applied artist instructions adgitates one excepted notion of conceptual practice, so to the plinth, which in elevating the material and aesthetic over concept, further confuses expectations. through its objectification of the work the plinth heightens our awareness of the work as victor, wrapping it tightly in a cloak of uniqueness, value, beauty and truth - all of which it on the other hand is not, being equally ubiquitous, cheap, banal and false, opposing characteristics that, in combination with their relationship to defeat - a defeat their very accumulation on a plinth created - imbues them too with an aura of beauty and truth. while the piece would still work without it, intentional or not, the plinth is genius.

apple: if the judge failed to make the readings i have suggested then knowledge of dane's practice in general may indeed have been a factor in thier selection. however, charlotte should be given the bennifit of the doubt in this regard untill proven otherwise, after all she did select the work as the winner, and it is great - if only due to her selection. colateral does not need the context on dane's practice to be good, interesting, evocative and thoughtful art. kim marsh! ha! if she wants a real conversation she can contact me. really.


137 articles & 705 comments since 12 Feb 2005
Quoting nosferatu:

Actually I like Dane Mitchell's work in general and almost always enjoy his playful anti-architectural gestures


I have to agree - I think it's quite a witty piece.

william blake
29 articles & 728 comments since 15 Aug 2006
Thanks Sam it is good to have a reasoned and impassioned point of view. However, and please help me out here if you can, how can taking other artists hopes and aspirations in this way not be nihilism of the n'th order.

One reading of this work is the collusion of the artist and curator in the damnation of the other 'contestants' praxies.

And what does this kind of activity lead to? Isn't it a dead end, and isn't one way of quantifying 'great' art is through its power to influence?
5 articles & 245 comments since 11 Feb 2009

Art recycling. Old news banged together with a bit of new news for bondage.

5 articles & 245 comments since 11 Feb 2009

Sam I am - I think everyone realizes that the pile is beyond rubbish, I see this work functioning by what you say, it certainly is made of the crushed hopes and dreams that its victory created, and Charlotte's contribution is also very well mentioned. But like wb says, what’s next? Because if we allow ‘collateral’ the liberty to continue its development right up until the moment Charlotte builds on the provocation by passing judgment then naturally as viewers we wish to read on. So then, what is the work now? Now that we analyze it after the exhibition. I would read that the work is really functioning as a parasite right now, and there is nothing cutting edge about a parasite artwork.
Back in its early stages it was sucking the life out of its host or ‘other contestants’ and almost passed away with them if Charlotte hadn't of stepped in with her lifeline. I have no intention of applauding art that lies in a coma, at the breast of curators, institutions and judges who are either too blind to notice, or to cowardly to commit to the new.

1 articles & 12 comments since 7 Jul 2009
I kind of like some of Dane Mitchell's other works, but this one.......not so much. I like how you see the deeper meaning of this winning piece Sam. Unfortunately all i see is rubbish on the floor. Just my opinion. I wouldn't be so against it if Dane Mitchell arranged the packaging and stuff himself. Even though there isn't much to arrange.........just pile some stuff onto the floor. This is great for him though, no such thing as bad publicity.
1 articles & 19 comments since 25 Aug 2009
I agree with William bleak, its a dead-end, the same dead-end that was reached by many many artists before dan mitchel reached it. My girlfriend is more open-ended then this art-work.
218 comments since 20 Jul 2007
His winning performed it's purpose perfectly, it got a few peoples faces on TV and got the media talking! which is about as interesting as...ahh I think I'll go paint a canvas white and call it contemporary!
46 articles & 641 comments since 26 Jan 2006
Ugh, level of Greed in this debate is sick.. the over whelming majority of you whining about what? A dead end? If this is a dead end why don't you just strap bombs to your self and light up the road to the new way... Critisisim people is a constant thing not a luxury, that Huddelston let that critisim in is indicative of nothgin more that she heard his critisim and responded to it... What the fuck.
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