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limn file at HSP

Forum > Reviews

Limn file: exhibition two

Matt Glen, Michele Zarro, Nicholas Hudson-ellis and Melissa Laing at High Street Project
2 Aug 2007 - 19 Aug 2007

by Peneloping
42 Comments
Article of the Month August 2007
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Limn file had their first exhibition as a group at China Heights Gallery in Sydney in June. The collective don’t seek to present group exhibitions with a theme or a strict curatorial bent. There is no catch phrase or particular premise. Rather, Limn File wants the work to ‘argue’ with each other, or strike up ‘conversations’. This is what the press release says anyway.

This fairly flimsy exhibiting framework doesn’t entirely wash with me. Don’t all group shows implicitly strike up ‘conversations’, doesn’t that go without saying? A group exhibition should be a group exhibition for a productive or interesting reason, not just an easy option to fill up space in a large gallery such as HSP. The individual works in limn file: exhibition two are so far removed from each other in their conceptual and material concerns that there can be absolutely no ‘informing’ or ‘conversing’. If these artworks were people, they would definitely not go out for a drink with each other. If they met each other on the street they would say ‘I’ll text you’, but then never would.

Constructing her art out of found objects, Michele Zarro’s work oscillates between an interest in the charming aesthetics of junk, old teledexes (old address books contraptions, where you can move the dial to the right letter and it flips up) and clock radios, and a focus on their use or misuse. Her teledexes are stripped of their pages; addresses, numbers and names have all been removed, rendering them totally useless and existing entirely for their formal make-up.

Similarly sculptural, but far removed from Zarro’s renegotiation of found objects is a small sculptural piece by Nicholas Hudson-Ellis. This tiny staircase, raised on a plinth, is reminiscent of modernist design. Simple, stark and elegant, this object is cut down the side so that its construction is made evident. The cross section reveals the small rods from which it was built. The utopian proclamations of modernist architecture are here playfully shrunk and manipulated. Unlike Zarro’s focus on colour, shape and form, Hudson-Ellis reduces the monumental manifestoes of modernist artists to the pithy, condensed and sceptical.

The limn file show moves from re-examinations of modernist theories to the very post-modern interest in transit, international flux and globalisation. Melissa Laing’s work is constructed from various blankets donated to her from a number of airlines around the world. By picking out specific threads from the blankets, Laing has created various scenes from different airports, Taiwan, Sydney and Singapore. The shadowy silhouettes which are created from the unpicking technique evoke the eerie sense of spacelessness which comes from being in an airport. I always feel like I’m not really in any country when I waiting in transit, but instead in a sort of non-space in between real, concrete countries.

Laing’s an interesting study on the notions of travel, distance, absence and transitional spaces. However, some of the efficacy is again diluted by their presence in this group show. Laing’s exploration of the liminal and spaceless is jarring against the art historical framework of Hudson-Ellis’ piece and the DIY aesthetic of Zarro’s junkshop constructions. The reality is that younger artists putting together shows in other countries are limited by time, money and space, especially when putting on shows in artist-run spaces such as HSP which are limited in the support they are able to provide. As a result, limn file: exhibition two, while exhibiting work with individual strengths, lacks a strong group aesthetic or intention and begins to feel more like an eclectic space filler than a coherent show.


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Comments:
1 to 20 of 42
alibi
3 articles & 366 comments since 9 Oct 2006
sounds like all of the work could have been talked about using a logic of travel and interstices. in fact based purely on this review text, it sounds like a very strong subtext that can be found in relationship between the works as well as in the works individually. why is a clear thread like this not a viable form of structural cohesion?

empty teledexes, stairs that go nowhere and cannot be used, fraying airline blankets, scenes of airport interiors (one features someone ostentatiously staring into the distance)....here is a strong and rich thematic tendency that does not need to be laboured and overstated in a didactic text. although certainly one could have been constructed. should the curators have done this work for the audience and made those connections explicit?

quoting one press release about the show:

" Limn File's exhibitions revel in the particularity of the individual without forgetting the broader communal endeavour of the exhibition."

They have given a framework that says, 'here are works that operate on distinct logics, but they are in this room together because we also think they have a relationship with each other. ' The contradictions that Peneloping deplores are part of the logic of the show. If the works are referring to and using different theoretical histories, they do so concretely and in a way that allows an understanding of the ways different theoretical contexts might frame similar content. how is that not conversational?


while being quick to categorise the works in the show by their relationship to Modernity, Penelopings analysis also has a nostalgic relationship to a Modern formal aesthetic sensibility that is not compatible with the way the show is coded. IMO.

Peneloping
1 articles & 22 comments since 31 May 2006
if you look hard enough, i think you could draw a connection between anything. while there are some conceptual links between these works it doesn't escape the fact that within the gallery space they don't cohere.
i don't in any way advocate rigorous curatorial control and contrived themed exhibitions but do think that giving a group show for no reason whatsoever but the fill the gallery is an empty gesture and ultimately lazy.
alibi
3 articles & 366 comments since 9 Oct 2006
I would think that there is nothing inherently lazy about travelling an exhibition from Australia. If HSP or Limn files wanted to avoid work why would they go to these lengths to do so? There are far easier ways of being lazy, like going back to bed. Staging an international exhibition for 'no reason whatsoever' would be a very extravagant form of empty gesture, if true.

I contend that Penelopings idea of what it means to 'cohere' is not a compatible framework for understanding this project.
Peneloping
1 articles & 22 comments since 31 May 2006
my argument was that this show is entirely without any framework, compatible or incompatible. and if one was able to be constructed it would be like a flimy tent with a saggy bit in the middle. thus begging the question of why these artists even chose to exhibit together in the first place.
allblackwinz
Flake
46 articles & 641 comments since 26 Jan 2006
An example of Artist run spaces filling up their funding years with shows based on proposals written with one hand on a critical theory dictionary and the other on the CV. In other words more careerism than experiment, more positioning than content, more marketing than etc etc.. yawn. Before is not the same as now. Wow really. Yes but you wouldn't know it to read the title, Enjoy enjoys running over the memory of it's golden years (the years I was there) along with HSP which is so long past the bullet Lazarus has gone Hindu... These organizations need to take a tip from Test strip, and Special, and evolve with new identities and new ideas, yes reinvent the wheel so it goes some where, Who wants to show in a cemetery (shut up that's my idea) other than vampire career jerks...
Lee-looking-profound-1
Artbasher
137 articles & 705 comments since 12 Feb 2005
Flake, you kick arse. We should start a Vitriolic Comment of the Month contest. You would win it every time.
allblackwinz
Flake
46 articles & 641 comments since 26 Jan 2006
Nah, yu take teh cake.
allblackwinz
Flake
46 articles & 641 comments since 26 Jan 2006
thanks for the t shirt though
Peneloping
1 articles & 22 comments since 31 May 2006
when was the last you were at hsp flake?
I am Tiger Woods
1 articles & 34 comments since 3 Oct 2006
I agree with you Flake, even though we fought pitched battles at Enjoy, I came out with respect for the artist. Thing is, these Artists Run Spaces are no longer run by artists, but by 'Arts Professionals'.

Next thing is, by the looks of it that show is a lump of junk, no more trash already!

I'm going to Roger Williams Contemporary hope I'll see something good.
allblackwinz
Flake
46 articles & 641 comments since 26 Jan 2006
not sure exactly maybe a year or two ago, why

Bureaucracy is important, i love how CNZ has franchised the ARS(e) format to provide a stepping stone and on job training, with real career advancement. It was exactly what I fought for, against the other three founders of Enjoy, (who just wanted to show stuff they liked) driving them away, and what I kick myself for when I want to do something a little bit different and end up being "critical' of the system or accused of biting the hand that feeds.
alibi
3 articles & 366 comments since 9 Oct 2006
do you think that a new building matters? the boards of all ARI's change regularly and so do their priorities. Nick Spratt is an exception that proves the rule.
Iam Tiger, I disagree..they are still run by artists ..who else would do all that shit for free?
or did you mean that being an artist and being professional are mutually exclusive?
de Selby
1 articles & 5 comments since 17 May 2007
If there was a prize for the comment of the month that makes me want to go to bed and hide inside a good book, Flake you would win every time.

I think your criticism of late Flake cuts to the point and says some important things about artist run project spaces that need to be high on the agenda of Enjoy, HSP et al. How to keep existing and remain alive with increasing budgets, long serving trust members etc etc and an expectation and urge to be "cutting edge", critical, experimental, flexible......??

I do have one small request though. Perhaps more leading by example may be an idea? I don't mean we all literally go out and start our own gallery (well actually yes lets), more that how about some concept (and idea) generation of how an artist run collective could support practice? I think the notion of artists working with artists still holds exciting potentials and possibilities.

Maybe this would give current agendas the possibility of behaving in a more fluid manner.
Peneloping
1 articles & 22 comments since 31 May 2006
well, if you haven't been to show at hsp in two years flake i don't think you are really qualified to comment on the status of whether or not the gallery is a has been or not.
hsp is run by artists for artists. and, like you've suggested de selby, there is a need to constantly reassess their relevancy to the art that is being made in nz.
allblackwinz
Flake
46 articles & 641 comments since 26 Jan 2006
Well you make up the rules Peneloping, I'll just keep on hoping through the hoops you hold up. And alibi, "shit' for free is saying it exactly.. de Selby I'm willing to do what I do for free. The good and the bad. If you value what I am saying, or want my advice in a professional capacity then buy it, like anyone else in business.
allblackwinz
Flake
46 articles & 641 comments since 26 Jan 2006
look it is very simple all I am saying is that if it has to be the same format, can we at least have a new label so I can imagine that what I am looking at is relevant now, at least to the people who are running this thing, that they give a shit about what they are showing, cause it is their name on the door (so to speak) and their not just in the biz to prop up, or keep stuffed an old bird. How am I suppose to see change or fluctuation's in flavor. HSP was a site specific event when it started the name/space now as i see it has nothing to do with that history. Enjoy too. LEt it GO. UP STARTS get upstarty!!!! Get FRESh. there that is my advice. Rebel against it.
alibi
3 articles & 366 comments since 9 Oct 2006
fresh is good, yes it is. especially for a salad or a beer. newness for its own sake is something else..the continuous unfocussed rebellion against ...what exactly? kill the father?

early demise of ARIs as a model for intentional avant-guard strategy...a bit like johhny rotten avocating suicide at 21... live fast die young leave a pretty corpse? progress is the only point ...almost Futurist in implication.

I am ambivalent on this subject actually, looking at it from more than one perspective. on one hand radical innovation is definitely the behaviour of pioneers... and maybe the best spark is the early spark. cant start a good fire without a good spark. I would argue that the fire itself is worth something too ...of a different order

anecdotally I know that Canary finished earlier than they wanted for purely practical reasons. what about Special, why did they close? was that an intentional hari kari, strategic suicide to preserve the all important FRESH grande avant guard gesture or something else?

the longer lived 'branding' and funding continuity that HSP, RM 103, enjoy & Blue Oyster all have fought for over years also means -simply and only- that they are able to keep the doors open.

in the meantime there will always be artists who are unsatisfied by what already exists so they will start doing the shit themselves in some other way.. as it should be. making terrible mistakes and reinventing the wheel...and finding out blindingly brilliant things.

so these older spaces will always be kept honest by healthy competition, because if they dont keep evolving they will die and be replaced, simple.
allblackwinz
Flake
46 articles & 641 comments since 26 Jan 2006
Do you write for a magazine Alibi? Who are you talking to, me? I have no idea what the fuck you are saying. Sounds like Bullshit though. I just saw the excellent shows on at the Wellington City Gallery. Really Good. You read the captions and the who did whats and it reads like a really lovely list of who likes who, who is friends with who and etc etc. I like this, This is how art should be, among friends, people who like people are able to stick up for and go the mile needed to put on GOOD shows.. NEW and grounded. I like this cause I have it too and it means more to me than all the jocky positioning that makes up proposal land that takes up most of my day everyday, like lotto. Got to be in to WIN
william blake
29 articles & 728 comments since 15 Aug 2006
lotto...giotto,
alibi
3 articles & 366 comments since 9 Oct 2006
wasnt talking to you specifically flake, no, but since you respond directly..which bit is bullshit? defending the older ARIs? or questioning a rush to the new for its own unexamined sake?


also no to writing for money. so only myself to answer to in that regard. or was that question part of your casual insult?
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