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Forum > Reviews


Eve Armstrong at Michael Lett
16 Jan 2008 - 10 Feb 2008

by Sam I am
Article of the Month January 2008

episode 1

as an art producer of a pseudo-pre-modernist/anti-Kantian persuasion –and possessing a genuine sense of compassion for all individuals similarly forced by environmental, genetic, or idiosyncratic factors of any nature to engage in art marking– I find it hard to challenge the way (anyway) a fellow practitioner chooses to spend their day, for I surely commend the very fact that have discovered for themselves –in spite this age of doubt– a way in which they enjoyably can do such a thing and make a life for themselves while doing so. however, in this instance I shall attempt, at the provocation of mr de selby, a certain portion of guilt, and deeply egalitarian sense of obligation, to raise at least a questioning of said day spend activities, their validity, contribution, depth-of-meaning, relevance, value, effect, and place within the very local world of contemporary art, a world in which miss armstrong is very much like lemon in paeroa… but without the lemon.

this task is further complicated by my acute awareness of the sincerity of eves practice, her obvious intelligence and care, and her genuine talent for floral arrangement. she’s pretty too. nevertheless, intentionally or not the same high-brow cholesterol that clogs denny’s arteries and thus separates, in any affective sense, form from content in his work (in spite of his few and far between dylan thomaseque moments) is present in armstrongs (in spite of her considerably larger heart)…

but art is not for the masses i hear you shout! just as you would not expect to understand a post doctoral treatise in theoretical physics should you happen to mistakenly pick one up between weekly editions of nw or womans day, neither should you expect to ‘get it’ should you chance upon miss armstrong at the michale lett while on your way from kinx to erox for a quick pic me up… and besides, in the very least eve’s work more or less about formalism while simultaneously functioning as a recalibration of both expectations and value, and the mere fact that these changes are somewhat differently perceived by the art and non-art educated does not invalidate its relevance…

oh contraire!

1 to 3 of 3
What Art?
2 articles & 41 comments since 8 Jun 2006
"the same high-brow cholesterol that clogs denny’s arteries" - Sam I Am what a wonderfully turned line this is, and so refreshing. I like the questioning of the value of such enterprises. An entire movement of innocuous high-brow cholesterol artmaking has emerged recently in the daily activities of Armstrong, Denny, Nick Austen, Tahi Moore, and many of the newly emerged Gambia Castle.

Cholesterol and arteries evoke the image of fatty foods that characterize contemporary fast food cuisine and there are many parallels between McDonalds and Michael Lett's or StarkWhite for that matter. I really wish there were better restaurants in Auckland.

3 articles & 203 comments since 2 Oct 2007
I am beginning to wonder if the problem with much of the Gambia Castle output is less its actual nature; and more the pretentious dribble of verbiage written to justify it. Obfuscation-rather than clear explication- seems to be its real purpose-and the resulting huge contrast with the dreary visually uninspiring nature of the actual work is what sets my critical faculties in full swing.
Perhaps if the artists refused to write or let other writers explain their work-I would be much less critical.
I see a great formal talent in Ms Armstrong's work--but as yet no poetry. This may well come as she encounters issues closer to her heart than her head.
In the meantime I would advise any young artist to closely vet [as much as they can] what is written about their work in the way of public explication.
Personally, in my sculptural practice, unemcunbered as I am from publicists or mentors or even the attention of the local Henderson Floral Society, I find it easy to avoid pretentious commentary on my output-or actually any commentary at all.
Thus spared the distinctly beige hue that the paintpot of academic commentary invariably bestows on its subject, my art is free to be whatever lies in the eye of its beholder.
If forced to explain my stuff I lower my gaze modestly and simply mumble that as a thing, it excites me-that my only reason for making it was I found it excitng and I want to look and look and look at it-and I hope other people do too.
End of story.
So should any of the Gambia Castle crowd wish to pursue their art in the shadows of Henderson Valley where the mall rats breed rather than the rarified airs of a K rd Ridge scene toasted by the academic glare---feel free to join me in my studio at the back of Floral Arrangements And Ornamental Souvenirs Going Cheap shop in Rendall plce. Florists of all descriptions are welcome, even conceptual ones.
What Art?
2 articles & 41 comments since 8 Jun 2006
Well Matthew, I like your wonderings as well as your rather disarming writing style.

In my humble opinion, the outputs of Gambia castle are just as pretentious as their writings. The whole place seems to be a rather incestuous hotbed of trite, apathetic, and poorly conceived practice with little cognizance of the larger movements of international art history and far less appreciation of skill, talent, or originality.

Their writings do little beyond demonstrating the rather boring fact that anything might be said about any particular cultural object one chooses to look at. Perhaps I am naive to expect some criticality from within the ranks of a collective desperately utilising all its links to emulate the success of a contemporary Corporation, forgetting everything we have ever come to know about art since the caves at Lascaux.
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