The Geoffrey Farmer / Joelle Tuerlinckx's Power Plant show.
I had an impending feeling of "jamais vu".
Similar to "deja vu", jamais vu is the strong
feeling you're about "not-to-see" something no
one else has seen either, or ever will.
Tuerlinckx's room covered in white sheets of
paper; um... we did that in graduate school 20
years ago. Farmer's room full of used wooden
furnitureS And oh yes... every day, pieces are
burned in the fireplace, using political text as
kindlingS The sheer genius! How does he manage to
stay awake while thinking these thoughts?
It struck me there was a parallel between this
show and the majority of writing on art; the
wrong issues are addressed with intelligence and
clarity resulting in a shell of words, a ghostly
stage, the fanthom of experience.
I will never know the ecstacy of a 250lbs
linebacker flying through the air towards the
touchdown zone. It won't enter my narrative from
lack of contact, lack of involvement; as it
doesn't touch my life I lack the reference,
knowledge or even interest to go there. And so
with those whose primary experience of life is
through text, shaped in a written evironment.
There's a disconnection, a rupture between human
experience and intellectual discourse.
The exhibition notes make reference to a poem
whose "foreword, commentary and extensive indexS
has little to do with the work itself, telling
another story entirely". We're told that the
installation "S focuses on the formal properties
of gallery space, the role of public art
galleries, and the relationship between visual
art institutions and the viewing public."
The curatorial notes, writing about the work
itself, is informed, descriptive, sensible and
engaging, and I agree the installation before me
fullfills the description given.
And fails to go further.
When I look at this show I see a curatorial
narrative, a discourse based on text, fullfilled
in illustrating text, where the work's primary
function is illustration to theory,and the work
illustrates the exhibition proposal, framed in an
Yet as an illustration to text, practice loses
its mandate, has lost that spark which awakens
the imagination, speaking neither to feelings nor
emotions nor to that sense of intellectual wonder
which awakens on confrontation with the new.
This critique can best be expressed within the
Levi-Straussian concept of "the raw and the
cooked". Cooked is production shaped by
experience and vision in a result which speaks to
depths of human response, for example Rebecca
Horn's Pendulum and Emu Egg installation.
Opposed to this are works which show raw
material, with minimum alteration, in which the
idea is predominantS yet in the majority of cases
the idea is not exceptional, nor the result.
When in the dim memory of prehistoric time a
distant ancestor of ours took a stick, drawing a
line in the sand for the first time in history,
all were struck with awe and wonder at the
ability of that line to serve as a symbolS
perhaps the first time of a dawning intuition of
the possibility of the concept of representation,
letters, numbers, writing and mathematics.
That line in the sand had acquired meaning which
over millenia has been elaborated up to our
present time therefore a line drawn in the sand
is no longer exciting. Been there, done that,
It seemed as though the purpose of the work,
telling another story altogether, is to confirm,
validate, and perpetuate a curatorial and
academic discourse that might be unconsciously
playing a cruel game on the public, like the
piper in Hans Andersen, leading them away from
passion and excitement to a dull world of the
repetitive and commonplace, where the banal is
enshrined as enriching and fullfilling whereas
really it is not.
It may be a paranoid view to see a possible
hidden, unknown and unconscious agenda, that the
real story is of an intellectual perversion of
power that corrupts, (even while one is unaware
of this process like a fish barely knowing water,
having known nothing else thus lacking
perspective), for the structure of art is such
there are no checks or balances to curatorial
positions, and so the madness resulting from
unchecked power is an expression of that power
itself, to command large budgets and an
impressive intellectual arsenal that includes
international reputation, purely by fullfilling
the form of an idea, while in reality
substituting chaff for wheat, and the true game
being that subtle expression of perverted power
which is able to persuade the world that chaff is
wheat, with a Cheshire Cat smile in the
310 Bathurst st.