Category Archives: Words

Work that has not been commissioned or formally published.

2018 – Press pass, boots and a baby bump

It feels strange to be marking the end of 2018, a year which for me had its own rhythm, split as it was into three phases each with a distinct pace.

I am pretty used to deadlines, and as I raced towards a major personal one in early May I packed in as much as possible on the work front. As well as continuing my column for Art Monthly Australasia magazine ‘Notes from the Field’, I wrote catalogue essays for Sydney artist Michelle Cawthorn, and for the group exhibition Vanishing Point at Hazelhurst Arts Centre. I led visiting art patron Marilyin Greenberg, previous council chair of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, on a personalised tour of commercial gallery spaces across Sydney.

Marilyn Greenberg visiting Utopia Art Sydney, April 2018

As always, I appreciated the opportunity to travel for art. In early March I visited Adelaide, filing a review of the Adelaide Biennial for Vault. A major highlight was a press trip to Hong Kong Art Week in late March for Art Monthly. I reviewed Encounters (curated by Alexie Glass) at Art Basel Hong Kong and blogged about the fair overall. I also interviewed Suhanya Raffel, Executive Director of M+ and reviewed Samson Young’s exhibition at M+ Pavillion . As I was 32 weeks pregnant it was a challenging trip energy-wise, particularly climbing the many flights of stairs during the site visit to the under-construction West Kowloon Cultural district!

The middle of 2018 saw me take a 4-month professional hiatus as my husband and I welcomed our baby into the world. Despite me stepping back from work, baby’s early months were filled with many gallery visits (including a ferry trip to Cockatoo Island to visit the Biennale of Sydney when he was four weeks old).

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Family trip to the Biennale of Sydney on Cockatoo Island, June 2018 (artist Mit Jai Inn’s work in background)

Following that personal milestone there continued to be many professional highlights. After an interview with Malaysian artist Minstrel Kuik earlier in the year, I continued to contribute to ArtAsiaPacific, with reviews of Jess Bradford‘s exhibition at Galerie Pompom, and Fearless: Contemporary South Asian Art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. I resumed ‘Notes from the Field’, including for focus issues on South Australia (November) and Brisbane (for the Asia-Pacific Triennial over Summer).

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As well as contributing to these print and online publications, this year I worked as a freelance arts administrator, researcher and editor on a range of diverse projects for clients including consultant John Cruthers, publisher and designer Mark Gowing of Formist, and artist and curator Glenn Barkley. I appreciated the continued work with these art-world contacts and forged new ones, including a meeting with New York Times and Art Newspaper Los Angeles Correspondent Jori Finkel as the year drew to a close.

I’m looking forward to the start of a new year as an opportunity to gather new energy and recalibrate. With a press trip to Singapore Art Week fast approaching, 2019 promises to be action-packed.

Wishing you good health and happiness in the new year.

Chloé

2017: Carparks, country towns & everything in between

Over the last 12 months I have written 30,909 words, had 29 texts published, worked with 20 clients, and presented at 5 public speaking engagements (in parallel to working 1-3 days/week as an art administrator). It’s been a challenging year personally and professionally but I’ve really enjoyed the range of opportunities and experiences – here are some of the highlights of my 2017 calendar.

JANUARY
An exhibition I curated, World Material, featuring the work of eight Australian women artists, opened at Darren Knight Gallery in Sydney.

World Material installation view featuring Lisa Sammut (L) & Louise Weaver (R). Image courtesy the artists and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney. Photography: Simon Hewson

World Material installation view featuring Lisa Sammut (L) & Louise Weaver (R). Image courtesy the artists and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney. Photography: Simon Hewson

FEBRUARY
I took my first trip to balmy Manila to cover Art Fair Philippines for Art Monthly Australasia. It was a packed few days that amongst other things included being hosted by the dynamic Diana Campbell and Jam Acuzar to a fantastic dinner at the launch of the Bellas Artes Outpost.

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An apologetic selfie featuring the work of Juan Alcazaren in Art Informal’s stand at Art Fair Philippines, February 2017

MARCH
After writing for the web edition for some time, my first print review for ArtAsiaPacific was published in Issue 102 of the Hong Kong-based magazine, covering Tatsuo Miyajima: Connect With Everything at MCA Australia.

ArtAsiaPacific, Issue 102, March-April 2017

ArtAsiaPacific, Issue 102, March-April 2017

APRIL
I headed to Kandos, a small town in the Central West of New South Wales, to cover the biennial grassroots Cementa Festival for ArtAsiaPacific and Art Monthly Australasia. It had everything from parkour to indigenous stargazing.

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Powerhouse Youth Theatre and the Dauntless Movement Crew perform on the pagoda rock formations of Ganguddy near Kandos, NSW. Image: Chloé Wolifson

MAY-JUNE
This was a time for composing artists’ catalogue essays, notably for Ioulia Terizis’ show at Photoaccess, Canberra, Lucas Davidson at Dominik Mersch Gallery, Sydney, and Leahlani Johnson at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, NSW.

JULY
It was great to see the release of Outside Material: The cover art of Preservation Music, a publication I worked on as copyeditor for independent Sydney publisher Formist Editions.

Outside Material: The cover art of Preservation Music, published Formist Editions, 2017

Outside Material: The cover art of Preservation Music, published Formist Editions, 2017

AUGUST
This month saw more catalogue writing, specifically 22 artwork texts for Michael Reid’s exhibition Wall Power: Contemporary Australian Photography which opened in Cologne before touring to Berlin, London and Paris.

SEPTEMBER
September saw the first of my ‘In The Galleries’ column published in Art Monthly Australasia. It was a professional milestone to be invited to contribute a regular print column, previewing commercial shows in every state and territory around the country.

Art Monthly Australasia, Issue 301, September 2017

Art Monthly Australasia, Issue 301, September 2017

OCTOBER
The National Art School introduced their Launchpad professional development program, and as well as appearing on a panel discussion the previous month, in October I was invited to mentor students in the Biography Workshop.

NOVEMBER
Another international print milestone: my first review for Frieze, covering Diena Georgetti’s show at The Commercial, Sydney was published in Issue 191 of the London-based publication.

Frieze, Issue 191, November-December 2017

Frieze, Issue 191, November-December 2017

DECEMBER
As the year drew to a close I made my final edits to Bad Habits, a private publication celebrating the art collection of Bonita Croft and Gene Zemaitis. It was a privilege to again work with advisor and curator John Cruthers for this project.

2017 SURPRISE BONUS TRACK
In August, with the help of a translator, I gave a lecture on Art History & Aesthetics at the Sydney launch of  Chinese permanent makeup brand Bicasso, complete with ribbon-cutting ceremony, and champagne sprayed Formula One-style on stage.

Cutting the ribbon with representatives of Bicasso and the Australia China Commercial Association (I’m second from right). Image: ACCA

Wishing you health, happiness and surprising art experiences in 2018. See you then!
– Chloé

To write about light: two texts about photomedia


Ioulia Terizis, Slivers and Shard (detail), 2017, Gelatin silver photograph, 115.0 x 83.0cm. Courtesy the artist.

It’s wonderful being asked to write catalogue essays for artists. The process, particularly studio visits, give a special insight into an artist’s practice and their world more broadly. Recently I was commissioned to write two artists texts: Ioulia Terizis’ exhibition Quanta at PhotoAccess in Canberra, and Lucas Davidson’s A Strange Loop at Dominik Mersch Gallery in Sydney.

Both artists use photography in different and intriguing ways and this was a great chance to really sink my teeth into ideas around photomedia, expanded photography, and light.

Lucas Davidson, ‘Death as a Companion to Living’, 2017, pigment print, 112 x 90 cm, ed. of 3 + 1a.p. Courtesy the artist and Dominik Mersch Gallery

Art Fair Philippines: A thriller in Manila

Maria Jeona Zoleta, Forced Farts … until Hell Freezes Over is a Freak Show, 2017, installation view, 5th Art Fair Philippines, Manila, February 2017; image courtesy Art Fair Philippines 

MARIA JEONA ZOLETA, FORCED FARTS … UNTIL HELL FREEZES OVER IS A FREAK SHOW, 2017, INSTALLATION VIEW, 5TH ART FAIR PHILIPPINES, MANILA, FEBRUARY 2017; IMAGE COURTESY ART FAIR PHILIPPINES

It was a pleasure to be invited to Manila to cover Art Fair Philippines for Art Monthly Australasia. This complex city has an intriguing history and thriving art scene. My fair wrap-up was published in full in the April issue of the magazine with a preview on the AMA blog.

World Material: Between accident & intent

A few hundred words into writing this, I clicked ‘Save’ and Word suggested the filename ‘between accident and intent’ – a fragment of text still floating at the top of the page. It seems apt to embrace this chance title. While the intention of World Material was to explore the resonances within and between the works of these artists, many of the connections that have arisen during the show’s subsequent development and installation have been surprising and even uncanny. The expanded material, spatial, geographic and conceptual potentials of these works collide at a number of points.

World Material installation view featuring Lisa Sammut (L) & Louise Weaver (R). Image courtesy the artists and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney. Photography: Simon Hewson

World Material installation view featuring Lisa Sammut (L) & Louise Weaver (R). Image courtesy the artists and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney. Photography: Simon Hewson

Fictions are employed in order to reveal new truths. Louise Weaver’s paintings might appear to be encased in the bubble wrap and packing tape that would have protected them in storage or transit, but are actually constructed from ‘skins’ of paint that have been built up on another surface before being applied to canvas as abstract colour fields. Like Weaver, Connie Anthes confounds expectations in her construction of a painting’s surface, her work Untitled (Shadow Figures) employing a soft sculpture as a stencil, with the perceived depth of the resulting two-dimensional impression disrupted by a scattering of flatly-painted glyphs. The River Red Gum ‘branches’ nestled among Yasmin Smith’s Ntaria Fence are actually slip-cast ceramic proxies, glazed with wood ash collected from the same area of Hermannsburg, Central Australia as the branches themselves.

Lotte Schwerdtfeger. World Material. Chloe Wolifson

Lotte Schwerdtfeger, Prospect (Geological Study of Fryers Forest) 2016 -2017. Quartz bearing iron stained rock fragments and secondary banded clay, mixed, sieved and kiln fired – harvested from Fryerstown area, Central Victoria
Paint, plywood, pine, eucalyptus branches. dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney. Photography: Simon Hewson

Yasmin Smith. World Material. Chloe Wolifson

Yasmin Smith, Ntaria Fence 2015. branches: mid-fire slip with Hermannsburg wood ash glaze (River Red Gum, Mulga, Palm Tree), nepheline syenite and ball clay; bucket: earthenware slip with arctic blue underglaze and clear gloss glaze; ice cream container: earthenware slip with yellow op. dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist, The Commercial and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney. Photography: Simon Hewson

Like Smith, Lotte Schwerdtfeger and Rebecca Gallo also present expanded understandings of landscape through the materials and forms they employ. Using natural clay sourced from the goldrush-ravaged Fryers Forest region of Victoria, Schwerdtfeger houses pieces of shattered local bedrock in specially-shaped plinths, interspersed with conventional pottery forms evoking a human presence. In Gallo’s sculptural installations, objects that once lay inert in places like Hill End, Fowlers Gap, Emu Plains and Sydney’s inner west have been reactivated, carefully incorporated into totemic compositions that are both fragile and playful.

Rebecca Gallo. World Material. Chloe Wolifson

Rebecca Gallo installation view, World Material, Darren Knight Gallery. Image courtesy the artist and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney. Photography: Simon Hewson

The perfectly mundane is conjured into significance in the hands of these artists. In Gallo’s works a fine balance is quite literally struck between found, carved and cast objects; An upturned ice-cream container rests jauntily on one of Smith’s Red Gum branches; In Weaver’s hands the trappings of a gallery stockroom become a lunar surface; Michelle Nikou transforms clothes dryer lint into domestic motifs; The notorious Mac ‘spinning wheel of death’ hypnotises in Anthes’ Mantle Piece.

Connie Anthes. World Material. Chloe Wolifson

Connie Anthes, Untitled (Mantle Piece) 2015. installation with air-dried ceramic, projector, apparatus
dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.

The folding and unfolding of planes that occurs in Mantle Piece, as a three-dimensional object is flattened into two dimensions then reprojected onto itself, creates an ambiguity in spatial comprehension. To do this Anthes uses orthographic projection, a technique that has been employed since antiquity to map star systems. Lisa Sammut’s work form deforms you is also a spatial map, in which organic and geometric motifs are connected atop an indigo velvet surface to create a sense of cosmic time, distance and scale.

Lisa Sammut. World Material. Chloe Wolifson

Lisa Sammut, Form deforms you 2017, embroidery on velvet, plywood, red cedar, beech, pine, acrylic paint, ink on paper, collage, cement, rock, clock mechanism, ping pong ball. 149 x 100 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney. Photography: Simon Hewson

The flat-sided forms in Sammut’s microcosmic cosmos feature painted or collaged surfaces which transform their diorama-like simplicity into dimensional portals. Eloïse Kirk also employs collage, exploring its intersection with painting in abstracted landscapes that are forged in the connections between organic elements and in the space between the romantic and the surreal. The title of her painting Ultra Plinian alludes to volcanic eruptions, and a geological form in the centre of the composition oozes black resin.

World Material installation view featuring Eloïse Kirk (L) & Connie Anthes (R). Image courtesy the artist and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney. Photography: Simon Hewson

World Material installation view featuring Eloïse Kirk (L) & Connie Anthes (R). Image courtesy the artist and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney. Photography: Simon Hewson

The works in World Material embody a sense of expanded possibility. Our world has held these materials, and these materials now hold new worlds for us.

………………….

Thanks to the artists, those who supported the transport and installation of their works, The Commercial , & the Darren Knight Gallery team.

World Material continues at Darren Knight Gallery until 25 February 2017.

WORLD MATERIAL at Darren Knight Gallery

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My latest curatorial project, World Material, is currently on show at Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney. The exhibition features the work of eight Australian women artists: Connie Anthes, Rebecca Gallo, Eloise Kirk, Michelle Nikou, Lisa Sammut, Lotte Schwerdtfeger, Yasmin Smith (courtesy The Commercial Gallery), & Louise Weaver.

World Material brings together the work of Australian artists whose works explore the spaces between strength and delicacy, between the material and the conceptual, between accident and intent, between the real and the fictional, and between representation and abstraction – embodying an exploration, recontextualisation, and sometimes deliberate obfuscation of natural, found and human-made materials. The exhibition is intended as an exploration of these tensions, suggesting totem-like resonances within and between the works of these artists.

Images of the exhibition are here, artists biographies here, and exhibition text here.

The show runs from 28 January – 28 February 2017. If you are in Sydney I hope you can make it.

TAKE on Writing Series: The Book Ensemble

Phew! My last few writing deadlines for the year are out of the way, just in the nick of time. I am honoured to be invited to Delhi by TAKE on art Magazine to join a great bunch of artists, writers and curators from around the world for ‘The Book – Ensemble’.

Curated by TAKE editor and publisher Bhavna Kakar and curator and assistant editor for TAKE, Anushka Rajendran, the Ensemble will, over the course of two days, exchange ideas and discuss the endurance and material legacy of ‘The Book’, including the ways in which it continues to influence contemporary processes of knowledge, community and history.

Words, words, words

I’ve been writing up a storm lately but had nothing published to show for it! Well as they say, it never rains but it pours. Here are a few of my recent missives that have finally hit the [digital] news stands:

Primavera 2016 at the MCA, published by Art Monthly Australasia, December 2016
D_O_T, review published in ArtAsiaPacific, December 2016
Jogja Calling, review published in ArtAsiaPacific, December 2016

And, ICYMI, here are some other highlights of my published year:

Exhibition essays:
It’s always great to collaborate with artists on their exhibition or catalogue essays. Here are a couple of recent texts:
The work of art in the age of digital reproduction, Kate Tucker exhibition essay published by Galerie pompom, October 2016
Lara Merrett: Casus Fortuitus
, exhibition essay published by Karen Woodbury Gallery, August 2016

ArtAsiaPacific:
I added a new string to my bow when I began writing for ArtAsiaPacific earlier this year. Some of my reviews included:
After Voices: Jompet Kuswidananto, review published in ArtAsiaPacific, August 2016
Invisible Forces, blog published in ArtAsiaPacific, 27 July 2016
Constant Negative: Kenzee Patterson, review published in ArtAsiaPacific, July 2016
Review: When Silence Falls at Art Gallery of NSW, in ArtAsiaPacific, pub. 6 April 2016

In print:
How exciting to be included in Melbourne University Press’ recent publication Art + Climate = Change, edited by Guy Abrahams, Bronwyn Johnson and Kelly Gellatly, with my essay Charmaine Pike and Sue Lovegrove: Landforms and Lagoons; Martin King: Forest of Dreams.

Voice of the artist:
The Copyright Agency released an excellent publication called Voice of the artist, co-ordinated by Nick Garner and edited by Tristan Chant. I loved putting together the essays The Hero Image and The Rise of the forgery: how the internet has increased instances of forgery and the misattribution of artworks – a change of pace from an exhibition-based writing focus.

Hong Kong missives:
I’ve visited Hong Kong a few times but nothing could prepare me for the behemoth art fair that is Art Basel HK. Here are the missives I filed once I’d recovered from Fair Fatigue:
Confronting the nature of representation: ‘Afterwork’ at ParaSite, review published in Art Monthly Australasia, Issue 289, May 2016, pp.68-69
Art Basel Hong Kong and Art Central, report published in Vault, Issue 14, May 2016, p.14
Australian galleries seduce viewers at Art Basel Hong Kong, in ArtsHub, pub. 5 April 2016

50 things collectors need to know in 2016

Work by Abdul Abdullah on the cover of Art Collector Issue 75

Work by Abdul Abdullah on the cover of Art Collector Issue 75

Art Collector Issue 75 has hit the shelves. The 50 things collectors need to know in 2016 issue features profiles of standout shows and artists, trends and taste-makers. I’ve contributed pieces on up-and-coming photographer Ashleigh Garwood, and arts policy campaign #FreeTheArts. Get thee to a newsagent and get in on the action!

Some thoughts on El Anatsui at Carriageworks

El Anatsui, installation view, Carriageworks, Sydney, 2016

El Anatsui in front of his work Adinkra Sasa, 2003, Carriageworks, Sydney, 2016. Photo: Chloé Wolifson

El Anatsui is making work about the primary concern of our age: the environmental catastrophe which has already begun to occur as a result of human impact on earth.  His sourcing and handling of materials speaks to a resourcefulness humans have forgotten in a capitalist age of plenty, but sorely need in order to stave off impending doom. His gathering of materials and visual devices from his surroundings, and the subsequent giving-over of control of the display of his work to curatorial staff in each varied exhibition context, bring to mind a trust of local knowledge and ingenuity that perhaps is being eroded in the face of globalisation.

El Anatsui, Open(ing) Market, 2004 (detail) metal (tin), paper, paint, and wood (iroko and plywood) approx. 8.0 x 8.0m (1755 pieces total) dimensions variable. Installation view, Carriageworks, Sydney, 2016. Photo: Chloé Wolifson

El Anatsui, Open(ing) Market, 2004 (detail) metal (tin), paper, paint, and wood (iroko and plywood) approx. 8.0 x 8.0m (1755 pieces total) dimensions variable. Installation view, Carriageworks, Sydney, 2016. Photo: Chloé Wolifson

The mass movement of goods is of great interest to Ghanaian-born, Nigerian-based Anatsui, and the scale as well as minutiae of his work reflects this. His works incorporate quotidian objects and while some such as those adorning the bottle caps he favours will only be recognisable to those familiar with Anatsui’s home country, others such as the ubiquitous Milo logo transcend borders. Indeed, there are certainly map-like suggestions in Anatsui’s works. A topography emerges out of the many small objects he joins and presents en masse, and different techniques are sometimes used across the same piece, inhabiting their own nation-like states yet spilling into each other as the inhabitants of nation states tend to do.

El Anatsui, Tiled Flower Garden, 2012 (detail) aluminum and copper wire approx. 12x12m dimensions variable. Installation view, Carriageworks, 2016. Photo: Chloé Wolifson

El Anatsui, Tiled Flower Garden, 2012 (detail) aluminum and copper wire approx. 12x12m dimensions variable. Installation view, Carriageworks, 2016. Photo: Chloé Wolifson

At the media viewing at Carriageworks earlier this week, Anatsui said that when the work is finished on the studio floor, that’s not the end but rather the beginning of its life as a work of art. His studio is small relative to the spaces where his works are presented, enabling works to transform as they are spread out, wall-mounted and draped in ever-new ways (he doesn’t provide presentation instructions). He seemed genuinely pleased to see pieces from the last 50 years of his practice presented amongst the soaring industrial interior of Carriageworks, as well as the newly minted Schwartz Carriageworks gallery (the result of Anna Schwartz’s recent fiscal and spatial gift to the institution).

El Anatsui, installation view, Carriageworks, Sydney, 2016

El Anatsui, Stressed World, 2011 (detail), found aluminum and copper wire 4.4 x 6.0m installed dimensions. Installation view, Carriageworks, Sydney, 2016. Photo: Chloé Wolifson

The bottle-cap works are inspired by the idea of textiles (a practice his own family is known for) and their flexibility seems a natural extension of this. However Anatsui’s approach more generally signifies a freedom he has sought from early in his career.  While most artworks are fixed with the same image or posture for their lifetime, life itself is dynamic and Anatsui feels that art should have that property as well – to be able to adapt to its circumstances and suggest new things. He sees his work as creating data for others to use – a responsive approach perfectly suited to our current moment.

El Anatsui: Five Decades
Until 6 March 2016
Carriageworks, Sydney