Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Antiques Road Show - what's it all about then?!


Antiques Road Show is about to hit Stockroom. Literally. A juggernaut is on the loose…

But this isn't the genteel British TV show about collectables, rather an exciting group show featuring work by some of Melbourne’s best and brightest young artists, who all met initially when they were studying at VCA.

Please meet Ace Wagstaff, Gavin Bell, Sam George, James Eisen, Jarrah de Kuijer, Molly Cook, Simon McGlinn & Taree Mackenzie.

For the purposes of ‘background' to this exhibition, artist Ace Wagstaff kindly volunteered to be the spokesperson for the group. He conjured the following interview as a means of shedding light on the their backgrounds and the themes explored in the show. And the title – what’s up with that?!

The following is a trip through one very active imagination and a sharp wit. Read on and be very entertained…

>> Hi Megan,

I thought the best option to answer your questions - and to explain the exhibition title and so forth - would be to travel forward in time (via an Edwardian era steam powered time machine), chat about it with you on the the hypothetical chat platform www_dot_hypo_chat_hectic_dot_com, then send to you (NOW) by carrier email.

Ace - www.Hypo_CHA_T_hetic.com

Megan_Spencer (right):

oh hey you’re online

Ace_Wagstaff:

yeah of course, this is my favourite chat site.

Megan_Spencer:

cool, I will have to be back, very friendly chat interface, its almost like I’m not even typing! So, first order of business though: Sam sent through this statement about the group as a whole [paste_text] "A group show by 8 young melbourne artists, met through the VCA, bringing you a collection of different ideas from a similar place." but I was wondering if you could expand on this?

Ace_Wagstaff (right):

Well I really should be self-promotional here, you know, put the best foot forward and all that, even though it’d be really easy to be self depreciative and filled with self-loathing.

Megan_Spencer:

Really?

Ace_Wagstaff:

No, that was a throwaway comment, I was joking but the internet is a terrible place to be facetious or sarcastic because it gets lost in the typed text; there’s no intonation like there is with the delivery of a speaking voice.

We all went to the Victorian College of the Arts, yes, and we all have remained fairly close to each other since graduation, even though we didn’t all graduate at the same time either. But we have kept in contact and talk through the ideas and concepts behind our work with each other.

This way of work-shopping ideas with each other is a way of working through them, sharing references and also vetting and evaluating. We all tend to - we all make work that usually is both an honest representation and a mockery of the subject matter. Max Olijnyk recommended a recent exhibition I curated which included sam, me, gav, jarrah and simon WITH THE FOLLOWING: [paste_text] “if you like your contemporary art highly amusing with lashings of really quite clever.”

Ace_Wagstaff:

(sorry I hit CAPSlock by accident before)

Specifically though: McGlinn takes processes or templates from all manner of observable arenas (religion, physics, society, etc) and recreates them via meagre lo-fi means, making his work a statement about their working machinations, somewhere between a mockery and a homage.

George is interested in making work that exists as instructions or that responds to the viewer in a personal, emotive, interactive or relational way, essentially, only existing or being true, or real, if the art has an audience.

I guess I would say that I try to bridge ideas between philosophy, art and science, high ideals, haphazardly taking portions of one and adding it to another to create points of mediation between them in text, concept or imagery which will usually often reference video games, comics or „low ideals‟.

Megan_Spencer:

Thanks a lot! What about the title of the exhibition: ‘Antiques Road Show’?

Ace_Wagstaff:

Well the title of the exhibition (Antiques Road Show) connects with a number of ideas both in terms of the work that will be exhibited but also the nature of the show from our experience of it as well.

Firstly, the name comes (almost) directly from the British television program Antiques Roadshow. On the program a couple of experts that seem to have god-like knowledge about the decorative arts, invite people to bring antiquities to them to be appraised, evaluated and their origins and creators explained. It‟s a bizarre blending of high culture into a low-cultural common denominative medium: the television. They are travelling around the country showcasing their knowledge and expertise of the arts, but are not artists themselves, just fans.

Above left, Ace Wagstaff's installation, 'Apocalypticism'

The term „roadshow‟ comes from the term „roadshow theatrical release‟ which, as you might know, is from when films are traditionally are released in major cities before the national release, and were shown a few times during a day. The term is an antiquity of film history and „roadshow theatrical releases‟ don‟t really happen anymore. The films shown, like our work in the exhibition were NEW and EXCLUSIVE to a select city‟s audience. As we know though the difference between „new‟/„exclusive‟ and „antique‟ is just a matter of time. Sure it's cheeky to suggest that we‟re making culture worthy enough to be considered obscure antiques that‟ll be mused over by experts in years to come, but that's kind of a self-deprecating joke aimed at ourselves if anything. And - if that does happen - well... good!

Of course our title isn‟t „roadshow‟; it is „road show‟... A „road show‟ is a travelling exhibition. However our exhibition isn‟t a travelling exhibition and we will only be travelling a token one hour or so to get to Kyneton from Melbourne, but compared to the insular and condensed art scene within Melbourne that we are used to, an hour isn't „travelling‟, it‟s just a little pathetic that we think so.

As always these ideas can be belittled by being summarised and understood in just a few words:

(1) old vs new, (2) high culture vs low culture, (3) value vs no value. As well as the irony, sarcasm, wordplay and the convoluted nature of it all.

I think that's everything. In a round about meandering way...

Above right, ARS artist James Eisen's 'davicourus Attently'

Ace_Wagstaff:

Megan? You still online?

Megan_Spencer:

Yes! Sorry, I just had another window open, was checking my emails....

More to come perhaps? Let us know if you'd like to hear more and we'll ask Ace very nicely... : D

Check out a taste of the work to come in Antiques Road Show on Facebook. And come to the opening of ARS on Saturday November 13 at Stockroom, 4.30-7pm.