Packing a considerable punch in Gallery 2 is the work of Joel Gailer. Playful, bold and witty, Joel’s work celebrates language and the techniques of printmaking. There’s a duality at the heart of printmaking, the transference of one image - carved, scratched or etched - onto another surface. Repetition, reversal and relationship sit at the foundation of that process and this is where Joel is at home, elbow deep in the exploration of these principles, through the prism of contemporary concerns about sex, masculinity and the object’s role as a form of language itself.
KENT: Hi Joel. The title of your exhibition, 'I'm your distant cousin', has a sort of humourous edge to it. Obviously it's not possible that you are the distant cousin of everyone who comes to the show, but then again, maybe in a way, we are all distant cousins. What role does humour play in your artwork?
JOEL: Humour is very important, I like to infuse printmaking ideas and references with a type of popular vernacular. Between you and me, 2011, for instance, is both a comment on printmaking and a slightly insidious statement. The work itself is a diptych, one side is a wood block print and the other is a digital print of the same text reversed. It is intended to be a type of discussion between an archaic printmaking technique (woodblock) and its updated cousin, the digital print. Without this knowledge the statement is open-ended and could be slightly sexual or a reference to mateship. But ultimately it’s all about printmaking.
KENT: That comes through a lot in your work I think - that revelling in the joy of printmaking. It's especially heightened I think when it comes to the object-oriented processes. Your table, your thongs and your tyres all empower the object as a sort of writer of text in the world. What led you to utilising objects in this way?
JOEL: I like to think that the object, process, or medium has a type of meaning. I believe everything has an inherent meaning that is interpreted by the viewer intrinsically. I like to play in this space.
KENT: Your text based works have very punchy phrases, with twists of spelling and declarations. Does reading and literature play an important role in your life? Or are these aspects more reflective of pop-cultural texts, like signage, facebook updates and advertising slogans?
JOEL: Art history and philosophy play a major role in my life but when it comes to my work, yes, I’m trying to make references to popular culture. This is the starting point to understanding my art, but if you go deeper the art and historical references reveal themselves.
KENT: Now, aside from the creation of your own art you run a space in Melbourne and you teach as well. What's the driving force behind these endeavours for you, and how do you find the balancing act with all that?