• On Campus
    Monash University
    14 Feb –
    15 Feb 2017
    By Giles Fielke
    Retrospective Hypothesis
    10 Jun 2017

    Curated Raimundas Malašauskas.

    'It is said that the voice rips open reality'. This is apparently the only utterance I had thought worthwhile writing down into the blank, A5-sized notebook I had been supplied with at the beginning of On Campus. I cannot recall who suggested this maxim in the course of the two-day program that took place at Monash University from February 14-15 this year. Otherwise the thin, ochre-coloured cardboard cover, bound simply around 400 empty white pages, and the few loose leaflets splicing the book as a commonplace materialisation of subjective potentiality, still carries the faint smell of a scent garnished by George Kara, a local perfumer participating in the event. Elusive, hard to place, struggling against the organic, it reaches out to trigger a memory. This olfactory key persists even as I thumb through the almost entirely vacant pages four months later. The rip, or tear, is a precise image for the staged nature of On Campus, which left me staggering over the expansive landscape of novel possibilities present in the conceit.

    On Campus at Monash University, February 14 – 15, 2017. Photograph by Zan Wimberley

    During these two days (10pm-5pm), the artworld experience is administered as a clinical event. This is an idea not to be resisted, but rather embraced. Just prior to the onset of the academic year Raimundas Malašauskas, a curator and facilitator of contemporary art (think of the role played by an anaesthetist during operative surgery), was invited to stage the two-day event in just this way. The experiment was apparently intended to act as a secularised ritual re-opening of the institution, just in time for the students to arrive, cautiously enthused for semester 1 of 2017. Before day's end there are tears, certain realisations; a group is formed, storming, norming, adjourning. Then the utopian spirit of the endeavour collapses just as it is supposed to. Looking back, Bruce Tuckman's educational psychology from the mid-sixties may just have been the retrospective hypothesis that Malašauskas had asked for at the end of the program. Learning to perform was the content of the exercise.

    On Campus at Monash University, February 14 – 15, 2017. Photograph by Zan Wimberley

    Organised through the Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA) and supported by the faculty of Art Design and Architecture (MADA), Malašauskas was invited to inaugurate the new year (he also gave a lecture at the fine art post-graduate seminar the day after On Campus). Collaborating and co-ordinating a number of locally based artists –most alreadyloosely affiliated with Monash – the event took place with the convening of this newly formed, closed community of participants and their guests. I received my unexpected invitation via email: 'Dear All, Please find attached information for On Campus. Scroll through for the event schedule…' So I wasn't sure what exactly to expect, but I'd certainly felt included, exclusive, even a little bit self-conscious for my involvement. I was also somewhat embarrassed about the privilege of being privy to some kind of internal mechanism.

    On Campus at Monash University, February 14 – 15, 2017

    This was surely going to be some kind of luxury artistic delight, something not needed by anyone. To brace myself I imagined what it would be like to go on a professional development or team-building weekend with a mix of senior and mid-level management. This was the art-world version of a similar sentiment, but it promised to be a bit more fun (more fun!). Would we all lose our inhibitions? Nearly. Coaxed by Stuart Ringholt's model for museum tours, I found myself naked and alone with Nicholas Mangan's Bitcoin mining mainframe – a remainder from his Limits to Growth exhibition now permanently installed in the basement of the Caulfield museum – I considered taking a selfie to upload to Instagram. Cheeky, but surely there was a way to communicate what was happening here. Only the voice rips open. It destroys the delicate reality of the hermetic experience.

    If the orginal domain of aesthetics is not art, but reality, the complex suture of the musuem setting struggles to contain this program for contemporary art. Participants in the event as well as the schedule are printed on a bookmark inserted into my expectant journal. The Open Spatial Workshop exhibition, Converging in Time, had just opened at MUMA but was to be kept closed for the duration of On Campus. The gallery's glass entrance and windows had been temporarily covered with dark curtains taped up with Gaffa. Nineteen participants were listed, plus more were promised. Maybe this meant me?

    The publication design by Malašauskas, in collaboration with Žiga Testen, acknowledged the institute also appearing on a postcard slotted into the notebooks. Dissemination and travel emerged as the dominant aesthetic. Marcus Lutyens's voice appeared disembodied from his physical presence in Los Angeles. The School of Biological Sciences in the Faculty of Science at the Clayton campus, was thanked in advance, leaving a clue as to what was going to take place. A personification, Performance watering architecture, painting, sculpture and science by Audrey Cottin suggested something further. Artists Prue Lang, Tom Nicholson, Agatha-Gothe-Snape and Brian Fuata, as well as others, presented some aspects of their practices performatively in the context of the science labs at Clayton campus. Nicholas Tammens read a Donald Barthelme story in a Mid-West American accent while we played with digital microscopes and examined the contents of our hand-bags and pockets. Others came and went – Liquid Architecture's directors Danni Zuvela and Joel Stern transcribed text from the Committee on Australian Universities, the 1957 Murray Report, into a chorus about the good university sung during a bus ride between the campuses. Some never even arrived. Nicholson's intervention was read in absentia by MUMA director Charlotte Day – recalling the Whitlam declaration of free tertiary education at the Caulfield Technical School in 1973. The curator of the Monash art collections between 1975 and 1980, Grazia Gunn, gave an interview with Malašauskas which was also included as printed material. But Gunn was also present for the two-day event, and artist Lizzie Newman had installed a ten-work selection of mostly contemporary pieces from the collection, the earliest being Peggy Perrins Shaw's watercolour and pencil drawing, Venite et vidite (1982). Malašauskas had us moving the whole time we were in the small gallery, a curatorial contest between curators becoming some kind of constructive and progressive battle of wills.

    On Campus at Monash University, February 14 – 15, 2017. Photograph by Zan Wimberley

    In a lecture given at Artspace in Sydney a few days after the On Campus event, Malašauskas posed the question: 'Will the projects generate new and more satisfying modes of connecting, relating and feeling? Will I continue to know as much through art as previously?' For the pretensions of a contemporary guru who is always within the artworld environment, this kind of thinking symbolises what it means to be contemporary, in the sense that one approaches the world with an attitude, or style that is presented to art as currency. On his website, rai.lt, the Lithuanian curator points to his collected writings, published in 2012 by Sternberg Press. Paper Exhibition: Selected Writings presents an anthology of writings wherein the introduction, by Maxine Kopsa, enthusiastically suggests the 'Rai-factor' is what gets added to the mix. Indeed the playful nature of this facilitator of the art-event means he is always teetering, in a deliberately cultivated precarity, on the edge of some initiative or fleeting idea that threatens to lapse into idiocy. He shows us a Soviet-era children's television as if it is a profound media fossil. Like Nietzsche's tightrope walker, Malašauskas is the necessary figure of the inevitability of spectacle. It is in this sense that the generosity afforded to him by his hosts is both risky and invigorating. It is a pity, however, that it seems to be a signature of Australian art that a man such as this must always arrive from the North – oftentimes mainland Europe – as if the only way such an indulgence can be justified is by way of a deferred gesture to the more seriously embedded authenticity of Western aesthetics that is believed to have come from some kind of geographically locatable well-spring.

    On Campus at Monash University, February 14 – 15, 2017. Photograph by Zan Wimberley

    Indeed, Malašauskas' recent staging of Dexter Sinister's The Last ShOt Clock, at the 12th Baltic Triennial in Vilnius, suggests the elaboration of a new wave of open aesthetics, with the work-in-progress as work as the ground for the festivalism of the art-event. Australian historians of contemporary art, Charles Green and Anthony Gardner, have recently attempted to address this type of emergent mode for the encounter with art as a symptom of neo-liberalism in their book Biennials, Triennials, and Documentas (2016). In fact the discourse of contemporaneity could be just as easily wedded to the conceptualisation of the generalised condition of post-historical malaise. In desperation for experience, the event must be staged, and it must be well-performed.

    On Campus at Monash University, February 14 – 15, 2017. Photograph by Zan Wimberley

    The tear in the event, the ripping of the voice, was recapitulated in the final parts of the schedule at the end of On Campus. Dignified by the presence of anthropologist Stephen Muecke and his casual explanation of curator-participant Camila Marambio's presentation of Arthur and Corinne Cantrill's 49-minute film Two Women/Seven Sisters (1979), the ridiculous became the sublime. The Cantrill's 16mm film is no longer permitted to be shown in public (like most 16mm film these days), particularly due to the fact that the collaboration with the Pitjantjatjara people from the Western Desert was never formally authorised by the community. Part of their 'Grain of the Voice' series of four films, the abstracted landscape images were edited by the Cantrills in response to the songline recorded and played back, apparently un-edited, as the soundtrack to the film. Beforehand Marambio read the group some of the correspondence she'd had from Corinne in the last few days, by way of explanation for the film and its making, and its screening in the gallery. When the film had been edited originally it was to be screened for the Anangu following their collaboration in the making of the film. The Cantrills had returned to find them gone, they had left to attend an inter-tribal gathering that was taking place elsewhere, their connection was missed. Arthur Cantrill has recently been very sick, Corinne explained in her email to Camilla, who then recounted it to the group. He had woken up a few mornings before the screening scheduled for On Campus and had experienced a bloody nose that could not be stemmed. She'd had to take him to the hospital, where he remained for observation. There was blood everywhere in their house. Muecke, for his part, offered his explanation at the conclusion of the screening – the bleeding was a part of the songline they'd recorded. Blood was often used to attach feathers to the body, he explained. The screening had been the event that had triggered a decades-due blood letting. If this was an allegory for the aesthetic of the work, it was unbelievable. But we'd all been brought into some kind of experiment in group psychology, and in this experiment anything was allowed to be possible. The gallery was the clinic, and we'd been subjectively dismantled. There was, therefore, a truth to the situation. What it was no one could say. The tear had already been sutured.

    On Campus at Monash University, February 14 – 15, 2017. Photograph by Zan Wimberley

    A few days before On Campus, David Homewood and Luke Sands facilitated an un-official, one-day exhibition of new works by Zac Segbedzi on the 6th floor of the B-building adjacent to MUMA. ‘Coloured Grids’ consisted of four paintings on jute, four nearly identical gridded representations of the National Socialist flag, the swastika as an emptied symbol for contemporaneity. The normalisation of an aesthetics of the event, relational as well as happening, contributes to a sense that the administration of experience is all that remains. If this is now the standard for culture, the bar has been set quite low. There is, admittedly, nothing at stake in this experiment but the embarrassment of failure (which has also been reified as a positive outcome). Susan Buck-Morss' writing on aesthetics and anaesthetics in the aftermath of 1989 suggested that Lacan's mirror stage should be read as a theory of fascism. She then notes in passing that the word narcissism shares a root with the word narcotic. Here the anaesthetist's task is to 'manage' the rip or tear that appears in the fragile body, the social body that sees in its future the inevitability of its fragmentation. The only necessity is to progress towards the silence that is the culmination of this utopia. Here, perhaps, is the meaning of the emphasis upon performance, that it can exist ony for as long as the body does.

    Giles Fielke is a writer and musician working at Monash University and the University of Melbourne. He is the Business Manager of the AAANZ.

    Title image: On Campus at Monash University, February 14 – 15, 2017)


    2020 #21 Rex Butler Jane Sutherland, Obstruction, Box Hill 1887 Art Gallery of Ballarat
    2020 #20 Amelia Winata John Nixon, Groups + Pairs 2016-2020 Anna Schwartz Gallery
    2020 #19 Chelsea Hopper Justine Varga, Tachisme Tolarno Galleries
    2020 #18 Anna Parlane Patrick Pound, The Museum of There, Not There STATION
    2020 #17 Kate Meakin “Apparel” Neon Parc Brunswick
    2020 #16 Robert Schubert Terre Thaemlitz, Love Bomb/Ai No Bakudan The SUBSTATION
    2020 #15 Philip Brophy Lewis Fidock and Joshua Petherick, Weevils in the Flour Gertrude Contemporary
    2020 #14 Jane Eckett Virginia Cuppaidge, The Skyspace Paintings 1977 - 1982 Nicholas Thompson Gallery
    2020 #13 Rex Butler Callum Morton, Monument #32: Helter Shelter Alfred Deakin Place Ballarat
    2020 #12 Amelia Winata Ari Tampubolon, Symposia: This show is dedicated to K-pop girl group, TWICE. I love you. SEVENTH Gallery
    2020 #11 Giles Fielke Warwick Baker, Hi-Vis Dreams Centre for Contemporary Photography
    2020 #10 Amelia Wallin Agatha Gothe-Snape, The Outcome is Certain Monash University Museum of Art
    2020 #09 Audrey Schmidt Alethea Everard, Art show Meow2
    2020 #08 Chelsea Hopper Elizabeth Gower, LOCATIONS Sutton Gallery, Sutton Projects
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    2019 #50 David Wlazlo 110%: Wet Nurse c3 Contemporary Art Space
    2019 #49 Helen O'Toole Luke Sands Guzzler
    2019 #48 David Homewood Robert Hunter Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia
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    2019 #44 Rex Butler Collecting Comme National Gallery of Victoria
    2019 #43 Francis Plagne Elizabeth Newman Neon Parc City
    2019 #42 Amelia Winata Preparation Haydens
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    2019 #40 Philip Brophy Haroon Mirza: The Construction of an Act Australian Centre for Contemporary Art
    2019 #39 Matthew Linde Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion Bendigo Art Gallery
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    2019 #37 Giles Fielke Karrabing Film Collective: The Mermaids, or Aiden in Wonderland KINGS Artist Run
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    2019 #34 Philip Brophy ...(illegible)... MADA Gallery
    2019 #32 Ella Cattach On Vulnerability and Doubt Australian Centre for Contemporary Art
    2019 #31 Helen O'Toole George Egerton-Warburton, also known as , Heide Museum of Modern Art
    2019 #30 Victoria Perin, Brendan Casey I will never run out of lies nor love Bus Projects
    2019 #29 Anna Parlane FEM-aFFINITY Arts Project Australia
    2019 #28 Jane Eckett Josef Stanislaw Ostoja-Kotkowski: Solid Light McClelland Sculpture Park+Gallery
    2019 #27 Elyssia Bugg Prima Materia Bundoora Homestead
    2019 #26 Amelia Winata Angelica Mesiti: ASSEMBLY Venice Biennale
    2019 #25 Rex Butler Hans and Nora Heysen: Two Generations of Australian Art Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia
    2019 #24 Francis Plagne Janet Burchill and Jennifer McCamley: Temptation to Co-exist Heide Museum of Modern Art
    2019 #23 Audrey Schmidt Octopus 19: Ventriloquy Gertrude Contemporary
    2019 #22 Anna Parlane Serene Velocity in Practice: MC510/CS183 Monash University Museum of Art
    2019 #21 Sophie Knezic Arlo Mountford: Deep Revolt Shepparton Art Museum
    2019 #21 Philip Brophy Christian Thompson: Baya Gardiya Australian Centre for the Moving Image
    2019 #20 Victoria Perin Isabel Davies: Recent Geometric Constructions Stephen McLaughlan Gallery
    2019 #19 Chelsea Hopper Taryn Simon: Contraband Anna Schwartz Gallery
    2019 #18 Rex Butler Tracey Moffatt: Body Remembers Tarrawarra Museum of Art
    2019 #17 Stephen Palmer Amalia Lindo: Computer Shoulders Centre for Contemporary Photography
    2019 #16 Giles Fielke Carve A Future, Devour Everything, Become Something Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia
    2019 #15 David Wlazlo Compromise Warrnambool Art Gallery
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    2019 #13 Paris Lettau The Museological Consciousness Lyon Housemuseum Galleries, Meow
    2019 #13 The Editors Memo Review 01. Perimeter Books, World Food Books, Monash University Museum of Art
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    2019 #11 Sophie Knezic The Tennis Piece Gertrude Contemporary
    2019 #10 Victoria Perin Papermade / John Nixon: Screenprints, Woodblocks & Unique Relief Prints Negative Press, Australian Galleries
    2019 #09 Francis Plagne Visions of Paradise: Indian Court Paintings National Gallery of Victoria
    2019 #08 Amelia Winata Daniel von Sturmer Anna Schwartz Gallery
    2019 #07 Audrey Schmidt Carny Neon Parc
    2019 #06 Rex Butler Christian Marclay: The Clock Australian Centre for the Moving Image
    2019 #05 Anna Parlane Marlene Gilson Art Gallery of Ballarat
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    2018 #47 Jane Eckett Clement Meadmore: The art of mid-century design Ian Potter Museum of Art
    2018 #46 Francis Plagne Spencer Lai: A smile forms into a grimace / Matilda Davis: Too Many Dinner Parties Bus Projects
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    2018 #44 Amelia Winata Hito Steyerl: Factory of the Sun National Gallery of Victoria
    2018 #43 David Wlazlo Biennale of Australian Art Art Gallery of Ballarat
    2018 #42 Giles Fielke Anne Ferran: White Against Red Sutton Gallery
    2018 #41 Sophie Knezic Eavesdropping Ian Potter Museum of Art
    2018 #41 Benison Kilby State of the Union Ian Potter Museum of Art
    2018 #40 Tim Alves John Stezaker: Lost World Centre for Contemporary Photography
    2018 #39 Paris Lettau Brook Andrew: The Language of Skulls Ten Cubed
    2018 #38 Jane Eckett Design for Life: Grant and Mary Featherston Heide Museum of Modern Art
    2018 #37 Rex Butler Tom Roberts: Shearing the Rams National Gallery of Victoria
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    2018 #35 Hester Lyon Architecture Makes Us: Cinematic Visions of Sonia Leber and David Chesworth Centre for Contemporary Photography
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    2018 #33 Amelia Winata Nicholas Mangan, Termite Economies Sutton Gallery
    2018 #32 Giles Fielke Philadelphia Wireman World Food Books
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    2018 #28 Shelley McSpedden Auto Body Works Arts Project Australia
    2018 #27 Rex Butler Colony: Australia 1770–1861 / Frontier Wars National Gallery of Victoria
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    2018 #23 Tim Alves I hope you get this: Raquel Ormella Shepparton Art Museum
    2018 #22 Chelsea Hopper Diane Arbus: American Portraits Heide Museum of Modern Art
    2018 #21 Rex Butler The Field Revisited National Gallery of Victoria
    2018 #20 Anna Parlane Hard Feelings The Honeymoon Suite
    2018 #19 Francis Plagne Abstraction 17: A Field of Interest, c. 1968 Charles Nodrum Gallery
    2018 #18 Eva Birch Kieren Seymour: Blue Blindness Block Projects
    2018 #17 Amelia Winata Natalie Thomas and the Women's Art Register: Finding the Field True Estate Gallery
    2018 #16 David Wlazlo Troy Ramaekers: Double B-Sides Five Walls Projects
    2018 #15 Helen Hughes Vivienne Binns: It is what it is, what it is Sutton Gallery
    2018 #14 Kate Warren Soda_Jerk: TERROR NULLIUS Australian Centre for the Moving Image
    2018 #13 Paris Lettau The Shape of Things to Come Buxton Contemporary
    2018 #12 Victoria Perin Unfinished Business: Perspectives on Art and Feminism Australian Centre for Contemporary Art
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    2017 #39 Kate Warren The Score Ian Potter Museum of Art
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    2017 #32 Beth Kearney Fictitious Realities Bayside Arts and Cultural Centre
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    2017 #29 Amelia Winata Spencer Lai: Contaminant, Figures Fort Delta
    2017 #28 Helen Hughes Liam Osborne: Hot Copy Punk Café
    2017 #27 Kylie King Dale Frank Neon Parc
    2017 #26 Francis Plagne Every Brilliant Eye National Gallery of Victoria
    2017 #25 Rex Butler I can see Russia from here TCB art inc.
    2017 #24 Kate Warren Andrea Grützner: Tanztee and Erbgericht Centre for Contemporary Photography
    2017 #23 Giles Fielke On Campus Monash University
    2017 #22 David Wlazlo Restless Margaret Lawrence Gallery
    2017 #21 Anna Parlane Sky Country: Our Connection to the Cosmos Blak Dot Gallery
    2017 #20 Amelia Winata Unproductive Thinking Deakin University Art Gallery
    2017 #19 Anthony White Van Gogh and the Seasons National Gallery of Victoria
    2017 #18 Victoria Perin Harold Freedman: Artist for the People Art Gallery of Ballarat
    2017 #17 Paris Lettau Raafat Ishak & Damiano Bertoli: Hebdomeros Sutton Gallery
    2017 #16 Beth Kearney Bill Henson National Gallery of Victoria
    2017 #15 Helen Hughes James Tylor: un-resettling Vivien Anderson Gallery
    2017 #14 Rex Butler Louise Hearman Tarrawarra Museum of Art
    2017 #13 Julia Lomas Sally Smart: The Choreography of Cutting Sarah Scout Presents
    2017 #12 Giles Fielke Open Spatial Workshop: Converging in Time Monash University Museum of Art
    2017 #11 Kate Warren Daniel Crooks: Parabolic / Miyanaga Akira: REALTIME Anna Schwartz Gallery, National Gallery of Victoria
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    2017 #07 Victoria Perin Don't be too Polite: Posters and Activism Ian Potter Museum of Art
    2017 #06 Amelia Winata O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington-Smith: Making Modernism Heide Museum of Modern Art
    2017 #05 Paris Lettau Sovereignty Australian Centre for Contemporary Art
    2017 #04 Beth Kearney Ramesh Nithiyendran: In the beginning Ian Potter Museum of Art
    2017 #03 Giles Fielke Lucina Lane: Range White Cuberd
    2017 #02 Helen Hughes The Sculpture of Bronwyn Oliver Tarrawarra Museum of Art
    2017 #01 Rex Butler Suzanne Archer: Moving Forwards, Looking Back: A Survey 1969–2016 Nicholas Thompson Gallery
    Jane Sutherland, Obstruction, Box Hill 1887
    Art Gallery of Ballarat
    by Rex Butler
    John Nixon, Groups + Pairs 2016-2020
    Anna Schwartz Gallery
    by Amelia Winata
    Justine Varga, Tachisme
    Tolarno Galleries
    by Chelsea Hopper
    Patrick Pound, The Museum of There, Not There
    STATION
    by Anna Parlane
    “Apparel”
    Neon Parc Brunswick
    by Kate Meakin
    Terre Thaemlitz, Love Bomb/Ai No Bakudan
    The SUBSTATION
    by Robert Schubert
    Lewis Fidock and Joshua Petherick, Weevils in the Flour
    Gertrude Contemporary
    by Philip Brophy
    Virginia Cuppaidge, The Skyspace Paintings 1977 - 1982
    Nicholas Thompson Gallery
    by Jane Eckett
    Callum Morton, Monument #32: Helter Shelter
    Alfred Deakin Place Ballarat
    by Rex Butler
    Ari Tampubolon, Symposia: This show is dedicated to K-pop girl group, TWICE. I love you.
    SEVENTH Gallery
    by Amelia Winata

    The End.