Tuesday, July 29, 2008

MIFF - Katyn

Described as: "A monument to one of the darkest secrets of the Soviet era.

For filmmaker Andrzej Wajda, painful events from his own past have been resurrected in Katyn. The film dramatises one of the last major acknowledged crimes of World War II, where up to 20,000 Polish officers died at the hands of Joseph Stalin’s secret police. Wadja’s father was one of them. Highly moving in content, Wadja still manages to adroitly unfurl events like a master class, rather than steep his story with sentimentality and exaggerated emotion. This is powerful stuff, and it clearly touched the hearts of the Polish people, taking a sizeable US$14 million at the box office. Nominated for an Oscar in this year’s best foreign language category."

Katyn was a sell out last night for the Melbourne International Film Festival. I went into the film not knowing much about the events in Katyn, a forest where thousands of Polish officers were systematically murdered in 1940. Beautifully shot with fragments of real footage from the 1930s and early 1940s, the movie allows you to see the frustration of the Polish who had it tough from the Soviets and the Germans. Once the massacre had come out, both the Soviets and German propaganda machines went into overdrive, blaming each other for the murders. This left the Poles, many knowing the truth, to keep quiet or be taken away if they spoke out about the Red Army.

The last scene which shows exactly what happened to the large group of POW captives is quiet, graphic and very moving. The last scene of the bodies being covered with dirt, fades to black with a Polish prayer/song then is quiet for several minutes as if the audience is giving their respects. Probably one of the most moving parts of the film. It was also a film that no one clapped at the end (I hate film festival clappers!!), however due to the film starting late, we all had to be shuffled through the exit doors at the screen at the completion which was a little POW camp to me after such a film. I hope that it gets the Oscar for best foreign film, definitely a contender.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

New Work - Collage

'Patronage' collage waiting to be stuck down.
My studio table with works in progress.

With the Team Up exhibition looming for me (I'm a mentor for Jessamy Gee) and also having this week off on annual leave, I got stuck into creating some new images by collage. I pretty much use collage all the time to quickly get ideas, images and colour groups down on paper. I use various fashion magazines for these images and text. The have such great typography, shapes and silhouettes to choose from, though I do work very intuitively.

For something completely new for me, I decided to adhere these new collages to canvas. I had about 6 canvases floating around, they're 25cm square and about 15cm square. Usually with my collages, they are created using tape (I like the look of the tape holding it all together and it keeps the reference of construction for me). In these works I've had to take on a new working method by making them, photographing them, then individually gluing the fragments in order onto the canvas. The nice thing about this process is the ability to wrap the fragments around the edges, something I don't normally get with the 'flat' collages or with their woven tapestry counterparts. I'm also liking how the paper often bubbles and folds in the gluing process, making them look like mini billboards.

I'm sure that there will be more to come over the week, more images from this session can be found on my flickr site.

MIFF - Cargo 200

I love a grim Russian film at the best of times, though I have to admit that watching 'Cargo 200' last night did put me off my vodka for a wee bit! Set in 1984, the film's grainy appearance starts off with 2 brothers - one a professor at the university, the other a general in the army, talking generally about the disarray of youth today and the happenings of Afghanistan. It is here that we learn what Cargo 200 means, the term for dead soldiers being returned to Russia.

There are several stories going on at once in Cargo 200, they are grim, they are predictable. However it is when a police captain kidnaps a young girl and continually has her sexually abused that was starting to put me off my drink in the cinema! The girl's father is high up in the communist party and her fiance a hero in Afghanistan, all the time she hopes that one of them will come and save her from being handcuffed to a bed, her only company, the police captain's deranged and indifferent mother. Things take a turn for the worse when the police captain gets his hands on the latest shipment of cargo 200, the poor girl's dead fiance with whom he decides to reunite by stealing the body and leaving it next to her while still handcuffed on the bed.

I'm not quite sure what I feel about this movie just yet. It had been spoken about as one of the first films to really deal with corruption and people taking the law into their own hands during that time in Russia, and has been praised for that. It did effect me, so I believe that it has done it's job.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

First Film and Kate Bush

The first of the 13 films that I'm seeing as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival was viewed last night. The Kate Bush Documentary was the main screening however it also had a short film featuring Patti Smith shot on super 8 as well. I'm not a big Patti Smith fan, particularly after I read how her and Debbie Harry had a bit of a continual cat fight in the day and Debbie claiming " She was just always so mean to me! I never knew why!". I decided that you could only be on one team and my team was team Blondie, not Team Patti Smith! Anyway the short film was great, she covers Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit - with a banjo! Pretty rocking I say, although Smith looks like some grunge witch! Horrid!

The Kate Bush doco, well, it was enjoyable in a slightly nerdy way. The film looked like some dodgy made for television special with the most horrid of narrators. I also found it strange that they all spoke of Kate Bush as if she was dead! Which she definitely isn't. There were 4 'Kate Bush experts' who I had never heard of in my life and they were pretty lame in their continual comments of how the albums were beyond their time and on a second look they are works of perfection, blah blah.... I think one of the most annoying things was the crowd who laughed at Kate's dancing, 70s style and just pretty much everything. The term original and unique was lost on the Melbourne tight jean, fringed scarf wearing audience! Kate Bush still rocks for me, though I won't be making any fashion decisions based on her.

One down, twelve films to go...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mentor project - TEAM UP!

top: detail of tapestry by Mardi Nowak
bottom: painting by Jessamy Gee

As Curator at the Town Hall Gallery, I've been project managing an exhibition called Team UP, which teams up a young artist (18-25) with an older professional artist. There are 5 teams and I am also mentoring one of the young artists as part of the project:

Team Up starts at Town Hall Gallery on 6 August and our team is TEAM: GEE NOWAK, featuring mentee Jessamy Gee and mentor Mardi Nowak (and also gallery curator) please click on names for website or blog information.

Below is our info for the show:

Jessamy Gee is a young artist who primarily works with portraits or figures. Influenced heavily by popular culture and music icons, her work is reminiscent of colourful portraits found in Rolling Stone magazine. After having a stint working in the music management industry, she has taken time out to concentrate on her artwork and Team UP is one of her first exhibitions back as an artist! While Jessamy primarily works as a painter, she has been exploring stencil techniques as well in creating her portraits.

Mardi Nowak is curator of Town Hall Gallery. Often describing herself as a full time curator, part time artist, she holds a Masters of Fine Art (Research) and works mostly in the ancient medium of woven tapestry. See below for artist statement:
"Using the historically traditional technique of weaving, my inspiration comes from the modern, such as fashion magazines, torn advertising billboards and street graffiti. Works are created by collaging together images and photographs from magazines with old drawings and photocopies to reproduce the many layers found on billboards, similar to wallpaper plastered over old wallpaper. These collages become the cartoon for final tapestries. Notions of time play a factor in this work. There is a disjunction between the disposable and fast flow of images in contemporary mass media against the deliberation and slowness of a woven construction. A fashionable dress produced in a tapestry may be out of fashion by the time a tapestry is completed.The technical details of the woven tapestries are very traditional. It is a skill that is continually improved upon with the creation of every new tapestry as images are translated from glossy photographic paper to solid woven textile form. It is the challenge of turning the contemporary and disposable images of fashion magazines into a craft form that has been recognised for centuries that keeps me excited about the medium. Although I am not altering weaving techniques from years gone by, the pursuing of new subject matter and translating the new into this historical tradition is a new innovation for Australian woven tapestry and brings together craft and visual arts.Traditionally tapestries have had a strong narrative, they have told stories of war and heroics. In the modern age, we express ourselves by graffiting street walls, creating websites and blogging about our daily lives. My tapestries tell a modern story of the fascination with fashion, celebrity and consumerism."

Team: Gee Nowak has come together for their love of popular culture and also their figurative style. Both artists find influence in the everyday, music, fashion and celebrity while still using strong colour within an emotive fashion. Jessamy and Mardi have worked together on other projects through Town Hall Gallery so this has allowed them a bit of a head start as they were already familiar with each others works.
For more info on the TEAM UP exhibition, visit the gallery blog!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Melbourne International Film Festival time!!!!

It's nearly Melbourne International Film Festival time and I've booked my mini-pass and selected all my movies. The final list of films that I'm checking out is:
  1. Kate Bush: Under Review
  2. Cargo 200
  3. Katyn
  4. Red Like the Sky
  5. Asterix at the Olympic Games
  6. Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?
  7. Somers Town
  8. Boogie
  9. Surveillance
  10. Gardens of the Night
  11. Bob Marley: Freedom Road
  12. Dead Daughters
  13. Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.
My first film is on Friday 25 July and last on 10 August. There is something really special about Melbourne and film festival time, the cold winter nights, red wine and great films - doesn't get much better than that really!

NGV internship

Oliver BERNARD (designer)
England 1881–1939
Foyer from the Strand Palace Hotel 1930–31
glass, chrome
370.8 x 447.5 x 444.7 cm (overall)
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Accessioned, 1969 (Circ.758-1969)
© V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Last week I spent a week as an intern at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) primarily working in the Education and Public Programs department. The internship was awarded to me through the Public Galleries Association of Victoria of which the gallery I work at is a member.

The week was a lot of fun, though a lot of information to take in as well. The current exhibition at the NGV is Art Deco, which features items and artworks from the V&A museum in London, but also has several Australian and Melbourne Art Deco items as well.

While on the internship I worked on programs as diverse as:
  • school holiday programs where children viewed the art deco exhibition, did drawing exercises then went to a workshop to create an art deco mirror.
  • Art after Dark, which is huge!! There was a DJ, swing band and Charleston dancers and the gallery stays open late. Approximately an additional 1,500 people come through the exhibition on these late nights.
  • Giving tours to students here in Australia learning english, focusing on the Australian art collection.
  • looking at Indigenous art with Indigenous art marketing students.
I also got to meet with loads of other departments such as marketing and communications, PR, not to mention security everyday! It was a great experience, really lovely to work in an all art environment that is a little different to my own and all the people I worked with were fantastic.
Now I'm just looking at utilizing things that I learnt into my own job!
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