Archives for the month of: July, 2012

 

The performance of fossil fuel extraction is marked by a great indignity. This work, ‘C’, represents, of course, specific practices and events associated with fossil-fuels, but also, more generally, an ugly and unbalanced relationship with the hand that feeds us. The movement holds an air of increasing desperation about it. ‘C’ speaks of a human arrogance; a white man in white dress in a white room irreversibly compromises the purity of himself and his environment.

Performed by Oliver Connew over 2 days (21-22 June 2012)

Filmed by Bruce Connew, 21 June 2012

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I paid this yesterday and I feel a bit of a fraud for doing so. Long story short, as is usual with parking tickets, it wasn’t my fault (as in it wasn’t me who put it in an illegal position, it was the mechanic that did) and I shouldn’t have to pay it. I sent a letter ages ago explaining and this was the only reply. To protest further sounded like more than $200 worth of effort and stress, so I rationalised and I paid it. Rationalism, the status quo relies on it. Too much money, effort and stress to serve justice. It is a familiar notion. In this country we are innocent until proven guilty. But we have to pay (significant amounts) to prove ourselves innocent, which seems to me more like ‘guilty until you can pay to prove yourself innocent’. Surely the crown should foot the bill (as well as stress and effort) for all costs until someone is proven guilty, thence the crim can pay. If innocent, then the bill (and stress and effort) should remain with the crown.

If you look at the gamut of a generation’s art, you will see clear representative themes. In recent generations, amongst the critically successful western art, I see apathy and comfort and a general celebration of our success as a system. That being, that we have acquired so much individual freedom that there is nothing to be done. You could argue that this is a known and recognised celebration among artists of ‘goal achieved’. But for some reason or another, I doubt it. I don’t reckon that we believe that there is nothing to be done. So I wonder then where this sense of comfort stems from. As such (perceived) individuals now, perhaps we feel no obligation to engage and interact with people, issues and questions we don’t like; ‘Don’t like our world? Don’t participate.’ seems to be the attitude. So I feel kind of guilty and terribly out of fashion for wanting to. Am I breaking a rule by not wanting to wholly remove myself from my world?

I visit galleries, trawl the internet, watch on youtube and a lot of the art I see, that I am supposed to appreciate, looks like crap to me, which is where I run the of risk of sounding like Mitt Romney and co. (But, I don’t think I’m playing dumb, though one can never know.) It has been made unfashionable for art to have intention or to make a point. Art that wishes to influence thought patterns, grapple with opinions, shift outlooks, among certain minds, verges on the unethical, classed as propaganda, which nazism, communism and McCarthyism, quite rightly, made awfully unpopular. But this is not an accurate assessment. One can look at Ai Wei Wei. Despite the strongly political tones to his work, it can’t be said that it is propaganda. His art is made autonomously, as an individual, and not to serve someone else’s purpose.

I think art that allows itself to have purpose (no, not serve a purpose), pose questions or even provide answers, not necessarily as statements of fact or certainty, but maybe just as a stab in the dark, has more proverbial balls than its counterparts. It is brave to engage in a discussion with an audience that will most likely tell you you that you are wrong. Art should take an interest and participate in the world it exists, even if from afar. Otherwise, it is pretentious and assumes its own importance. It appears to me that much art, so inflated with irony, is out to mock its audience, to make fools of them: an unhelpful and unsustainable way to communicate. Artists should encourage equality through the pursuit and promotion of understanding, hopefully resulting in art that holds at least some vestiges of humanness.

Editing footage from An Unfortunate Willingness to Agree for show reel…

The Up and Down of It from Oliver Connew on Vimeo.

A dance film made on some stairs at Athfield House, Wellington in early 2011.

Comings and Goings.

Oliver Connew
Gareth Okan

Music: ‘100 Minutes of Silence’ – The Mint Chicks

The performance of fossil fuel extraction is marked by a great indignity. This work, ‘C’, represents, of course, specific practices and events associated with fossil-fuels, but also, more generally, an ugly and unbalanced relationship with the hand that feeds us. The movement holds an air of increasing desperation about it. ‘C’ speaks of a human arrogance; a white man in white dress in a white room irreversibly compromises the purity of himself and his environment.

Photos by Bruce Connew, 21 June 2012