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Indepth Arts News:

"Necessary Intervention: Hany Armanious and Mary Teague, Mikala Dwyer and Anna Peters, Mexico-3 (Koji Ryui ans Natsuho Takita), Adam Boyd, Regina Walter"
2001-11-01 until 2001-11-17
ArtSpace
Woolloomooloo, Sydney, NS, AU

If an artist said that their work is the same as the idea behind it, what would you think - Materials and ideas are not the same thing and this creates difficulties when one attempts to interpret art. Consequently what is emphasised is an artwork's circumscribed nature and the self-conscious practice that must follow. This emphasises the random and contingent relations of a work.

Is it possible to unite the history and the sensuality of materials with an idea? Whether canvas, or videotape, a material's past and current uses are varied and complex. Besides which, their look, and even their smell, will have many shared and individual associations. Materials are always fugitive, protruding from the containers in to which they are stuffed. Putting a variety of them together in a work is not the only cause of this effect. Even when considered singly, materials are unlimitable. When combined, the loss of control or clarity is compounded. A way forward, as shown by some of the pieces in this exhibition, is to make that profusion the work's subject. While excess is a pleasurable part of the experience of art, the intention is usually to have the work cohere across both intellectual and physical responses. In this impossible position we learn to read work utilising sets of ever changing codes, and then projecting a preferred meaning forward. Looked at in this way, the fact that nothing can stand in for anything else is masked by a suspension of disbelief - a situation that leaves us with the suspicion that what is said to be the point of the artwork is not all that we 'know' about it.

Though it is recognised that associations between an artwork and 'reality' will always be looked for, the view described here avoids this temptation, believing that superficial similarities are just that. By placing emphasis on the limits of art practice we can clearly see the complexity of the situation, and come to an appreciation of the invention that takes place - stimulated by responses to the working materials - that is understood to be essential to the life of a work. This process is easily seen in installations where the various stages of its development are incorporated into the final piece. While ideas are considered the common source of invention, it does not mean that they are the most fundamental element of art practice.

IMAGE:
Hany Armanious
Selflok, 1994-2001
Hot-melt, polystyrene and mixed media
Installation at Sarah Cottier Gallery,
Sydney, Australia


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