Kaldor Public Art Projects critiques own legacy as artists produce a newspaper in the Art Gallery of NSW.
Lucas Ihlein and The Rizzeria collective have created a newsroom in the Art Gallery of New South Wales as part of the Kaldor Public Art Projects 50th anniversary exhibition, Making Art Public. Led by Lucas Ihlein, a team of artists, journalists, designers and print makers have teamed up to present EXTRA!EXTRA!, the latest artist take over of the Kaldor Studio.
Until 15 December 2019, the press gang is working around the clock to produce a weekly newspaper on a risograph printing machine. The project is the brainchild of Wollongong artist Lucas Ihlein, who leads the pressroom as editor in chief. The EXTRA!EXTRA! newspaper has been commissioned as a playful and critical plug-in to Making art public: 50 Years of Kaldor Public Art Projects, an exhibition created by Michael Landy in response to the organisation’s rich history and archive, beginning with Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s 1969 project Wrapped Coast.
Hello! There you are! I’ve been waiting for you! Come in, come with me…
By no means am I any kind of expert about anything and sometimes I’m not even sure yet what there is in front of me to learn but I go in anyway, with or without a map…and most times I end up at a completely different place than I thought I was headed! Please let me try to explain this better… When we first met, yes, you and I, I had hoped to give you something. I hoped to leave you with something, an idea, a new question to ask, a memory or a seed planted. I have since come to understand that I don’t have to be an expert. People are willing and wanting to share their knowledge and experience so we can all learn and for this I am grateful. So, shall we go in?
Lucas Ihlein is an artist and member of Big Fag Press and Kandos School of Cultural Adaptation.
The decline of newspapers has seen the decimation of entire areas of traditional journalism. Among the first to go as a cost cutting measure were the specialist press photographers. In our final edition of EXTRA!EXTRA! next week we’ll feature an interview with one of the greatest, Lorrie Graham.
Jenna Price is an academic at the University of Technology Sydney and a regular columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald.
My parents were in the rag trade. That was pretty standard for Holocaust survivors who came to Australia. It worked this way at least in my family – Mum did piecework when she got off the boat. Dad worked at Port Kembla. They saved enough to start a small business and then built it into something bigger.
John Kaldor was a big deal to my parents. He was younger than they were, had arrived a couple of years before they did; and he fitted in to Australia in a way they never could. His English was perfect, theirs less so. But they worked within a few hundred yards of each other in Surry Hills. And it wasn’t long after Kaldor began his business that he brought contemporary art to the schmattes district in a way which transfixed my mother. She received an invitation to Coloured Feast (1973) to celebrate the opening of the new Kaldor showrooms. I had already decided to study art for my higher school certificate and knew about Christo (we didn’t hear much about Jeanne-Claude back in the day) and Gilbert and George. Mum was keen to go. My memories are vivid of the night. Mum made me a dress from bold Kaldor fabric. We walked up the hill to the showrooms together. Dad decided work was more important. But Leslie Walford, famed interior decorator, and even more famed social writer in Sydney’s Sun-Herald from the 1960s through to the 1980s, took notes:
Chris Nash was Professor of Journalism at Monash University, and previously Director of the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism at UTS.
When Guggenheim Director Thomas Messer cancelled Hans Haacke’s commissioned exhibition in May 1971 because it was “not art but journalism”, the supporters of Haacke and sacked curator Edward Fry bypassed the journalism question to support the artistic merit of the works. Messer’s description of the work as “muckraking” invokes the North American term for investigative journalism linked with moral outrage going back to the nineteenth century. Subsequently Grace Glueck, the New York Times (NYT) arts reporter who covered the Haacke controversy for her paper, recalled how she had
marvelled at his diligence and skill as an investigative reporter. Had Haacke not devoted himself to art, he might have become an exemplary journalist, not only because of his bulldog talent for research, but also because of his total indifference to the power wielded by important people who are anxious to keep publicly questionable activities private. His work is all the more convincing because, while it comes out of a deep passion for justice, its presentation is studiedly dispassionate.
A recording of a conversation, run through dictation software, in three acts.
Level 2, Art Gallery NSW
Two characters convene. They each have a background in theatre, rendered daggy and repudiated by the contemporary art world they now work within, which has included much enacting of live art works for Kaldor Public Art Projects over the years. They walk and talk. They record the conversation that unfolds. The conversation will be published in the newspaper EXTRA! EXTRA! Does this make them journalists? Maybe of Nietzschean type, in that they offer “no facts, only interpretations”. The same could be said of much of what passes as journalism in the post-truth world they live in.
Critic Michael Fried suggested that art depreciates when it reaches the point of theatre. But maybe he didn’t go far enough. Maybe it is life that depreciates when it reaches the point of art?
Ian Milliss is an artist who worked on Wrapped Coast.
John Kaldor, as this exhibition demonstrates, has a well-earned reputation as a great patron. In my understanding of art as the process of cultural adaptation, Kaldor’s history makes him a considerable artist in his own right, using other more conventionally recognisable artists as his material to change Australian culture.
Like most Australian artists, John Kaldor supported his art with a day job, as a manufacturer of widely admired high quality textiles for both clothing and interior decoration. As a manufacturer he commissioned original designs, many of which are now in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia. But by 2004 when the Australian branch of Kaldor’s company closed, his daughter Bettina, who had been managing director of the company’s UK division, identified that the economics of the fabric market had significantly changed:
“I don’t know much about much but the learning keeps me alive!”
Photograph credit: Juundaal Strang-Yettica, Fairy Meadow Beach, digital photograph, 2019
Hello! It’s good to have you with me again and I must thank you for your Letters to the Editor! Your responses and questions are so welcome! So, shall we go in?
After our conversations about respect for Country and our Traditional Custodians, last week, through Jonathan Jones’ barrangal dyara (skin and bones), 2016, we touched upon self-accountability in land-art… let’s walk that path? This week I hope to bring you closer to a sense that ethical land-art practice is not only an Indigenous thing but that it is accessible and achievable for artists from any cultural background. What I hope to leave you with is this: it’s not a paint-by-numbers system of protocols, but a set of principles that might help guide culturally ethical land-art practice.
Re: Nothing if Not Warm and Welcoming (Mickie Quick, Edition 1)
Great piece of writing Mickie Quick. This reflects badly on City of Sydney. Greta Thunberg talked about ‘Cathedral Thinking’ in a recent speech – a reference to both the Notre Dame fire & the immediate global action to fund its restoration, as well as the potent symbolism of medieval guilds & the legacy of those builders in light of the kind of commitment we need to address the climate emergency collectively now. It’s such a great visual reference, along with all of the other supposedly controversial imagery in the work. It’s a strong piece in a long tradition of art as social action. I’m so glad Deborah Kelly spoke up & I really appreciate the clarity you’ve given this in your writing here, particularly the point about doctoring digital work – this should not happen. As you say, a painter would never be asked to touch-up a work to appease a patron.