Ugly Thinking etc.

Ugly Thinking (Portrait of a Madman in a Desolate Landscape)

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Alex Gawronski: Ugly Thinking (Portrait of a Madman in a Desolate Landscape), 2013

55 Sydenham Rd, Marrickville, Sydney

(Enamel paint, acrylic, timber, masonite, cardboard,  painted plastic buckets, perspex, permanent marker, wire, 4 x speaker horns + sound, digital video, digital photo frame, tripod)

This installation consisted of a series of works self-consciously parodying the exhibition format as a locus for competitive anxiety. The work overlayed a sense of hyperbolic adolescent angst over the exhibition context, blending references to exacerbated sexual and artistic competition. For example, through a peep-hole in the gallery wall a production of Wagner’s ‘Tristan and Isolde’ (1865) featuring stereotypical overweight Wagnerian singers, could be glimpsed. This otherwise silent video was here subtitled with a text taken from an episode of a popular television show lampooning amateur contemporary art collecting. Thus, a paradigmatically libidinous operatic text was conjoined with an equally libidinous, and ultimately misinformed, text about the drive to ‘legitimate’ cultural accumulation. Meanwhile, from four corners of the gallery space loudspeakers intermittently blasted the famous penultimate Liebestod (or ‘love-death’) from the Wagner opera. However, this ‘sublime’ aria was played on tinny electronic instruments further contributing to a combined sense of anxiety, irritation and humour. At the same time, the mock-tragedy of the work seemed to principally revolve around a dropped artwork that lay smashed face down in the middle of the gallery space.

Written by alex gawronski

February 13, 2014 at 4:04 PM