Easy Listening


Standards 1
Standards 2
Standards 3
Standards 4
Standards 5

Alex Gawronski: Standards, 2013

‘Easy Listening’, West Space, Melbourne, curated by Philipa Veitch

(MDF, aluminium, motor, turntables, hand-cut records, speakers, perspex, enamel)

In the Twentieth Century, Politics assumed a central place on the cultural stage. Politics and Modernity were linked by their conjoined belief in the immanence of alternative futures. In the West today, politics has assumed a less forceful, more managerial and administrative role as something of the background noise of contemporary life, no matter how annoying, how troubling.

The audio aspect of the work Standards, comprises, on the one hand, anonymous edited speeches of world dictators (SIDE A – MASTERS) and on the other, equally anonymous speeches by proponents of a vision of ‘democracy’ based on unregulated capitalist accumulation (SIDE B – DEALERS). Here however, the speeches of these leaders have been re-interpreted by women, all of them artists (Carla Cescon, Biljana Jancic, Jelena Telecki, Philipa Veitch, Eleanor Weber, Justene Williams) in an attempt to undermine the phallocentric hyperbole and arrogance of the originals. The aggressive fanfare and drum roll implicit to the declarations of world leaders, is now muted to conjure instead the more ambiguous terrains of fiction and fantasy. Speeches that once demanded unflagging attention have thus been rendered the ‘easy listening’, the merely lingering backing track, of a contemporary era where political belief is almost always wholly dissimulated: believers believe in the absence of genuine conviction.

The meaning of the title Standards is manifold; it could refer to the upright machines that disseminate the speeches via rotating speakers and which stand like heraldic sentinels on either side of the stereo units from which they emanate; it could indicate prior models, in this case political models, considered to be exemplary, that have exerted, and continue to exert, a particular influence on the course of history; in an audio context, it could also refer to classic recordings variously reinterpreted over time due to their persistent popularity. As for the speeches themselves, they could be regarded as an unfortunate ‘hit parade’ of Twentieth Century political aspiration. Against a contemporary soundtrack of diminishing horizons, the current re-interpretation of these ‘hits’ aims at thoroughly altering their sound.

Written by alex gawronski

November 9, 2016 at 10:43 PM