The Old Man etc.

The Old Man With the Big Long Horn (He’s the One Who Isn’t There), 2016

The Old Man etc. 1Alex Gawronski - The Old Man etc. 2Alex Gawronski - The Old Man etc. 3Alex Gawronski - The Old Man etc. 4Alex Gawronski - The Old Man etc. 5Alex Gawronski - The Old Man etc. 6Alex Gawronski - The Old Man etc. 7Alex Gawronski - The Old Man etc. 8Alex Gawronski - The Old Man etc. 9

Alex Gawronski: The Old Man With the Big Long Horn (He’s the One Who Isn’t There), 2016

(Plywood, TV, digital video, dvd player, amplifier, speakers, acrylic paint, digital prints, aluminium, nylon)

KNULP, Sydney.

The separation of the art world from the world outside it can, from within the former, seem at times absolute. Where the art world is reduced to ‘business as usual’ it loses most of its critical potential. That potential is by no means absolute though; art has no automatic claim to ethical superiority. Art can question however. And as with philosophy, this is still one of its major strengths.

This installation brought together a range of disparate, though ultimately strangely interconnected references. The central freestanding object, specifically constructed of the same timber as the floor, was scaled to suggest the eerie ‘unexplainable’ monolith of Stanley Kunbrick’s 2001 (1968). At the same time it riffed off a matter-of-fact manual for buying and selling contemporary art. Flanking the object were enlarged prints of spam emails claiming to offer monetary or other rewards, including increased access to exhibiting internationally. For the ‘right’ price that is. Collectively evident in these emails was a dually reflected sense of base avarice, aimed at the gullible, and a global terrain of suffering. The art world, at least in its thoroughly monetised guise, promises riches and a haven from such tragedy. Spam emails offer instant millions for those willing to do the unknown sender a ‘favour’.

Inserted through the wooden monolith, a TV depicted a close-up of a musician (Jack Wotton) simulating a beat from Jean Luc Godard’s 1967 film Weekend. In a scene towards the end of that film, a rock drummer plays over farcical events like the blackly humorous cannibalisation, by a group of deluded ‘revolutionaries’, of a wholly unlikable bourgeois couple. The lose-lose scenario depicted speaks of a contemporary world devouring itself.

The title of this installation, The Old Man With the Big Long Horn (He’s the One Who Isn’t There) paraphrases a lyric from seminal experimental-absurdist ‘band’ The Residents. The creepy apparition conjured in the song is that ugly thing, ignored by reason and self interest, that is nonetheless ever present and inescapable. Whether or not viewers recognise these cues is, in the end, immaterial. The texts within the work interpenetrated and extended one another in an openly recombinative manner regardless.

Written by alex gawronski

March 31, 2017 at 8:18 PM