Unpacking Gerty’s Move
Gertrude Contemporary is an up-to-the-minute arts institution, combining exhibition space with an art studio complex. Gertrude Contemporary is part factory/part showroom and they’ve just relocated from the street of their name, to some place out in the sticks that nobody has ever heard of. There is an old-person-gambling-den situated right across the road, offering new friendship opportunities for resident artists who have a habit of failing out with each other over little things like philosophy and competition.
Art Openings are where the arts industry goes to hand out their new business cards and then workshop who is going to play the dominant and who’s the submissive. Art openings are where the arts industry go to talk through each others reputations. Art Openings are where politicians go for a night off politics. It’s where politicians go to make speeches that go for too long about how much art means to them and to society, but unfortunately they don’t have any more money for us. Art Openings are where politicians go to forge relationships with the well-heeled and get them to donate to their next campaign.
Art Openings are where insiders go to discuss how politics can stimulate the Australian Arts industry rather than trying to shut it down. Art Openings are where artists go to daydream about the art market and wonder aloud if we’re complicit in another great big rich person scam.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dw5kme5Q_Yo Adam Conover says the art market is a scam (5.12mins)
Art Openings are where patrons and collectors go to get their free drinks. Rich people never pay for their own drinks. Being a VIP you’ll get issued a Free Drinks Card and that’s when you know you’ve made it. Everything is complimentary hence forth. You can even access the roped off areas that security guards keep the normal people out of. Art openings are where art dealers go to tell everyone how much money they made at Art Basel Hong Kong and how the future of Australian art is in Asia.
Art Openings are where architects go to pick up. Art Openings are where architects go to maintain some semblance of cultural relevance. Art galleries are clubhouses serving exclusive communities of artists, who like to sniff round searching for future opportunities in which to exhibit their work. There are few exhibition opportunities for artists so always be on your best behaviour. Art openings are where artists go to learn from the mistakes of their peers. Artists size up the competition at Openings and then attempt to differentiate from each other. It’s also where we go to see what everyone should wear this season. Colour blocking, modernism and sincerity are all back in fashion. Art Openings are where artists go to discuss how University completely institutionalized them. Art openings are a rehearsal space for artists to practice talking about self while attempting not to be self obsessed. I’ve never seen an artist succeed without generating a lot of talk about what they’re doing, what they think they’re doing, or what they aren’t in fact doing. Some artists investigate the link between profile and success and harness the potential of social media to develop ‘brand’. In the wrong hands social media can rapidly spiral into anti-social territory. Then the artist brand becomes ‘shit-fight’. Social media is a virtual battleground for opinion and ego, a heated public debate without an adjudicator.
Artists go to art shows to steal ideas off each other. Often we don’t even credit the source of inspiration and everyone has to pretend the blatant theft hasn’t happened even. The thief can enjoy more success and accolades than the artist they stole off too because hey, life ain’t fair.
No, I’m just joshing you. Art openings are where the supportive and inclusive arts community comes together to celebrate artistic excellence and curatorial rigor over a couple of quiet and relaxing ales.
Artists love studio spaces. Places where we can muck round and get dirty and play and express ourselves just like kids. Studios are boxes of space artists rent so we can think outside the box. Most artists find thinking outside the box lonely work, so we clump and cluster together for reassurance: ‘I’m not alone/we’re all in this together’. That sort of thing. Some artists aren’t natural born thinkers, but are good with their hands. Artists turn to materials for answers where words fail them or, if they’re lonely, they try to build up a relationship with a material for company. Artists may attempt to assert some authority over said material, at least until the poetry comes out. Often the poetry does a no-show.
Personally, I’ve finally settled into the solitude of my home studio, which is just as well because it’s all I can afford. There’s no background noise, no distractions at home except for the washing machine. That’s an up-side. The down-side is I’m forever hassling the family to go out and leave me alone so I can concentrate and work. Which makes me a poor lover and mother but a better artist. ‘Off you go now. Mummy’s got to think outside her box’ I say. Maxi rolls her eyes and tells Morgi to make me stop now, but he lets me go.
Maxine said: ‘I like art Mum, but I don’t feel like I have to talk about it everyday. Not like you’. I am enamoured of art, it’s a long term relationship and like any relationship, you need to put the work in to keep it on track. I might be just using art to try and work shit out. With every passing year it gets more and more difficult to know what the hell is going on. It’s why I reckon art furors are always good, they neatly reveal the deep philosophical differences in how people see the world. I like when people passionately hate on art but then pretend they don’t really even care. Vitriol is everywhere.
A psychiatrist friend of mine (every artist should have one, saves you a bundle) said recently that Brexit, Trump and Turnbull could be viewed as a collective exercise in self-harm. A majority of people had the same bad idea all at once. Like a teenager stopping eating or using a blade to mark their leg. A cry for help, a need to feel, even if it’s inflicting pain on themselves. To have control when there is no control. I thought there was something in this, groups voting against the collective common good, because they’ve become so dependent on someone telling them what to do the whole time. People need a Daddy because his simple, authoritative answers, his lies that place self-interest and money above all else, are easier than thinking about how to make anything better.
This is a recording of 13 year-old Maxine using her scary voice to hang shit on Donald Trump:
She’s reading actual Trump dialogue from the opening sequence to The Apprentice. The mocking nuance in her voice challenges his words. The Apprentice placed Trump’s authority and brand inside our living rooms and upsold us the lie that he’s a successful businessman. Trump inherited his wealth and privilege, he is just another rich person who has subverted all reason. The art of the farcical reality TV show The Apprentice is the most influential work of fiction this century. Buddha only knows where the destruction may end. We’re in a place now where the difference between fact and fiction must be fought for. How friggin’ weird is it that the truth and lies have been muddied together. Smeared. A seismic shift toward B-grade TV lies, that’s where we’re at.
So back to where we began and for the record, the fact of the matter is Gerty’s new digs are sweet. The new exhibition spaces better than the old, the new studio’s equal and egalitarian unlike the old, some of which were awesome, some of which were dungeons. Shared communal spaces set up for artists to meet in and chew the fat together over a cup of chai. History writes itself one conversation at a time and it’ll be great to sit back and watch which stories resonate and who will raise their heads above the creative soup of mass endeavor and artistic ego that organizations like Gerty serve.
Maxine said she’s glad Gerty has moved. The old place was haunted. She’s sure of it.