review swapper

Instant Gratification

In Melbourne on November 27, 2011 at 6:26 pm
Penelope Skliros
Melbourne, 12 May – 24 September, 2011

Penelope Skliros, 2011

Dear Rose,

This is an open letter urging you to resuscitate your artpals blog, which I’ve noted has drifted into a semi-permanent hibernation.  I’m convinced there’s a great need (or at least, I have a great need) for your review-swapping blog.  In my case, its not just that baby-land has interrupted my passion for indulgent art-themed international tours.  More significantly, the coincidental closure of several of Melbourne’s most energetic artspaces means I’ve been spending extra time on the net looking beyond the Australasian clique for inspiration.  The problem is that when I come across a show that stirs my attention, the web shots are seldom satisfying and I’m left wanting details, details.  But fortunately (or potentially fortunately, if artpals revives!), there always seems to be someone-I-vaguely-know somewhere-I-want-to-be, as I’m constantly reminded by facebook status updates.  (Despite its insidiousness, maybe there’s a useful facebook-artpals synergy?)

With all that in mind, here’s a review for you, with the fervent hope it will prompt one in return, and thereby kickstart artpals back to a state of currency.

The Kiss

In Melbourne on March 1, 2010 at 1:50 pm
Studio 18, Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, 5 February 2010

COBRA, 'The Kiss' video still

Dear Rose

I have met a wonderful man. His name is Cobra. What can I say? I apologise. This will not be an art review. I hope you will not consider it an account of stalking. A fan letter perhaps. In my defence, I had considered approaching Cobra for an interview. Of getting close to him and asking earnest questions about himself and his art. But circumstance was against this. Cobra is Japanese. His English is not-so-good. My Japanese only extends to the names of certain food items; sashimi, onigiri, tamago… I am shy to boot and somewhat infatuated. All this ensures I will never ask Cobra what one may think of asking him. “Why Cobra? Why are you scared of mountains? What do you find so special about cats? Have you always wanted to be the best dancer in the world?”


In Melbourne on February 11, 2010 at 11:41 am
Ross Coulter
Seventh Gallery, 3–20 February 2010

Ross Coulter, 'Prelude', Seventh Gallery, 2010

Dear Evan

Viewing and reviewing the work of friends can be a fraught experience. I found this out when I read your novel a couple of weeks ago and was hyper aware of the care with which I wrote my response. Today I find myself in a similar position as Rose has asked that I kick off this Artpals relationship with a review of my old friend Ross Coulter’s latest show at Seventh Gallery.

The reason I say that the task is fraught is not that I feared the work would be dreadful (it wasn’t!) and that I may have had to weigh truth against friendship when I wrote about it, rather it’s because in both circumstances I am in the odd position of having prior or other knowledge than a regular punter would and this surfeit of knowledge is tangled up for me with the pull of narrative and the experience of experiencing other people as narratives.

In many ways that is what both you and Ross are for me – memories of things we’ve done together and the stories you have told me over the years. And though I know some pretty juicy details about you both, I’m equally aware that there are billions of events that make up your life of which I’m unaware and I’m not sure what roles these stories (whether known to me or not) might play in your work, other than the ones my inherent propensity to narrativise everything create.