Geoffrey Farmer. The Power Plant, Toronto. 24 September to 20 November 2005.

Geoffrey Farmer: A Pale Fire

Immediately I’m concerned with the waste of useful furniture, can’t it be put to a better use than being burned in the name of Art?

The moniker of Art takes an object out of its context, removing its use value only to re-present it for us to read its use value back in. The real-world object is neutered (bad/wrong word, suggests sexuality is overriding meaning), the Art object becomes the paradigm of the real.

That’s all well and good, but so what? If the artists activity involves wastefulness, they invite censure from a social/environmental point-of-view. Does an aesthetic bonus outweigh a social penalty?

Certainly this piece engages with some contexts, the artist is said to have an “interest in the latent potential of the gallery as a site for social engagement”.

…the work is advertised as a political action – a sit-in. Here, rather than burning logs in Imbert’s fireplace, furniture is used as fuel. The furniture is amassed in an installation that is slowly transformed through the progressive dismantling and combustion of its individual pieces. Each day these pieces of furniture are set alight using a broadsheet with politically related texts and manifestos.

While the metaphor engaged here of the sit-in could be interesting, the surrounding, ‘real-world’ consequences of the enactment of that metaphor are ignored. I also think it is misplaced to imagine ‘the gallery’ as an effective place for social engagement. My main concern, though, is that the pieces political aspirations are overshadowed by its material reality. And that material reality is a nihilistic waste of resources.

UPDATE 22/2/06: You know, maybe I was being a little harsh on Geoffrey Farmer. I guess the piece is just trying to elicit a response, get a reaction (which it succeeded at). But, if this work wants to be judged as effective politically or socially and not just aesthetically then it has to accept the consequences for meaning inherent in those discourses.

Clare Hall, Cambridge – Architect: Ralph Erskine – 1969

I visited Clare Hall for the first time on Tuesday. It reminded how much I enjoy modernist architecture. To qualify that statement, how much I enjoy architecture with a humanity, which excites you with it’s motions and spaces. Moving through the building, up and down the short series of steps between it’s many levels interspersed with gaps through to other spaces. The greenery of which they are proud pops up all over the place, as small planters, or vistas through to the gardens.

Documentation – Small Book – 1992

Document – Small Book – 1992

1. Gallery

The Walls of the Gallery

2. Gallery

The Act of Noticing

3. Gallery

The Prisms Channel

The Walls of the Gallery become more expedient as a bridge across that which divides the courtyard. In the process it takes on the characteristics of the viewers perception of the framing edge of the wall, cutting out wedges of viewed material, in a sculptural sense. These wedges act as prisms laid along-side each other, to channel light along their lengths into the gallery and, ultimately, into the viewers eye. In the courtyard this division turns round the limits of the walls, introducing perspective curving akin to gravitational space.

The Act of Noticing: the first moment of viewing sets up a program of incidences, between the viewer and the viewed. Note: the viewer looks out to the incidences before him. The incidences project back and into the eye of the viewer. The drawing is unrelated to the act of viewing. It tries to understand what you see in relation to what is thought to be there. An imaginative movement from your eye out to the position from which the picture is drawn /or which the picture represent.

The Prisms Channel two ‘world lines’ of light through their material and the material that creates the curve in spatial perception (conceivably this may be a function of the eye-ball). Looking at this arrangement in reality we do not see these bodies but only their composite actions.

Tracey Moffatt & Smadar Dreyfus at Victoria Miro Gallery

Victoria Miro Gallery

16 Wharf Road (map)


Tracey Moffatt


Comic-strip-style panels combining photos with painted scenes. A small cast of characters enacting emotionally over-the-top, clichéd, melodramatic, daytime TV fantasies.

This review by Katherine Bovee on PORT presents some parallels to my experience of Tracey Moffatt’s work:

At Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Naomi Fisher’s savage women frolicked amidst lush green flora, apparently situated in somebody’s extended fantasy involving tropical islands and hot girls. Her photographs look like high-end fashion shoots that are trying to look like an updated version of campy Italian films. Her drawings feature luridly colored portraits of females with vacuous, blood-red eyes. Fisher plays out taboo fantasies to a highly choreographed end – the hyper-sexed woman, the hysteric woman, the savage woman, the mother-nature-goddess woman.

Report from France (Part I)

However Naomi Fisher’s pictures seem to avoid humour, presenting a world where nature is physically encroaching on the human body and mind, threatening eons of mental evolution, stripping the layers of society to reveal a base nature within.

Whereas in Moffatt’s world the bodies are narcissistically pumped and painted, the surrounding objects and vistas treated as cartoons. The mood is light, bright, with a celluloid flatness forced to accommodate the limited depths and moods of the actors.

Smadar Dreyfus


2-screen projection, on opposite sides of a room, alternately playing short, related pieces. On one side is silent footage of large groups of people swimming in the sea, the other an audio track of the sound of people in the sea and lifeguards shouted instructions. The lifeguards statements are not in English and are translated on the screen.

The video, for all it’s teaming human life, seems almost calm without its sound. The groups of people swimming and being taught to swim, floating, being buffeted by waves. The audio sounds like there’s a war going on. It’s harsh, with the urgent demands and entreaties of the lifeguards mixed in with the splashings of the swimmers and airplanes passing overhead.

The movement from one side to the other forces the audience to physically turn whenever the piece flips from video to audio. I came in when the film side was playing and didn’t realise there was anything happening behind me at first, I was presented with the harsh shouts in a foreign language leaving me unaware of their meaning until I noticed that there was some faint light coming from behind me, at which point I realised the dual nature of the piece.

Separating the audio and video seems to be designed to emphasize the different states created by each. In a sense they seem to contradict each other, the video says enjoyment, the audio danger, although it’s also presenting them as two aspects of the same place and time – different senses give us conflicting messages if only we could separate them out and analyze them.