The show – from the flag that is jammed into a molded concrete vase at the bottom of the stairs, to the nice surprise of carpet in the upstairs spaces at HR and including all the posters, lights, cigaret butts and bottles – has the warm, dark, clubby feel of a bar, and although the space evoked is a different reality than one I might have known, still when I visited it felt comfortable and familiar, as though I had hung out here, and listened to noisy music and gotten drunk all afternoon, talking or not talking with strangers and friends.
Within this setting I find a beer sign that makes me think of Barbara Kruger, “MY GOODNESS, MY GUINNESS,” the sign says, and I wonder which clause is the stinger and what could be the commentary. Then I shake my head, thinking, “C’mon – it’s a beer sign for crying out loud.” But still, my nerve endings tingle. Art, even without artfulness, places quote marks around things. (Oh, dear. Allow me to correct myself: I place quote marks around objects that I think of as art. Art does nothing. Unless you can turn it on somehow.)
A bottle at the bar, one of Tomatin single malt scotch, mirrors slightly a pub sign hanging at the top of the stairs, “The Empire,” this sign announces, “Dunedin’s Oldest Pub Since 1858.” The plethora of signs and labels in this bar empty of human creatures feels eery. (Eery and weirdly crystalline. Without the masking smoke and the rush of voices and the alcoholic haze each item in the bar stands out like a photorealist installion, were there such a thing. Pretty cool.) Who reads these things? What do they mean, here away from their functions as markers for consumables, indicators of place, and possibly references to some outside world that is familiar in some way. If people were present I would look at their faces and bodies instead, and only glance to see what a sign or label might offer. Hmm. Truth be told, I would use these same eyes on humans that I am now using on manufactured signs, and in much the same way: “Which parts please me, what is gratifying, and whose face can lead me to intoxication?” I search in my head the babble of voices and I feel like an invisible character in a movie, able to cruise at will among realities.
I recognize that behind this exhibition and installation is music, in particular a New Zealand band, I think a ‘noise’ band. There were headphones, I assume to listen to samples of the music, but headphones to me imply proximity and volume, and ‘noise’ in any proximity and at any volume for me means a headache, so I refrained from the experience.
There will be a performance series in April 20-22 titled Trapdoor Fucking Exit. If you appreciate this genre of music, I encourage you to attend.
(yay, good song)
an unpretentious fan video
And finally, best for last:
trying it at home, yay.
I stand before you a changed man, or at least a less uptight one. Enjoy the music.