I work across several media including drawing, painting, printmaking and photography. I am currently studying for an Advanced Diploma in Visual Arts at RMIT. I have worked as a writer/journalist for many years. I bring my long-standing interests in politics and words into my art practice.
As a relatively new artist I am still developing my vision, practice, and technique. My art reflects the mix of curiosity and uncertainty that underpins my practice and my practise at this point in time.
This point in time is that I am in the middle of my fourth year of part-time study in the Advanced Diploma of Visual Art at RMIT. So this makes me relatively inexperienced and new to art.
However, I am not really "new" in the sense that I am well past middle age and I have a wealth of experience in other fields. Therefore, I bring to my emerging art practice a level of intellectual heft, knowledge and lived experience. In the spirit of the dialectic, this is both a blessing and a curse.
I am blessed with ideas and a knowledge of history; I am frustrated because my abilities with the tools of the artist are still in their infancy.
Precision and Decay
My motivation as an artist is to explore the dialectic between precision and decay. I see precision and decay as two important principles that underpin the aesthetic of Anthropocene Capitalism. Art is an expression of this contradiction because it is an application of human labour to the material world. We work with nature; we manipulate, shape, extend, and destroy it to create art that comments on the complex relationship between the natural and the social worlds.
Art produces commodities – artefacts, performance, exhibition – but the labour of artists occupies a liminal space of non-commodification. The work of artists is romantically fetishized as “decommodified” labour (La Berge 2019) that is assumed to be antithetical to Capitalism (Beech 2019). Against this background, how can an artist committed to praxis be politically effective? Is there space – aesthetically, politically, and economically – for something approaching independent, “revolutionary” art? In order to ask this question we must first decide if we agree with the Surrealists that “the artist is the natural ally of revolution” (Breton, Trotsky, and Rivera 1938). I am a socialist and lifelong Marxist, so political and anti-capitalist manifestos for art are important. But what is the relationship between art and revolution today. I'm not sure, yet.
In producing commodities – inevitable given the structuration of the global art market – artists engage in a process of simultaneous precision and decay. My work seeks to explore this contradiction through practice combined with theoretical and empirical research.
Conceptually my artistic desire is to give expression to a dialectic of precision and decay. I see the world around me in these terms; there is a dialogue between precision and decay in everything.
My question—more to myself than anybody else—is “How can I express the dialectic of precision and decay in my art?”
My answer is “I don’t know…yet.”
Yet. I am on a quest to explore my question intellectually and technically.
The work I present today is indicative of my progress towards an answer; it is also an acknowledgement that my search continues.
Beech, Dave. 2019. Art and Postcapitalism: Aesthetic labour, automation and value production. London: Pluto Press.
Breton, Andre, Leon Trotsky, and Diego Rivera. 1938. Manifesto for an independent revolutionary art. Accessed 8 September 2020.
La Berge, Leigh Claire. 2019. Wages against artwork: Decommodified labour and the claims of socially engaged art. Durham and London: Duke University Press.