Dispatch Review respectfully acknowledges the Whadjuk people as the traditional owners and custodians of the lands upon which we live, work and enjoy. We pay deep respect to Elders past and present. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

Reviews:

  1. Light Event by Sam Beard
  2. Rejoinder: Archival / Activism by Max Vickery
  3. Access and Denial in The Purple Shall Govern by Jess van Heerden
  4. 4Spells by Sam Beard
  5. Abstract art, DMT capitalism and the ugliness of David Attwood’s paintings
    by Darren Jorgensen
  6. Unearthing new epistemologies of extraction by Samuel Beilby
  7. Seek Wisdom by Max Vickery
  8. Something for Everyone by Sam Beard
  9. Violent Sludge by Aimee Dodds
  10. State of Abstraction by Francis Russell
  11. Double Histories: Special Issue, with texts by Ian McLean, Terry Smith, and Darren Jorgensen & Sam Beard
  12. Six Missing Shows by Sam Beard
  13. What We Memorialise by Max Vickery
  14. At the End of the Land by Amelia Birch
  15. The beautiful is useful by Sam Beard
  16. ām / ammā / mā maram by Zali Morgan
  17. Making Ground, Breaking Ground by Maraya Takoniatis
  18. Art as Asset by Sam Beard
  19. Cactus Malpractice by Aimee Dodds
  20. Sweet sweet pea by Sam Beard
  21. COBRA by Francis Russell
  22. PICA Barn by Sam Beard 
  23. Gallery Hotel Metro by Aimee Dodds
  24. A Stroll Through the Sacred, Profane, and Bizarre by Samuel Beilby
  25. Filling in the Gaps at Spacingout by Maraya Takoniatis
  26. Disneyland Cosmoplitanism by Sam Beard
  27. Discovering Revenue by Anonymous
  28. Uncomfortable Borrowing by Jess van Heerden
  29. It’s Not That Strange by Stirling Kain
  30. Hatched Dispatched by Sam Beard & Aimee Dodds
  31. Fuck the Class System by Jess van Heerden, Jacinta Posik, Darren Jorgensen, et al.
  32. Wild About Nothing by Sam Beard
  33. Paranoiac, Peripatetic: Pet Projects by Aimee Dodds
  34. An Odd Moment for Women’s Art by Maraya Takoniatis
  35. Transmutations by Sam Beard
  36. The Post-Vandal by Sam Beard
  37. Art Thugs and Humbugs by Max Vickery
  38. Disneyland, Paris, Ardross and the artworld by Darren Jorgensen
  39. Bizarrely, A Biennale by Aimee Dodds
  40. Venus in Tullamarine by Sam Beard
  41. Weird Rituals by Sam Beard
  42. Random Cube by Francis Russell
  43. Yeah, Nah, Rockpool by Aimee Dodds
  44. Towards a Blind Horizon by Kieron Broadhurst
  45. Being Realistic by Sam Beard



Disneyland, Paris, Ardross and the artworld

In an era of anti-capitalism in the contemporary artworld it’s easy to nod politely at a plethora of exhibitions about waste, commodification and exploitation. Marco Fusinato’s 2022 show at the Australia Pavilion in Venice is one example of anti-capitalist spectacle, accelerating the virtue signalling of the contemporary artworld with a six-month noise performance accompanied by flashing images of protests, extinct animals, sewers, and so on. Two recent editions of the Venice Biennale and Documenta were also curated along these anti-capitalist lines, in 2015 and 2017 respectively, only to be reviled by artworld and public alike for their brutality toward an audience who didn’t want to be reminded about the global inequalities and environmental collapse that they knew about anyway.
        Two recent and successive exhibitions at Disneyland Paris, a room sized gallery in Ardross, suburban Perth, are also situated within this bourgeoisie contradiction of shows about injustice, want, and waste. Jasmin Werner’s Hauling puts a range of bright supermarket commodities on one wall while the other walls are pasted with documents listing job opportunities for Filipino workers in Australia. It’s a depressing show, as we survey the recruitment companies exporting workers to a more monied society, while packets of biscuits, toothpaste, and sponges blare out their bad packaging with oranges and blues. The artist tells us that the products allude to Balikbayan Boxes, the millions of parcels sent back to the Philippine families by their millions of absent workers. The gaze shifts from a red tube of Pringles to stark black and white documents informing us that there is a spot for a panel beater at a smash repairs company in rural New South Wales.
        A second Disneyland Paris exhibition, Plastic ● Concrete, was composed of Daniel Argyle’s concrete casts of plastic containers hanging on the wall. These are the shapes you get your supermarket meat and tomatoes in, or use to freeze your ice cubes, or throw away after a takeout meal. In a brilliant, meandering catalogue essay, printed faithfully by the gallery on A4 sheets, Argyle says that he wants to celebrate, or at least draw some attention to, the unknown designers of such ubiquitous plastic products:

The disposable plastic packaging I have been using to make concrete casts from are made with computer-assisted processes that have incredibly fine tolerances in their design and manufacture. Although injection moulded plastic has been in use for decades, it’s the very designed, detailed and decorative qualities that amaze me when it comes to disposable food packaging.

It’s not just the concept of the corporate designer that Argyle is interested in, but their forms. This is why, I guess, he paints the concrete in monochromes and stripes that correspond to the perforations of their plastic design. It’s not the most conceptually coherent thing to do to the shapes (which would surely be interesting to see as bare, transubstantiated concrete) but it does speak to the artist’s thinking of these throwaways as aesthetically compelling things. The effect is to focus on some of the few kinds of packaging that are designed to disappear. These ubiquitous supermarket take-aways are typically unseen beneath the glossy red steak, or pack of cucumbers they contain, with more plastic heat-wrapped around them.
        Argyle’s anti-capitalism is more subtle than Werner’s, but neither would have been out of place in the big European shows of 2015 and 2017, playing out the contemporary art game that brings the marginal, repressed or denied into the light of the gallery. Disneyland Paris is not Venice or Kassell, however, despite its ridiculous name, nor is it even a publicly funded gallery with all the good intentions that implies. It is what a 1990s terminology would have called an ARI, an Artist Run Initiative, but without the kind of dole bludging or student community that once had the time and cheap rent to prop up such spaces. Disneyland is instead run by David Attwood, who is not only a visionary in putting the gallery together but whose punishing schedule of a new show every three weeks puts the ridiculously long runs at other Perth galleries to shame.
        Crucially, the context for capitalist realism is very different when it is on show in this kind of space. Unless you’ve arranged to have the space opened for you, the exhibition happens at an opening and closing event during which a handful of people linger around the work, and on the veranda outside. The only opening hours are on a Sunday afternoon, amidst a handful of people, so that a Disneyland Paris show comes into being not in a gallery of strangers but within a community that has gathered, temporarily, to talk as much as to see. Disneyland Paris shows us the minimal conditions required for having a show, and in this resembles other Australian galleries that are as much a negation of a highly bureaucratised artworld as they are an addition to it (here I am thinking most infamously of Guzzler in a suburban, rental share house shed in Melbourne). These tiny galleries reflect the artworld’s insularity back upon itself, admitting that art exhibitions are not for the public but for the clique of artworld people that bother coming along in the first place.
        Of course, there are exceptions to this logic of exhibition making in Australia, most obviously in Australian state galleries who have in recent decades attempted to mount blockbusters to wow the imagined crowds back into their taxpayer funded atriums. We don’t get a lot of these in Perth, though the recent back of bus advertising for the Yoshimoto Nara exhibition at The Art Gallery of Western Australia might give us the sense that we are seeing something bigger than usual. It was in any case an unusual and brave choice for AGWA, especially at this historical moment, to be advertising a survey of work by an old man who almost exclusively makes work about pre-pubescent girls.
        One would think that artists showing at Disneyland Paris, with its micro-community as an audience, would not be driven to take on such zeitgeist topics as consumption, inequality and waste. Surely the point of being part of a select elite, mingling in an exhibition that nobody else will ever see, is to block out that more pressing horror show taking place elsewhere. Disneyland Paris does not only function for its physical audience however, but like Guzzler and a thousand other hyper-local galleries is also set up to be seen online. An image heavy Disneyland Paris site feeds blogs that selectively disseminate its images, and it is here that the anti-capitalism of these two shows makes sense. The tiny gallery, like the tiny house, is a tactical response to both the blockbuster and to the bureaucratisation of art by the dumb, capitalist world.
        Within the Australian artworld, the concept of hyper-localism is probably best exemplified by the artist Scott Redford, who makes work about the Gold Coast, and says he makes it for a Gold Coast audience. He famously protested that there was no Gold Coast art in his state gallery, and went on to refuse to meet the director of the same state gallery to talk about it. Redford’s refusal is an insistence on his alienation from everywhere except the Gold Coast, and is bound to the ways in which alienation has become a part of the function of contemporary art to show us that which we are apart from, whether this be the art gallery itself or the capitalist world we live in. That this alienation is visible even the most ‘minor’ of galleries, in Disneyland Paris’s case with an audience of no more than twenty people, is symptomatic of the pervasiveness of the capitalism that contemporary art sets out to critique.


Daniel Argyle, Plastic • Concrete, 7 - 27 May 2023, Disneyland Paris.



Image credits:
1. Daniel Argyle, Untitled, 2019, Enamel on concrete, 11 x 18 x 5 cm.
2. Jasmin Werner, Hauling, Installation view, 2023.
3. Installation view, "Yoshitomo Nara: Reach Out to The Moon, Even If We Can't," Feb 26 – Jun 25, 2023, The Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth © Yoshitomo Nara. Photo: Dan McCabe.