FEATURED ARTIST 


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MARIAN TUBBS

Currently living in Sydney, Australia


PAGAN POP

CURATED BY YOLANDE NORRIS

Canberra Contemporary Art Space

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Above left: Marian Tubbs With Nature (Anti-soft Focus), Assemblage and digital photographic print on 200 gsm bond, Installation view, Canberra Contemporary Art Space, 2011. Right: Marian Tubbs Velour Jumper Indoor Plant, digital photographic print, 2011.

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SUPERKALEIDOSCOPE PRESENTS ARTIST MARIAN TUBBS WITH ELEANOR IVORY WEBER AND CURATOR YOLANDE NORRIS

MARIAN TUBBS INTERVIEWED BY WRITER ELEANOR IVORY WEBER

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Could you shed some light on your practice for us using one sentence?

Past experiences inform the future and present, when I was in year two a boy I was sitting next to at our primary school carols night taught me how to make daisy chains.

I've heard mention of Martin Heidegger in regard to your work, how do his ideas about art (for example, the utilitarian vs. non-utilitarian distinctions he makes) inform your work? I'm thinking here, for instance, about the use of shelves, which seem to be a recurring motif and are variously adorned/unadorned altered/unaltered.


A friend was talking the other day about his methods of research metaphorically, he said ‘I’m not the guy who just picks up flowers’. This struck me as obvious, that one’s work should establish meaningful connections and search for original paths rather than act as an exercise in flower arranging. His comment, however, was equally devastating in implying that we should deny ourselves the opportunity to consider or feel wonder towards ‘things’ in the world as they simply are.

Reading some Heidegger has helped me to blur art and life more, his famous postulate that art helps us ‘unconceal’ the world certainly allows all art a powerful agency. The way we use things is very interesting; once broken or placed into a gallery, the utility is changed phenomenologically and semantically from object- to subject-status.

I find the world of materials or ‘the material world’ is beautifully self-replenishing in meaning. When humans shift in ways of thinking about the world so does the equipment we invent and employ to help us along. For instance, the current swell in ecological concern is matched with an industry of tools, replete with a spectrum that traverses from excellent to really unfortunate design. I think the study of this equipment, or in my case its transplantation into assemblage-based installations, can assist us in understanding our condition better. This being said, I wouldn’t go as far as to call myself a Heideggerian, I’ve been reading Deleuze and friends a lot longer, to avoid this answer going on too long however I will resist explicating that guy’s importance. This being said, I will note, art must stand up and away from didactically explaining any particular philosophy. Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn noted on reading Jacques Rancière, ‘I do not use philosophy to make my work – I need philosophy as a man, as a human being’ – this resonates.

The cheap shelving I think I might be finished with, but it’s been fun to see audiences at openings lean or rest on them and jump back as soon as they realise they are touching ‘art’.

Curator Yolande Norris writes in her text for the exhibition 'Pagan Pop' about this dual sensibility of seeking some kind of spirituality in our cynical secular state and at the same time how that desire clashes with the Pop (and Trash, I’d add) that exemplifies and surrounds us  – all this plastic and synthetically produced ephemera – which at once informs our condition, inspires and disgusts us. These two drives function in the same movement somehow, whilst simultaneously undermining each other. Case in point, as Yolande flags: D. Hirst's skull. What a better way to sum up Pagan Pop than through a diamond-encrusted skull, what an object of desire/disgust! I see echoes of that skull in your work 'Useless Form Unit 2' with the mirror-ball mannequin. Can you explain your thoughts about these ideas/how your work relates to them?

Me and Damien Hirst, that’s a good one ... you are quite funny. ‘For the Love of God’ is one of the most appalling works ever conceived, created – it having not attracted a buyer that would pay the asking price, they wanted to avoid a dip in auction prices so it was bought back by the artist himself and a consortium of dealers! Your question in part is about hating what we desire and vice versa. The mannequin I had disliked in my studio for quite a time, I don’t know how it lasted there so long. Recently pottering around the studio I realised I hadn’t destroyed an object creatively for a long time, not since making ‘Break Point Average’, a video of smashing fluorescent light tubes. So I got out a hammer and started to smash the mannequin and it felt pretty good. The result was placed into the work ‘Useless Form Unit 2’, a gnarly spray painted shelf that holds (just, it is sort of falling over) the broken mannequin and some pictures of doughnuts. It sits with ‘Useless Form Unit 1’, a wooden replica hand built, stained, varnished and fitted with acrylic mounted hyper-real photographs of the galvanised steel shelf surfaces. As their titles suggest, both of these forms are useless but perfect in their difference, one is quiet, reflective and still and the other a destructed piece signifying empty and violent consumerism - so if that echoes Hirst I suppose yes, it should.

Creatively Yolande Norris is able to uncover quite dramatic observations and yet with a lightness of touch she can make the connections appear seamless. She has casually denoted her style as being totally ‘OTT’ (over the top) but it was clear when all these loud works came together for Pagan Pop, they were not competing but complimentary. As the show was coming together everyone around CCAS during the install knew Yolande was saying something rather poignant.

I'm curious about your holographic photographs: do you call them photographs, how are they made and what's the thinking behind them? Do you see them as separate to the 'sculptural' works or is it all part of the installation?

I love that you perceive them as holographic they are all definitely photographs, I haven’t got the money to start playing with lasers yet. Maybe you are referring to the one in the assemblage ‘With Nature (Anti-soft Focus)’. Its quite simple, I take the photographs and manipulate them digitally. Photography and video allows me to record experiences and choose a series of frames to elevate or slow down. I’m interested in capturing things as they exist already, the interventions I make only aim to highlight that, even when I create obstructions, such as the blur placed in the middle of that photo. In front of the photo stands a shelf that also obscures the image, it is adorned with plastic garden imitation plants and ‘eco-bling’ including the faulty solar garden lights. The assemblage works to bring together a range of symbols that relate and wrestle with each other, so as to collapse meaning or even map a new one. The strength of ‘material’ assemblage is that it reveals the constant possibility for new meanings and metaphors. For art to embody the potential for pre-linguistic or affective relations between audiences and the experience of everyday objects and nature, is a worthy aim, as it propels us to think ‘difference’ or, more simply, to think in ways not yet structured by language. My next project in 2012 at Firstdraft is going to be more pointedly focused on this.

Yolande Norris writes in her text about this Pagan-esque urge: 'Everything pregnant with meaning and purpose. Is that what we're looking for?' What are you looking for?

See above… No…Your question asks for some sort of manifesto or facetious simplicity. Two guys attempted to rob me when I was walking home two nights ago, surprisingly I fought them off, keeping my bag that had nothing of value in it. Incidentally this is what I yelled at them when my face hit the pavement and after some kicking and screaming they left. I definitely had a fight rather than flight response. And while I’m glad I did, I wish I hadn’t needed to. One thing I am looking for is that people enjoy enough meaning and purpose in their lives that they can peacefully consider formations of clouds or making daisy chains. Unreasonable?


Eleanor Ivory Weber is a Sydney-based art writer


For more information about Marian Tubbs please click here>>

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Above left: Marian Tubbs In a Bottle, Assemblage and digital photographic print on 200 gsm bond, Installation view Kings ARI, 2011. Right: Marian Tubbs Useless Form Unit 2, Broken galvanised steel shelf, spray paint, mannequin, mirrors, cardboard, Installation detail, Canberra Contemporary Art Space, 2011.

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PAGAN POP

CURATED BY YOLANDE NORRIS

Celeste Aldahn, Tamara Dean, Julia deVille, Jessica Herrington, Robbie Karmel, Owen Lewis, Kate Rohde, Helen Shelley and Marian Tubbs.

Canberra Contemporary Art Space

October 14th - November 19th, 2011


Perhaps it all started with the skull thing. On one hand peaking with Damien Hirst’s diamonds, and on the other with the skull printed scarves, t-shirts, underpants, umbrellas for a sale at every two-bit chain store in town. The esteemed tradition of the Vanitas, the revered motif, now a grotesque cartoon grin, hollowed eyes mirroring hollow production. Then came the feathers, the jewelry, the headdresses. The how-can-it-be-PC appropriations of ancient cultures. North America, South America, any but the Modern Day America. Leather and tassels and fringing and beading. There were crystals and circles and triangles and orbs. There were trees with skeleton leaves reaching out to stars stretching out across the sky and full yellow moons, artificial fluorescent white moons, sailing over owls and hawks and wolves and deer. But why and what do we want of them? Aside from their teeth that is. Aside from their teeth and antlers and pelts and plumage. To wear, draped over shoulders, hung around necks, tied up in hair. To wear in lieu of getting closer, in place of mud, or blood, in absence of fire and ritual. To prove we are not card-carrying members of the consuming, sprawling, asthmatic allergic 21st century. We are spiritually connected creatures of the universe, tied to the land, the sea, the sky, unarguably belonging just like someone out there was once. Nostalgic for a time we can’t remember, searching for the shard of someone within us - someone who shared our genes in the millennia before we were born, in a time of being free in the world. No job no money no need. Everything pregnant and humming with meaning and purpose. Is that what we’re looking for?


Yolande Norris is an independent writer and curator


Above left: Tamara Dean The Pack, pure pigment on archival cotton rag 86 x 150cm. Courtesy of the artist and Charles Hewitt Gallery, Sydney and James Makin Gallery, Melbourne. Above right: Owen Lewis Jinja (detail) 2011.


© All Images are courtesy of the artists.



This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

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Each month SuperKaleidoscope will feature an emerging artist selected by the directors.

If you would like to make a submission please contact the SK Directors.
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