Tuesday, April 28, 2015

"Redeem UnAustralianness Vis Railing"

A new work has been created for a common space: a corridor, inside 874 Art building at Victoria College of The Arts south bank campus. Including the days of the installation and de-installation, this work lasted for one week from 22 - 26 April. 

Here are some text, photographic and video documentation of this work.

"Redeem UnAustralianness Via Railing - MMXV"

- A long corridor frequented by fearless art students full of hopes and expectations.

- An array of 100 recycled empty green beer cans gaffe taped on the long wall.

- A silver plate and its red silk packaging box holding a pile of twigs at each end of the long pass.

- Two signs ‘REDEEM UNAUSTRALIANESS VIA RAILING’ and “IN BIBENS VERITAS AUSTRALIS” written in a big font and composed respectively at the centre of a blue and yellow rectangular backgrounds, are sliding in one after the other on the wall from the projector, just like propaganda slogans.

A proposition is made. Actions are desired.


Tak, tak, tak… A fainted rhythm of the gold luck-grabbing cat’s swinging arm that hits the wall behind is detected in the silent space. It counts every second of the current stillness and builds up a longing for future chaos.

A person merges at one end of the corridor, stops in front of red packaging box, picks up a twig and holds it in hand. This person decides, “I am going to use this stick to hit every single can on this wall while I am walking through! It will be just like what I did when I was a kid.”

Starting in a natural pace, this person creates a sound with the twig general and calm, yet sharp and clear. Suddenly this sound becomes hysteric and psychotic noises mixed with the accelerating footsteps. This person run and springs off to the other end of the corridor. It is a quick decision popped up in this person’s head.

Before the obnoxious loud patchy sound fades out from the air, before the annoyed nearby students catch this “criminal” with their stares, this person has dropped the twig in the pile on the plate and walked off.


Monday, December 22, 2014

A letter to David Shrigley

Hi, David,
I visited your exhibition "life and life drawing" that is currently shown at National Gallery of Victoria. I think I am a fan of your artwork.

My friend Sarah and I sat down for at least a good 30mins and did a drawing of the model in one of the exhibition room. You may know that it is always difficult to call an end once you start making art. Luckily Sarah and I both felt the need to stop around the same time. We had few giggles when the robot model blinked and peed in to the tin bucket. We actually had lots giggles through out the exhibition. I really enjoyed the sarcastic messages in your art.

After seeing the exhibition, we also popped into the souvenir shop where all your artworks are sold as products.  We went through almost very product and had more giggles. I did a naughty thing that I bought only thing i could afford in the shop - badges. One 'I'm not tall' for me; 'baked potato' for Sarah as she told me that's her favourite. With my current financial situation - an art student who nearly made end meet, spending money for any unpractical stuff is a wast. But I couldn't resist the good feeling of spending money and the imaginary joyful time in the post purchase stage. I hope my tiny amount of financial contribute would give you support to your art on some level.

After all, I really appreciated that your exhibition was free charge. I wish one day I would be like you to exhibit work in the top contemporary art space and sell products of my artwork to art pilgrims.

your fan

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

To reside at the Food Court

My belated art making job starts again! ( I am truly astonished how much time for a lazy bone like me to recover from only 3 months traveling overseas. *Ashamed*)
The poster on the glass wall of the Food Court

Now, I am sitting at Dockland - a very much strange and yet familiar place* to continue the project I started at the residency at Jiwar in Barcelona over the period from December 2013 to January 2014. (Maria would be happy for me.)

I am planning to edit the film and sound footage I took at Jiwar during this residency. ( making work about food at the Food Court! What a match!) Meanwhile I will explore the neighbourhood.

As simple as it sounds!

I will have open studio days during my residency! The dates will be posted here or my FB page soon. So, please stay in touch!

* Waterfront in Dockland is very foreign to me as I barely visit this place. No reason to come! None of friends in Melbourne ever had recommend it to me to visit. I don't know the streets, shops, or what's around… a void place in my knowledge of melbourne.  However, it is such not a very difficult place to figure out. it is almost identical to other 'waterfronts' in major cities, such as Darwin, Sydney, even Liverpoor ( i recently traveled to). Similar architecture landscape, a big shopping mall about a block away from the water; same shops and cafes at the mall; concrete dock street along the water dotted with lookout spots and ice creme venders; the apartments with balconies facing the water and the apartment without balconies; and tourists.

A water view of Waterfront

A street view of Waterfront

A view of boulevard along the water 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

More than just food

Day XI  - 7 days to xmas

My residency project continues after my first weekend in Barcelona. Two participants joined with me for Chinese TakeAway dinner on this Monday and Tuesday. Cederic Camier (France) and Yaiza Jaiz (Spain).

Cederic Camier is a music composer and Acoustic researcher who lives in Montreal, Canada. He is doing Jiwar residency to compose music for a play.

I ordered 'Eight Treasures (Stirfry mixed seafood)' and 'Stirefry Chinese Cabbage' and Steam Rice from L'os Panda for the dinner with Cederic.

Cederic made entree Truite Meuniere, main Prawn and mushroom Paella and last course Green Salad. We ate them orderly based on French dinner manner.

 Chin_rench dinner made by Cederic. Entree, main course & last course (L-R).
Truite Meuniere is a trout dish. Meuniere is the way of cooking the fish: fry both side of fish on a fry pan. Trout is a common river fish in French cuisine. There are five main rivers in France. Fishing in river is a very popular activity in France.

Why people see ghosts
"What you believe is true." I said this to him when I talked about the saints stories in Catholic culture. It lead our conversation move to the topic of ghosts. Scientists did an experiment on the sites where people saw ghosts. These sites are in a magnetic field that produces an unique frequency of vibration. This frequency affects people's retina and pupils to projects a human shape in front of eyes and knowledge it to brain. Then, under the impact of personal memories and emotion status people see certain ghosts.

ha! Following this theory, I started to wonder if the ghosts are the physical reaction from the vibration. The shape of the ghost could have been the mirrored contour of the viewer.  So, in other word, the ghost that people saw were actually the viewer themselves. *Wacky indeed! Who cares of the accuracy of this theory.*

Etiquette at dining table in France
According to Cederic, the polite body gesture at dining table is to sit straight and no elbows on the table.

If you are a guest, you leave a little bit food on your plate when you finish a dish. It shows the generosity of the host. You are given more food then you need. But you cant leave too much on your plate. It means food is bad. Just a little!

Using bread to scrape the source in your plate is a peasant behaviour.

Traditionally wife of the host makes the first toast and offers to serve the food. The guests should refuse the offer at the first or second time. If she insists, then guests let her do it.

People at the table are arranged to sit next to a person opposite sex to them. Couples who have been together more than one year will be separated at the table. However, those couples who know each other less than one year are the exception.

Yaiza Jaiz is a young journalist who has lived in Barcelona for five years. Her family is from Cantabria region.

According to my Traveladvisor app, there are two other Chinese Restaurants in this neighbourhood. For the dinner with Yaiza, I decided to get dinner from a new place - Prosperidad.

Decorated with a typical Chinese red gate at the entrance, Prosperidad looks more formal than L'os Panda. It seems that they have more choices on the menu than the other. I ordered Vegetable Steamed Rice Dumplings, 'Tie Ban Duck', 'Stirfry mixed vegetables' and Steam Rice.

When I reached home with the takeaway, Yaiza had waited at the front door. Yaiza was my first Spanish participant except for Mireia, the manager of Jiwar. Despite the language barrier, we proceeded the project from a brief introduction about Yaiza. When I asked Yaiza to transfer the dishes, she seemed a bit reserved. (maybe Duck and mix vegetable are hard for her.) Yaiza told me in Spain Duck was not a common food. If people have to cook duck, they would take the whole duck into the oven. It was very difficult to form a whole duck from the dish. So, she grouped all duck meat in the centre for a plate and green vegetable, mushroom and little bit rice on the side. It was the way that duck would be presented on a plate.

So, in the end Yaiza made entree: Ravioli, first course: Pisto and second course: Pato with mushroom.

Entree & two courses (L -R) made by Yaiza
Caga Tio

Caga Tio [1] meant 'shit log'. Yaiza used body language to explain to me. When we talked about the traditional celebration of Christmas in her hometown, I told her the wood logs with a painted smile face, a red blanket and santa hat that I saw at so many places in Barcelona.

It was Catalan Christmas tradition. Caga Tio gave children gifts at Christmas eve. Instead of American Santa Clause who jumped through the chimney and put the gifts in the socks, Caga Tio shitted the gifts out when people used sticks to beat 'shit out of it' at Christmas eve. From early december, Catalan families would get a Caga Tio to the house and fed it with oranges till Christmas eve.  Like American Christmas tale, Caga tio did not shit gifts all the time. It would have charcoal to the badly behaved children.


Yaiza also told me that in her family region people celebrated the 6th of January, Epiphany day. It was the day that people would receive gifts. But in Italy (Sicily) people celebrated the 5th January. ( Yaiza lives in Sicily for a year.) A witch, Befana [2], would come in the night to leave gifts in socks and also sweep the floor before she left. (So much more useful than Santa!)

The story about Befana made me suddenly understand a craft object that I saw at a Christmas market. in Barcelona. The object was a small sculpture. It featured a witch head, a broom and some Christmas fruit.

The conversation between Yaiza and I at the dinner table went for hours. The topics jumped from food to her family region, from Spain to Italy, from urban life style to the books she had worked on. She left for home after 11pm.

Monday, December 16, 2013

tracking through history of Barcelona

Weekend I - 10 day to xmas

La Rambla and Barri Gotic are where the old city locates and a true centre of culture for tourists. The streets are winery and narrow. Gaudi's modernist buildings are replaced by structures in much older style: gothic stone castles and churches, pillars of Creek temple, Roman arch gates and archaeologic sites of the city relics.

The wide pedestrian boulevard - La Rambla, once meant 'stream of shit' before 14th century, now centred between rows of pine trees, shops and cafes and lead people from the urban centre straight to the harbour. At the end of La Rambla was there the column of Columbus viewpoint.

The waterfront in a sunny Saturday morning was just delightful. The Tango dance music pumped up to its full level. After passing over the dancing couples at the open square, I walked into the tune of bossa nova jazz played by a guitarist at the bank.

Hearing the fading out music, I returned to La Rambla and entred the maze of ancient streets. The history of Barcelona, Catalan, the Crown of Aragon and Iberian peninsular slowly was unraveled under my feet. (also google later)

Stunned by the story of patron saint of Barcelona - Saint Eulalia (most stories of catholic saints are like scenes at abattoir), I convinced myself 'donating' 6 euro to visit La Catedral where St Eulalia's coffin was placed in the Crypt. Saint Eulalia was martyred for her faith to Christianity by Dacian, the Roman Governor of Barcelona during the period of Diocletian, the Roman Emperor from 284 to 305.  She was decapitated after being tortured 13 times in 13 ways. [1](saint-eulalia)

La Catedral was famous for its access to the rooftop where you would overlook these bell towers stuck out from the city and imagine you were right in the scene of Marry Poppins movie (Marry Poppins danced with the chimney cleaners on roofs in London); the central garden in Cloister where thirteen white geese were kept to remind the age of 13 when St Eulalia was killed.

A statue of the Virgin of Monsterrat was found in one of the side-chapels in La Catedral. It featured black Madonna and Baby Jesus. The Virgin of Monsterrat was not black when it was created before 8th century. The colour of Madonna and Jesus's face and hands had faded out through out the time. Then, for some reason around 18th century restorers started to paint the statue in a black skin colour. 

black Madonna and Jesus

At the front square of la Catedral a dead pigeon laid in the corner of the church wall and front stairs. The white fluffy feather fell off from the corps, scattered on the ground and moved in the wind. I walked close to it and hoped it might be not dead yet. A seagull jetted down and landed next to the pigeon. Before I understood what was happening, this seagull started to pick the meat out from the pigeon. Uuuum~~~ a group of children saw the dead bird and run toward it with heavy steps. The seagull flew away. The dead pigeon with a hollow chest was seen. This melancholic image fitted very well at this cathedral.

a pigeon with a hollow chest

Sunday in Barcelona was sociable and relaxing. The most of museums and art galleries were open for free after 3pm.

Museum Ferederic Mares [2] was a great fun place definitely worthwhile to visit. It was located inside a part of the Lloctinent palace of Crown of Aragon. The incredible three floor full collection in this museum included statues of Madonna and Jesus and stains from 7th - 12 centuries, iron works, ceramic, lady dresses and photographs in early 19-20centuries and more... You could easily spend a good 4-5 hrs inside.

The statue and image of Saint George were often seen in the museums and churches. He was the patron saint of Catalan. Usually Saint George was depicted as a brave solder with a handsome face. But I saw a St George looked pretty sad at Museum Ferederic Mares.

a statue of st george at MFM

There is another major museum inside Lloctinent palace: The Barcelona History Museum. [3]A large archaeologic site of Roman Barcino was displayed under ground. On the ground level inside the palace there was a chapel. another disturbing painting was seen there: a lady holding a plate in one hand, a giant scissors in the other hand. On the plate was a pair of breasts. Two angles stood by her side.
the detail view of the painting at the chapel in the palace

When the sun disappeared behind the roof tops, music started to be heard on the streets. A concert was held outside The Barcelona History Museum. A small orchestra played folk songs. (catalan, i guess.) A couple sung Italian opera at the corner near Museum Ferederic Mares. A guitarist and a singer were seen inside the metro stops.

My weekend sounded like this (08:15sec):

Friday, December 13, 2013

A slow start in Gracia

Day V - 12 days to xmas day

After five days I started to draw a rough sketch of the place I am living in in my head.  Jiwar residency studio is located area called Gracia. It is in about 40 min walk distance to the centre of business and tourists of Barcelona. The distance does not make the life here less bustling than the centre. I have been told more than once that Gracia is an urban ghetto of creative crowds, artists, performers, writers and people in the art industry.

Like most of European cities, the streets here are narrow and not lack of boutique shops and funky cafes on sides. Streets in Barcelona generally, i think, are particular neat and in order with a good traffic indication system. It is very easy to take a stroll along the pedestrian paths. Having said that, I am still often get mental by the fast and noisy traffic on the big roads.

Dotted with Modernista architectures designed by Gaudi (Mercat de la Llibertat, case Vicens and Park Guell), Gracia is a place where ordinary life dwells in the historic heritages. Many squares are inserted among apartments decorated in Modernist style. Comparing to those squares I saw in Italy, the squares here are much smaller and do not necessarily have fountains. It seems they are for people to hang out and meet up. In these winter days many old people or young teenagers can be seen at sunny shined spot in squares gossiping or talking through mobiles. 

Two flags are often spotted on people's balconies, when you look up.  I learned that these flags were Cataluña flags. It has become the 'new' phenomenon in Barcelona as the Catalan attempts to be independent from Spain and decapitate itself from the bad Spanish economy.  

Gracia is almost at the foot of the mountain range. (Barcelona sits between mountains-north and the sea-south.) The famous Park Guell is in about 20min walking distance. There has been many documents and information about this Gaudi's another wacky design. The main colourful trencadis (tile-shared mosaic) part of the park (Hansel and Gretel gatehouses and Sala Hipostila) are circled out and costs 8ero to get in, which is only 1/3 of the park. The rest areas which also includes Gaudi designed  stonework are free. I personally prefer the latter as it is more true and close to Gaudi's philosophy "to create an environment that provided ideal living conditions. ...the architect sought points of confluence and confrontation between nature and art, generating a sometimes ironic dialogue, between materials, formal elements and construction techniques." than former. Nevertheless, it is absolutely divine to visit the park in a winter early afternoon and to see both pigeons and humans accommodated so well inside a 'space ship' like structures.

Art Residency

My food exchange project has 'officially' launched. Mireia - manager of Jiwar made me a Chin-talonia lunch with the two dishes and rice that I bought from a local eatin and takeaway Chinese restaurant - L'os Panda. It was a test run on the purpose of discovering the time management, fluency of carrying on the conversation with participants and visual quality of documentation of interview.

I found L'os Panda via both TripAdvisor search and from Mireia. It only took 3min to walk to the restaurant from the studio. The owner is a mid-aged Chinese guy. He told me that he had been living here for 28 years and he had known everything about this neighbourhood. When I replied to him that I was an artists and doing an art project here in next month, he showed his best comprehension by telling me a story of a Chinese girl who used to live here. This girl had passion on art and was interested in local craft making. Then a famous Chinese singer liked what she was doing and now she gained success in China. She was in the art circle, he said.  ...  I smiled back. 

I ordered two dishes "Gong Bao Chicken" - a stirfry chicken breast, vegetable and chillies. (it was really watery and not hot.); "Su Shi Jin" - a stirfry mixed vegetable; and steam rice. He also gave me a complimentary home made chilly source. 

The lunch was set up at the corridor of the studio where a dining table and four chairs was there for people in the residency to have meals. A row of glass windows on one side of the corridor faces to the garden. In an early the sunny afternoon the light shot in through the red-blue colour glass window and projected beautiful lights on the table.

Besides the takeaway containers, I put few plates, bowls, glasses, cutteries and dining matts on the table for Mireia to choose. 

I explained to Mireia what I expected from her participation. "Change the presentation of two Chinese dishes so that they will look like the dishes she familiar with." Then, it all started with a technique problem : my HD bloggie indicated me the memory card was full. *sweat* Of course, it had to follow the universal rule - things go wrong when they are needed.  

But the problem did not stop Mireia. She looked at the dishes on the table and thought for a while. Then, she put out an action. 

Mireia transferred two dishes into two Catalan dishes. Entree: Escalivada + Main course: Chicken with vegetable salad with rice. 

Mireia picked all onions and green capsican out and regrouped them together. it was Escalivada. Then, she put all chicken meat on the centre of a new plate and mushroom and cabbages along the sides. She scooped all the carrots out from the juice and left them aside with the rice because carrot and plain steam rice were the odds in Catalan dishes.

It took her about 20min to reset the dishes. Chatting along about the Spanish and Catalonia food, her family and my cultural experience, the lunch lasted for nearly 2hrs.

It was a very pleasant experience. For me, next time I would prepare beverage for participants to choose. A table cloth would improve the visual pleasure. 

Before: two dishes from L'os Panda
After: Entre Escalivada & Main Chicken with Mushroom
made by Mireia 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Artist residency in Gracia, Barcelona - D01

Arrived at Barcelona airpot about 10 pass 11 in the evening of Sunday 8th of December - the day when a silver Madonna statue was toured around the city and followed by crowds. I left Palermo in the mood that was uplifted by the devoted believers.

it was only 1.5 hr flight from Palermo to Barcelona. I hopped on a taxi in the fear of professional pocket-pickers whom I might encounter in public transportation. I am mute here. All the language that I had been badly picked up along this trip: French, Italian, and now, Spanish, all tangled into a big knot. It was dark outside the taxi window. I couldn't see much of Barcelona.

Taxi driver was a nice man. He stayed till I had got inside the building.

The building is a 3 level spanish apartment with arch doors, fresco walls and patterned tile floor. The bed was soft and warm. I woke up about mid day today.

I walked blindly towards to the city centre with the direction of google map in my phone. Following a long straight road (carrer del Torrent - Carrer Roger de Lluria), I got to the spiderwebbed city centre. The streets were neat and full of shops and cafes along the sides. At one point I reached La Cathedral. It was just like the image on the postcard. It costed 6Ero to enter, so I left and headed back home.

Barcelona is such a famous and strange city to me. I sat in my room and started to read lonely planet  guide.