Clubmeet : Kim Paton, Geoff Newmann, Sandy Gibbs, Gary Bridle. June 29 - July 16, 2005

Clubmeet is made up of Massey University graduates Gary Bridle, Kim Paton, Geoff Newman and Sandy Gibbs.In this, the second Clubmeet show, the artists continue to construct engaging social environments. Acknowledging the shared passions and partings evident in their developing practices Clubmeet seeks to act as a meeting point of ideas - in much the same manner that clubs offer a sense of cohesion and social interaction.

- market fictions and miscellaneous text –.

Club Meet is a show that reads like a book. Which is not a bad thing at all. Merely symptomatic of over saturation and accretion, tactile subversion and faux pas literalism (mine not theirs). In saying that all the art is literal I mean to take it for a walk, plot lines of doubt and incredulity. For if it’s not the writing on the wall then its their very soluble forms that interest me. The work transmits urgency and expenditure. Nothing in this show bleeds into ambivalence. Instead the works all employ tactics of immediacy. The literal surfaces are all slicked up and shown off in the best light. So with such show-boating it makes sense to treat the show as a circuit of information. Let’s load it up and wait for the power surge.

‘i’ll walk before they make me’.

If Club Meet was a pig pen then, the mud on the floor would be Gary Bridle’s Brotherly love, a Masonic replica done over as cuckoo house. So many metaphors plug into this, it’s conceptually loaded, a little punch drunk perhaps, but you can’t escape it. See this is what I mean by the literal art. Bridle’s house is stuck on a stick, it’s all matt surface, matt colour. It recedes as model. As an ambivalent treatment it voids saying an obvious statement and yet still acts literal. Secret handshakes are the doyen of Masonic guilds and this little cookie cutter, cuts straight to the point. Hoisted just above eye level you can’t really tell what’s going on inside, even though its circular opening invites you to look in. Rather, it requires an act of faith. One must extend their hand into the dark, into the recession and take one’s chances. What will happen, might happen. It’s an ageless tale, blindfolded and trust. This is the mileage of secrete societies. That and circuits of social mobility, prowess and kinship, end-lines of the earnest. Such provocation tools my thinking and lets me loose on the next work which is Kim Paton’s nice little hockey stick upon the wall. Only its not a hockey stick at all, it’s a bandy stick, or some such thing. Think hockey though, just slightly fatter and more round with a lot of tape and fender denting prowess going for it. Keeping with the literalists line of obfuscation it’s a model from a deleted Olympic sport. It made one appearance. It was fleeting. Oh yeah, I’m reeling meaning in. So far we have the fleeting and the secretive; elevation and insider knowledge, all running together as a circuit-board.

‘i won’t miss you’.

Power surges are only useful if you pick the right time to leave. Stay in too long and you’ll wind up fusing with the work. Think of it like a vortex, the idea is to pass through, whip up a frenzy by being mobile at its edges and then slip on through. So grab the bat, pick up speed through the Masonic elevation and get ready to hurdle. Geoff Newman’s pool sits patiently, a node of familiarity and openness. Being literal we can call it a baptismal font, only we have our bat and our water gazing speed to deal with. Swirl the water a little, bandy in its edges. Fake rocks looking good, in a plastic tradition of high modernism. It’s like a Rothko come to life as play toy. Especially the bubbling noise of the pool’s own circuitry. A serendipitous angle reads the natural against the man-made. The syncretic follies are looking pretty convincing if Newman’s pool is anything to go on. I want to sign up, get one for the living room, get a larger one outback, edge out nature, play its own game. The water looks better like this. It’s no longer dependent on sullied days of bad weather, but it’s also not given over to ostentatious fake-tan blue, its an appeased blue, perfect really for such a compromise. Who wants nature when this artifice is twice as good.

market forces

After such good time frolics it’s no surprise we have to meet hard edge economics. Sandy Gibbs video work, The Two Kevins, is one of those lectures of subjugation and bridled spirit. Oh poor Kevin, how do you let yourself get so exploited, so reviled in your corner of masculine spirit. Poor dejected Kevin, your misnomers give the game away. The spray on coats, mime the metonym of individuality and affiliation. The consensual game gets no denser in its appropriation of Kevin as art, as documentary video piece. Look we have our leisure suit on, we miss the corruption and wilful obfuscation of our own desires. Hell we’re not like Kevin, hardly at all. Such identikits are for the market poles. Not us. No we’re smug bugs wrapped in the sated concerns of autonomous individuals. Yeah lucky we’ve got mobility and ski jumps. That baptismal dally sure was good for the spirit.

‘just my imagination –running away from me”.

After the video there’s not much else. You do a few more circuits. Get up close under the house, huddle about its club, wonder in its commercial orientation and feel good vibe. Run parodies on its insular inclusion. Wonder about it’s inversion as mad house (it’s for the birds). Declaim it as corrupt divisive antagonism. Slicked at the edges, such polemic works wonders for the spirit. Elevates you as sensate being, you’re top notch, at the edge of your game. Morality doesn’t even come into it. Which is why it’s nice to leave with Kim Paton’s diction, “time will break the world”. It’s like the scoreboard of the show. The fiction of the circuit. Whatever you do, just make sure you climb like never before; “if yr burning bridges make sure you go far”.

garnered details, foreign strangers pools; Geoff Newman @hsp

Perhaps its the galloping details of the Physics Room last show, but such mobility makes even the most stagnant of pools look deeper. Not to suggest for even one moment that Geoff Newman’s pool might be a soft wash pastel drawing. Such verbosity we’ll leave for other critics, but there’s no reason why we can’t string along our own ride. For instance, to get from the stirrups of sexual mobility that was Rachel Brown’s pony ride at the Physics Room to Newman’s post-coital wallowing we need to do very little. In fact this is the easiest way to un-pack significant meaning, especially if we treat them both as arrival points. Which would be why I’d like to think of Newman’s pool as a booth, not in a containment phase, or even a way-laid metaphor (which would have its own punning explanations i suppose), but rather, what I’d like to suggest is more baptismal, more like declension.

Years ago now I sat in a rather funny second year English class where we tried to take on the sexual significance of Bill Manhire’s poem, “declining the naked horse”. Of course our lecturer, being more prim than her feminist lineage would assume would take none of the nonsense. Such gaggling fits though are the proponents of art, which is why, even though we quickly turned to a new page, that moment still infects alot of my readings of contemporary art - literature too for that matter too (hell I caught the tale end opening of Kubrick’s Lolita the other day and saw that spillage for what it was worth). This tumultuous spirit of innuendo has always marked art with a closure of definition that is, in some ways, more productive in real life, than the voyeuristic containment of art’s more closeted self. I mean, check out David Robbins feature on concrete comedy (Artforum, November, 2004) if you want a definitive gesture. Though, I, myself have never been one for official readings, there is still a point in clambering upon the momentum of the sanctimonious from time to time. Which is why Newman’s pool makes so much sense. Rather than the clamoring of art-starlets and fashionista hustlings, Newman’s pool gives us the kind of literalist line we’ve all been mising. In fact, being baptismal and far too obsessed with bad faith straying, I’d go on to call it gutter faith art.

Last year, in talking about Nick Austin’s work, I invoked the idea of the line-up. Not that, that was in anyway radical. I mean after muselogoical studies, contemporary art is far too involved with this notion of the line to stray form its anti-hierarchal nuances and horizontal inclusion properties. In keeping with such manifestations, Austin’s work made perfect sense. In fact he dug out a middle ground where leisure appeared not as the sample process, capitalism’s fashion markets constantly espouse, but rather as a stop gap measure of bad faith processing. Such down-time experiences are more than forefront with Newmann’s pool. the whole point of its syncretic experience, in which the pool appears as a natural emulation which emulsifies nature, not only takes over from its end zone as comsumerist experience but also allows a new leaf flourishing which downsizes the rapid polemic of neurotic, sub-urban ‘edge’ expansion. Not that I’m suggesting the pool takes on the geneticist spirit of make-over and pro-science development, but rather I suggest it foregrounds the informative with an aesthetic experience that counters the disruptive spectacle of nature as human-romantic folly. Such strategies are more immanently disruptive than the anterior-orientated fashion of the isolated pedagogues of say, McCahon or Beuys. Such a practical, pragmatic nature though, is more than embeded in Newmann’s pratice. Which allows me to suggest that perhaps Newmann’s work is nothing more than the same old line only more market friendly. Such is the trouble with such overtly literal art, but then we need only contrast this against Kim Paton’s stage work for the Physics Room a couple of months ago to get a nuance of this shift in definition.

Against Paton’s barren stage, one that espoused a ready for action mantra, Newmann’s pool looks more isolated than complete. Such circuitry, what I’d call a mobile unit of meaning, doesn’t defer meaning at all, but rather enacts its own troubadour strayings with or without its audience. Which is why I have trouble assuaging its literalist appearance. Newmann’s pool is a top-shelf unit already willed upon a line of communication. That it embeds itself within the manufactured makeover of domestic expenditure is more than obvious. However it’s contrast against Paton’s ‘have-gun will travel’ edge make it a far more complicated platform than we’re necessarily used to dealing with. How we employ such staging though isn’t really up to us. Because with such a sutured narrative, Newmann’s edge is more immanent than contained, or even disruptive. Its narrative will play out in the years to come, its appearance at HSP should therefore be seen more as a staging, a literalists play-act, which is less provocative than a consumers play toy.

- jkasper jhons.