What is the difference between an everyday object and a work of art? An exhibition at the Southern Queensland Institute of TAFE by local artist collective Suzkel Harjester attempts to describe the difference between the two in the recent exhibition Timms’ Regret. Their answer, as I understood it; is nothing. To create the conditions to make a perfect, sanitary, classically contemporary work of art, you need as follows:
1. Combining ingredients within room, mix well and apply generously and evenly throughout intended space.
Harjester has attempted to bring to the fore a sad observation about contemporary art; any object is acceptable as art when you apply this formula. Similar to the phenomenon of all organic matter becoming edible when inside a hot dog casing; it is about the look of the thing, and audiences swallow almost everything that is served in this format.
Unfortunately, the line between clever statement on the state of contemporary art and found object installation has been blurred irreparably for me, and I found myself just not getting it. The exegesis, instead of enlightening me to any real artists’ reason, was too obscured with high-end art jargon and execu-speak for me to ascertain any true meaning. And maybe that was the point.
I found myself treating the space with reverence, the forced silence and stillness as oppressive and coercive within an enclave beside a classroom as found within a State-funded gallery.
|Empty Vessel and Ivory Tower #2|
The objects on the walls and plinths are unnecessary, as the institution containing contemporary artworks is what is being exhibited by Harjester – and by the sterility of the space and works, I found it wanting in the ways that contemporary art is often accused of being – it is too theoretical, too niche, too alienating.
You know each object has a meaning, but it is difficult to ascertain. Timms’ Introduction – the death of traditional forms of art making? Craft 2 – impressing the importance of the art making process? Empty Vessel – the emptiness of the artist, seeking to fill the void with their works? Delicious Irony – the importance of stimulants to many?
Ultimately, the exhibition Timms Regret was difficult, because it made me consider high-end concepts when I didn’t really want to. I may now think understand what Harjester was trying to say, but I prefer displays of craftsmanship over high-end theory. This exhibition was too easy, and the explanation too hard. As an audience, I want the reverse. Then again, this is maybe where Harjester has wanted to place us, and what they have wanted us to think. It’s all just a bit too…meta.