The Gang hacked a track to Canberra last weekend – Megsie was giving the art forum fringe talk at Craft ACT for Tour de Force. We’d been forewarned (by an alarming number of people) to brace ourselves for the shock of the hang – we’d not made it up for the launch because it had clashed with the install and opening of Atonement in Bega. This was to be our first sighting.
When the exhibition was initially booked back in 2009 at Craft, Jas and Megsie had discussed the fact that Tour de Force needed room – that it wasn’t the run of the mill inanimate object on a plinth kind of show. The work required space and insightful placement; a sensitive hand, a canny eye…And, above all, the object of the exercise was to break out of the relentless bourse mentality of ye olde crafte shoppe.
The understanding was that the exhibition would stand alone. And yes we do know that Craft ordinarily runs to two shows concurrently, but one’s expectation was that on this occasion they would be mindful, surely, of the pre-eminence of the booked exhibition and, if unwilling to hold the line, at least make an effort to exhibit something vaguely complementary, if only in scale.
What they’ve done is gone and pulled off the curatorial equivalent of seeing how many people can be shoved into a volksie. And rather than feature something innovative and progressive, in keeping with the spirit of Tour de Force, the appended show is the same old chest-thumping conventional offering (as in Canberra-Canberra-Canberra-oi-oi-oi) that they wheel out over and over again ad infinitum – only this time it’s dressed up as ’40 years of Craft ACT practice’. Same peeps, different anniversary. Barmy.
The touring show has been shoved to the back of the room, without even the courtesy of demarcation, with the consequence that the entire hang comes across like the bastard child of Ranamok and Kirra.
What on earth were they thinking?
That marvellous exhibition (Tour) has just been plonked around the back walls with such scant regard to aesthetics and balance that it’s enough to make you weep. Tim’s skull is at crotch level, Deb’s casts are at knee level, Tom’s video is presented on a frigging laptop, and Trish’s animation didn’t make the cut at all. The power of Ian’s work is diminished to a huddle and Jacqu, Nic and Neil are just whacked around whatever wall’s left over by the looks. Not a whisper of visual dialogue survived the install. How can you kill something like that? No narrative, no nuthin’. Totally snuffed.
Both shows have been done a serious disservice here – though we don’t for a moment suggest that this was deliberate. Craft just isn’t up to nuance, obviously – they’ve made an injudicious call and got it wrong. Which is so ironic. Because given that the initial discussion re Tour de Force was kicked off by Barb McConchie back in 2007/8 (when she was Director at Craft ACT) the endgame at this venue is disappointing in the extreme.
Thankfully it’s been the only bummer install on the tour to date. We can’t imagine it happening again – all the following venues are art galleries.