Archive for the ‘Gorker Gallery’ Tag

The City and the City

Imagine that the city you live in actually intersects with another city… Every street, every building exists in your city, but also in another city, which occupies the same space as your own…

This is the premise of the wonderful novel by China Miéville, The City and the City, which I read during the summer vacation. It tells of a fictional city, Beszel, somewhere on the far edges of Eastern Europe, which intersects with another city, Ul Qoma, in the way I’ve described. People live in the same space, but they are citizens of one city and not the other. The inhabitants of Beszel speak a different language to that spoken in the other city; each citizen of Beszel has to learn to ‘un-see’ the presence of the citizens of the other place, and vice versa.

It’s a fascinating idea and makes for some amazing reading. But it has also made me think about street art and the city, and about some recent work by Miso, in her show in December (which I wrote about really briefly here just before the summer break). Although the show is no longer on, I think that there were some really interesting ideas going on in it, and wanted to write a little about it.

Miso’s show, Tchusse, was at Gorker Gallery in Fitzroy,.  I went there on an extremely hot night in December, to see the show and to hear Miso speak about the work. The gallery was crowded, indicating how much interest there is in Melbourne in her work.

In some ways it’s hard to think of the show as having individual works within it (although it does), because it also worked very well as a large installation. Have a look at these pictures, from Miso’s website.The gallery was transformed into a street space, by virtue of the layers of drawings and objects hung on the walls and criss-crossing the corners of the space on string. There were many of Miso’s beautiful drawings, often showing women in the midst of various activities, and many object that she had made: for example, small models of buildings lit from within.

But there were also objects that had been brought into the gallery as part of the setting for the works, some of which had themselves been transformed by the artist. There were wooden doors, upon which pages from books, or posters and notices had been affixed. Items of clothing were suspended from string like laundry from washing-lines; tea-bags also hung drying in corners. There were pages taken from books, pinned upon the wall, next to framed photographs of some of Miso’s street-based art works (which brought other, real, locations into the simulated location within the gallery, but did so through the means of mediation themselves).

The result, when one walked into the gallery, was a sense of entering city space rather than gallery space, albeit a city whose dimensions had been compressed and constrained into multiple layers around and across the gallery.

And it was not simply any city that was being created here: it was in fact Kharkhov in the Ukraine, the city that Miso is originally from; a city which inspires much of her art and which her art in turn remembers and recreates.

On that hot, hot night in December when we all crowded into the gallery to hear Miso speak about the work, I was struck by the way she spoke about her aims – to bring Kharkhov into Melbourne, through her drawings of its inhabitants, through the wooden doors covered with notices of items for sale or pages torn from books, through the tiny scale models of buildings with bullet holes in them, through the clothing hanging from the string. It is not a literal Kharkhov that is being created, but rather a representation of the city, a city that is sensed and experienced through standing in the gallery.

And so Kharkhov becomes a part of Melbourne, rather than a city on the other side of the world. It seems to me that such an achievement testifies to what art is capable of  – to make another city within the city that we all take for granted.  Miso’s show is an example of what street art and graffiti can do to and for the cities we live in.

China Miéville’s book The City and the City describes what it’s like to live in a city which is inhabited also by ‘others’ (people who speak differently from us, people who think differently about the same streets and spaces). Miso’s work allowed us to see the city of Kharkhov by temporarily bringing it into the physical space of Melbourne. And street artists and graffiti writers do this for us over and over again, pointing out that for every person who inhabits Melbourne as a space determined by private property and ‘clean’ walls, there is another citizen of the city, one who sees walls as surfaces to be painted. Miéville’s book may be classified as an ‘ urban fantasy’ on, but the split experience described in his novel is one which certainly applies both to the art created by Miso and to the day-to-day experiences of anyone living in Melbourne today.

‘Tchusse’: new show by Miso at Gorker Gallery

It seems like every recent post I have uploaded to this blog has begun with an apology about how busy/sick/distracted/hectic I have been…. Well, why break a pattern by doing something different! Apologies for taking such a long time to add a new post here. I had been holding off on doing so because I was due to travel overseas (to Berlin, Paris and London) and I wanted to create lots of posts about the street art I would be seeing there. Instead, my daughter got pneumonia, and I managed to catch it from her, so my trip was postponed, then postponed again, then I finally said, ‘I give up and admit it, I am too sick to travel this year’. So I have had to delay with visits to those amazing cities until next year.

And then just when I thought that I would resume blogging about the fabulous street art in my home town  of Melbourne, my partner managed to get sick (yes, apparently I passed on the whole pneumonia thing to him) plus we decided on an impulse to move house, so we have been consumed by the obsessive, stressful and depressing process of selling and buying. And while that’s not over yet, some of it is (we sold our house last week), and it’s definitely good to be able to feel that there’s a little more time in the week as a result.

I wanted this first-post-in-ages to be about something very special, and I’m happy that it is indeed. Miso, one of my very favourite artists in the world is having a new solo show in Melbourne at Gorker Gallery in Fitzroy. It opened a little while ago so to some of you this will hardly come as news (did I mention that I have been crazy busy?) but it is on until 20 December and in fact on Wed 16th there will be an artist talk by Miso at the Gallery.

Some info about the show and what to expect, which I have taken from Miso’s website:

Miso – Tchusse

Miso – Tchusse
{Stanislava Pinchuk}

Opening Night: Thursday, 3rd December {6-9 pm}
Gorker Gallery – crnr Gore & Kerr Streets, Melbourne.

“‘Tchusse’ sees Miso re-create & condense her home city into a gallery.
Kharkov {Ukraine} becomes a floor to ceiling installation – portraits of
strangers in the street, of friends, folk stories and things otherwise
forgotten, turned into a city built from paper, material and decaying wood,
as Miso replicates buildings, street signs and notices, ladders, empty
bottles, criminal tattoos and clothesline and clothesline from memory.
In this way, Tchusse becomes an extension if Miso’s widely renowned
work as a street artist, as well as being her most ambitious installation &
gallery project yet.”

Miso will be doing an artists talk on the wine tasting evening – Wednesday,
16th of December, at 6 pm. ‘Tchusse’ will also be the launch of a
collaborative clothing project with Warren Harrison.

The exhibition will run until 20th December;
3-7 pm Wednesday-Friday // 11am – 7pm Saturday-Sunday.

If you click on the link for Gorker, you will see some shots from the opening night and get a sense of how amazing the show is. And if you know Miso’s work already, you will realise that this is definitely a show not to be missed.

It’s also a great way for Gorker to end the year. In 2009, they have put on some of the most interesting exhibitions in Melbourne, and I’m looking forward to see what they have lined up for 2010….