Please note – unedited – written on a phone – with cold fingers – I was bored – lonely – if there’s anything that needs editing – I’m not changing anything.
I’m sitting in the Constance ARI gallery today … I’ve done this before. It’s cold. Not many people come in. But today’s different.
It’s not different because of Jemimah Dodd, whose got a big pile of ice-cream looking poop with topping colours sliding down it’s curves in the Paddy Lynn memorial space. It’s not different because of Laura Purcell who’s piece in the foyer space is highly evocative, but I’m still not sure of what. No, these two brilliant artworks are still brilliant – but they are brilliant right now – in the here and now. I’m thinking of something else today.
In the main space there is, in effect, two exhibitions. On the Western wall is the volunteers exhibition. Mostly board members current and past. Some excellent works by the people that put in long hours to keep this ship chugging along, alive and running, kicking and buzzing, on a month to month basis – even without funding now, same as it was a few years back. Matt Warren’s sound piece is … well I’m not sure how to describe it honestly. Jude Abell’s framed storm-fence wiring is a piece that is unique to her artistic language is identifiable that way – I know of no others who use such items in such a tone; Paula Silva’s Portugese text; all good stuff.
At the Southern end of the Western wall sits Anna Cox’s half-blind sketch of the board members of late 2012 Inflight ARI, let me see who I can recognise there – hmmm … ummm Rob OConnor, Ben Ryan, Nicola Smith, Nadine Kessler, Laura Hindmarsh, Matt Warren, Lucienne Rickards … I can’t tell who the others are, it’s a blind sketch after all, and I can’t actually recall who everyone was on the board at that time, only two years ago. That’s the problem I find with ARI’s, documentation is almost impossible, who remembers who did what, it’s all in the collective memory, and everyone forgets who remembers what, when, huh? But I recall some things myself, I’m sure half of them are wrong. I don’t mean to imply by all of this that all things that happen in Inflight are seminal and ought to be remembered, not at all. ARIs aren’t important in the GRAND scheme of things. But some things can be very very very very interesting. This picture of Anna’s was made just before Inflight carked it, just before Arts Tas got pissed at them for changing their name, bad branding decision they said (not really that long before CAST became CAT), just after they confused everyone in a spectacular way by staging a funeral for Inflight. That was pretty great art. That was pretty bloody fun stuff. Anna’s work comes some way in telling me why today is different for me.
On the Eastern wall … let’s call it the wall of the rising sun, though that’s a bit odd. It’s a bit odd as the metaphor doesn’t work for what on the wall … it’s more accurately the wall of exhibitions past, the wall of history. On the wall of the rising sun is a collection of posters from exhibitions past. I don’t know them all, some them predate Inflight’s move from Elizabeth Street behind the old Kaos Cafe and the Soak bar (everytime I talk about that place with anyone in Hobart, they all seem to say “Oh yeah, that old gay bar”). Some of the posters predate my existence in Tasmania in late 2008; Inflight was around a long time before “he” died and became a “she”.
Today is different because I stood in front of that wall and the history of this place came home a little.
In particular I saw Andrew Harper’s exhibition poster and invite card … from May 2010 – In The Hall Of The Mountain King. I remember that one, fucking triangles everywhere. It was glorious. One of my earliest clear memories of coming to Inflight, not knowing anyone, walking into the opening and getting stuck in a triangle frenzy. Nicki Smith’s show was in late 2012 just before the “change” set in on the gallery, her show bedazzled me and it was nice to see her on the wall of the setting sun as well with a piece from her incredible Bett Gallery exhibit from recent months. Even the posters themselves have a history to them which is separate to, and additive to, the existence of Hobart’s only transgender ARI. They made me scratch my memory …
Here’s a run-down of what I can see
Inflight ARI – Fly there, 2003-2011 – a beautiful poster of pure ecstatic whimsy, made by Nicci Smith at the arts school on a printing press
In 2012 you can see Nicci putting her beautiful personality onto the monthly exhibition posters where the artists didn’t supply an image;
Nadine Kessler’s extraordinary use of composition in the 2013 series and two posters that clearly are not Nadine’s which clearly attempt to continue her language;
Nadine and Nicci’s 2012 Inflight program on the tracing paper – genius, sheer genius;
The Team Textiles party was a great way to ring in the new year with a new baby CONNIE in 2013, and Paintface was a great party to ring in 2014.
Soundklubs and Tom Halls – lots more concerts these days, that’s good, that’s good, that’s good.
The different Inflight logo representations;
The Inflight Exchanges to Sydney in 2009, makes me think of all the other ones that weren’t represented here – Hell Gallery in Melbourne, Feltspace in Adelaide, millions of others I don’t know about.
2011 – Anthony Johnson’s mind-blowing exhibit Two Rights Make A Wrong
Amanda Shone’s INCREDIBLE piece from October 2011 – Atmospheric Relations, anyone remember that swing?? How the fuck did she not die setting that pyramid up in the space?
There’s the exhibitions of the main protagonists of Inflight/Connie in other Hobart institutions – Hindmarsh/Cook at the Long Gallery, Sound to Light with Cotterell et al.
Sarah Jones – You’ll always be my number one in 2012 before she buggered off to the land of O/S – strange weird dancing on a footy field. Great exhibition.
Neil Haddon – comPLETEly transformed the space in November 2012 – it was slightly insane.
I wish there was more posters from earlier than 2009, dating back to 2003 perhaps, but of course – Inflight only had a coordinator from around then, so its likely those exhibitions exist only in the memories of some, and as a line on some artist’s CVs.
Inflight killed itself, and consequently changed its name to Constance to provoke a discussion: what would happen if ARIs weren’t here. At the time it was the only ARI in town. Not long after this, the GST revenue went down for the state government, Arts Tas got less moolah, and the consequent shrinkage of public funding lost the gallery its funding for a director/coordinator and rent. Prophetic stuff really. Thankfully its still going on more volunteer labour, and it happens to no longer be the only ARI in town (shout out to the Arts Factory).
Today was nice … bloody cold in the gallery in Winter and I’ve only checked off 7 people who came in today, not including recent ex-board member Guy “Fawkes/Smiley/Man” Paramore who came to reinflate his raft-seat that got jumped on by kids at Thursday night’s opening. Memory is nice. Things happen here, it’s sort of incremental, but when you occasionally look back it occurs to you that its little boats like this that carry a community’s lives along … little life-boats … boats of our lives … this little life-raft is almost mundane. Almost … except when you look back you realise just how many “wows” it has given you over the years … every now and then it gives you a
Her Majesty’s Favourite Really Great Graphical Festival
The Southernmost Tasmanian graphic celebration in the NATION!
2014, June 5–8
Hobart is filled with artists – we know… we all read the census report. We went to the museum and it was very nice (it was very lovely thankyou Lord Berriedale). But frankly, I think we’d all like to bloody well see more cartoons. More kids books! MORE COMICS! Where have the illustrators all been hiding?
Her Majesty has decreed that it is high time that her favourite Australian state, Van Diemen’s Land, celebrated its own zines, illustrators and comic-makers. She has has graciously allowed these festivities to be the fanfare to her own birthday celebrations in the state capital of HobART.
The festival is filled with fun events that showcase some mighty Hobartian artists that don’t often get to see the light of day. Artist talks, performances that combine visual graphics and sound, comic-launches and events that let you all have a crack at drawing things yourself and making your own publications! Jump over the program page to have a look.
Her Majesty’s Artist in Residence for 2014 will be Sir Tony Thorne of Dynnyrne. In honour and recognition for his patriotic fighting in the trenches of artistic endeavour. He’ll be performing, talking and presenting at three of Her Favourite events and sharing his wise wisdom with all. “Hail, Sir Thorne”
Friday May the 23rd – pre-festival event
Arts Forum at UTAS College of the Arts – Josh Santospirito (festival creator/organiser) gives a talk on his award-winning graphic novel The Long Weekend in Alice Springs. He’ll talk about the adaption process and other elements to do with long-form comics. Dechaineux Lecture Theatre, Tas College of the Arts, 12:30-1:30pm. Free, open to the public. FACEBOOK EVENT
Wednesday May the 28th – Pre-festival special event
Rachel Tribout launches her first picture book
CAPTAIN BLUEBERRY’S – MONSTERS OF TASMANIA
to be launched by Jon Kudelka
@ Fullers Bookshop, 5:30pm – free event. FACEBOOK EVENT
Basically, all you need to know is that this is a very special book.
Thurs June 5
A Thousand Words- 6pm
Illustrators talk night – great projects and graphics, a great opportunity to have a look at the illustrating process with the artists themselves doing the show and tell. Short animated films will also knock ya socks off.
Featuring Sir Tony Thorne, Sam Lyne, Gay McKinnon, Christopher Downes, Hiiragi, Rex Smeal, Paul Peart-Smith, Tom O’Hern and Sarah Catherine Firth.
Constance ARI, 100 Goulburn Street, enter with a single gold coin donation.
Bar open on the night, proceeds to Constance gallery.
Friday June 6
Drink & Draw – 5:30pm
Graphics … Performances … drinking … drawing … !!
Performances from Tony Thorne & Joshua Santospirito.
Come down to TMAG for a drink and have a crack at some drawing with some of the artists. The TMAGgots will be manning the bar. A TMAGgots event at TMAG, Dunn Place, free entry
Saturday June 7
Blood and Bone by Tom O’Hern – 6pm
Tom O’Hern made a bloody comic. He did it as part of Sankessto Publication’s Down There series of Tasmanian Comics. There’ll be speechies from Tricky Walsh. There’ll be booze, there might be cheese, there’ll be all of youse, and there’ll be meeze.
Hobart Bookshop, Salamanca Place, free
An Extraordinary Sequence of Events – 8pm
In a paper theatre, pages come to LIFE. From the heartbreaking illustrations of Tasmania’s favourite masterpiece Last Days of the Mill, to the ecstatic whimsy of Captain Blueberry – you’ll love this night. It’ll be filled with extraordinary events! One might be particularly interested in the matching of fine, popular, fine artist Robert O’Connor with the chaos of Danielle Page’s Noise outfit – Kovacs. The night will be finished off with a macabre and heartwrenchingly bloody tale of murder on the banks of the River Derwent – Downes/Santospirito present a MONA FOMA favourite – The Shipwright & the Banshee!!
* The Shipwright and the Banshee by Christopher Downes & Joshua Santospirito (MONA FOMA 2013)
* The Last Days of The Mill by Tony Thorne & Pete Hay
* Captain Blueberry’s Monsters of Tasmania by Rachel Tribout
* Rob OConnor & Kovacs
at The Grand Poobah, 142 Liverpool St. Entry $8-
Sunday June 8
The Small Press Zine Fair
Bands, zines, comics, workshops, zines, creativity, zines
Imagine a world where everyone made their own publications … imagine it – right NOW! … crikey, I think we’ve DONE IT – All the zine-makers of the Southern Hemisphere are descending upon the Poobah for this afternoon of swap/buy/give/show-off all their zines and publications. They make awesome presents for yourself and for your Mum, and for you brother, and his girlfriends.
A WALLOPPINGLY fun afternoon, 1-5pm, at The Grand Poobah, 142 Liverpool St. free entry. FACEBOOK EVENT
Information for Zine stall-holders: No registration required, BYO card-table, crate, table-cloths etc. Set up on the day, jump on a table with someone you’ve never clapped eyes on before – AUTOMATIC BFFs!
Exhibition at Sawtooth ARI in Launceston, Australia. April 4-26, 2014
Sleuth: The Delegation
it would seem that sometime in the last 250 years the fire-farming just stopped. The humans no longer see themselves in the landscape, and consequently they no longer care for the trees, the dirt, the spirit. Now the giants have awoken. These strange and large visitors have come to Canberra to discuss a situation: Australian spirituality is all over the shop! The continent’s psyche appears to be diversifying … this mightn’t be such a good thing.
I don’t reckon this is such a good thing.
And where is Amos? Is he always late for every meeting!!
Exhibition review by Patrick Sutczak (April 2014)
Sleuth is an ongoing series that begins with exhibitions, comics and other crosses into other multimedia. It explores what is happening with the Aussie psyche and soul, a nebulous and amorphous thing.
Joshua Santospirito is an illustrator, musician and multimedia artist who lives in Hobart, Tasmania. His main artistic obsessions revolve around language, anthropology, culture and psychology. His main works in comics have been his very rambling Sleuth series, and the award winning graphic novel The Long Weekend in Alice Springs which he published in 2013 through Sankessto Publications.
I’m super pleased that Kieran has been awarded the 2013 Lofty Award in Alice Springs at Watch This Space artist run initiative. She has been an important arts writer in Central Australia, giving the whole scene such a considered and careful focus. Below is the article she wrote about The Long Weekend in Alice Springs in May of 2013 – the original can be read here. You can see here an example of her poetic criticism which is constructive and positive in a manner which is rare in arts writing.
Haunting excursion into Alice’s psyche
Review by KIERAN FINNANE
The cover of The Long Weekend in Alice Springs suggests that the story between its covers will be road trip. And it is one, of sorts. You won’t find these roads on any map but they will lead you into the byways of this desert place, reaching back through history into stories of origin, reaching out through darkness, real and metaphoric, into stories of now.
The starting points are several, all at once. There’s the meeting of Joshua Santospirito and Craig San Roque, a young man and an older man, one a psychiatric nurse with a drawing gift, the other a psychologist with a lyric gift. There’s a campfire and in its flickering light, a woman in mourning. Her husband has died but her grief goes deeper than this. There’s a book of quite a different order, Jungian explorations of the contemporary world, and a request for San Roque to make a contribution.
So, setting out from the meeting of the two men, for the sake of simplicity in this text, with its limited means of typed words on a screen, destined for a journalism site. These are limits that The Long Weekend is marvellously liberated from, due to its form as a ‘graphic novel’ or ‘comic’ (words that don’t quite rightly describe it); due to Santospirito’s artistry; due to the soaring and delving of San Roque’s mind and pen.
Santospirito, frustrated and raw from his experience of working in remote mental health, met San Roque, seasoned by long years of the same, but also resilient from a deep nourishment – as we learn from his essay at the end of the book – by Jungian psychoanalysis, thought and practice. San Roque gave Santospirito some of his writings, including an essay, ‘A Long Weekend in Alice Springs’, his contribution to The Cultural Complex: Contemporary Jungian Perspectives on Psyche and Society, edited by Thomas Singer and Samuel L. Kimbles (Brunner-Routledge, 2004).
There was no sudden illumination that explained everything or showed a way forward but Santospirito found the writings “somehow useful” and began to draw his way into San Roque’s ‘Long Weekend’.
He takes us to the campfire in San Roque’s backyard and in just a few deft black and white images envelopes us in the thickness of this night, the deep well of loss that has brought Manka Maru to this point, by this fire.
He draws ‘Craig’ at his desk, wrestling with the task of writing an Australian perspective for The Cultural Complex, wrestling with the very concept of how a cultural complex operates – easier to detect looking at another culture, harder to detect in your own culture.
Craig’s door opens into the backyard. It’s Friday and Warlpiri family from the bush join Manka Maru. They’ve come in for the footy match; among them, a young man damaged by petrol sniffing, one of many in Craig’s professional care. The visitors interrupt Craig’s concentration but it’s a fruitful interruption: he will find his way into thinking about cultural complexes by describing what happens on this long weekend.
Some of what happens is eventful in a road trip kind of way – like going hunting with the Warlpiri visitors who arrive in increasing number. Some of it is eventful but bleak as Craig, the ‘shrink’, goes about his work, in the court, at the hospital, by the roadside where a man, who believes he is the King of Iraq, is sitting in his car with his three-day dead dog on the back seat. This episode kick starts the deeper journey, a haunting, at times thrilling excursion into our psychological inheritances.
Is the ‘King of Iraq’ a refugee from another time, Craig asks himself. And his mind wanders to the mythical Middle East and the story of Inanna’s grasping, ruthless attempt to bargain with death. (Santospirito’s drawing and mise en scene make the story wonderfully vivid.) The cure for some our ills would be an “assurance of immortality”. It’s part of what Craig knows the King needs. But short of that, what?
Craig remembers his meeting with an old Warlpiri man who told him to mind his own stories. That counsel fell on fertile ground, for Craig / San Roque is deeply in love with story, alive to the unfolding stories around him, to the ancient stories, the ones carried forward in our classical Western culture, the ones from the Aboriginal “dreaming system” (in so far as they have been shared with him). “The human psyche loves processing its own thoughts,” Craig thinks. If we lose the ability to do this, we “fall helplessly out of being.”
This has happened to Teresa to an extreme degree. Craig visits her in the psych ward. She’s trapped in a “cannabis-induced psychosis” but it’s more than the cannabis, more than the petrol that preceded it, and her scarifying life experiences. “Something in the cultural lobe of her brain allows her psychic demise.”
Cultural memory offers resilience in face of the tides of history. Craig picks up a male friend, Amos, to join him on the hunting trip with the Warlpiri women and children. Amos is of middle European and Jewish lineage – a strong bloodline in dispossession. Around the campfire, cooking lizards, Napaltjarri tells the children, black and white, about the travels of Malu (kangaroo) from up North. Amos and Craig sit to the side – Craig’s still wrestling with his writing task and enlists Amos’ help. They try tracing some travels of their own, the big shifts of people from their lands in Europe. Amos suggests that the Gypsies and the Jews were less vulnerable to the cultural breakdown this caused because they’d “learned to use cultural memory in a special nomadic manner”.
We are introduced to the ancient Arrernte stories of Alice Springs, particularly the wild dog story, inscribed in the local landscape. The dog came through Ntaripe (Heavitree Gap), attacked the incumbent male, ravaged the mother and puppies. The Mount Gillen ridge and much of the land on the western side of the river were formed by the activities of the dog. Alice Springs is built on this mythic event, a dogfight and a rape. “Serious dark men might whisper the details.” This is part of the psychological inheritance of those to whom this cultural memory belongs – as well as those in the “overlap”, as Craig describes it, between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cultures: “Sites do things to people.”
When memory is encoded in sites and song-cycles, as it is in classical Aboriginal culture, and the links to these are broken, depression and malaise follows. This is affecting (to greater or lesser degrees) all who live in contemporary Alice Springs – not just in the shadow of broken Aboriginal songs, but in the shadow of non-Aboriginal people’s own cultural disconnections as well as the contradictions between the Christian and colonising projects that are the foundation of our nation. If I’ve understood it rightly, cultural complexes get people stuck in this brokenness and this contradictory space.
“We can save ourselves with imagination.” It’s the closest thing to a ‘solution’ that can be put between inverted commas. And the book enlists us at every page into acts of imagination through the alchemy of Santospirito’s and San Roque’s gifts. Some of Santospirito’s drawings are exceptional in their emotional power, and the multi-layering through space and time that the comic book form allows makes for rich story-telling. Combine this with San Roque’s poetics, the depth of his thought, and the heart of both men, and you have a book, a travel guide for our place and time. Read it and you’ll never think about the town’s ‘social problems’ in the same away again. Read it and you’ll never look at Alhekulyele (Mount Gillen, the nose of the ancestral dog) in the same way again.
At present, The Long Weekend in Alice Springs is also an exhibition at Watch This Space in George Crescent. It shows the comic book in the making, the drawings that appear in its pages and more, as Santospirito worked on his adaptation. Until June 7.
SO – at dOCUMENTA we discovered Warwick Thornton’s piece – which was great to see, a little bit of home in Germany.
Then we trained it Frankfurt, and then we caught a plane or two to Melbourne then to Hobart … then taxid it to our house, then passed out.