This is Polly … she’s millions of years old and is about 50 metres tall. She’s a bit cranky today … don’t piss her off.
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