July 2007

Arts & Letters

‘Show Court 3’ by Louise Paramor, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, 20 April

By Justin Clemens

In a world overburdened by museums and monuments, by the claims of the past and the injunction to protect and save, what should we preserve? Everything! Transience has assumed real value in contemporary art. Instead of the object, the event becomes primary: its site, its performance, its participants, its disappearance. You can document it, sure, but there's no substitute for being there.

It was in this spirit that I rocked up to a place where I'd never otherwise go, the gargantuan complex that is the Rod Laver Arena, wearing my best white soft-soled shoes. The flat green surface of Show Court 3 was buzzing with brightly coloured plastic assemblages created by the Melbourne artist Louise Paramor. I descended to meet them as the sun set and the floodlights came on. Each assemblage was bizarre in its own way. Here, an upturned orange child's chair had been placed on a large yellow bucket, and the whole thing crowned with a slitted green bulb like a flower; there, a curved white funnel sat on a stool, which itself sat on a faded turquoise pool. There were over 70 of these things, built from recycled discards such as milk crates, baby baths, highchairs and hoses.

Paramor calls each assemblage a "jam session", like musicians getting together and riffing; but the term also connotes an infantile pleasure in the bright, sweet conserves produced by mashing stuff up. Like much contemporary art, these works are dense with allusions: to Martin Kippenberger's The Happy End of Franz Kafka's ‘Amerika', a collection of furniture in a fake indoor gymnasium; to the grids of modernism and minimalism, such as Mondrian's famous Broadway Boogie Woogie; to Jean Arp's biomorphic sculptures; even to the famous Tennis Court Oath that cemented the French Revolution. Because the objects Paramor collects are designed for the human body, above all for hands and arses, the jam sessions acquire anthropomorphic qualities, even characters of their own, at once innocent and faintly obscene. Together, for one night only, they transformed the court.

Justin Clemens

Justin Clemens writes about contemporary Australian art and poetry. He teaches at the University of Melbourne.

Cover: July 2007

July 2007

From the front page

Hanson family values

The family law inquiry is shaping up to be an exercise in bad faith

Illustration

Spiralling admissions

Victoria’s royal commission hears stories of a dysfunctional, under-resourced mental health system

Image of ‘Sachiko’ my Miwa Yanagi

‘Here We Are’ at the Art Gallery of NSW

An opportunity for rethinking the position of women in contemporary art

Illustration

The Newcastle trial of Graeme Lawrence

The second most senior churchman in Australia to be found guilty of child sexual abuse


In This Issue

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

Rose Lacson & Langley George Hancock

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

Veritable listeria

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

The big cheese

‘Caravan Story’ By Wayne Macauley


More in Arts & Letters

Image of ‘Sex in the Brain’

Our largest sexual organ: Amee Baird’s ‘Sex in the Brain’

We know surprisingly little about how our brains orchestrate our sex lives

Detail of Yanni Florence photograph

Losing yourself

How can we be transformed by music if online platforms mean we will always remain ourselves?

Image from ‘The Nightingale’

Tasmanian torments: Jennifer Kent’s ‘The Nightingale’

The Babadook director talks about the necessity of violence in her colonial drama

Photo of Adam Goodes

Swan song: Documenting the Adam Goodes saga

Two documentaries consider how racism ended the AFL star’s career


More in Noted

‘Here Until August’

‘Here Until August’ by Josephine Rowe

The Australian author’s second short-story collection focuses on the precipice of change rather than its culmination

Image of ‘The Godmother’

‘The Godmother’ by Hannelore Cayre

A sardonic French bestseller about a godmother, in the organised crime sense of the word

Image from ‘Lambs of God’

‘Lambs of God’

Director Jeffrey Walker blends ripe melodrama and Gothic thriller in his TV series about three wayward nuns

Cover of ‘The White Girl’ by Tony Birch

‘The White Girl’ by Tony Birch

An emotionally eloquent novel about the necessary inheritance of strength in Indigenous women


Read on

Image of ‘Sachiko’ my Miwa Yanagi

‘Here We Are’ at the Art Gallery of NSW

An opportunity for rethinking the position of women in contemporary art

Image of Member for Chisholm Gladys Liu and Prime Minister Scott Morrison

How good is Gladys Liu?

Scott Morrison ducks and weaves questions about the embattled MP

Image from ‘Blanco en Blanco’

Venice International Film Festival 2019

Théo Court’s masterful ‘Blanco en Blanco’ is a bright point in a largely lacklustre line-up

Image from ‘Animals’

Girls, interrupted: Sophie Hyde’s ‘Animals’

This untamed depiction of female friendship moves beyond basic binaries of freedom and control


×
×