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

Opposing forces

Even during a time of crisis, history shows that partisan politics has a role to play

Image of Scott Morrison

Isolation nation

The PM is looking like the odd man out

Caravaggio's Saint Jerome, the patron saint of scholars. Wikimedia Commons

The life not lived

Reflections on scholarship

Image of ‘Hamnet’

What dreams may come: ‘Hamnet’

Shakespeare’s son succumbs to plague as Maggie O’Farrell conjures Elizabethan England


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 Stormzy

Grime boss: Stormzy

The rapper and MC’s second album ‘Heavy Is the Head’ is another triumphant step bringing black British culture forward

Photo of Tennant Creek Brio artists

Desert bloom: The Tennant Creek Brio

The brazen art movement born out of the troubled legacies of substance abuse and dispossession

Cover of jenny Offill's ‘Weather’

Twilight knowing: Jenny Offill’s ‘Weather’

The American novelist brings literary fiction’s focus on the interior life to climate-change cataclysm

Image from ‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’

Properly British: Armando Iannucci’s ‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’

A multicultural vision underscores the acclaimed British satirist’s endearing Dickensian romp


More in Noted

Image of Eimear McBride's ‘Strange Hotel’

‘Strange Hotel’ by Eimear McBride

A woman unceasingly travels to contend with the inertia of grief, in the latest novel from the author of ‘A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing’

‘Actress’ by Anne Enright

In a theatre setting, the masterly Irish writer considers the melting, capricious line between the truth and the fake

Image from ‘Stateless’

‘Stateless’: ABC

A probing drama about Australia’s mandatory detention regime focuses on the dehumanisation experienced on both sides of the razor wire

Image of ‘The Bass Rock’

‘The Bass Rock’ by Evie Wyld

The Miles Franklin–winning author’s latest novel expands on her interest in the submission and consequential fury of women amid the impersonal natural world


Read on

Opposing forces

Even during a time of crisis, history shows that partisan politics has a role to play

Image of ‘Hamnet’

What dreams may come: ‘Hamnet’

Shakespeare’s son succumbs to plague as Maggie O’Farrell conjures Elizabethan England

AFL names of the decade

Games may be cancelled, but the names play on

Language is a virus

With information on COVID-19 changing constantly, the government needs to fine-tune its delivery


×
×