ArtWalk 2008

Every Fringe, I say I’m going to check out a whole bunch of visual art. Paintings, sculptures, stuff like that. I figure it’s an opportunity to immerse myself in even more arty things than I normally would in my day-to-day life, heightened by the rarified atmosphere of a ff assault – and it’s even more compelling in a Festival year, with the curated Biennial being a must-see. And hey, my very first art purchase was as a result of a Fringe showing in 1998.

I love my Chili, I really do. Looking a little worse for wear now, though…

This year, I meant it. I went through both the Fringe and Festival Visual Arts guides, flagged the displays of interest, plotted a route, and then…

…left it ’til the last minute. Thus, on the final Friday of ff2008, I found myself faced with an arduous trek around Adelaide in 38 degree heat. In previous years, that would have been reason enough to pike out – but I was committed. This year I was taking my visual arts seriously – if belatedly.

I start out at the (wonderful) Tin Cat Cafe for a delicious breakfast and Emma Hack Body.Art.08 which contained a few pieces of interest – but not at those prices. Cutting back down Rundle Street led me to the Greenaway Art Gallery and a number of Festival-curated pieces – Speed of Light: Iván Navarro (wonderful fluoro-centric furniture) and Thomas Rentmeister‘s perplexing stack of whitegoods. Back out to the sweltering heat, heading back into the city via the National Wine Centre and Julia Blanka Lesniewski’s Canvases With A Soul display – ace stuff, lovely textures. Would have loved to have bought some, but – eleven months later – the impulse has, perhaps sadly, passed.

Continuing into the city, there were some mildly engaging pinhole photos in the Digit! collection (Premier Art Gallery, Rundle Street) before I cut back to the Electric Light Hotel for Joshua Smith’s noir-filled Pulp!. After a spot of lunch with friends, I scooted back to the Adelaide Uni School of Architecture for the nostalgic Designing Designers, then across to the State Library to (a) cool off, and (2) check out the Elisa Sighicelli fragment of the wider Speed of Light presentation – some really nice lightbox ideas, combined with some videos of clunkier installations. Back up through town to the never-before-visited Thea Tea Shop and An Oriental Flair, which meant nothing to my uneducated eyes, then on to the utterly bizarre Urtext Studios on Grenfell Street for the unappealing junk-art of Scary Chicks and Boring Dudes.

All the way back to the Festival Centre Plaza for another Speed of Light piece, Spherescent. This proved to be the highlight of my little visual arts walkabout; ensconced in a tiny, air-conditioned tent oasis in the middle of the baking Plaza lay a simple installation that, with the aid of a shitload of mirrors, created the very real illusion of a patterned ball of light floating in space. Stunning! Pity, then that the Grafitti Research Lab (just across at the Artspace) was so utterly unremarkable – nice technology, but a rather self-important video presentation.

Back up to Hindley Street and the Karma Sukha Gallery for Elements of the Sacred, which left no lasting impact. Across the street at Flightpath, I interrupt a Friday afternoon office meeting(!) to check out Inventing Time. Down to Nexus for Adelaide Ink, across to the Samstag Museum in UniSA City West for the stunning Taiwanese installation Penumbra (including the obervation of one piece over two levels – very interesting), then up the road for the seashell-centric This Everything Water. Up to the Worldsend for a refreshing beer and Chain of 77 Art Party #2, back through AC Arts on Light Square for the underwhelming found art of Cellar Sweatshop, then up to the Fringe Factory – hey, I had Trouble on Planet Earth at 6pm.

The Factory had a fair few displays on: the usual Adelaide Fringe Poster Competition Top 20, the wacky installation works of Don’t Be Afraid, the UpstART Visual Art, and Emilija Jane’s wonderful Paintings in all their fractally-inspired goodness.

See, this sort of thing pushes my pleasure-buttons. Colourful. Textured. Delicious.

And that was all I could manage on that Friday (though, I note with interest, I wound up seeing a bunch of exhibitions that weren’t part of the Fringe or Festival at all. Lucky them, eh?) So the next day, a slightly steamier Saturday, I left home early and headed down to the Parade Grounds for Blue Jeans and Jungle Greens (a neat historical look at the sixties through everyday fashion) and the 2008 Helpmann Academy Graduate Exhibition (which didn’t get close to troubling my wallet). Finally, I headed back through the Jam Factory to check out the Russian Speed of Light: Last Riot, an ultra-widescreen video extravaganza that was high on production values and low on lingering interest. Mischa Kuball’s Speed of Light segment, on the other hand, was spectacular; ReMix / Broca II featured pinpoint light sources and creative machinations to create stunning rooms of light.

Of course, the found-object inspired 2008 Adelaide Biennial also got a look-in somewhere along the line; but that’s pretty much it for my concerted visual art intake for 2008. Slack, eh?

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