Saturday, 24 June 2017


 How's your day been? (I'm only pretending to ask, of course, because this isn't really a conversation is it. Not even marginally. I "ask" about "your" day in that entirely token fashion which is only a preamble to telling the listener, at unnecessary length and in needless detail, how one's own day was.)
My day, and my week, were heavily awful in so very many ways - leavened a little with one or two really good stretches that kept me going, along with plenty of judicious and tactful assistance from the old Yes/No Tarot which somehow knew not to mess with me this week and wisely just told me exactly what I wanted to hear  - but it's been a slog and so I am very relieved to be here waving listlessly to you from the middle of Friday evening. Although,* I can't just leave it at that, I have to also feel annoyed because a social event that was slated for tonight fell through and I could have done with a night out (although although, it was very unlikely to be an unmitigatedly enjoyable occasion anyway, so ultimately no great loss) and so I'm at home on the couch by myself (everyone else is in bed), drinking a gin and tonic and wondering why I'm again noticing that feeling of restlessness which dominated the first months of 2017.

Like jam and avocado, restlessness and weariness don't go together well. If it was summertime I don't think I'd be here on the couch. I'd be out, hooning up and down the main Yarra bike path until the need to rest won out over the drive to cover as much ground as possible. But here we are, just past the solstice, and it's cold and dark and wet outside. Can't race away from the difficult and unpleasant things - got no choice but to sit with them.


For weeks I've been meaning to blog about the overwhelming excellence of the exhibition currently on at the Ian Potter centre - Patrick Pound: the Great Exhibition. I didn't know anything about Patrick Pound beforehand and I was just wandering around the city with Leonard on the day I saw it. As we walked through the different rooms of the show I felt increasingly and overwhelmingly full and of love and surprised wonder. You know how sometimes people (in books?) say that someone or other, some writer or artist, saw into their souls? Trite as, right. But that's sort of how I felt. This show explained to me, with good humour, gentleness, energy and grace, why it is that I (and you - you're the same) collect things, why other people's collections are so interesting, why it is that objects are such objects of desire and why it is that the desires they awaken will never be fulfilled.

The show is collections of objects and photographs and it's about collecting. It hums with ideas about objects, things, and how they stand in for intangible phenomena, and how they can be made expressive in the aggregate and when placed in relationships with each other. It's funny, haunting and beautiful. The first thing you see is a wall of snapshots where the photographer's shadow falls into the image. This long, shadowy case is just one in a room full of similar cases full of found photographs arranged by theme: the photographer's hand, someone has been removed from the image, there is a lampshade in the picture - etc. The effect is beautifully Oulipian - rather more beautiful that oulipian word games, for my taste, because the found nature of the materials gives them an element of dignity and gravitas that's missing from the relatively smooth and frictionless medium of words and letters.

The showpiece room is full of glass cabinets displaying objects that are somehow about something that's not there. The array of ways that an object can do this is kind of astonishing. Absence, in this aggregate, is not a hole or a gap, it's a fullness. It's like the air is charged with electricity or full of unheard voices. It's a wonderful, inventive menagerie of implied relationships. Walking around the cases becomes a kind of game, being delighted and spooked by the next variation.

this one is from the NGV website.

Much later in the show there is a collection of dusty pine knife blocks with yellowing varnish, clearly retrieved from op-shops where they would have been the ugliest, most graceless, abject, forlorn and unwanted objects there, but here, together, lit and displayed, they look like art. They are art.

I am really tired and must stop but if you're in Melbourne you should go and see it before it closes on July 30.

*If this blog had a name that wasn't SASB, it would be 'although'

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