On Saturday afternoon I walked from Jugglers Art Space after being in the presence of our “Feverish” show, up Brunswick Street, through the Mall, into the IMA [the amazing Gregory Crewdson “In a Lonely Place” exhibition] then onto Jan Murphy’s and finally rested my soul and feet in front of Ray Cook’s works at Philip Bacon Galleries. On the way up the mall I was accosted by a beggar who assured me he hadn’t eaten for 2 days. So I gave him $1.35. Then on my gallery crawl I saw a kid – probably 6 or 7 – in a funky shop window on the floor playing with his iPhone while Dad played with his iPhone on a settee and Mum tried on some funky new wear. What to make of all this? What is in the space between these experienced and observed happenings? It is as if the held poses of Crewdson’s mildly disturbing “In a Lonely Place” images were – and still are – everywhere. Even in the presence of the wonderfully evocative Ray Cook’s Pacific Island works at Philip Bacon’s, the gallery staff seemed to have just stepped out of a Crewdson photo shoot.
On Friday night Oliver [“Ollie”] Chaseling’s “Feverish” group show at Jugglers had more resonance with the beggar on Brunswick Street than the window framed iPhone player or the gallery staff. As artists, the feeling of being a beggar can sometimes find its way into our consciousness if not our praxis! “Feverish” as a photographic and drawing exhibition by mostly QCA graduates had the swagger and dare and grittiness of the beggar without sacrificing artistic integrity.There was no pretence or strut about the work or the artists, just a sense of “this work has come out of who we are and you can like it or leave it!”
I bought one small drawing at Feverish and gave the beggar $1.35 . In both instances I have contributed something to another human being. I was caught up in a space where we all were together – beggar, artist and me – and where we contributed to each other’s living. I touched the beggar’s hand and looked into the eyes of the artist and felt in both instances some kind of return, some kind of “bounce”. But I felt no warmth from the boy behind the window or the staff in the gallery. Not that they were looking for it or that they were deficient. It was just that there were too many barriers in those spaces for there to be anything different, anything that reflected what I experienced at Jugglers on Friday night. Commercial galleries and shops exist for one thing – to sell in a competitive market. A human touch is a means to an end, a skill to use to close a sale. Artist Run Initiatives and organisations like Jugglers come and go mostly because we are not like that. However naive it sounds and maybe is, we are “all about the art”! Selling is legitimate in a capitalist economy but unless there are deep pockets of generosity, touch,swagger, dare and grittiness then the barriers in our spaces of living will thicken and darken and we will find ourselves all alone in a house full of beautiful art.