26 November 2009

Common sense

When people ask me, as they often do, why I call my intertemporal avant-garde art movement and the philosophy on which it is based common-sense nihilism, I reply that it is because believing in nothing is simple common sense.

Have a look at society for example. Society is a battleground where bogus ideas vie for supremacy. Every society goes through periods of being more or less ridiculous and stupid, during which more or less ridiculous and stupid ideas hold sway. But in every society at all times, most people are ridiculous and stupid, and believe ridiculous and stupid ideas. The particular ridiculous and stupid ideas a person will believe depends on the kind of person they are and the environment they were brought up in. Political ideas, scientific ideas, religious ideas, artistic ideas – all are a sham, nonsense to fool ourselves and others with in the vast inter-related con game we call culture.

The ideas you believe may seem self-evident to you, just feel 'right'. But that only says something about you, not the validity of the ideas. We can't know whether they are in any meaningful sense 'right' or 'true'. Reality is not just unknown, it's unknowable.

Given this situation, where certain kinds of people (say, to use a crude generalisation, 'liberals') believe certain ideas and other kinds of people (say, 'conservatives') believe other ideas and there is no objective standard to measure them against, surely the only sensible thing to do is believe in nothing. It's self-evident really. It just feels 'right'.

Have nothing to do with beliefs, whatever they may be!

19 November 2009


I have just returned from the opening of the Evil Barrs' (alleged) Gallery. I was amazed at what an amateurish effort it was. I mean, come on, I thought they'd've at least the money (if not the sense) to do better to do that, ie, clean up the floor and install proper lighting.

I won't mention the work, cos they took the cop-out option of getting Michael Lett to curate it rather than do it themselves, but they are responsible for the environment.

Piss poor, I reckon. The goddamn Massey students did better than that. That's the comparison. Worse than students.

What were they thinking?

The Fall vs Cilla Black podcast

If you missed Rose's show tonight, you can download the podcast here. The best comment about the contrast involved was something like 'It's like sitting in a comfy armchair with a barbed wire seat.'

I enjoyed it very much.

18 November 2009

The Fall vs Cilla Black

Rose has put up the tracklist for The Fall vs Cilla Black on her blog. It will be broadcast to the world from 9 till 11 tomorrow night. I haven't heard the juxtapositions, and am very much looking forward to it.

When I was putting my selection together, Rose asked if it was representative of The Fall's career. I cheerfully answered no. I've avoided a greatest hits approach. You won't be getting any 'Totally wired' or 'Hip priest' from me.

Instead, I've gone for songs such as 'Hostile' and 'Bombast' (probably the earliest songs there) and 'Systematic abuse'. Mainly cos I like being hostile, bombastic, and systematically abusive myself, and particularly enjoy it when others do it well. And Mr Smith is a master.

Oh, and I've shoved in a Von Sudenfed song as well, on the principle that it's really The Fall masquerading under another name. As Mark E Smith puts it, 'The Fall are me and your grandmother on bongos.'

16 November 2009

Contract editing

Before I quit it to go to art school, my day job was copy-editing. I am in need of some gainful employment over the summer months, and so am on the look out for contract editing work. If you know of any, I'd be very grateful if you could send me an email. The address is on the profile page for this blog.

Speaking of this blog, if all you know of me is a passing acquaintance with it, I wouldn't be at all surprised if this were cause for some reluctance. However, I am confident that none of my previous employers have had any concerns with either my professionalism or my competence.

14 November 2009

Art New Zealand on the Adam Art Gallery's Wall Works

There's a feature by Jenny Rouse in the latest Art New Zealand on the Adam Art Gallery's Wall Works show.

It has this to say about me:
Meanwhile, David Cauchi must have been privy to inside information (that the redoubtable Jenny Harper was responsible for the belated addition of lavatory facilities to the architectural plans for the gallery) when he named his site 'The Jenny Harper toilets'. Here, the self-ordained 'intertemporal avant-garde artist' produced a series of witty 'one-liners' in acrylic pen, collectively entitled Where art belongs. Contributing to a global 'series of separate spacetime events joined intertemporally by an avant-garde thought virus', and alluding none too subtly to academic scrutiny of the grand narratives underpinning western epistemology – art history included – Cauchi's witty irreverence must surely have extended many a practical visit to the site. Pencils left in situ allowed for the work's enhancement by more or less comprehending visitors ('I shat on your resentment'), producing an infinitely more interesting bathroom suite than any other on campus.

I think the biggest failure of this work was the way the drawings were overshadowed by the text. They don't even get a mention here.

13 November 2009

Fall sound!

After being subjected to repeated hassling, whining, and sulking over an extended period of months, Rose has reluctantly agreed to collaborate with me on her radio show. I had, fool that I am, admitted early on in the piece that I had no intention of playing anything other than The Fall, they being easily the best band in the world, and this proved a reasonably major stumbling block. Rose raised the not unreasonable question of what the hell she'd play to go with that. The Fall are, after all, in a league of their own.

However, after some extended consideration prompted by weary resignation, she hit upon a solution. Considering my strange obsession with the work of Mr Mark E Smith, she considered strange obsessions of her own.

And so we have, apparently next week even, The Fall vs Cilla Black.

I suppose this means I'm going to have to select some songs and arrange them in a suitable order – as they say, put my money, that mere pittance, where my big mouth is. Luckily I have the 30-odd-year career of a genius as material to work with. I suspect my biggest problem will be boiling it down to an hour.

Feel free to suggest must-have inclusions. Feel even freer to send me rarities I might not have.

12 November 2009

Oh yeah

Last night, before Rose's radio show, I went to this. I drank some nice Tuatara beer, chatted with some people, and looked at some art. It's worth a look in. Even the space itself is worth checking out. My favourite work, somewhat surprisingly, wasn't the paintings by Douglas Stitchbury, though they came a close second, but Shane McGrath's sculpture.

For a while now, when wandering past the Massey workshop, I've been intrigued by what's been happening to the old boat there. I'm a sucker for boats. Last night, all was revealed. There it was, upside down, with wings on either side and a large rocket nozzle sticking out from its arse end, sitting on a track that rose up like a launchpad. If only there's been a fuse for my itchy lighter. I wanted to see what happened when it met the large concrete pillar in the middle of the track. Boats, rockets, inbuilt failure. Great stuff.

Tonight I'm off to a presentation on their research projects by 'distinguished members of the Massey University School of Fine Arts faculty'. Maddie Leach, Simon Morris, Martin Patrick, and Ann Shelton will be presenting, and David Cross will do the introducing and moderating. It's at 6 this evening in the old museum building, theatrette 10A02. There will be questions and a discussion after the presentation.

Hmm, shall I heckle, I wonder?

11 November 2009

Gits and brilliance

Well, the last post got linked to the public address website by some arsehole (see the comments). That engendered a slightly amusing discussion, but I foolishly tried to engage with the cunts. The amusement paled. I asked for arguments. I asked for examples. Did I get them? Did I fuck.

I suppose it's just me that finds that site and its culture creepy?

I tried to be honest, up front, and non-contentious. I wanted a proper debate. Let's just say it was not my finest hour. That'll learn me.

And so one of the labels for this post refers to me, and the other to them. As I said in the comments to the previous post, I should have told the po-faced motherfuckers to fuck off. Ye gods, not my finest hour at all.

On the plus side, we've just had a great radio show from Rose and Michael (check out the amazing Futurist pic!). Michael, who I insisted on calling Malcolm through the evening (I'm hard work at the best of times), included a remix of a Popol Vuh track from the Aguirre soundtrack, so we watched that as visuals.

It's the best film ever. I remember when I first saw it, with Mr Stephen Rowe, at the Dunedin Film Society in 1993 or thereabouts. We jumped up and down in our seats in amazement. We were gobsmacked. Fuck, it's good.

A madman taking on the world? What's not to love?
I am the great traitor. There must be no other. Anyone who even thinks about deserting this mission will be cut up into 198 pieces. Those pieces will be stamped on until what is left can be used only to paint walls. Whoever takes one grain of corn or one drop of water more than his ration will be locked up for 155 years. If I, Aguirre, want the birds to drop dead from the trees, then the birds will drop dead from the trees. I am the wrath of god. The earth I pass will see me and tremble.

However, even that is not the best line. The best line has to be the African slave, seeing a ship in the treetops: 'That is no ship. That is no forest. [Arrow hits him] That is no arrow. We just imagine the arrows because we fear them.'

If you haven't, you have to see it. Quotes do not do it justice. The river! The river!

10 November 2009


This thing about Witi Ihimaera ripping people off is pretty funny. Apparently, he took some things other people had done, tweaked them a little, and placed them, unattributed, in his own work.

In art, we do this all the time.* It's called appropriation. Some people think it's a postmodernist thing, but it's not. It has a long and illustrious history. I reckon the cave painters busily ripped each other off. However, the examples I'm going to use are a bit more recent than that – from the fifteenth century.

In fifteenth century Italy, it was not uncommon (to say the least) for different painters to paint the same subject. Nor was it uncommon for a painter to take some figures or a compositional device another painter had used when treating the same subject, tweak it, and use it in their own work.

Sandro Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci were contemporaries. They trained in the same bottega under Verocchio. They knew each other's work well. In 1475, Botticelli painted this version of the Adoration of the Magi:

Note the pyramidal composition of the figures, the row of receding ruins in the top left, and the standing figure in the bottom right (a self-portrait). Compare it with Leonardo's version from 1480:

The standing figure at the bottom right is also a self-portrait. Now, Leonardo's got pretty fancy with the figures, using a half circle as well as a pyramid for a much more integrated composition. And ruins in the background were pretty standard in Adorations, to signify the old pagan order of things that was swept away by the coming of Christianity.

However, I don't think I'm stretching a long bow to say that Leonardo's painting is a direct response to Botticelli's. They were pretty competitive. Leonardo is saying, 'I see what you've done, and I've done it better.'

In about 1500, Botticelli painted this version:

Note the figure kneeling in front of the virgin and child. Mentally reverse it, then compare it with the figure kneeling in front of the virgin and child in Leonardo's painting. (Click on the pic to make it bigger if necessary.) They are the same. Note as well the figure in red with a black hat that looks a lot like Leonardo (though it is also a general type). The stupid amount of figures could also be part of it: 'Outdo this!'

So I reckon Witi should tell those po-faced motherfuckers to fuck themselves. Take a leaf out of Hone Harawira's book!

*An interesting and revealing case is Picabia. When he does it with his paintings, the art historians call him a proto-postmodernist. When he does it in his writings, he gets called a plagiarist.

I should also point out that I only rip off the dead. They're my proper contemporaries anyway.

09 November 2009

Cauchi contra mundum

I reckon this'd be a good title for a book – a little book, unassuming, photocopied perhaps. It'll mostly be drawings, interspersed with bits of text. Bits and pieces.

I need a summer project.

04 November 2009


I haven't been sleeping very well recently, so last night I took one of Rose's sleeping pills. After an hour and a half, I took another. I then spent the rest of the night in a strange state in between asleep and awake, sometimes more asleep than awake and other times the opposite, but never fully one or t'other.

And today is quite strange.


02 November 2009

Some more Ferdydurke quotes

From near the beginning (and don't you believe things are any different now than when it was written):
I envied those literary men, exalted and predestined to higher things from the cradle, whose Soul – its backside prodded with an awl – strove continually upward; those writers in their Soul took themselves seriously, and who, with unborn ease and in great creative torment, dealt with matters and so high and mighty and forever hallowed that God himself would have seemed to them commonplace and less than noble. Why isn't everyone called to write yet another novel about love or to tear apart, in pain and suffering, some social ill or other, and become the Champion of the oppressed? Or to write poems, and become the Poet who believes in the 'glorious future of poetry'? To be talented, and with one's spirit to lift and nourish the wide masses of untalented spirits? Yet what pleasure is there in agonising and tormenting oneself, in burning on the altar of self-sacrifice, be it in the realm of the high and sublime and – the mature? To live vicariously through thousand-year-old cultural institutions as securely as if one were setting aside a little sum in a savings account – this could be one's own, as well as other people's, fulfillment. But I was, alas, a juvenile, and juvenility was my only cultural institution.

From sort of near the middle:
It's also possible, however, that my work was conceived out of torment from associating with an actual person, for example, with the distinctly repulsive Mr XY, or with Mr Z, whom I hold in utmost contempt, and NN, who bores and wearies me – oh, the terrible torment of associating with them! And – it's possible – that the motive and goal of writing this book is solely to show these gentlemen my disdain for them for them, to agitate, irritate, and enrage them, and to get them out of my way. In this case the motive would seem to be clear-cut, personal, and aimed at the individual.
But perhaps my work came from imitating masterworks?
From inability to create a normal work?
From dreams?
From complexes?
Or perhaps from memories of my childhood?
and perhaps because I began writing and so it happened to come out
From anxiety disorder?
From obsessive-compulsive disorder?
Perhaps from a bubble?
From a pinch of something?
From a part?
From a particle?
From thin air?
One would also need to establish, proclaim, and define whether the work is a novel, a memoir, a parody, a lampoon, a variation on a fantasy, or a study of some kind – and what prevails in it: humour, irony, or some deeper meaning, sarcasm, persiflage, invective, rubbish, pur nonsens, pur claptrapism, and more, whether it's simply a pose, pretence, make-believe, bunkum, artificiality, paucity of wit, anemia of emotion, atrophy of imagination, subversion of order, and ruination of the mind.

From the very end (and equally applicable to those who read through this post):
It's the end, what a gas,
And who's read it is an ass!


I've just picked it up again after a week-long break, but I've been enjoying Ferdydurke by Witold Gombrowicz. The face-pulling duel that ends the first section is not only very funny but also riveting, edge of your seat stuff. It's followed by an interlude consisting of an old short story of his, which he introduces with an 18-page rant. I'd like to quote all of it, cos it's pretty good, but will settle for this gem:
These are then the basic fundamental and philosophical reasons that have induced me to build a work on a foundation of individual parts – treating the work as a particle of the work, man as a union of parts, and mankind as a composite of parts and pieces. But if anyone were to complain: this part-concept is not – if truth be known – a concept at all but sheer nonsense, a mockery and leg-pulling, and that I'm trying, instead of complying with strict rules and canons of art, to evade them by mocking them – I would reply: yes, yes indeed, these and none other are my intentions. And – so help me God – I don't hesitate to admit it – I don't want to have anything to do with your Art, gentlemen, which I can't stand, just as I don't want anything to do with you ... because I can't stand you, with your ideas, your artistic posturing, and all that artistic little world of yours.
visitors since 29 March 2004.