31 August 2007

Stupid shit

I thought this was my most hated johnny-come-lately NZ arts blog, but it turns out it's first equal with this one.

I don't know the Barrs personally, and they could well be nice people, but everything I know about them gives me the shits. You can see why from their blog (linked to above). The other one, the anonymous blogger who doesn't allow comments, is just wrong for that very reason.

28 August 2007

Second instalment

Here is a link to the first instalment. When we last left our heroes (Francis Picabia, Piero della Francesca, and me), they had just arrived at a large island in the Caribbean in 1482 and invited on board some people from a canoe. Click on a picture to see it full size.

25 August 2007


The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Sixth Level of Hell - The City of Dis!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Low
Level 2 (Lustful)Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Low
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Moderate
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Very High
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very High
Level 7 (Violent)High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)High

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

24 August 2007

Quote of the day

I champion the weak, the poor, the oppressed, the simple and the persecuted. I maintain that whosoever benefits or hurts a man benefits or hurts the whole species. I sought my liberty in the liberty of all, my happiness in the happiness of all. I wanted a roof for every family, bread for every mouth, education for every heart, light for every intellect. I am convinced that human history has not yet begun, that we find ourselves in the last period of the prehistoric. I see with the eyes of my soul how the sky is diffused with the rays of the new millennium.

- Anarchist Bartolomeo Vanzetti

20 August 2007

First pages from first draft

Click on a picture to see it full size.

19 August 2007

A novel idea

One of the things I've been playing with over the last few months is an idea for a novel. I've got a plot roughed (and I do mean roughed) out. I was thinking of narrative text with a lot of illustrations, but now I'm thinking a graphic novel. Last night, I started a first draft/storyboard. If I get it together, I'll scan and post some pages.

I'm the main character, and I can travel in time. After visiting the future and seeing what an unmitigated nightmare it is, I persuade Francis Picabia and Piero della Francesca to come discover the New World with me ten years before Columbus rolls up.

18 August 2007

A poll

On the right there, you'll see I've added a poll.

14 August 2007

Richter on Picabia's arrival in Zurich in 1918

Picabia's first appearance, plying us all with champagne and whisky in the Elite Hotel, impressed us in every possible way. He had wit, wealth, poetry and a Goya head set directly on his shoulders with no intervening neck ... A globetrotter in the middle of a global war! ...

An artistic temperament which demanded spontaneous self-expression was matched in him with an intellect that could no longer see a 'meaning' in this world at all. He was, at one and the same time, a creative artist, compelled to go on creating, and a sceptic, who was aware of the total pointlessness of all this creative activity, and whose Cartesian intellect ruled out all hope ...

Picabia confronted us with a radical belief in unbelief, a total contempt for art, which proclaimed that any further involvement with the 'communication of inner experiences' would be sheer humbug ... Over and above this, there was an urge to deny that there is any sense or meaning in life as such, a rejection of art in so far as it constitutes an affirmation of life ...

I met Picabia only a few times, but every time was like an experience of death. He was very strange, very magnetic, challenging and intimidating at the same time.

08 August 2007

Common-Sense Nihilist Party

The Common-Sense Nihilist Party has a blog that, among other things, details how to join.

07 August 2007

Burning my bridges before I cross them

According to the conditions of entry for the Wallace Award: 'Artists are encouraged to include supporting material in writing that ... explains how they would benefit from the experience of an overseas residency.'

This is what I've put:
I must admit I struggle with this. I do not believe I am particularly special or out of the ordinary. The benefits that I would get from an overseas residency are, I imagine, much the same as the benefits any artist would get, except perhaps that, as I travelled extensively around NZ instead of going on the traditional OE, I have not yet visited any international art galleries or museums.

For the bit about the work, I just pretty much reproduced what I said in the previous post about where the title comes from.

06 August 2007


I have, I'll freely admit, been a bit slack on the old painting front of late. I've been distracted by such things as the busy time at work, giving a lecture and radio interviews, writing a couple of other things, being in a group show, starting a political party, the film fest, and other hijinks.

However, the holiday's over. First off I've got to complete some things that've been lying around for far too long. Here's a couple of (crappy photos of) them.

Piero and me:

Picabia and me:

This is one I prepared earlier, which I'm going to enter into the Wallace Award. It's Humanity won't be happy:
The title of the last one is taken from a revolutionary slogan. In its original formulation it was 'Humanity won't be happy until the last aristocrat is strangled with the guts of the last priest.' In the 20th century it was updated to 'Humanity won't be happy until the last capitalist is strangled with the guts of the last bureaucrat.' This makes it a very appropriate entry into the Wallace, I reckon.

All gone for another year

The Film Fest's over for another year. There was nothing else to match INLAND EMPIRE, though I did like the way the doco on Kurt Cobain was put together. Apparently I got some hostile looks when I was raving to a friend in the loo afterwards what a dick he was.

04 August 2007

Something in Palmy to go to

02 August 2007


INLAND EMPIRE is David Lynch's masterpiece, a three-hour tour de force. As someone who is well known for his lush images, his decision to shoot it entirely on digital video was a bold one. It works.

This film brings together all of the themes and images he's been working with throughout his entire career. Don't go looking for some key that unlocks the plot and makes sense of it all. That misses the point entirely. Strap yourself in and enjoy the ride. If you want a plot, it's about someone suffering from temporal dysfunction disorder (yes, I just made that up). That someone is you.

I'm hanging out for it to come out on general release. It requires several viewings. There are lots of internal connections, as well many connections to his other works. The internal connections include certain lines that get delivered in different ways by different people throughout the film.

I loved the video quality: its graininess, what it did in different lights. He shot a lot of it himself over a number of years and wrote (and performed) several of the songs. There are lots of great extreme close-ups of people bugging out. There are some amazing compositions. I was lucky enough to be sitting in the middle of the front row, so the screen was my entire field of view. Absolutely brilliant. What a ride. I want to go again.


The criticisms of this film seem to revolve around it being incoherent. I am not impressed by this argument. It's like hassling punk rock for not having concept albums and 20-minute virtuoso guitar solos. I reckon this film is very coherent. It hangs together very well, but does so on its own terms.

I am convinced that the main character is you, the viewer. You need to play your part and put it together in your head. My main evidence for this is the woman at the start and end who is watching tv in a hotel room. She is a surrogate version of you, just as Nikki is a surrogate version of her and Sue is a surrogate version of Nikki.

If you go looking for conventional narrative and conventional characters to relate to, you will be disappointed. It's like those Russian dolls or fractal geometry – a reiteration of the same shape on different scales. It also helps to be familiar with Lynch's other work, the significance of red curtains and strobe lights etc. And, of course, he's using classic avant-garde techniques, so it probably helps to be familiar with them too.

01 August 2007


You, the living was fantastic. There were a couple of bright colours (the gold of the tuba and the pink of a woman's boots)! There was some camera movement (once forwards, once backwards)! There were songs! I wish I could remember some of the lyrics. Here's a good summary.

That winner was followed by another on Saturday night: Control. The actors made a pretty good Joy Division covers band. It was all in black and white, but with subtle tones. The two bits I remember in particular are the warm reddish tone introduced when things started coming together and the cold blue after Curtis'd topped himself. The best line was, after he'd had a fit on stage and things were looking bleak, his manager saying 'It could be worse ... you could be the lead singer of The Fall.' For a classic example of a review that tells you more about the reviewer than the film, see here. Plonker.

I didn't make it to the Swiss crazies at Happy. I'd forgotten I'd arranged to go sailing early the next morning. However, the weather gods were against us: too much wind on Saturday morning and not enough on Sunday.

On Sunday arvo, there was A walk into the sea, which was an extremely nice counterpoint to the Warhol doco and an investigation into the vagaries of memory (especially when you're as self-serving as Paul Morrissey).

That evening was Destricted. I had low expectations, but even they were disappointed. I was really surprised by how literal and cliched they all were. No-one came out of it well, except perhaps Marina Abramovic and Larry Clark. Clark's film was a good social history of pornography, showing how much the ubiquity of porn in our society affects young men's behaviour.

Tonight is David Lynch's latest, which I'm looking forward to (despite having heard some bad things from a couple of people).
visitors since 29 March 2004.