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Natasha Matila-Smith on dicks: SUCK IT: BULLIES & BRAVADO

Part Seven

SUCK IT: BULLIES & BRAVADO

  • An unfortunate encounter with a more senior artist
  • A Billy Apple exhibition at Artspace
  • OTHER stuff

I’ll be frank.  Very frank and very blunt.  Bullies.  I’ve talked about them before.  This week though, I thought I’d speak specifically about generational bullies.  Bullies that are territorial about what they have accomplished; marking their spot with their territorial pissings.  These generational bullies don’t necessarily belong to a particular age group.  Rather, they represent a particular value system about art that is associated with a particular timeframe.

An artist that I had only met hours earlier, gave me some advice this week about an exhibition I curated.  We were at the opening of said exhibition.   I was so gobsmacked that I didn’t defend my actions nor did I see the need to.  I was generally disappointed by the way this artist timed their advice so that surrounding people of importance could hear this discussion.  I appreciate your, I’m sure, well-intentioned calculated advice, but actually fuck off.

The premise of the show I curated was essentially a giant fuck you to people placing expectations on the actions of my peers and I.  So why would I indulge the traditional expectations of a virtual stranger in lieu of my own instincts and context around my actions?

Critique is most welcome.  Critique though, I’d like to think is more considered and less about etiquette, more about the work.  Also, something to think about, when offering advice, if I don’t ask, don’t enlighten me.

————————————-

With that nastiness out of the way, on a much more attractive note, Billy Apple’s exhibition ‘Suck’ opened at Artspace last Friday night.  It’s got dicks, ass and sexual bravado.  I mean, S U C K, the title of the show, no explanation necessary.  Actually, I would be interested in explanation…I did miss the talk between Artspace’s new curator Adnan and artist Billy, which is a shame, but I’ll go purely on aesthetics for the time being as the show is fresh in my mind and my cellphone camera roll.

The back room is black and red and there is an aged photographic print of someone’s rear end – I’ve heard it’s Billy’s own.  The back room, to me, is reminiscent of the decor of Centurions Sauna (don’t ask, but it’s not as dodgy as it sounds).  The walls are a matte black, so as to darken the room, but not necessarily the easiest to clean?   I’m probably way off the mark, nevertheless this is what I think of.  I get the sense that this exhibition is very sexual.  Don’t worry though, I’m just another lemming.

In the main room, it is the usual pristine white.  In the centre of the room is a black and white plinth that props up a shiny, stylised and modestly sized 3D word – ‘S u c k’.  At various points around the room, there are more of those aged photographs, possibly appropriated a la Richard Prince.  It is very Warholian, but then I’m confused because I don’t know what exactly this exhibition is about.  Then again, I am quite ignorant of Billy’s practice.

Perhaps if I had taken my own advice and considered the supplementary material, I might not be sucking so badly at reading the works.  In any case, a good array of male nudity.  Mainly erections, so maybe I am right about that sexual bravado, eh?

Natasha Matila-Smith

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