David Haines and Joyce Hinterding
I am relieved to be working with two artists rather than one, if for no other reason than to change the dynamic of the exercise. I have spoken to a few people about needing to break the procedural structure of the work, to surprise myself, but I am in two minds about this free-thinking approach. I believe there is enough room within the exercise for slipperiness and rebellion, it is just a matter of finding (or noticing) these moments.
David and Joyce bring a great enthusiasm to the task, and there is a sense of joviality in the air. It is lovely to see how connected they are as collaborators and a couple – their rememberings are woven deeply into their own ongoing dialogues. There is more a sense of negotiating the rules as we go and flexibility in the structure. This allows more space for me to construct a drawing. Some people comment it looks a little like a couple dancing. Many sound artists are remembered.
In an email the day prior, Laresa sounds nervous about the task. When we begin, and after my introduction/instruction monologue, she feels less reticent and the exercise flows easily. We find ourselves in a terrain of common taste, which is reassuring but sometimes the flow is foreseeable. For a long time, only female artists are recalled. There is space for playfulness and a sense of gentle negotiation. I feel bound to remembering peers at times and am irritated at myself for limiting the conversation. Laresa begins with Hilma Af Klint.
Ron Robertson Swann
Being the last artist to work with, there has been much anticipation about Ron’s arrival. He is dressed immaculately and brings his partner Ayako with him. He is dubious of the exercise and contemporary art at large, but is generous enough to carry out the task for which I am grateful. He cajoles the audience for participation, and some reluctantly yield. He is disappointed there is not more antagonism towards him as he critiques the current trends in cultural production, citing Emmanuel Kant, whose name is included. Ken Done’s name is written on the wall rather than the paper at his request. I often look to him for approval after I say a name and feel I am unconsciously making concessions and compromises in the work. I am tired and can feel the momentum of the project at large coming to and end. I allow myself (perhaps, now, regrettably) to surrender to whatever Ron brings to the task.
Throughout the exercise Ron often comments the work is nothing more than a parlor game. In some ways I guess this is true; it is a procedural exercise with slippery rules and demands good faith from both participating parties to function successfully. The works ‘meaning’ has the capacity to dissolve like sand before our eyes if the tacit agreement between the artists is broken.
Despite the precariousness of Ron’s participation, I hope the meaning resides on a scale that neither Ron nor I can identify as we are carrying out the task. Such a scale would take into account our distinct and shared histories as artists, the accumulated work as a whole, its context at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in a show about conceptualism in 2011, the audiences various experiences and this writing about the project that is happening now. Although the work seems to give primacy to the participating artists’ experiences – especially in the moment of its doing – it is only through the amalgamation of these aforementioned elements that the work begins to resonate deeply.
Ron primarily recalls New York Colourfield artists and Sydney- or Melbourne-based sculptors. He comments that I keep blocking him, like an American footballer, from really going somewhere. He talks a lot about Anthony Caro.