Zarouhie Abdalian (Oakland), Tony Birch (Melbourne), Trisha Donnelly (New York), Harun Farocki (Berlin), Agatha Gothe-Snape (Melbourne), Susan Jacobs (Melbourne), Otar Karalashvili (Tbilisi), Ash Kilmartin (Melbourne), Nicholas Mangan (Melbourne), Scott Mitchell And Saskia Schut (Melbourne), Laurie Richards (Melbourne), Fred Sandback (Usa), Allan Sekula (Usa)
Curated by Tara Mcdowell
Exhibition Dates: Saturday 26 July - Saturday 23 August
Exhibition Opening: Friday 25 July 2014, 6pm – 8pm
Artist Talk: Zarouhie Abdalian in conversation with Tara Mcdowell, Saturday 26 July, 2pm
Nothing Beside Remains activated the entire building at Gertrude Contemporary, and for the first time visitors were invited to explore nearly the entirety of this historic building to encounter works, many site-specific, by thirteen prominent Australian and international artists.
Nothing Beside Remains was the first curatorial project in Australia by Tara McDowell, Associate Professor and Director of the newly founded Curatorial Practice PhD program at MADA (Monash University Art Design and Architecture). It was the fourteenth exhibition in the annual flagship exhibition series Octopus, which provides a forum for new curatorial positions by inviting leading curators to devise an exhibition at Gertrude Contemporary.
The exhibition considered the building that houses Gertrude Contemporary as a living organism, accruing its history over time, with each renovation, addition, coat of paint, and temporary resident. The sprawling three-story brick structure was home to housewares manufacturer and emporium Johnston’s from 1889 until 1957, and the primary visual residue of this former life is the disused, landmark Johnston’s sign on the front of the building. Ash Kilmartin reilluminated the sign, which hung outside her studio window during her two year Gertrude residency, by mirroring its remaining neon letters in a new work. Nicholas Mangan similarly collapsed time by drilling samples of timber from around the building, from which he produced a core sample of the building striated with its various temporal and physical phases. Two artists showing in Melbourne for the first time included New York-based Trisha Donnelly, showing a new video work, and Oakland-based Zarouhie Abdalian, who installed a new sculptural intervention dispersed throughout Gertrude Contemporary.
The exhibition’s title, Nothing Beside Remains, derives from a line in Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias” that conjures the impermanence and decay of the manmade. The exhibition considered the building’s many former lives, its present, and its future— anticipating the possibility that Gertrude Contemporary would be moving out of the building in the coming years. For An Uncertain Reader, Agatha Gothe–Snape asked Gertrude Studio Artists from the program’s 30-year history to nominate a text that influenced them during their residence. In a performative work that concerned both immaterial labour and access to knowledge, gallery invigilators will read the collated reader during the month-long exhibition, accumulating the collective labour of their reading in the process.
Nothing Beside Remains addressed imbrications between artistic and industrial labour, textile and craft,mass and artisanal production. American artist Allan Sekula examined the social conditions of labour throughout his career, and in Untitled Slide Sequence photographed employees ending their shift at a San Diego aerospace factory in 1972. In the second half of the twentieth century, 200 Gertrude Street was occupied by various textile manufacturers, paper manufacturers, art suppliers and auctions rooms, so both production and display have coexisted at the site for over a century. This extended period of time, marked by the emergence of industrial, post-Fordist, immaterial and precarious labour, is charted by German filmmaker Harun Farocki’s Workers Leaving the Factory, which includes moving images of workers leaving factories throughout history, beginning with the first film ever made, by the Lumières brothers in 1895. By contrast, Otar Karalashvili presents photographs of signs posted throughout Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, by people searching for work, a collective portrait of a city dependent on informal economies.
Susan Jacobs re-installed the conveyor belt that previously functioned on site and has since been in pieces in an upstairs hallway. Two subtle works by American artist Fred Sandback will act upon the space, encouraging a new perspective on a well-known, well-worn site. Archival photographs by Laurie Richards document a nearby Collingwood textile factory in the 1950s. And, Melbourne writer Tony Birch gave a walking tour touching on the Indigenous, immigrant, working class histories of Fitzroy on Saturday 16 August.
Taking advantage of the space’s real estate—and former life as a shop storefront— the front gallery promoted Melbourne’s independent arts publishers and play host to a series of events by various collaborators. Saskia Schut and Scott Mitchell have organised readings by artists, writers, designers, and publishers. The front gallery will subtly respond to the tenor of the texts through alternation of the atmosphere, lighting, time of day, or refreshments. Readings will be recorded and played continuously in the space and will also be archived on the Gertrude Contemporary website. More details about the schedule of readings and events will be announced soon.
This project has been made possible by the support of the Besen Family Foundation and the Consulate General of the United States, Melbourne.
This exhibition is supported by Proclaim Management Solutions.
Saskia Schut and Scott Mitchell
Reading Room plays host to a series of events by independent arts publishers and artists. The front gallery space at Gertrude Contemporary subtly responded to the tenor of the texts through alternation of the structure, atmosphere, lighting, time of day, or refreshments. Readings were recorded and played continuously in the space until the next reading takes place.
Recordings can be found here.
SATURDAY 26 JULY, 2 PM
PERMANENT HOME by Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge (2006)
read by Zarouhie Abdalian
SUNDAY 27 JULY, 2PM
GORDON BENNETT IN MEMORIAM
Organised by Discipline.
The Manifest Toe by Gordon Bennett (1996) read by Shelley McSpedden.
Posthumous poem to Basquiat (1998) by Gordon Bennett read by Irene Sutton.
Automated rendition of a section of The Analphabeast by Justin Clemens created by Fergus Binns.
Posthumous letter to Ian Burn by Tom Nicholson read by Paris Lettau.
Email exchange between Lisa Radford and Nien Schwartz about the Yirrkala Bark Petitions and Gordon Bennett (July 2014) read by Lisa Radford.
TUESDAY 29 JULY, 6 PM
WHEN THE MOON WAXES RED: REPRESENTATION, GENDER AND CULTURAL POLITICS (two essays by Trinh T. Minh-ha). Group discussion of text.
Organised by West Space Reading Group.
THURSDAY 31 JULY, 9 PM
Organised by 3:PLY with readings by Elizabeth Newman, Nicholas Tammens, Fayen D'Evie and Christopher L G Hill.
FRIDAY 1 AUGUST, 3 PM
Excerpts from THE COLLECTED STORIES by Lorrie Moore read by Sarah CrowEST.
SATURDAY 2 AUGUST, NOON
IN A HOLLYWOOD NIGHTCLUB from THE SIRENS OF TITAN by Kurt Vonnegut read by Anna Poletti (Centre for the Book) and Julia Dunne.
WEDNESDAY 6 AUGUST, 6 PM
UN MAGAZINE #8.1 LAUNCH
Edited by Robert Cook and Benjamin Forster and Published by UN Projects.
Readings from UN magazine #8.1 by the editors and contributors.
FRIDAY 8 AUGUST, 6.30 PM
WIKIMEMORY MULTIFUNCTION PALACE
Presented by West Space Journal and read by Rowan McNaught and Kelly Fliedner.
SUNDAY 10 AUGUST, 2 PM
UN GERTRUDE PRESENTED BY UN PROJECTS
Readings from past issues of un Magazine on space, location and Gertrude Contemporary.
MONDAY 11 AUGUST, 4.15 PM
By Justin Clemens
TUESDAY 12 AUGUST, 6 PM
WHEN THE MOON WAXED RED: REPRESENTATION, GENDER AND CULTURAL POLITICS (TWO ESSAYS BY TRINH T. MINH-HA)
Organised by West Space Reading Group. All welcome to read and attend the discussion.
Texts available on gertrude.org.au
WEDNESDAY 13 AUGUST, 5 PM
WITHOUT (2006 - 2014) A READING FOR 200 GERTRUDE STREET - 28TH JANUARY 2006
Read by Spiros Panigirakis
THURSDAY 14 AUGUST, 4.30 PM
THERE IS A WAY, IF WE WANT, INTO EVERYTHING
The Poetry of Michael Dickman.
By Bridie Lunney.
SATURDAY 16 AUGUST, ALL DAY
WORKERS: WARREN TAYLOR PRINTING TEST SHEETS FOR 3 PROJECTS by SUSAN JACOBS
By Warren Taylor
MONDAY 18 AUGUST, 6.30 PM
READINGS FROM CONTRIBUTORS TO THE EXHIBITION 'IF THIS EXHIBITION WERE A TEXT'
Curated by Ash Kilmartin for Slopes
TUESDAY 19 AUGUST, 2 - 4 PM
POLITICS OF ART: CONTEMPORARY ART AND THE TRANSITION TO POST-DEMOCRACY by HITO STEYERL
Read by Tara McDowell
WEDNESDAY 20 AUGUST, 5 PM
FLATLAND THE PLAY: A READING by Gabriel Curtin and Nell Pearson
Read by Gabriel Curtin, Nell Pearson, Nick Modrewski and Helen Johnson.
FRIDAY 22 AUGUST, 4 PM - GALLERY CLOSE
INTERPRETING 'A THEORY OF THE DEICTIC CENTRE' (A POEM BY ELISABETH FROST)
Read by Susan Jacobs.
Read Rebecca Coates's review of the exhibition published in frieze
, No. 167 (Nov–Dec 2014), p. 163 here