Entertaining the environment
Thumbnail image: Kent Wilson, Off The Record Nursery 2011, in ‘Beautiful Volcanoes’, curated by Michael Vale, Monash Faculty Gallery, Caulfield, 2011.
GALLERIES: Deakin University Phoenix Gallery, 6-17 August 2012,
& Latrobe VAC, 12 September – 21 October 2012.
& Bus Gallery 3o October – 17 November 2012.
ARTISTS: Kent Wilson, Erin Manning, Nathaniel Stern, Bryan Cera, Riki-Metisse Marlow, Tony Falla, Laura Woodward & Andrew Goodman.
Conceptual collaboration: Brian Massumi
CURATORS: Kent Wilson & Andrew Goodman.
Entertaining the Environmentshows artists responding to the concept that an artwork might reject a contract of exchange with the viewer. Instead of accepting the entertainment of the audience as an obligatory, primary relationship, this exhibition proposes a more modest ambition – the artwork’s acquisition of agency for the purposes of entertaining themselves and/or their environment. This does not imply a nihilistic denial of the possibility of engaging the viewer but rather that any such engagement sits in excess to the aim of self-entertainment, and the exploration of the different scales of attention and engagement that the non-human might engage in with an art event.
The exhibition draws on Bataille’s concept of sacrifice – an excessive or useless act that can operate freely to disrupt the productive economies of exchange that bind and control relations within society. In the context of cultural production, the primary contract of exchange that these works aim to sidestep might be a contract of engagement with the viewer, rather than a monetary exchange. Technologically based art has a particularly problematic history regarding the creation of productive contracts with the viewer, often requiring constricting patterns of behavior or movements to operate, effectively restricting the participant’s interaction to a ‘performing of the software’.
The initial Melbourne exhibition featured artists working in situ, and a series of open discussions and writing around the concept.
Andrew Goodman’s participation in the project is assisted by an InHabit cultural exchange grant through Punctum and Arts Victoria.