Brian Buchloh discusses the forthcoming exhibition My Conceptual Playmate with Tiny Arms, Long Legs (T.A.L.L.)
Making an appointment to discuss a work of art with an artist(?) for whom anonymity is critical is, naturally, a challenging affair. With only some iPhone screen shots (displaying bizarre and occasionally hilarious correspondence between T.A.L.L. and confused respondents) and an email address at hand, I pressed forth regardless, asking T.A.L.L. to explain to me what we, as viewers, might expect when we walk into Brunswick Arts Space between the 16th and 19th of December. After all, as titillating as it may be to consider the incongruity of 18th century German philosophy in the midst of a regional tabloid’s smutty personals, I needed more...
A few days after a tentative initial enquiry, I received the following reply:
“Hello. Thank you for your interest in my project. I am sorry, but I cannot meet with you as I will be spending the next while polishing my jet ski. As it is a rather large jet ski, I have avoided making appointments altogether.
I am not quite sure what I can offer you by way of an explanation for my work, but I will try.
I placed an advertisement in the personal classified section of a regional Australian tabloid newspaper, reading: Neo-Hegelian seeks conceptual playmate. I received hundreds of text messages from respondents prepared to stoop to unprecedented lows in the name of desire. I demanded that they read Hegel’s Introductory Lectures in Aesthetics before the relationship progressed. That scared most of them off, but there were a few who persisted. To date I have posted off four copies of the text to what must, by now, be perplexed individuals.
This work simply documents the interactions, from the printing of the advertisement to the communication between me and these individuals. In some ways it is a retrieval of Adorno’s contemplation of the aesthetic caesura that divides high and low culture. That is, it is necessarily impossible to map the social and political incongruities and ambiguities we find ourselves encountering. In some ways, Adorno (in my opinion, the great neo-Hegelian) pre-empted this work. Take the unprecedented coalitions and often bizarre political landscapes now forming in liberal democracies. Art that engages politically must now follow and break free of its tired tropes...it must exercise active and effective absurdism; that is, while its premise might appear absurd (for example, neo-Hegelians looking for playmates in tabloid classifieds); its intention must be to actively engage viewers in conceptualising real social and political conditions.”
Uh, right...must be some jet ski. While some-the-wiser, I followed up by asking if T.A.L.L. would, therefore, classify this as, essentially, a ‘conceptual’ work.
“Do you mean is there anything to actually look at? Hell yeah! A few of the respondents sent me photographs of their genitals.”
Jesus. I think I’ll just check out some Monet.
By Brian Buchloh
My Conceptual Playmate by T.A.L.L. is showing at Brunswick Atrs Space from December 16-19. Opening Friday December 17, 6 to 8pm.