Thursday, October 30, 2014

'ash, needle. pencil. match'...glen skien & tachika yokota

'ash, needle, pencil. match' was a collaborative exhibition in early August of this year between myself and Japanese artist/crafts-person Tachika Yokota. It was one of those shows that passed under the radar but for both of us it provided an opportunity to extend our interest in inanimate objects, found or self-made, and their capacity to express a sense of narrative. For Tachika the focus of such relationships had mostly been explored through the photographic image but her year of honors saw that relationship shift focus towards the object and the significance of the hand-made within an expanding digital environment. Her minimal resin relief works of a record album cover and a Polaroid image questioned the loss of the hand made and referenced the layered relationship between our experience of the photograph as documentation and the object itself. It is the type of work that remains evasive in pinning down an exact description of the meaning and intention. No sooner do you find a point of having grasped it before that moment of comprehension shifts or vanishes completely, forcing you to begin again.
For my part the hand-made was referenced through the very literal use of jewelers saw handles attached to cigar boxes that served as a very practical device for attaching and embedding objects and miniature relief sculptures. Beside each piece I had hand written in pencil descriptions of the materials used, a type of inventory of what the viewer was looking at. I'm not certain what purpose it served apart from the intuitive desire to have text on the gallery wall, in some way making them even more marginal. Text dilutes and contaminates the image. It provides a continual shift because it's impossible to engage with both forms at once, becoming quite separate experiences. 

The title of the exhibition was appropriated from a description by the writer W.G. Sebald (1944-2001) in his response to the literary works of Swiss poet and writer Robert Walser  (1878-1956). Walser wrote almost his entire collection of short stories and poetic works in a coded micro-script format written in pencil on the back of discarded fragments of paper. For Sebald the works of Walser were embedded with empathetic responses to inanimate objects that evoked a deep emotional response. Visually his penciled micro-scripts  were a free-form of concrete poetry where the experience is a collision of text and graphic simplicity. 
Our collaborative process will continue in 2015 with further exploration of  the narratives disclosed through the hand-made.

Object-poems (i-ii-iii) Glen Skien and Tachika Yokota

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

MYTHO-POETIC: Redcliffe City Art Gallery

Archive of the Unfamiliar: found postcards, photo-transfer and etching (detail)

MYTHO-POETIC:Print and Assemblage works: My odd collection of postcards, artists' books, bound bird forms, etchings, suspended dwellings and an aircraft wing is presently being exhibited at the Redcliffe City Regional Gallery until 18th Oct. I will be giving an artist talk on Thursday 11th Sept. at 10.30am.  

Letter from America: collage, bees wax, etching on muslin envelopes.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Last day of 'ARCHIVUM'

ARCHIVUM will close tomorrow. Thank you to everyone who visited and especially for your questions and  conversations. I always like how people seem somewhat apprehensive about articulating their response or questioning of possible meanings in different works, not just the works from this show but any works that require a certain search for reasoning. Often they make very poignant observations without being aware of it. Especially art students who are in a sense just commencing the search for their own imaginative response to the everyday, or perhaps its more a case of recapturing it. A simple observation is that conversations about things from the past always have a sense of being far more embedded in the present, in the here and now then conversations about the very things that perpetually anchor us to contemporary life. The gallery hours are from 10am-4pm.  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Details of 'ARCHIVUM'

There are a number of threads of...I hesitate to describe them as meanings...perhaps threads of associations within the works on display at the Webb Gallery...but the most significant connection for me is that within the space I am simply archiving my own work...each of the object related works is being consigned a registration number, described and catalogued before being placed in an archival box that is made for each of the objects within the gallery space. I spent a number of years doing this as part of my employment with the Mackay regional gallery in cataloging their wonderful artist book collection. I imagine it will require more then the remaining five days of the exhibition but the archiving of ones own work is like consigning things to their rightful memory...delivered to the past where things float between the familiar and the near forgotten.  

Sunday, May 11, 2014

'ARCHIVUM': artist talk

As part of my gallery commitments there is an open invitation to attend an artist talk in the Webb Gallery on Wednesday 14 May at 12 mid-day. All most welcome.

Saturday, May 3, 2014


'A R C H I V U M'
GLEN  SKIEN:  MAY 6  -  MAY 17
Webb Gallery: Griffith University Queensland College of Art Grey St. South Bank Brisbane 

As a cultural activity the Archive is a place that provides a continuum of beginnings, of origins and moments of inception. It also exists as a place of loss, of transition and impermanence where the material objects and written information possess nothing but endings. For several years I was employed at a regional gallery where part of  my duties was to register and catalogue the artists' book collection and general archival materials including art works and exhibition ephemeral. One of the most pleasurable tasks was the making of archival boxes.
I'm not certain if I ever felt the symptoms of Derrida's 'archive fever' but what I was often aware of was the sense of infused melancholia I experienced from the process of resigning these materials to some eternal past. In a sense each consignment was a small death. Apart from providing a reflective form of engaging with the past the place of the archive is a communities haven of nostalgia and melancholia. Perhaps its not a fever at all but a necessary need to be immersed in the only thing that we can ever be certain of, the past. The fragments of stories and associations that arise from the collision between  self-narrative and historical identity have the capacity to confirm both our sense of place as well as providing an understanding of possible displacement in the world. This is what makes the archival space so significant. Not as allegory for remembrance or as a trigger mechanism  for memory, but as an experience of the nature of transition and loss that grounds us to the here and now.
ARCHIVUM explores the nature of the archival space when it is turned in on the artist. When works that  ambiguously float between both the distant and recent pasts are registered, catalogued and consigned to the Archive.