First published for DAS500, 16 July 2011
Tortuga Studio’s EASYSPEAK exhibition opened a couple of Fridays ago; it all started so well, with this writer arriving very reviewer like and dutiful.
Somewhere along the line things got jovial.
This resulted in waking up Saturday morning with a wine stained room list and notes which amongst other choice scrawls, included ‘must call the horror lady’ and ‘nipple/ bondage- sexy...investigate?’ Suffice to say this was not a typical ‘white cube’ opening night.
The theme of this large group exhibition of over forty artists was prohibition and paid homage to the underground ‘blind tiger’ spaces of the twenties; these spaces were home to the illegal sly tipple and were often symbols of equality and free speech at the time, thus the title EASYSPEAK.
The title of the exhibition and the opening night event is where the speakeasy theme of this exhibition end. The seemingly random selection of works sit haphazardly and crammed in the sprawl of curious spaces at Tortuga Studios with many of the larger works inhabiting their own nooks. Some honourable mentions of the exhibition include the collection of works by Perran Costi. A handful of eight pieces by Costi housed in a smaller room focused on the theme du jour of the art world right now ‘the fragile environment’. Costi’s mixed media skyboxes and baggage series were literally tiny rays of light shining through in the dimmed haze of their surrounds. Dishevelled briefcases housed tiny patches of grass and idyllic back lighted blue skies; the works were a study in memory and landscape and were both charmingly romanticised and loaded with cause. Costi’s works were sure to resonate with many of the inner west local patrons of the event as they also referenced the increasingly financially impossible ‘Australia Dream’ to own property. The strength of this collection of works lies in Costi’s strong cohesiveness in practice amongst an overwhelming amount of different artwork vying for space in the studios. Garth Knight’s series of five photographs, a depiction of fantasy erotica were pleasurable to view as a fine study in intricate detail and consideration but in this context were not allowed to be considered further as my eyes played tug of war with the other artworks swarming around the photographs which were detractingly contrasted. Jo Shand’s Thou Shalt Not series- an irreverent, modern subversion of the Catholic Church’s Ten Commandments on red cedar tile were sold before I arrived. This was hardly surprising as they possessed the instant likeability and shallow complexity befitting a pleasant hallway artwork.
Amongst the works on show are more than a few mediocre pieces and many could have been culled to make this a stronger ‘exhibition’. But Tortuga studio’s is first and fore mostly a studio for creation and development and this is certainly apparent within the studio- both refined and unrefined. Best of all it was just pure fun.
EASYSPEAK ran until the 3rd of July, 2011
Perran Costi, Baggage- Land Grab, photograph, UV prints on glass. 2009-10