Dear Lisa

Lisa Radford, Dear Masato, all at once (get a life, the only thing that cuts across the species is death), West Space, Melbourne, 4 November – 10 December, 2016.

Dear Lisa,(1)

It seems that something has happened(2), not something but almost, close enough. I had a dream, the show was ‘for you’—I’d had this dream before, but this was different.(3) A group of people were brought together in this place, they looked around them and had a lot to say, to us and each other, like, What the fuck where you thinking?(4)

It just went on and on(5): no decisions arrived, people ran and hummed, exhaled, looking each other up and down, flipped off fetid wings—right, like those booklets about people emerging from the sea, they grew limbs, they talked and walked.(6) It was any anthropologist's fairy-tale. Except that they answered back. They grew angry, uncertain of their value, their worth, their relation. They approached and overlooked me from different angles and incidents. There was a low hum, the sound of people talking in other rooms, as if we had a shared history. Abuse was thrown in all directions(7)—I wanted to lie down too but mum said we’d better get ready or we’ll be late.

I walked past a woman, all in white, she was singing a Russian folk song, she was humming—or was it pink? We got into a rhubarb about if Rhianna was a sexy robot,(8) I tried to tell you she is Talent and has Emotion, but no words came out, only a blue karate belt that was my tongue. I was so sure you were mad, you looked sunburnt, but I later realise, above your head, where you were standing, was a stage light covered with a red gel. Or was it green? I wanted to make things right, a soothing avocado mask for your face. I picked it up, but had instead this sudden urge to piff it at your head.(9)

I’m trying to explain to you in so many demonstrable words.(10) But in my dreams words become images and pictures become objects.(11) I try to recount them to you—do you hear me?(12) After speaking I’ve lost the plot, I point, I walk away interrupted. The crux(13) is gone and words become hollow—drained of all substance and effect.

Don’t take this for Ficto-criticism.(14) Get off your high horse. Get a life. All this stuff will fucking kill you, it’s loaded with fun. Every subject is useful and every material is useable.(15) It’s as real as if it happened, and as I’ve learnt perhaps it is a mistake to use tropes and parallels in this eminently unpoetic age.(16) Don’t worry—you’re still the hero of this letter (I even have a bouquet for you but the flowers have died, I lay it by the palms, you can still see them just can’t smell them).

Speak soon,

 

Love Liv

 

(1) The show’s title Dear Masato, all at once (get a life, the only thing that cuts across the species is death) (2016) refers to Masato Takasaka, artist, collaborator, friend of Lisa Radford.

(2) ‘Something has happened… an unspoken event (I think it’s a wake) that has brought these people to the same place.’ Dear Masato, all at once (get a life,)

(3) Dear Masato, all at once, (2014) was an exhibition at Margaret Lawrence Gallery (VCA) and could be considered a previous iteration of Radford’s West Space exhibition. Invited artists were asked to exhibit an artwork pertaining to a material relationship to politics.

(4) Dear Masato, all at once (get a life,) features a cast of ten performing rehearsed scenes and improvisations on Nov 3, 19 and Dec 10, between 12 and 6pm. Outside of these times the visitor is read ‘A Script for a Volunteer’; ‘This iteration of the exhibition could be considered a/wake.’

(5) ‘*sometimes it’s a death or loss and time that shows us what we thought we shared was only our own experience’ LR&RF, (Lisa Radford and Rosemary Forde), Footnotes, Don’t Curt Kobain (2014)

(6) ‘Radford’s new exhibition envisages the artworks featured in this earlier project as autonomous subjects, devoid of the biography of the artist who made them, and activated as characters in a larger narrative.’ West Space Media Release, (2016)

(7) Speech’s regulatory effect on a subject lies in its historicity and not its causality, a trauma ‘that lives in language and is carried by language’. Judith Butler, Excitable Speech, edited by Judith Butler, Taylor and Francis, (ProQuest Ebook Central, 2013), 31-36. 

(8) Conversation with my brother, October, (2016)

(9) ‘PUT AVOCADO ON RACISM SO WHITE PPL WILL PAY ATTENTION.’ (Photo of handmade sign at protest against Trump’s Presidential election in LA, regram, Hamishi Farah, 11th November, (2016)

(10) ‘Does the power of language to injure follow from its interpellative power? And how, if at all, does linguistic agency emerge from this scene of enabling vulnerability?’ Excitable Speech, 2. ‘Participants were asked: What are the artworks saying to each other, and with their audience?’ West Space Media Release

(11) Dear Masato (2016) consists of lines of ‘Scripts for 6 ‘Acts’. These have been co-authored with a variety of collaborators, including members of Casula Powerhouse Youth Committee in Western Sydney, secondary school students from Maffra High and individuals from George Gray Centre; a day service for adults living with a disability (facilitated by Gippsland Gallery) West Space Media Release

(12) These ‘Acts’ were performed with the assistance of Northern Theatre Company, co-directed by Lisa Radford and NTC Producer/Director Teresa Noble and Writer/Director Ange Arabatzis. West Space Media Release

(13) On ‘hate speech’: ‘A white teenager was charged under this ordinance after burning a cross in front of a black family’s house.’ ‘The United States Supreme Court reversed the State Supreme Court decision, reasoning first that the burning cross was not an instance of “fighting words,” but a “viewpoint” within the “free marketplace of ideas” and that such “viewpoints” are categorically protected by the First Amendment’ Excitable Speech, 20.

(14) ‘*sometimes politics feels like the art of compromise and contradiction and much more like art than we wish - deconstructed language and emotive effect.’ LR&RF, (Lisa Radford & Rosemary Forde), Footnotes, Don’t Kurt Cobain.

(15) Large light cream perforated paper-squares and rectangles are placed intermittently on the floor in the gallery. Images are printed on fabric (bold outlines of maps, people, objects, indexes, icons) and scattered at unique stations, creating layered compositions. Real flowers and other fruits and vegetables, bunched and stray, lie atop some of these configurations. Dear Masato, all at once (get a life,)

(16) Definition of ‘trope’, English Oxford Living Dictionary, 2016

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Lisa Radford, Dear Masato, all at once (get a life, the only thing that cuts across the species is death), 2016. Courtesy the artist.

Olivia Koh

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Lisa Radford, Dear Masato, all at once (get a life, the only thing that cuts across the species is death), 2016. Courtesy the artist.

Olivia Koh

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Lisa Radford, Dear Masato, all at once (get a life, the only thing that cuts across the species is death), 2016. Courtesy the artist.

Olivia Koh

DearMasato4.jpg

Lisa Radford, Dear Masato, all at once (get a life, the only thing that cuts across the species is death), 2016. Courtesy the artist.

Olivia Koh

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Lisa Radford, Dear Masato, all at once (get a life, the only thing that cuts across the species is death), 2016. Courtesy the artist.

Olivia Koh

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Lisa Radford, Dear Masato, all at once (get a life, the only thing that cuts across the species is death), 2016. Courtesy the artist.

Olivia Koh

Olivia Koh is an artist who makes works where the relationship between the text and the image rearticulates historical and cultural references. She recently contributed artist pages to un, magazine issue 9.2. She organises recess, an online platform for moving-image works (recess.net.au). She is a recipient of the NAVA Freedman Foundation Travelling Scholarship 2016-18 and with the fellowship will undertake a residency with Green Papaya Art Projects and Los Otros in Manila, the Philippines.