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Yvonne Todd in the Waikato

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Yvonne Todd, Drexel and Frottex, 2008, photograph. Image courtesy of the artist and Ivan Anthony Gallery Yvonne Todd, Valley Candle, 2008, photograph. Image courtesy of the artist and Ivan Anthony Gallery Yvonne Todd, Gunther, 2010, photograph. Image courtesy of the artist and Ivan Anthony Gallery Yvonne Todd, Wall of Man, working notebook. Image courtesy of the artist Yvonne Todd, Page 15, working notebook. Image courtesy of the artist Yvonne Todd, Page 10, working notebooks. Image courtesy of the artist

There's an element of fetishism about their presence, some compulsive disorder operating here that's perhaps connected to the wider society - a metaphor for all that's toxic about western capitalism and its obsession with image. These young women recall the trophy wife, stuffed and mounted. One thinks of Priscilla Presley in her earlier incarnations. (see Approximation of Tricia Martin, 2007). Elvis loved all that backcombed hair.



Yvonne Todd
Self Medicating


13 August - 25 September 2011

Self Medicating is the consummate title heading the current exhibition of photographic works by Yvonne Todd now showing at the Calder and Lawson Gallery, Academy of Performing Arts, University of Waikato. Organized by Art Collections curator, Karl Chitham, the works were chosen by Todd herself and cover a period from 2002 to 2010 which happily include pages from her workbook, revealing references, drawings and inspirational images which grant the viewer a sneak preview of the germination and development of ideas in the creative process. Chitham has produced a useful, clear and erudite introduction to the show in an essay in the accompanying small twenty-four page catalogue.

Yvonne Todd burst onto the New Zealand art scene from almost nowhere a few years back, taking off with the inaugural Walters Prize in 2002, outgunning heavyweights like John Reynolds and Gavin Hipkins who had form and a substantial history and body of work behind them.

Her Stepford Wives-like images seemed to hit a nerve. Eerily creepy, even sinister, these young, over preened women with buffed hair and frozen look, (Barbie meets Myra Hindley), speak of a feminist agenda with an undertow of something darker. There’s a gothic edge to these artificially constructed creatures, a cross between some character out of a Flannery O’Conner story and a bit part player in My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.

It’s easy to mock such pushover targets, like shooting ducks in a barrel, but what’s seductive, even compelling about the approach, is the way Todd brings another layer to the subject with a kind of Hitchcock overlay that taps a deeper vein. Psychosis is not far from the surface, simmering away just beneath the smooth lacquered veneer of these apparitions, something that touches on Freud and his civilization of discontents.

There’s a Cindy Sherman element operating here too with the prosthetics, the staged look, the wigs, the lighting, the focus on contrivance, the construction and exploration of gender roles. Christine Webster and Margaret Dawson employed something of the same approach here in New Zealand in the late eighties and nineties with their theatrical photographs and Todd, belonging to the same circle, has engaged in the same tricks but added a more disturbing quotient to the mix. The kick that extends and reworks the trope is the macabre that sits up so close to normality that the distance between the banal and clinically disturbed is substantially narrowed. The glazed stare of these women, mouth half open, mind vacant, present, in some cases, an Aryan accentuation in their persona, it’s death-like tenor manifest in the elongated attached nails on the hand of the subject (Drexel and Frottex, 2008) which look like dead bird claws.

There’s an element of fetishism about their presence, some compulsive disorder operating here that’s perhaps connected to the wider society - a metaphor for all that’s toxic about western capitalism and its obsession with image. These young women recall the trophy wife, stuffed and mounted. One thinks of Priscilla Presley in her earlier incarnations. (see Approximation of Tricia Martin, 2007). Elvis loved all that backcombed hair.

The male equivalent might be Benny Hinn, the American TV evangelist. You wouldn’t need to tweak these people too far to end up with a Todd concoction. Indeed Todd has ventured into the male preserve with a series of silver haired gentleman portraits, corporate figures, like stags at bay, backlit and reeking of patriarchal privilege. There’s a touch of the cult of masculinity also about them which recent events, the massacre of 77 people by Andres Breivik, and the revelations by American feminist, Gloria Steinem, about the Norwegian’s misogyny, (which barely rated a mention in the media) add a timely relevance to Todd’s expose. Gunther, 2010, is the ludicrous and pathetic epitome of such macho posturing at the far end of the scale. Looking at those heavily framed executive shots from another angle, one is somehow reminded of all those slightly crass and ghoulish laminated photographs glued onto cemetery headstones these days.

The picture of narcissism and its recurrent death motif is perfectly captured in an unsettling blonde wigged portrait entitled Valley Candle, of 2008, an image that mimics, in composition, an early surrealist work of Salvador Dali (The Angelus of Gala) where the figure of Gala is made is to stare back at herself in the painting, that is itself engaged with the subject of death.

One wonders at times if any of this needs to be traversed today in the new post feminist age. But when one is confronted with the world of digital retouching, airbrushing, the obsession with Pippa Middleton’s butt, (people begging surgeons to doctor their derriere), and the phenomena of Toddlers and Tiaras, (beauty pageants for little girls pretty in pink), together with the news that Dora has had a makeover (gone the sensible haircut, backpack and map, replaced with seductive long locks and cosmetic ranges), perhaps Todd and her period photographs are not misplaced.

Unfortunately it won’t make a blind bit of difference in the real world. But then we all knew that. However one must bear witness, of course, and that in the end is what art does.

Peter Dornauf

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This Discussion has 34 comments.


Ralph Paine, 4:08 p.m. 24 August, 2011

In the face of the abject defeatism of the final paragraph above it is worth recalling that once upon a time in modernity all human production gained access to what Nietzsche called “the will to power as art”. Famously, with this he designated art as a kind of force, but it was a force now unchained from the elites for whom both art and power had once been given rights—birth-rights. In other words, both the will and the power now belonged to art as such, as a common force. Nietzsche’s concept “the will to power as art” thus marked the birth of a new kind of aesthetic subjectivity, a subjectivity formed of and for the freedom of art.

Today the tone of the expression “will to power as art” reminds us that the modern was to be an epoch of grand projects—and conceivably, that art was the grandest of these projects. Indeed, one may go so far as to say that modernity’s very condition of being was grounded in a radical trans-valuation of all prior perceptual and sensual modes of human expression and culture. A grounding, then, perhaps best conceived as an un-grounding. Yet whatever the case, it is certain that an extremely productive aesthetic dimension traversed the full range of modernist projects, from those of a burgeoning capitalist mode of production/consumption, to the ongoing constitution of “imagined communities” or peoples as defined within multiple social movements and including revolutionary projects for the construction of nation states.

But Nietzsche’s concept should also remind us that, flush with the real, art always expresses a possibility; is a will or force whose power remains eternally open to the errant potentiality of the yet to come. And it is in this Nietzschean-inspired sense that we may keep on claiming—and acting on behalf of the claim—that we still do not know what art is capable of.

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Zara Bennett, 10:18 a.m. 25 August, 2011

Mr Dornauf is right, and you are wrong. BOOM

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Peter Dornauf, 12:24 p.m. 25 August, 2011

Ralph, if only. Those chest-beating Nietzschean sentiments unfortunately died sometime in the 1960’s with the arrival of Pop art, summed up beautifully by Warhol himself when he commented on the inflated status of Art (which had been puffed up even further by Pollock and co in the 50’s); “Why do people think artists are special. It’s just a job. Artists can slice a salami too.”

It’s a great reality check. Warhol and others popped the pretensions of 20th century modernism with its utopian and idealist visions and postmodernism pushed home the knife. Sad, but there it is. The influence of art has been out-manoeuvred by the media. Gone are the days when a work like The Oath of the Horatii could cause a riot on the eve of the Revolution in Paris.

On the other hand, I vaguely remember an incident some time ago at the UN when a curtain was drawn over Picasso’s Guernica to hide it during an announcement by Bush who was declaring war on some country or other.

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Ralph Paine, 2:57 p.m. 25 August, 2011

A few decades ago Jean Baudrillard suggested that “today what we are experiencing is the absorption of all virtual modes of expression into that of advertising”. What did he mean? First, for our purposes, by “virtual modes of expression” I think he intends all the established arts and crafts, but also design, fashion, entertainment, and so forth. Of course the blurring of the distinctions between these modes is not news in itself, but what Baudrillard is noting is the directionality of this blurring: he’s saying that everything is moving towards advertising, adopting the form of advertising―and marketing―and not the other way round.

How, then, does he describe advertising’s defining characteristics? Here’s a list: a triumph of superficial form, of the smallest common denominator of significance, degree-zero of meaning, a simplified operational mode, very seductive, vaguely consensual, and a characteristic smoothness of translatability. In other words, for Baudrillard today art tends to be produced as sound bites, bullet points, logos, catch phrases, stereotypes, readymade formulas, headlines, clichés … And therefore everything is easily relayed and adapted for any cultural purpose whatsoever―easily produced and consumed as commodity. And Baudrillard links the formula of advertising directly to that of propaganda. So in this scenario the “contemporary” is that time when a worldwide cultural market displaces the viability of art as a power to create or transform anything, and thus the field of art becomes just another form of cultural capital―and advertises itself as such.

How might we deal with this prognosis? For it seems as if Hegel’s notion of the transformation of art and craft from “sensation” toward “concept” has finally come true and completed itself in the form of today’s advertising, marketing, and media corporations. It is as if the share holders, executives, creative directors, and technicians of these firms (in collaboration with the state/s) have not only stolen all possibility of sensation from artists, but also all viability of concept from theorists. So today art and theory have reached a limit and a crisis; a limit and a crisis as to their ongoing constitution. This puts circles around them both, it defines what they always-already were as destiny and now are. It defines their present measure or calculation as pregiven forms. But that’s okay, because the logic of these pregiven forms―as subsumed within and defined by capitalism―is the very place from which a new logic will be/is being created. I believe that art and theory are kinds of potentials to-be, and so this belief incorporates a future open to a radically new conception of art and theory production… One that may in fact―to quote Felix Guattari―only arise from within the everyday aesthetic and intellectual worlds of “oppressed peoples, ghettoes, minorities …” Thanks Peter.

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David Cauchi, 3:08 p.m. 25 August, 2011

As a self-appointed judge, I was going to award the victory, on points, to Mr Paine, despite what Ms Bennett thinks, but then came a follow-up reply.

Mr Dornauf's reply seemed to me to tell us that it was Mr Dornauf's youth that died sometime in the 1960s, not Nietzsche's ideas.

A heartfelt plea: Can we please, as a species, stop talking about postmodern theorists sometime soon?

If anyone's ideas have died, it's theirs, during my youth, sometime in the late 80s and early 90s.

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Creon Upton, 7:48 a.m. 26 August, 2011

"Postmodern theorists" is a pretty vague catch-all, David. While I'd heartily agree that Ralph's second comment would be just as coherent (and quite possibly a little more readable) without the compulsive name-dropping, I wouldn't call Baudrillard's ideas "dead".

In fact, if they were, that would strike me as a singular triumph for our charmingly consensual, consumerist, ignorance-celebrating dominant culture and the pervasive, mindless disinterest it encourages.

Peter, a couple of questions: What makes Warhol so worth quoting? The fact that he's an *artist* perhaps? What's so special about that? Why should anyone care about his views on anything?

And: Is the media somehow not art? Not able to be art?

If anything, the forms have changed.

While Ralph's "chest-beating Nietzschean sentiments" might seem embarrassingly romantic, they mirror any non-ironic, unselfsatisfied reflection on the sensual, intuitive genius that humans are and have always been capable of, and which some people would still choose to call art. It is unavoidable - most particularly in a society entirely captivated by the mundane and the endlessly recycled - that such genius will be accorded some primary significance, however that might be articulated.

I don't believe that the idea is that individual works - pace Guernica perhaps - should have a particular impact, but rather that the inextinguishable human capacity for brilliance is the best we can hope for to deliver us from the mud.

Unless you just don't care.

Or unless you believe economics can perform such deliverance.

Those are the two choices presented by capitalism.

If anything should be interred for a while, it's the notion that artists are here to make not particularly interesting observations as to the meaninglessness and uselessness of their art. Perhaps they should simply give up on being meaningless and useless and treat us to something curious for a change.

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David Cauchi, 9:37 a.m. 26 August, 2011

Yep, 'postmodern theorists' is pretty vague and a catch-all. That's why I used the term.

If you'd prefer to restrict the focus to Baudrillard the Apostate, that's fine by me too. I completely agree that his ideas being dead is 'a singular triumph for our charmingly consensual, consumerist, ignorance-celebrating dominant culture and the pervasive, mindless disinterest it encourages'.

As for:

'If anything should be interred for a while, it's the notion that artists are here to make not particularly interesting observations as to the meaninglessness and uselessness of their art. Perhaps they should simply give up on being meaningless and useless and treat us to something curious for a change.'

I humbly suggest that the good artists are doing just that. I also humbly suggest that, if critics were to, for a change, instead of merely glancing at an art work to assign it to a pre-existing category and then applying the preconceived ideas of that category, actually [adverb censored by this stupid website] look at the work and treat it as an individual on its own [adjective censored by this stupid website] terms, they might then actually see something curious for a [adjective censored by this stupid website] change.

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David Cauchi, 9:43 a.m. 26 August, 2011

Oh, and to be absolutely clear, yes, of course critics bring knowledge and experience to viewing an art work.

However, that knowledge and experience should be subordinate to the work, not the other way around.

Know your place! And do a better job!

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Creon Upton, 10:01 a.m. 26 August, 2011

Of course the good artists are doing just that. That's what good artists do, and it is one of the few things that make life worth living.

What concerns me is that mediocre artists don't seem to see that that's what they should be aspiring to, but prefer the lazy choice of producing "conceptual" work that can be reduced to nothing more than a fairly asinine sentence - leaving the critic, I would posit, with not a hell of lot to work with.

But I also agree with your stupidly censored comments on critics' work. Personally, I do endeavour to take the course you advise, and I'm delighted when that is rewarded by the art and by my senses - and I do my best to do something with that in my writing. But perhaps I fail.

The question, though, is when are the emperor's clothes going to be called on the preconceived, category-obsessed, name-drop-a-New-Yorker-and-throw-in-Walter-Benjamin approach, which continues in such hale and hearty form?

Last I checked, I wasn't living in New York, so I don't have too much to say about its art scene.

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David Cauchi, 10:10 a.m. 26 August, 2011


My only quibble is that there is nothing wrong, in the proper context, with presenting asinine statements that leave the critic with not a hell of a lot to work with.

In fact, in certain circumstances, there is a lot to be said for it.

Oops, I was wrong. Two quibbles: in the first para, I'd change 'one of the few things' to 'the only thing'.

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Peter Dornauf, 10:13 a.m. 26 August, 2011

Creon. Why Warhol? Why Nietzsche? Why anyone? Maybe because he’s smart, insightful, because he pulled the rug, because he alerted us to the overblown rhetoric etc.

The media as art? The media, loosely speaking, is a puss-filled carbuncle on the red end arse of the world. More's the pity.

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Creon Upton, 10:14 a.m. 26 August, 2011

Ok, so the above was in response to David's 9:37 post.

This in response to the 9:43 effort:

Subordination has nothing to do with it. That's a foul attitude. Honesty and respect is the thing.

Now, I can accept being told to do a better job.

But to know my place?


You know my place, do you?

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John Hurrell, 10:19 a.m. 26 August, 2011

'(Critic's)knowledge and experience subordinate to the work'....huh, David?
So what's the work? What the maker thinks it is? Fat chance!

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Creon Upton, 10:21 a.m. 26 August, 2011

Peter, I thought there was something slightly ironic in quoting an artist to bolster an argument to the effect that (jumping a few logical steps) artists aren't worth quoting. Negative rhetoric can be overblown too, you know.

The media are what they are. But I'd say Jeremy Wells has made some fine art within that context.

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David Cauchi, 10:33 a.m. 26 August, 2011

Creon: It's not fair or foul. It's just the way it is. If you were to draw the relative positions in a diagram, 'knowledge and experience' would be in a subordinate position to 'the art work'.

From the Latin, 'sub' + 'ordinare': The critic's knowledge and experience takes the orders – i.e. gets its direction from – the individual characteristics of the particular work.

John: The work is an autonomous thing in itself.

Peter: Why anyone indeed!

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John Hurrell, 10:55 a.m. 26 August, 2011

Creon, the Warhol / Nietzsche comment came from Peter which I pasted on for him. Your speed in replying superceded my then changing the contributor's name through the CMS.

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David Cauchi, 11:25 a.m. 26 August, 2011

Oh, and as for knowing your place, yes, yes, I do. It's part of my job.

It's not your place to judge us, nor to hand out scores. It is your place to understand what we're doing and explain it to those who can't see it for themselves.

In fact, WE are here now to judge YOU, all of you.

And let me tell you frankly, we do not like what we see.

How's that for a foul attitude?

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Creon Upton, 12:06 p.m. 26 August, 2011

John: feel free to go in and edit out "John" and replace it with "Peter" - you know, for historical accuracy's sake.

David: At least it's an articulated attitude. I don't find it particularly foul at all.

But I think your take on my place is not very comprehensive, and while it might have a vague emotional appeal to some, it's rather idiosyncratic:

1. Is my place defined by what actually happens, or (as you seem to hold) by someone's prescriptive idea of what should happen?

2. What actually happens involves a lot judging and scoring. Literally as well as the other. If you're right, then there's a whole lot about the infrastructure that's wrong.

3. Why "explain it to those who can't see it for themselves"? What a bizarre endeavour. I'm not a journalist, or a teacher of night school classes. I know that this is a common idea, but really, why? And explain what, precisely? Isn't the work autonomous?

4. If we were to accept the "explain" function, it's inevitable that such explanations would be ultimately reduced to the cheapest forms of understanding - in particular, judging and scoring. Oh, and a bit of personal drama and controversy is always good too. Yeah, I really wish I'd written that Pollock film: genuis, ahh, destructive, ahh, genius, ooh, alcoholic, oh my god, dramatic violins, yeah.... Garbage.

And by the way, the old "from-the-Latin" is such a cheesy way to circumvent responsibility for the connotations of your choice of language. "Subordinate" - from the English - means "lower, inferior". That, it seemed to me at least (being sadly monolingual), was what you appeared to mean. But whatever: you've clearly established your superiority, so there's not much point in me saying anything more.

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David Cauchi, 12:26 p.m. 26 August, 2011


1. The former.

2. I am, and there is.

3. I am going to quote the best artist for quoting: 'Those who don't understand will never understand, and those who do have no need of me.'

I don't personally see the need for critics at all, but if there are going to be such things they might as well do something useful and/or worthwhile.

4. See 3.

[5.] I try to choose the clearest, most efficient way of expressing myself. That's what the word means. I am not responsible for what you take it to mean.

And I am not superior to anyone, or inferior for that matter.

I just see things from my point of view, by definition. And it's my job to state that point of view. My duty even – a duty derived through internal necessity, not from anything external. The rest of you will just have to lump it, I'm afraid.

As my friend Andy said recently, each artist 'owes it to the rest of us' to 'pull their weight'.

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Ralph Paine, 12:50 p.m. 26 August, 2011

I'm late to this and lost.... But yeah,I wouldn’t want to dismiss Warhol so rapidly, because alongside the vast accrual of fame, prestige and wealth there lies its opposite: “commonism”—to use his word for Pop’s immersion into the products and affects of the everyday, the equal...

And I didn't intend to give the impression that I think artists have not been (independently!) aware of Baudrillard’s suggestions about advertising. When sound bites, bullet points, logos, catch phrases, stereotypes, readymade formulas, headlines, and clichés dominate the scene it’s also an open season for turning everything on its head (or back on its feet) and using whatever lies close to hand in a kind of counter-effort... After all, catch phrases have been rewritten to become powerful mottoes; clichés have been smudged, scratched, wiped, photo-shopped into glimpses of other possible worlds, etc.

And finally, using the term “the production of art” is meant as a way of taking the focus off artists (or critics!) alone and widening the scope to include a view of the system as such, of the other specialists who staff it sub-zones, involve themselves in its workings, etc. What then becomes apparent is the vast collective nature of the endeavour; its networks and power centres, its methods of distribution and accumulation, its entropic dimension, its connections to other fields, its energy sources, etc.

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David Cauchi, 1:11 p.m. 26 August, 2011

'What then becomes apparent is the vast collective nature of the endeavour; its networks and power centres, its methods of distribution and accumulation, its entropic dimension, its connections to other fields, its energy sources, etc.'

And so the work itself is lost.

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Ralph Paine, 2:29 p.m. 26 August, 2011

Never lost, because although immersed in a multiplicity of becoming (the network of networks) the singular work is eternally there as something created and given, preserved even as it's material support fades and shatters and grows mould and turns to dust.

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David Cauchi, 2:47 p.m. 26 August, 2011

No, no, no, no. There are no ideal forms preserved for all eternity. There is no eternity.

An art work is a sequence of spacetime events. Neither the first event nor the last – or any event in between – should be privileged over any other.

It is the sequence as a whole – the art work, a multidimensional autonomous thing in itself embedded, as is everything-that-appears-to-be, in the spacetime manifold – that counts.

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Ralph Paine, 3:33 p.m. 26 August, 2011

I did not say that there are "ideal forms preserved for all eternity". What I said was "the singular work is eternally there as something created and given, preserved..." In other words, the eternal is the past, the preservation of that which is, because it really happened, because we produced it.

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David Cauchi, 4:42 p.m. 26 August, 2011

Ha ha! Good luck preserving the past for eternity!

Have you seen what's left of what was produced in our past? Let alone what's coming up!

 In reply

Ralph Paine, 9:48 a.m. 28 August, 2011

There are ruins everywhere
But the world is not a ruin


Already dead, turning away early morning
Space is space, and the sea sea again

The truth of extinction, then: two recent films, Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" & Lars von Trier's "Melancholia".

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Andrew Paul Wood, 6:17 p.m. 26 August, 2011

Certain observations of my own regarding Yvonne Todd

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John Hurrell, 3:17 a.m. 27 August, 2011

Excuse me Andrew but your site is listed below. Manners please! Now for this thread tell us about Dornauf's take on Todd. Has he got it wrong? For example his interpretation of those male portraits is pretty dodgy isn't it?

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Owen Pratt, 4:23 p.m. 28 August, 2011

Hey John, if you are concerned about peeps linking, perhaps you should go back to writing on paper?

Todd is quite funny and I laugh when I see her pictures at Ivan Anthony's but I laugh more when I see the same ideas better resolved as internet memes.

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John Hurrell, 10:07 p.m. 28 August, 2011

Owen, it is not the linking per se I'm prickly about, it is the shameless self promotion. With the old eyeCONTACT blog I was constantly cleaning up advertising robots so he hit a nerve - and maybe I over reacted. Note though that Andrew's site is listed below, and that it is for good reason that I insist on conversation and ideas being linked to previous comments or the review. I want the comments to flow and be interesting. I wouldn't have minded if he had made some introductory pertinent point and then linked as a means of further elaboration.

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Andrew Paul Wood, 7:42 p.m. 4 September, 2011

Tsk tsk John, this is the internet. I'm not self-promoting, I am merely being efficient - but if you insist: I thought we should draw back from the whole "critic's job" thread (which is trite at best, as nothing will change David's opinions, short of a sledge hammer) and give the artist some respect by discussing the actual show - thus my contribution.

 In reply

John Hurrell, 11:14 p.m. 4 September, 2011

Andrew, this show is not the same as the one you discussed but I sincerely value your observations on those aspects the two have in common. It is just that with threads the chat between contributors is valuable for continuity. Now the later work I really would like to hear your opinion on - ie the male portraits. It seems so different to the 'dolly bird' stuff.

David Cauchi, 1:38 p.m. 5 September, 2011

Andrew: I was going to answer facetiously with a crack about the sledgehammer of this thread changing my opinion about being able to register a genuine plea from the heart without being drawn into a silly argument that detracts from talking about Yvonne's work (the plea being for critics to actually engage with that work!).

However, I find the statement 'which is trite at best, as nothing will change David's opinions, short of a sledge hammer' staggering.

Do you really thing the only thing that rescues a conversation from being trite is whether you persuade your interlocutor to change their opinion!?

Speaking personally, I'm bored with conversations that end up as trench warfare.

Conversations that are simply persuasion contests are dull, as dull as politics. I think the best conversation, of whatever kind, is one in which the subject is looked at from the widest range of viewpoints. Or, if you must look at it as people occupying positions, as in positions on a map, then one that covers the largest area of the map possible.

Not that it's anything to do with me. I'm not the one trying to encourage conversations.

Andrew Paul Wood, 10:34 p.m. 5 September, 2011

Well John, the male portraits suggest the sort of bad 1960s movie aesthetic I associate with Zardoz, One Million Years BC, and Planet of the Apes. Again we see Yvonne re-purposing the tropes of an under-appreciated genre usually written off as unsophisticated gauche kitsch.

David, the whole point of conversation is an attempt to persuade. Don't be such a humorless bore and get down off the pedestal. If you don't want to converse, then don't.

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