Dear Miss April,
I almost crashed the Cayenne the other day. I was careening down Victoria Parade with the kids Ipading in the back and nilly had a conniption.
Theres a huge pile of Lavender steel holding up a gold George Jensen neck brace, two cartoon gunners in Lavender and a flock of olympic or gay coloured ufos. Really I dont care just choose youre side ladies, Putin/ Hair you choose. I found out later they were coolie hats. I had Jacinta google it on her Iphone5. The city of Yarra web site is very proud of these shallow cultural strereotypes. I pride my self on only being shallow for myself. I find it horrid in others.
OMG, its OMG awful. You seem to be able to explain public art. You cleared up the swarofski thing at the cultural centre. I was excited by the bling power but you are right it was a bit not shiny enough for any of us. Can you tell me that this thing is? Its like a vomit meets a car crash meets a thai restaurant interior. Can you tell me why its there? Can you tell me why it cost $3million [ jacnitas iphone, I was driving] and the electric cables are still showing. I have nice looking electrician if they need one.
Oh and whats with the tigers, this things not even in richmond, well one is, but really?
Hope you can help, i hate googling , it hurts the nails.
Dear Wendy Ngo
How delightful you (and your little brood) sound. I am so very honoured to be the recipient of your lyrical prose worthy to be presented as a gift to the gods, most assuredly. I have sashayed down Victoria Street many a time during the past annus mirabilis under my parasol, waving to the opium traders, stepping over the tracksuit wearers, admiring the beards imbibing in the open-windowed bars, and satisfying my delicate lady appetite with fragrant banquets of 6-8 mouth-watering dishes. I must admit I have been so confounded by the Leviathan and its many hats and accompaniments that they don’t seem to register in my long-term memory. Accordingly, I am as equally perplexed with every venture to the precinct of which I am so fond. Your correspondence therefore has provided me an opportunity of reflection and repose. I must know myself as I relate to the discombobulation that is known to be The Victoria Street Gateway Project.
My first revelation Mrs Ngo is that you are quite mistaken to view it as public art, as much as one assumes that giant sculptural and pictorial representations placed on public land is often assumed to be such. I also made a similar misassumption , and was at first keenly eager to discover who was behind this Avant Garde artist collaborative calling themselves ‘The Three Tiers of Government’ who had worked so closely with the other band of creative bohemians the ‘Richmond Asian Business Association’ and ‘Community’. Oh, my heart was all a flutter at the thought of discovering the identities of these foreword thinkers, cultural philosophers, and creative chieftans. Alas, I was shocked to discover that they were quite literally their namesakes and no professional artists were involved in this process at all. Ah, now that makes a tad more sense. Now that we gaze upon the Gateway with this tidbit, of course, NO ARTIST INVOLVEMENT AT ALL, and…the penny drops.
For what need do we have for the mind of the artiste when we have a successful architectural firm capable of designing award-winning buildings? The true creative here my demure Wendy is in fact Gregory Burgess Architects, who has proven themselves to be extraordinarily talented designers of celebrated buildings. Herein lies the quandary – their most literal approach, which must have served them well for architecture, does not perform well in translating culture into inspiring art. In fact, nowhere does The Victoria Street Gateway Project ever refer to itself as public art. So it appears it is suffering from a terrible crisis of identity. It is a construction, a gaumless literal creature.
You see, the gateway represents a boat (well, you know Vietnamese refugees, boat people arrivals, you know..). Then of course, we have traditional Vietnamese hats represented by, well.. big hats…suspended above. We are also presented with a light box panel of green bars (bamboo) with two “welcoming” tigers. Now this is a departure, as there are very few to no tigers left in Vietnam, so what is the deeper meaning here? Conservation? Species extinction? Oh, wait, football – oh how I laugh, so quaint. Thank goodness it only cost 2 million. Discretely I wonder on the ‘inclusive’ properties of declaring one’s sports tribe on a broad community gateway, but who am I to question such things, as the representative of the Richmond Asian Business Association declares: “Everyone has to support Richmond. If you support Collingwood that’s a different story. People boo us.” Ahh, welcome brothers and sisters, see how we represent you so. Halt Wendy, do not complain, for God help us they will probably stick a Magpie up there as recompense and that would just be too much to bear.
Then we also have aluminium panels fixed to the railway abutment walls, get this, you’ll never see this coming – another boat ! Plus, a traditional Vietnamese drum. Golly, I haven’t seen such dedication to literalism since Marcel Marceau. I am only surprised they restrained themselves from buying massive amounts of take-away rice paper rolls and just nailing them directly to the wall. Or perhaps suspended neon spring rolls could be a later addition, and let’s go crazy by putting up some sticks to represent chopsticks.
Do not misunderstand me, I celebrate the oeuvre of literal interpretation, some of my best friends are Westboro Baptists, and of course, I am a fervent practitioner of Literal Interpretative Dance, a most powerfully creative physical expression of the musical lyric.
Sunshine = widespread fingers, both hands move outward from a centre point.
Rain = wiggle fingers while moving hands from a raised position to a lower position in front of body.
Happy = beaming smile with open hands framing the chin, keep fingers wide.
Do not avow my dry descriptions here best exemplified by interpretive dance extraordinaire Johann Lippowitz.
But I digress.
The Victoria Street Gateway Project is a noble goal conducted with honourable intention (I assume). It is most definitely public, but sadly does not reach it’s potential as art. Do not lament though Mrs Ngo, we must all learn that potential is often nary fulfilled, and tragically beautiful opportunities can be lost forever such as a drop falls into the tranquil stream of lament. However, the three tiers and business posse are sure to be happy, and the gapeseeds will no doubt reinforce their predetermined vision. There is naught to be done. Acceptance can be a powerful mindset.
Do take care of those darling children,