Real Estate: Mini Graff / Jason Wing — 19 March to 9 April 2011
19 March to 9 April 2011
Mini Graff and Jason Wing engage with the politics of space and access, vision and corruption. Their installations and artwork register the dysfunctional beat and improvisational aesthetic of the street, a dynamic rhythm that pits creativity against the corporate state (and corporatised local government) and its relentless obliteration of memory and difference. They evidence the transformation of the urban landscape as public land becomes more valuable, stands out more and more and is more contested. Many forces are at work, but from Kings Cross via Barangaroo and Redfern to Blacktown and beyond the ideals of civic space and civil society are up for grabs.
Their installations and artwork uniquely register the differences and potential play-offs between public address, gallery codes and the hand-to-hand spirit of social aesthetics and the enthusiasms of zine, stencil and community screenprint land. In Real Estate Mini Graff and Jason Wing chart gentrification, public space make-overs for real estate brochures (Fitzroy Gardens in Kings Cross), public lands (the Block, privatising housing estates) and landfall itself (the global refugee crisis in Mini Graff’s series Country Shoppers).
In the ‘box gallery’ window of Cross Art Projects, Jason Wing’s blow-up photograph Sign of the Times depicts a floating island streetscape of road signage, surveillance cameras and real estate signs crowding like flies around a map of NSW ‘For Sale’ mounted on an island base in the shape of NSW — the proverbial ship of fools. The abstracted signs suggest not the syncopated modernist city grid but an immense framework of double standards. Sign of the Times reprises a commanding installation for Djon Mundine’s exhibition Ngadhu Ngulili Ngeaninyagu Premier State (Campbelltown Art Centre, 2008) held during the period of the ICAC ‘cash for development’ inquiry into corrupt development approvals, bribes and undeclared gifts at Wollongong City Council. Inside the gallery, Jason Wing’s work Going, going, gone marks the electoral backlash of the 2011 State Election taking place over the exhibition period. The melancholic installation Elders, a unique site-specific stencil in ochre pigment, signifies some of the overarching social justice issues at stake when peoples’ rights are denied and land becomes ‘real estate’.
Mini Graff’s Suburban Roadhouse series protests against Big Money and council’s continuous and insidious ways of vetoing art in our streets, nooks and crannies. She parodies and challenges the might of the advertising industry and the brand names and branding that invades and claims public spaces, including streetscapes, parks and schools, to plant the banners of consumerism and commercial spin. While corporations gloat, artists are forced into humiliations of form filling and attending to overseers of ‘official’ artworks, a censorship not tolerated by any other professional group. Mini Graff champions the paste-up brush of street art as an act of daily civil libertarian heroism.
Jason Wing, Sign of the Times, 2011. Llankelly lane window
Jason Wing, Elders, 2011. Stencil and pigment; Going, going, gone, 2011, found sign. Photo by Adam Hollingworth
Jason Wing, Elders, 2011. Stencil and pigment. Photo by Adam Hollingworth
Jason Wing, Elders, 2011. Detail. Photo by Adam Hollingworth
Jason Wing, Old Sols, 2011. Sticker. Photo by Adam Hollingworth
Jason Wing, Broken Bones, Broken Homes, 2011
Mini Graff, Country Shoppers, 2011. Silkscreen, edition 100. Installation view. Photo by Adam Hollingworth
Mini Graff, Country Shoppers, 2011. Silkscreen, 5 in series
Mini Graff, Fitzroy Gardens, The Heart of The Cross, 2011. Silkscreen postcards
About the Artists
Mini Graff stencils and paints onto walls, boards, nooks and crannies images relating to the local environment and community. Her urban transformations propose a flourishing urbanism nurtured by street art’s iconoclastic complexities. Mini Graff’s work featured in Space Invaders, National Gallery of Australia (2010) and, parallel to her free-ranging persona, she teaches and takes on public and private commissions for councils, Carriageworks and Contempo at Art Gallery of NSW amongst others.
Jason Wing recycles public or commercial signs, mining a tradition of ready found objects re-contextualised that began with Duchamp. However Wing’s reconstructed signs are painted with personal iconography where the rich traditions of his Aboriginal and Chinese heritages often fuse into a harmonious new entity, spirit being or symbol. His palette is typically red, yellow, black and white in homage to customary colours; his Chinese paper-cut style stencils reference the masters of Aboriginal rock painting. Wing’s visual prompts, seen in bravura shows at Blacktown Art Gallery and Gallery 4A, offer a bold conceptualisation of a possible future.
Mini Graff and Jason Wing have collaborated on a silkscreen street work, Refuge Island, 2011.
Download Further Reading: Mini Graff Interview by Jaklyn Babington
Podcast: Jaklyn Babington interviews Mini Graff and Jason Wing, 9 March 2011:
About Fitzroy Gardens — The Heart of The Cross
‘Fitzroy Gardens are at the very highest level of architectural heritage significance. In the 1960s and 1970s in Sydney only Ilmar Berzins was working on such a scale with a sophisticated approach to modern art and design. Berzins’s Fitzroy Gardens and Bob Woodward’s El Alamein Fountain go together — to think of the fountain without the gardens is like considering Elizabeth Bay House without its harbour setting and garden. Berzins hallmarks include plants that are spectacular in terms of foliage and used purely as architectural forms.’ Quote from Allan Correy, biographer of Ilmar Berzins (in the Oxford Companion to Australian Gardens). The Gardens are now under threat of a proposed demolish and redesign by City of Sydney Council.
About Llankelly Lane and Llankelly Artworks
In 2000-2003 architect Peter McGregor re-designed Llankelly and Springfield Mall for then South Sydney Council. His lightwork and pavements have become quiet local place markers and a senstive evocation of a European style landway for pedestrians.
In November 2010, the Art Deco Cahors Building where the gallery is situated erected a ‘temporary’ hoarding outside the gallery’s main viewing window, also an important source of light. Despite representations, Council was content a hoarding can be used primarily as a private garage for a contractor working on the building. The ‘temporary hoarding’ remained in situ for 8 months. (Removed on 23 June 2011.) The Cross Art Projects proposed artworks by Mini Graff and Jason Wing to animate the obstruction.
Despite approval from Cahors and Council’s public art officer, council planners asked for a Development Application (and a fee). The artwork was to be refused as the artwork was deemed ‘advertising’: Mini Graff uses logos for critique. People could misconstrue Mini Graff’s posters to ‘obey’ as ‘ebay’ or ‘grab’ as NAB (an Australian bank). An Environmental Impact Statement and DA were submitted.
By this time the artworks were in situ. A private carpark in a public lane is OK; art might upset corporations. The artist used words and manipulated logos; this was ‘advertising’, not critical contemporary art. Art does not matter, nor the reputation and livlihoods of artists.
Llankelly laneway temporary hoarding, 2011
Mini Graff, Grab. Detail. Photo by Adam Hollingworth
Mini Graff, Grab, 2011. Temporary hording obstructing gallery, week 21. Photo by Adam Hollingworth
Jason Wing, Reflection in Llankelly Lane. Photo by Adam Hollingworth
Mini Graff, Grab, 2011.
Jason Wing, Llankelly Lane artwork, 2011. Detail