Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Monday, 25 February 2002
The Race to Create: Shire of Nillumbik Ephemeral Sculpture
February 23 to March 4, 2002
Tony Beilby's perspex box is at Dynamic Vegies shops 2 &
3, cnr Beard St & Main Rd Eltham Open Mon-Fri. 8.30am-6pm, Sat 8am-2pm
Writer: Kate Herbert
If you are confused about the term ephemeral art, you are
not alone. Ephemeral art has a limited shelf life and artist Tony Beilby takes
this idea literally.
On February 23 a big, fat porker of a sausage in a plastic
package with a use-by date of March 4, was placed in a small, sleek airtight
perspex box, 25 centimetres square at Dynamic Vegies store in Eltham.
It is part of "The Race to Create", an Ephemeral
Sculpture show mounted by the Shire of Nillumbik.
The criteria for the exhibition were, " To create, on
the 23rd February, a three dimensional sculpture which can exist and survive in
the environment for 10 days."
This work is more eccentric because Beilby is not in the
country. Although from Melbourne, he directs it by remote from Berlin where he
Shop owners, Greg Martin and Sam Staley provided the location. Beilby's brother
placed the sausage into the cube and delivered it. Everybody became a
"The box arrived on Saturday.Six minutes later I got a call from Berlin from Tony
checking whether it was there," says shop co-owner, Greg Martin.
There was one last minute problem. The original cheese
sausages were accidentally eaten before installation. Oops. The new, very meaty
snag has a further irony in an organic vegie shop.
Beilby jokingly describes the work as "a
A vital component is interaction with the viewer. Visitors
to the shop are invited to write responses, thoughts, and criticisms on the
perspex with black or white marker pens provided.
Greg Martin observes, "Some just look. Others boldly
grab the pen and write on it."
"I am hoping", says Beilby, "that the
comments made will slowly obscure the original object......As the number of
comments and critiques grow, the artwork will become obscured and, at this
stage, the comments themselves will form the artwork."
Voila! You become part of the artwork.
On day three, a flock of people fluttered around it. Written
comments were funny, poetic, rude or gently critical.
'Poor sausage.' 'Silly sausage.' 'Art lives but does the
sausage?' 'Is this Art?' and my favourite, 'Curly penis', a rather accurate
reference to the shape of the big curled banger.
Beilby calls the piece a 'ready-made', referring to the term
coined by French artist, Marcel Duchamp early this century. The object already exists and is used for
another purpose in an artwork.
Duchamp said it was possible to declare something an artwork
even if the artist was in another country and had not seen it.Curator, Chris Marks and organiser Sonia Turnbull, said Beilby's absence would be no
"I often use the external constraints of a festival as
the starting point for an art work", Beilby says.
"One piece which hung in the Berlin Underground wasn't
allowed to stick out more than 2.5 cm from the surface. Here I covered the
entire 4X2meter surface with about 90,000 strips of typewriter ribbon, all cut
to 2.5cm lengths."
Sixteen artists are represented in parks and public
locations around the shire. Stephanie Mew's, outside Eltham Library, is a pile of books that were to be
people are walking by and discovering the work and getting involved and
wondering what's going on," says Chris Marks.