Every Artist Remembered with Ron Robertson-Swann

Agatha Gothe-Snape, Every Artist Remembered with Ron Robertson-Swann, 2009-2011, Every Artist Remembered, posca pen on arches paper, 180.00 x 140.00 cm, TCG96
private collection, Melbourne

Performance Friday 18 November, 2011 at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne as part of the exhibition Power to the People, curated by Hannah Matthews.

Artist's notes:

Being the last artist to work with, there has been much anticipation about Ron’s arrival. He is dressed immaculately and brings his partner Ayako with him. He is dubious of the exercise and contemporary art at large, but is generous enough to carry out the task for which I am grateful. He cajoles the audience for participation, and some reluctantly yield. He is disappointed there is not more antagonism towards him as he critiques the current trends in cultural production, citing Emmanuel Kant, whose name is included. Ken Done’s name is written on the wall rather than the paper at his request. I often look to him for approval after I say a name and feel I am unconsciously making concessions and compromises in the work. I am tired and can feel the momentum of the project at large coming to and end. I allow myself (perhaps, now, regrettably) to surrender to whatever Ron brings to the task.

Throughout the exercise Ron often comments the work is nothing more than a parlor game. In some ways I guess this is true; it is a procedural exercise with slippery rules and demands good faith from both participating parties to function successfully. The works ‘meaning’ has the capacity to dissolve like sand before our eyes if the tacit agreement between the artists is broken.

Despite the precariousness of Ron’s participation, I hope the meaning resides on a scale that neither Ron nor I can identify as we are carrying out the task. Such a scale would take into account our distinct and shared histories as artists, the accumulated work as a whole, its context at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in a show about conceptualism in 2011, the audiences various experiences and this writing about the project that is happening now. Although the work seems to give primacy to the participating artists’ experiences – especially in the moment of its doing – it is only through the amalgamation of these aforementioned elements that the work begins to resonate deeply.

Ron primarily recalls New York Colourfield artists and Sydney- or Melbourne-based sculptors. He comments that I keep blocking him, like an American footballer, from really going somewhere. He talks a lot about Anthony Caro.

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