David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

10 August 2017

Cooeeeee! Capital and the Call of the Avant-Garde

“Into Production!”: The Socialist Objects of Russian Constructivism

Christina Kiaer

In the first issue of the Russian avant-garde journal Lef, in 1923, the Constructivist theorist Osip Brik wrote a brief article with the title “Into Production!”. Taking Aleksandr Rodchenko as his example, he opens: “Rodchenko was an abstract artist. He has become a constructivist and a production artist. Not just in name, but in practice.” He continues: “Rodchenko knows that you won’t do anything by sitting in your own studio, that you must go into real work, carry your own organizational talent where it is needed – into production.”[1] Brik was one of a group of theoretically-informed, Marxist critics and writers within the Moscow Institute of Artistic Culture (or INKhUK) who began promoting the so-called “Productivist” platform of Constructivism in the fall of 1921. Some of the most prominent Constructivist artists, such as Vladimir Tatlin, Karl Ioganson, Varvara Stepanova, Liubov Popova, and of course Rodchenko, attempted in various and significantly different ways to enter into Soviet mass production after the Russian Revolution. Yet if the debates leading to the formulation of Constructivism and Productivism in 1921 had emphasized “laboratory work,” industrial technology and engineering, a great deal of Productivist work ended up being less about technology and the factory, and more about the invention and theorization of new kinds of useful material objects that would transform everyday life under socialism. In this essay, I consider these artists’ different models of “production art,” and suggest that the Productivist idea of the “socialist object,” in particular, might still be relevant to radical cultural production today.

(full article here)

This "Into Production!" came to mind yesterday, watching TV of the CEO of the CBA, Ian Narev, defending himself and his bank against allegations of turning a blind eye to the facilitation of money laundering via the CBA direct deposit ATMs. 

Theatre of the Actors of Regard  
Ian Narev (r) in front of the CBA (Commonwealth Bank of Australia / Constructivism's Bastard Art) expanded Logo field.

The TAR CBA mise en scène above is lineage product(ion) progeny, surely, of Picasso (Cubism), Malevich (Supremetism), Rodchenko (Constructivism), Mondrian and Van Doesburg 
(de Stijl) ... through to 'Pure' Corporation Art. All grist to the mill of mis|appropriat|ion bottom-line Capital|ismus.

click image to enlarge  
Featured on the cataLOGOS/HA HA cover of Sotheby's RUSSIAN PICTURES November 2016 auction, Alexander Rodchenko’s Construction No.95 (1919) sold for a record £3.6m with fees, eclipsing its previous auction record of £420,000.

We remember when the new CBA logo by Ken Cato was announced and was much discussed. The 2012 article extract below is from Desktop :

Described as “bold, strong, modern and progressive” in a bank press release, the Commonwealth Bank’s current logo was introduced when the bank enlisted its new identity in September 1991. According to the bank, the design is based on the formation of the Southern Cross constellation with the yellow section linking the five stars of the Southern Cross, and the black portion completing the geometrical shape. Yet, Ken Cato, the designer appointed in 1989 to create this new corporate identity, disagrees: “It doesn’t mean the Southern Cross; it means the Commonwealth Bank,” he says. “We needed a shape that could still include the colours yellow and black (as this distinguished us from all of the other banks’ colours) and it had to be a memorable shape in contrast to the bank’s competition and a diamond seemed like a good idea, plus it breaks up the black and yellow colours,” Cato adds.

According to the Commonwealth Bank, the current logo shape is               based on the Southern Cross constellation
*see also : Warwick Thornton's film 'We Don't Need A Map' (Ed.)

1989 (current) logo by Ken Cato
The story behind the development of the trademark’s single, extended character, double M typeface is also surprising. “It simply came down to having very uncomfortable words placed together,” says Cato. “It was a very long word followed up by a descriptor word like ‘bank’ and I needed to make the word ‘Commonwealth’ as short as I could. There was also a picket fence in the word where the double ‘M’ forms an awkward arch, so these were the decisions behind the joining of the letters and the legibility was not lost – only a designer would pick it up.”
While the Commonwealth Bank declined to comment on the controversial price of the revamp, Cato says he has to smile when people bring up the so-called $11 million redesign budget. “In today’s world, that figure is considerably small when it comes to the branding of big corporations, which have to replace all of their building signage and stationery – it’s almost laughable as it was done incredibly cheaply.”
aside : Ian Narev's current wage package is around $10million/year. Yesterday, the CBA announced it's annual financial result, a profit of around $10billion. Dating from 2012, there are an alleged 54,000 CBA breaches of Australia's money-laundering laws for which the CBA faces a potential $1trillion in fines. Previously, the CBA overcharged its customers by more than $100million and... and... Banks Inquiry, anyone?

Man and His SymbolsKarl Jung, 1964

On the weekend, we read with interest Rex Butler's consideration in Memo Review of the current Heide MoMA exhibition Call of the Avant-Garde: Constructivism and Australian Art.

... It is not that it is art-historically calculating in any sense, or even somehow self-prophesying, but rather that the real interest it possesses is to serve as evidence of a particular time and place. It serves as the marker of a "scene" – Brisbane in the early 1980s, Melbourne throughout the rest of that decade and into the '90s – and the same could be said of the artists who followed him also in the show: Stephen Bram, Bronwyn Clark-Coolee, Melinda Harper, Kerrie Poliness and Gary Wilson. There's virtually nothing to look at in their work, almost nothing of visual interest, except for the fact that it points to a certain kind of artistic activity.
In other words, the principal – if not only – significance of the work is socio-historical, or in more up to date language relational. The work – unlike the original Russian Constructivism – does not point somewhere else but only tautologically to itself and its own existence.
So that in many ways the show is not any kind of exploration of what happened to Constructivism when it arrived in Australia, but merely demonstrates the fact that there were artists here who made work in its name. The result is not any kind of art history but more a social history. Or that, at least, is how it appears once the 1970s begins.
- the extract above is from :

Heide Museum of Modern Art    
 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
 someone looks at something...