Ian Strange updates Gordon Matta-Clark for a new time and context

“Untitled House 2” by Ian Strange

Ian Strange aka Kid Zoom‘s latest work is FINAL ACT, a project somewhat similar to last summer’s very surprising and impressive SUBURBAN. The results of the project are on display now at the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, New Zealand. As you can see in the photos and video in this post, the work involved artfully deconstructing four homes in Christchurch. The process was heavily documented in video and still photography, as were the results of the deconstruction. Really, the final artworks in this project are the photographs and films (and some sculptures that come from the process of cutting up the homes), and that’s what is on display now at the Canterbury Museum. It’s all a part of the Rise Festival that’s going on there now, and Ian’s response to the earthquake that shook Christchurch in 2011.

Photo by Jedda Andrews

If I remember correctly, Ian and I discussed the work of Gordon Matta-Clark when he first showed me some previews of SUBURBAN. SUBURBAN seemed to me like a uniquely Kid Zoom project, but also clearly influenced by Matta-Clark. And there’s nothing wrong with influence, especially if you bring a fresh perspective. I feel that Ian’s work does that. Because he incorporates these intricate photography, videography and lighting setups (as well as paint in the case of SUBURBAN), there’s something different going on than what Matta-Clark was doing. And Ian has grappled with ideas of suburbia in his work for years before FINAL ACT or SUBURBAN, and he’s also acutely aware of the power of documentation. So the work has a different impetuous and a different meaning from Matta-Clark.

“Untitled House 3” by Ian Strange

Still, when I saw the photos of FINAL ACT, I could not help but say to myself, “Wow. I can’t believe Ian’s just taken a quintessentially Matta-Clark visual and thrown in some fancy lighting, and then done some quintessentially Matta-Clark sculptures.” I suppose I could have brushed this off, except that nowhere in any official descriptions of FINAL ACT could I find a reference to Matta-Clark. It’s not like there was no explanation of the project. There was a written press release, and a sort of making-of video has been released in addition to the 12-minute video art piece and the still photos. Why, in none of that supplementary material, would such an essential reference point be neglected? It would be like this Sherrie Levine piece being described or displayed without any reference to Duchamp. That neglect rubbed me the wrong way.

Photo by Jedda Andrews

In the Juxtapoz-friendly art world (or maybe just among PR people), I’ve found that it’s just not usually considered cool to acknowledge an artist’s influences or references unless they are somehow subversive or could be a way of getting more press attention (ps: that’s not a dig against Juxtapoz, just a way of describing a very large scene). I’m guilty of falling into similar traps sometimes too. There’s a lack of critical exploration of the artwork that blogs like Vandalog cover, and examples like this going unacknowledged only continue that pattern. And it’s even worse that museums perpetuate the same issues when education is one of their traditional responsibilities.

“Untitled House 1” by Ian Strange

But maybe I’m just a pretentious “high brow weiner” (sic). So before ripping into FINAL ACT, I decided to reach out to Ian and ask for a comment on the similarity to Matta-Clark. Here’s his response:

Matta-Clark is a huge influence on my work – Also artists like John Divola, who’s work documenting suburbia and his vandalism series using aerosol, also his recent dark star series.

In Final Act, the initial idea was to use light if it was paint – Allowing the negative space of the cuts to be filled with light and in a sense be an extension of the painted gestures and markings from Suburban.

The house cut works in the exhibition have a strong reference to Matta-Clark’s work. But in this this body of work they were also a way for me to physically archive the Christchurch homes in their museum. The homes I worked on will be demolished, along with the entire neighborhood they are in, that neighborhood is part of over 16,000 homes which will be eventually demolished. I was interested in the works being artifacts which will remain long after the homes are gone – Ultimately I would have loved to move an entire house into the museum, which wasn’t possible.

That’s a well-considered and enlightening comment in what was almost an immediate reply to my email, so it couldn’t have taken too long to write up. And Ian has mentioned Matta-Clark in interviews before, so it’s not like he’s been trying to hide anything. Why couldn’t something like that have made it into a press release or some wall text in the museum (and if someone has been in the museum and they do have some wall text like this, please let me know, but it seems unlikely to me given the text I’ve seen about this project)?

Photo by Jedda Andrews

While I still thing the similarities to Matta-Clark’s work are a bit much in FINAL ACT (less-so in SUBURBAN), I appreciate that Ian is trying to do is a bit different. While I suppose he would argue that it’s more than this, I see FINAL ACT as a modern update on a classic, and there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as we acknowledge it.

Photo by Jedda Andrews

Photos by Ian Strange and Jedda Andrews

Melbourne Monthly Madness – July 2013 (belated)

Apologies for the delay posting this. I have had to hold off posting it due to Illegal August.

HAHA - Photo by David Russell
HAHA – Photo by David Russell

Metro Gallery started off the month with the opening of their group show “Writing on the Wall” with works from local and international artists such as Swoon, Rone, Matt Adnate, HAHA, Word to Mother, E.L.K, Dabs Myla and D*Face and more. Some shots from the opening below and more here.

Rone - Photo by David Russell
Rone – Photo by David Russell
Word to Mother - Photo by David Russell
Word to Mother – Photo by David Russell

The day after the opening Metro hosted more live painting, this month featuring work by Unwell Bunny, Two One and again E.L.K. More shots here.

Unwell Bunny - Photo by David Russell
Unwell Bunny – Photo by David Russell
Two One - Photo by David Russell
Two One – Photo by David Russell
E.L.K - Photo by David Russell
E.L.K – Photo by David Russell

Chaotic Gallery’s 1st show BRUISER by Creature Creature was a cracker. A massive turnout for the Southside’s newest gallery. The works were amazing; a combination of the two artists styles which mesh so well together, featuring influences from the samurai era throughout. Check out some of my favourite pieces below and more here.  Also check out some of their recent paste ups, which I also love, here.

Creature Creature - Photo by David Russell
Creature Creature – Photo by David Russell
Creature Creature - Photo by David Russell
Creature Creature – Photo by David Russell
Creature Creature - Photo by David Russell
Creature Creature – Photo by David Russell

Continue reading “Melbourne Monthly Madness – July 2013 (belated)”

Ian Strange [KID ZOOM] – Suburban – National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) – Melbourne


Ian Strange [aka KID ZOOM] has been releasing snippets and teasers for his upcoming show Suburban for some time now. I have been following it closely on his blog but I had no idea that it was going to be exhibited here in Melbourne at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV).

From the NGV website:

Ian Strange: Suburban is a multifaceted photography, film and installation exhibition created by New York-based Australian artist Ian Strange. Since 2011 Strange has worked with a film crew and volunteers in Ohio, Detroit, Alabama, New Jersey, New York and New Hampshire to create, photograph and film seven site specific interventions incorporating suburban homes. The recording of these interventions through film and photographic documentation forms the basis of this new and groundbreaking exhibition.


Ian Strange: SUBURBAN from Ian Strange [KID ZOOM] on Vimeo.

This exhibition looks like it’s going to be something really different, I can’t wait until it opens. Held at Melbourne’s NGV, a proud supporter of Melbourne and Australian street art and graffiti, it’s exciting to see Ian’s show running alongside the likes of classical artists like Monet.

Ian will also be doing a talk “Talking Strange” on the 1st of August, details here.

All photos courtesy of Ian Strange

Sunday link-o-rama

L'Atlas, Mecro and more in Paris
L’Atlas, Mecro and more in Paris

Wait! The weekend isn’t over yet. Enjoy a bit of light reading and cool photos before the work week returns:

Photo by Laser Burners

Weekend link-o-rama

Tellas and Ciredz
Tellas and Ciredz

Looks like the art world has gotten back on track after the holiday season. Lots of links this week.

Photo by Tellas

Sunday link-o-rama

NEKST. Photo by C-Monster
NEKST. Photo by C-Monster.net

So much news this week, but first and foremost is the untimely death of NEKST, a globally respected writer.

Photo by C-Monster.net

Arrested Motion curates: City of Fire

The team at Arrested Motion have curated their second show, and it is set to open in LA next month. City of Fire opens June 5th at Stephen Webster. The show includes work by Ron English, Kid Zoom, Pedro Matos, Nick Walker, Rostarr, Jeff Soto, Judith Supine, TrustoCorp and others. For more info about the show, email exhibitions [at] arrestedmotion (dot) com.

Photo courtesy of Arrested Motion

“The New Blood” curated by Morgan Spurlock

Morgan's Last Supper by Ron English

I love the idea behind The New Blood, a show that Morgan Spurlock (of Supersize Me) has curated at Thinkspace Gallery: He asked established artists to each select one up-and-coming artist whose work they want highlight, with both artists having work in the show. Here’s what Spurlock has to say about the show:

I’m a massive art collector who, by way of my habit formed a relationship with Thinkspace’s Andrew Hosner, and when he offered me the opportunity to curate a show I jumped at the chance. The concept of the show is how the torch is passed from one artist to the next. One opens the door so another can follow. And this show is all about artists who I think have and are continuing to impact and change the art world, and each one of these artists is bringing along an ‘apprentice’ or ‘protege’ who they think we all need to know about, the artists they believe are the ‘New Blood’ of the art world.

The line-up looks really exciting…

Camille Rose Garcia / Travis Lampe
The Date Farmers / Albert Reyes
Dzine / Jesus Bubu Negron
Elizabeth McGrath / Morgan Slade
Gary Baseman / Jesse Dickenson
Gary Taxali / Adrian Forrow
Jonathan Yeo / Charlie Gouldsborough
Mark Jenkins / Sandra Fernandez
Nicola Verlato / Marco Mazzoni
Ron English / Kid Zoom
Saber / ZES
Shepard Fairey / Nicholas Bowers
Tim Biskup / Patrick Hruby

The New Blood opens at Thinkspace Gallery on April 28th and runs through May 19th.

Image courtesy of Thinkspace Gallery

Kid Zoom returns to thoughts of needing to escape

A screenshot from "Home"

Ian Strange aka Kid Zoom‘s installation, Home, at last year’s Outpost Festival in Sydney was, from what I heard, the highlight of the festival. We covered Home last year, but now the video aspect of that installation is available online. It boils down to 5 minutes of explosions and destruction of property, which is always fun to watch. Strange explains the installation as “a work reflecting on my origins in the Australian suburbs I felt that I needed to escape when I was younger,” so I’m thinking of the video as a high-definition expression of teen angst and the dream of running completely wild in the boring suburbs. Anyone have other thoughts? Here’s the video:

‘HOME’ an exhibition by Ian ‘Kid Zoom’ Strange from KID ZOOM [Ian Strange] on Vimeo.