Jacqueline Millner made a valiant attempt to launch her book Conceptual Beauty Perspectives on Australian Contemporary Art at CCAS last night. Unfortunately, however, the speeches … opening shows by Robyn Backen, The Twilight Girls and Tracey Meziane Benson … quickly degenerated into a debacle of epic proportions. Firstly The Twilight Girls painted the walls of middlespace deep sea grey and with minimal lighting the speeches were effectively delivered in the dark … or in the extremely modest light provided by a clip on book light. If the opening ceremony were an obstacle course then this was certainly the case. CCAS Director David Broker struggled to introduce the artists (and Jacqueline) not only in pitch blackness but in a time defined to the last second by the performative element of Robyn Backen’s project in which a few moments either way might spell disaster.
No sooner had Jacqueline reached the lectern than phones began to ring, and not I might add, only the phones that had been set to ring in an spectacular display of mass rudeness. So rude in fact that the speeches were curtailed at 19.02 precisely. An earnest effort not to launch Conceptual Beauty in a comedic atmosphere lay in tatters. The audience of course found the great speech debacle extremely amusing and many commented later that these were the best speeches they had ever heard in a gallery – kind of a back handed compliment since it could not be said that either Broker or Millner had actually given speeches. Notwithstanding these 5 minutes of sharp focused humiliation it was a memorable “performance” that ultimately generated a jolly atmosphere and consequently book sales went through the roof. Published by Sydney CAOs buddies Artspace, Conceptual Beauty which includes chapters on Robyn Backen and The Twilight Girls is available at CCAS for $25. Its the least we can do really. Connecting You, The Dead Sea and Placemaps at CCAS Gorman House until 14 August.