RE enact/DIS enchant

Opus #1, Wangatta Exhibitions Gallery, Victoria
Opus #2, Benalla Art Gallery, Victoria
Opus #3, Storey Hall, RMIT, Melbourne, Victoria

by Robert Nelson

the following is written in reference to the poems included elsewhere on this site:

1. Sanguis et Cruor - Blood and Guts
2. Religio Artis - The Religion of Art

These Alexandrines were written upon far ranging discussion with Lyn Plummer à propos the current exhibition. Her themes are so poetically consonant with those which I had always wanted to express and her sculptural idiom so ambitious that no merely expository text seemed to be indicated. The moment compelled another type of text, which was encouraged by the ambitious postmodernity of the sculpture, with its powerful co-opting of western traditions, its ironic relish in ornamental hierarchies and its incredibly labour-intensive beauty in the layering of detail. Today, we do not believe that critical texts should pretend to objectivity. While the desire for objectivity may be laudable, the claim to present its achievement is duplicitous. The cultural assumptions of the author must be acknowledged and deconstructed. Could there ever be a more logical deconstructive method than poetry? Objectivity remains central to the historical disciplines; but it is a blind guide in the more clairvoyant netherworld of criticism. As an art-historian, I must use the poetry of Petrach or Racine to document sentiments felt in the past; as a critic, I must write the poetry myself to understand and elaborate the feelings that we have today. In these couplets, I try to project insight through the installation. It is a collaborative project, though I cannot claim to have inspired Lyn in the way that she has called forth these verses. Her project was prior; mine is an adjunct: but both drink from the same chalice. Although Lyn's work is unfilled by mine while my work had no vessel but her sculpture, our collaboration produces something further which belonged to neither on its own. This 'something further', I submit' is the eternal quest of poetry, art and music.
Robert Nelson c 1994

Dr Robert Nelson © 1994
Art Critic and writer
He lectures in art theory and history at
Monash University, Caulfeild Melbourne.
He is also a practising artist