You’ll never work in this town again
Li-Ming Jimi Hendrix,
12th - 21st February, 2016
But what is this “town” but a fantasy world of strange looking characters with similar hopes and dreams. Some call it the “art world” with that slow ominous tone that conjures up some magical but crooked place, which just happens to share the same physical location as Auckland, New Zealand. The physical location doesn’t even matter really – geography becomes irrelevant because it only exists in the minds of the characters within it! How’s that for a plot twist! Who are these characters? (The artists, the writers, the musicians, the poets, the dancers, the ‘creative practitioners’, the galleries, the artist-run-initiated-project-spaces, the art schools, the high schools, the primary schools with their over-inflated “Art Cups” - have all of these characters just been drinking from a water source that was contaminated by a 1:1 mixture of toxic narcissism and insecurity?
I think that exaggerating the myth of these relatively recognisable artists to such an extent – (running ‘auditions’ for what could be a blockbuster bio-pic about the people involved in Gambia Castle and their eventual rise to fame) does two things:
1. It inflates their public personas to such a ridiculous extent that they burst and we
realise that the myth we had constructed about them is not realistic, and
2. It exposes the dormant hero-worship that we didn’t even know was affecting the
way we see ourselves and our own ambitions.
All this makes light of the performative aspect of being an artist and making art – Andy Warhol was mainly a convincing artwork about celebrity – Paul McCarthy only captured Willem De Kooning when he wielded a comically oversized paintbrush. I don’t think of this work as parody, I think of it as fictional role-play. The links between desiring and being are a major concern of Li-Ming’s work, and the masks provide a quick and dirty – yet surprisingly effective – means of self-transformation.
'Casting Call' not only brings the desired others closer to home (previous works have featured appearances by Rod Stewart, Vito Acconci, Whitney Houston, and Martin Kippenberger), but also extends the opportunity of becoming someone else to the audience. But with opportunity comes risk, and maybe what we're being offered is the chance to enact success, and then to fail, gloriously, together.