Expanded Painting, The Spatialisation of Painting and the Proper Name of Installation Art



Expanded Painting, The Spatialisation of Painting and the Proper Name of Installation Art
When | Friday 23 November, 1pm
Location | Artspace, Level 2, Seminar Room



Expanded Painting and Installation Art are inextricably linked. Installation Art like postmodernism has become an almost outré term, since it has retired into the background of contemporary art discussion. This has happened because installation is taken for granted as the standard mode of exhibition for the majority of contemporary artists. Such a moment of unthinking about Installation Art makes this the perfect time to start thinking about it, its history, its etymology, the practices against which and towards which it aligns itself.

This symposium will debate the relevance of a term such as 'Expanded Painting', as well as 'Installation Art' and make some findings in relation to contemporary practice and discourse regarding work that seems to elude aesthetic boundaries.

Convened by Mark Titmarsh and Artspace.

1.00 - 1.15
Executive Director, Artspace Visual Arts Centre


1.15 - 1.45

A visual argument that runs from Picasso’s cubist constructions through to Jim Lambie’s recent floorworks. An art theory argument charting paradigm shifts from cave painting , to church painting , to easel painting, to expanded painting. An ontological argument, claiming that in the age of disappearances, the thingliness of painting becomes a politics of presence, a politics of materials, a politics of colour.


Mark Titmarsh is a visual artist working in painting, video and writing. His current work executed under the rubric of 'conceptual painting' is painting about painting or painting that dissimulates into objects, videos and texts. He is currently a lecturer in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building, University of Technology, Sydney.


1.45 - 2.30
'What is happening, now, with painting?'


How does painting figure within the era of 'digital reproducibility'? What, now, is happening within painting? How is the event of painting, now, to be understood? Answering these question defines the project of criticism. The aim of this paper will be to make these questions more exact and thus sketch possible answers.


Andrew Benjamin is Professor of Critical Theory and Philosophical Aesthetics at Monash University. His most recent books include Disclosing Spaces, On Painting (Clinamen) and Style and Time (Northwestern University Press).


2.30 - 3.00


Beyond being the ‘art of setting’ or site specificity, installation has been distinguished by its engagement with the discourse of the readymade, the institutional context of art, and the de-skilling of the artist. Writing in 1993, Ted Colless for example observed that installation art ‘seems too simple’; it could amount to ‘random debris’ being exhibited. Installation, Colless proposed, ‘diverts us from the essential conditions of the arts it employs’. It is made up of components that are not all necessarily integrated into a ‘total work’, seeking to exceed the terms of its discrete components, while also falling short of the totality it invokes.


And it ultimately poses the question, ‘what is art?’ If we consider current Australian practice concerned with the intersection between spatiality and materiality, it is arguable that ‘installation’ no longer captures the sense of this work. This practice is not primarily engaging with institutional issues; it tends to have a highly finished aesthetic; and moreover, rather than ‘divert us from the essential conditions’ of the art it employs, it foregrounds its engagement with the conventional concerns of painting. Certain works by Beata Geyer, Nuha Saad and Mimi Tong et al throw up the need for an alternative to the term ‘installation’. Does ‘expanded painting’ fit the bill?


Dr Jacqueline Millner teaches art history and visual culture in the School of Humanities and Languages at the University of Western Sydney. She has published widely on Australian and international contemporary art in anthologies, journals, magazines and catalogues.


3 - 3.30


3.30 - 4.00
'Make a painting of frequency'


Perhaps the idea of 'expanded painting/practice' is an aspect of a living-state. I wonder whether a certain sensuality is at the heart of the matter; also, these practices are strict, having an internal gestural containment such as a (social) concern, a (performative) memory. To shift with painting, while painting, and also while not rejecting painting by being anti-painting is to drift; something turns into something else (abandonment is not the issue, freedom might be). Gaps and omissions arise and allow speaking and writing to come to the work. The 'expansion' does something at the border, stretches out the plane of thought, develops the viscosity of whatever the plane is, one time to another.


Dr Linda Marie Walker is Senior Lecturer in the Louis Laybourne Smith School of Architecture and Design, University of South Australia, where she teaches in theory and design studio. Her research interests include language-based writing and performative practices. She is published in literary, art, and academic journals and has recently curated a solo exhibition of new works/installation by Aldo Iacobelli at the Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide.


4.00 - 4.30


American Contemporary architect and theorist Peter Eisenmen speaks about art being a ‘Soft Architecture’ which can be used to develop designs for buildings as ‘many theorists and critics are now looking at architecture which reflects two cultural problems: one, an unregenerate internationalised formalism; and two, the proliferation of models outside of architecture’.1However through my research I contend that there doesn’t need to be a synthesis between art and architecture because theoretically and conceptually both can be approached with the same methodology, and what comes out is an evolving dialogue of research which can be positioned inside and outside visual art and architectural space and philosophies based on intuition and design.


Dr Kyle Jenkins is Head of Visual Art Department and Lecturer in Painting, Faculty of Art, University of Southern Queensland. He has exhibited regularly internationally and is a Director of S.N.O (Sydney Non-objective). His professional practice is multi-disciplinary, incorporating painting, installation, photography, film, drawing, architecture, sound and furniture design.


4.30 - 5.00


Naming is political, particularly when so explicitly imperial. The politics behind the notion of expanded painting perhaps concern a claim about the type of process at work in the creation of such works. On the one hand there is a humanism involved in naming such works as the outcome of the craft, if not handicraft, of painting. This would contrast with the more theatrical designing of installations. On the other hand, there is a posthumanism involved in foregrounding the materiality, and coloured materiality, of such works. This would contrast with the more semiotically conceptual nature of installations. In both cases, painting, particularly when claiming to be expanded, refuses, or is incapable of admitting, its public- ness, its sociality. Paradoxically if painting is expanded it contracts into ipseity, but one that is perhaps appropriate for a time of inoperative community (Jean-Luc Nancy).


Cameron Tonkinwise is Associate Professor Design and Sustainability at Parsons The New School for Design. Because he views art as a thing of the past, Cameron's research concerns philosophies of designing, with a focus on dematerialisation or the attempt to develop less materials intense societies.


5.00 - 5.30