Comfort grunge

Despite appearances, grunge is deeply optimistic; it knows that the sacred and the profane cohabit (what a relief) and that if there’s enlightenment to be found in this world, it’ll be found at the bottom of a pizza box.

Woodstock cans were the currency of choice at teenage paddock parties. As funny and cringe-inducing are Stuart Ringholt’s crushed alcho-cans, Aerosol Woodstock, aerosol Heineken, 2009. With their drinking end replaced by a spray nozzle, these cans are some of my favourite works by Ringholt for both their succinctness and absurdity—the fuel and the medium of vandalism is one and the same. Delinquency one stop shop. The heavy-handedness consumer goods often bring to the art party is shirked off by the agility of Ringholt’s economic material poetry.

Hany Armanious’s Pizza box, 1989, records the ruminations of someone, probably the eater of the pizza (was this a shared or a solo meal?), in red texta punctuated by cheesy oil spots. The photographic print, edition of a trillion trillion, is the map of a mind gone off-road. The nonsensical notes are names, places, dates or addresses, references to the Bible and an Australian media mogul, the Star of David and a swastika. ‘Stolen ritual’ is underlined and given a tick. Inebriation and enlightenment aren’t such strangers and this is transcendence any cheap way you can get it. Does that make art, religion and a high the holy trinity? Whether the diner was stoner or shaman makes no difference because we’re used to joining the dots or allowing them to go unjoined. The scribblings finish with ‘you understood’, and yes I do, I really get you right now.

Drunk vs. stoned XIII, Neon Parc, Melbourne, 9 February – 9 March 2013.

Stuart Ringholt, ‘Aerosol Heineken, aerosol Woodstock’, 2009, aluminum, plastic, each 15 x 8 x 8 cm

Hany Armanious, ‘Pizza box’, 1989, inkjet print on paper, edn of a trillion trillion, 50 × 50.5 cm