Josh Lord: “Newspeak and Thoughtcrimes” opening

Ministry of Art, 238 St Kilda Road, St Kilda, Victoria

Featuring performances by Kollaps, and Ollie Olsen and Ash Wednesday
Saturday, October 15 2016

Artists? We all know what artists are. They’re radical Bohemians, taking every substance they can get their paws on in order to expand their minds and piss on our poor struggling everyday existence down here in the food chain. An artist is always admired by the academics and art critics; artists are a combination of a mystic yogi and impenetrable mage: if we can’t comprehend what they’re on about, we must be ignorant. It’s a bit like one of those dominance cycles, really.

Disagree..? Why do you think those Pro Hart cleaning commercials were so successful – the humour of this poor Mediterranean cleaning woman diligently working to remove the ungodly mess on the genius’ carpet … she is us, really, writ large enough so we’re not threatened. But hush, notice …the artist is still a demigod…

Josh Lord worked his arse off last year to produce the work on display here: his work is painstaking, careful in its casual carcrashiness, firm in its beliefs. The shadows draw us to the placement of the images, make us aware of a fragility in our everyday. That said, the baldly stated opinions are not intended to convince us; there are many opinions on display here which I disagree with: ‘That’s good!’, Josh smiles. ‘The work is there to provoke a reaction.’

We sit down and order. I’m starving and hoe into the brekkers while Josh, who has presumably nibbled a morsel of toast at 7am along with a black coffee (bloody Bohos), opts for water.

The conversation is wide-ranging and would make a rather entertaining short film. Perhaps the conclusion might be;

“When there are no check and balances to the advancement of the business-is-all, ‘greed is good’ crowd, then greed is an ideal in itself, encouraging a disregard of responsibility because personal accountability is lost, because ‘personal accountability’ is now just a buzzphrase. As a consequence, we lose what communities we did have, and we become isolated individuals twitting away, thinking we’re part of something when really … well, have you ever seen a really huge shoal of fish moving, shifting direction..? Yeah.”

See, Josh himself is a challenge: most artists go with the flow and have their openings on a night early in the week so there’s nothing much to clash with except cooking or talent shows. Josh picked a Saturday night. And he has musicians – ugh – yukky scabrous musicians – playing in the gallery because he knows the history of symbiosis between music and visual arts goes back a damn long way.

Fascinated with the effects and repercussions of some of the techniques used by the pop-art mob half a century ago, the super-real forcing us to re-examine the usual images, Josh also uses a technique which sounds a bit like a Pixies’ LP title: “Trompe L’oeil”, which basically means that the flat image on the canvas looks three-dimensional when you look at it. Josh has been working up the technique for about 14 years or so. It’s a natural thing for him, of course: see the peeling, torn posters flapping on walls, revealing other layers hidden beneath… Josh brings a fresh perspective to an area many thought long-dead and irrelevant.”

And it’s incredibly effective. You walk into “Newspeak and Thoughtcrimes” and your first thought is that all these artworks are just collages. Look, some of them are peeling off the canvas, they’ll flap in the breeze… no, they’re not. Josh has portrayed the shadows perfectly. That masking tape holding that cut-out photocopy of our little doomed planet … that’s expertly applied paint. And that’s not a photocopy, but … paint again.