June 28 - July 25 1998
David Haines is an installation artist who has been practicing
for over ten years. Originally trained as a painter his work since
the mid eighties has focused on combining time based art forms such
as video, sound and computer animation with static objects and images
to create a vivid environment. Haines' work is founded on the written
word and finding alternatives for experimental prose in forms other
than the printed page. Medievalism-musical/non musical kingdoms
was a major video work of 1997 involving multi video monitors and
projections shown at Artspace, Sydney. For the collection of works
Avatar at the Physics room Haines has taken an assemblage
approach to present a series of works which are hallucinatory, intense
and playful, along with the text of some incongruous ideas.
Reviews, Essays & Articles
"If artists have generated a number of clichés about the body, in
light of popular theory, then this work is my take on the body art
from hell. I just had to do it... I had to respond to all that nasty
body art, with its often implied misery or lack. Most importantly
its been fun to take a crazy concept or two and throw them together
like a cooking experiment - Liebniezian Sex is a good example.
How is it possible to create a concept like Liebniezian Sex that
no one's ever heard of before? How can you think about this philosopher
of Monads, differential calculus and sex in the same breath? This
is when the artwork hopefully becomes a kind of miracle. What is
the sexual relationship between monads really like?"
For Haines, humour is a tool of disruption. His work bristles with
texts which can be read as either darkly medieval, ironically bogunesque,
or parodic of heightened literature. His play with language makes
speech and writing permeable membranes which envelop our everyday
lives, but are not impervious to buckles, folds, and punctures.
Haines makes his own language, replete with bizarre hybridisations
and deliberate misspellings. But these literary landscapes are not
just about de-contextualising the every day , they are also purely
poetic celebrations of magnificent words.
Haines has a grand passion for archaic and pompous lingo, and with
these tropes he explores the dark and primeval dimension of European
culture. Hienrick Loof, a name painted onto stretched canvas, becomes
an entity in his own right. Perched precariously over an open hatch
in the floor, this board could be an epitaph or a signpost in a
moth-eaten museum. Except that whatever is under the floorboards
is alive. Hienrick Loof is snoring, continuously. This obsession
with the nasal is taken to an extreme in the giant print of the
cross-section of a human skull, with the word ORIONSNOTLOCKER engraved
over the nasal cavity like a serious medical text. This is Hainespeak
in a world where the practical and the imaginary overlap, where
language is still improvisatory; in other words, a world without
cops where spellcheck has been universally de-installed.
Arguably, a series of orange paintings (New Dutch National)
takes a more oblique stab at the olfactory... the Dutch being renowned
as a nation of cheese-chewers, it¹s no wonder Loof's ORIONSNOTLOCKER
got blocked. Perhaps, like one of the Indian mystics that Haines'
title Avatar conjures up, Loof is engaged in a metaphysical slumber,
due to awaken at any moment in any form? Or perhaps, as his Germanic
sounding moniker suggests, he is a part of that more recent and
dark European history, and he is avoiding persecution in the relative
safety of his bunker? Perhaps, it being daytime when he sleeps,
Loof is that most European of phantasms, a vampire?
Whatever the exegesis behind Loof's retreat, the fact remains that
he has succumbed to that most basic of animal needs - sleep. Haines
is indeed lampooning 'body art' by presenting us with the least
abject and most every day aspect of 'living in a body.' Not only
that, but Loof's grunts persist in interrupting the viewer in his/her
attempt to make a 'serious' reading of the works in Avatar. The
very act of gallery-going is reduced to a palpably humdrum chore.
If Loof can¹t even stay awake for the duration of the show, why
Ironically, while Loof is caught on the nod, Haines' variations
of a theme in rockin' baroque give us relief from mandatory minimalism
and the plainly unfunny, which is more than enough reason to stay
Invisable presence taunts
The Press, 1998
July 15, p. 18
Avatar, by David Haines and Thin Connections, by Kevin Sheehan