Friday, June 05, 2009

Like sand through an hourglass

Last December on his blog Pointless and Absurd, David Cauchi announced “I've decided to stir things up next year. I will tell all once it's a done deal.” The deal, it turned out, was to leave his job and spend a year doing a graduate diploma in art at Massey University. Over the past few months visitors to Pointless and Absurd have had the intriguing and unusual experience of stepping inside an art school and seeing it operate through the experience of one student. Not that David Cauchi is what you’d call an average student. With an extensive exhibition history and a signature style well in place, he’s what used to be known (and possibly still is) by the age label: mature student.

And Cauchi, as you might guess from his blog title, is not exactly putty waiting to be moulded. A couple of days in and his antennae are already twitching, “… the tutor for my tutorial today seemed very suspicious of me, and my motivation. This may well be my paranoia, but I did get that impression.” A couple of months later in April he nails his flag to the mast in an essay on Roland Barthes. “For art to be free, we must wage a revolutionary guerrilla war by subverting and disrupting the structures of our roles until they no longer play the same tyrannical functions within the system.” Cauchi backs up his attitude when he gets to the first formal assessment of his studio work. When it's suggested he drops using words in his paintings for a while he muses, “I am after all morally obliged to do the opposite of what my assessor suggests, so I'll do a purely text-based work first.” It’s game on, and by the end of May he's being called “…manipulative (for the third or fourth time) and irritating.” Later his tutor tells him he is “not 'a real painter'.” Cauchi’s response? “Excellent.”

Irritating he may be, but we're hooked. Who’ll win one of his paintings in his next raffle? Will he change to fit the system? Will he … pass? Few blogs are this entertaining or revealing. Short of a reality TV show on art schools, Pointless and Absurd is a highly entertaining insight into art ed, its pressures and its bureaucracy (“Whoever took this chair from an artist’s studio space PUT IT BACK AND DON’T TAKE IT AGAIN!”).
Image: The Pointless and Absurd masthead