Artist Talk Sunday 15th November 2015
Erin McCuskey Filmmaker - Yum Studio - Madame Yum
This talk is dedicated to those around the world who have experienced violence. Be it from war, terrorism, racism, misogyny... we have so many names for it. Violence comes from the desire for power, and from fear of the different. There has never been a more important time to talk about art.
Luxville is my rosebud.
Rosebud. Citizen Kane. Orson Welles. 1941. I studied Citizen Kane in my first year of film studies at uni. I’m guessing all film students did and possibly still do!
It’s very rare for me today to extol the story of a white male, however at that time I was early in my feminist journey. Orson stuck with me.
Orson’s Citizen Kane is the story of a man who is driven to build his dream of running a newspaper, to share news and information with the people. He is slowly corrupted by a desire for power, and riches.
He dies alone, without love, his final words ‘Rosebud’ recall a childhood memory of freedom and his potential. His rosebud was a sleigh that is found amongst his vast wealth and treasures, after his death. Rosebud is thrown out, burnt as rubbish.
What happened to Kane? What happened to his youthful notions of love, liberty and creativity? How did he delude himself into believing the individual pursuit of vast wealth was a good thing? You really will have to watch the film!
Welles was given creative license by the studio to produce, co-author, direct and star in, and have final cut on Citizen Kane. His first feature film. Amazing!
The film was a critical success but not a financial one, which eventually led to Welles losing his creative license slowly and eventually being sacked by the studio.
Before film he had been in theatre, who can forget his famous radio broadcast about the Martians landing which created such panic for listeners. What a stunt, inconceivable now.
Welles spent the rest of his career trying to raise funds for film projects. He wasn’t bitter (much), and continued to make films until his death. He said ‘A writer needs a pen, a painter needs a brush, but a filmmaker needs an army.’
Luxville is my rosebud. By that I mean I want to not have to recall my dreams on my deathbed but play them out now. The things that are important to me. By means that are important to me. For many years I’ve banged on about overdevelopment in Ballarat East. I’ve been on my feminist podium for human rights.
I’ve marched for education and for women’s right to walk alone without fear. Hell I’ve even done my best to reclaim the apron as a symbol of practical fabulous fashion. And I have used my art and artistry to tell important stories.
Orson is right though. Filmmakers need others to help create their vision. While it’s not quite an army I need, I do need a few very fabulous women. The muses.
Muse – goddess of inspiration (from the Latin inspirare, meaning "to breathe into")
Luxville features 10 muse. The Muse of mythology are numbered at 9. Personification of knowledge and the arts. A triple tyiad, symbolizing poetry, writing, history, tragedy, drama, singing, dance, comedy, science and astrology. The tenth muse was later attributed to Sappho. Muse - The embodiment of knowledge and the arts.
Museums were shrines to the muses. Worshipped, adored, sought. Muse is often defined as being inspiration for an artist.
Muse – to think deeply, often over a long period of time.
Artists think deeply, playing out creative endeavor over many years honing their craft, exploring their ideas, testing concepts. Taking a lifetime to produce work that seems ‘easy’. Artists are our thought leaders. Artists who create work that is challenging, that makes us question our identity, makes us change our minds. Art helps is to see it’s better for opinions to be written in soap than in stone.
So who better for me to have as muses than artists. The Luxville 5 exhibition during the Biennale featured a performer, a painter, musician, photographer and a filmmaker. Luxville Delusion features a dancer, writer, designer, creator and mother.
These ten muses also feature in the two episodes of Luxville thus far.
What is our view of the world? Of ourselves? How do we challenge our current notions of identity? How do we transform?
“Trust the Artists Mother as I have done” Apologies to Dora Meeson Coates who designed the Women's Suffrage Banner 1908. “Trust the women mother as I have done.’
Luxville is my Rosebud.
Back to Orson who said “I passionately hate the idea of being with it, I think an artist always has to be out of step with his time.”
Forgiving him ‘just a little’ his male privilege in that statement, Luxville is the core of myself out of step with the times. Through Luxville I want us as a city to be better. To want more. Not more individual wealth, not more desire for power. To be more!
Without difference, without diversity this city is a derivative. Paul Keating recently said Nothing great has ever been derivative. If we want to be more we need to embrace our artists, our stories (the not so good ones as well).
Luxville is about looking to different times. A time when self-improvement was key to be better versions of ourselves. Let us transform ourselves by looking to our artists, our creatives, our storytellers to lead us to muse to mull.
The story of Luxville has been playing out in public, has been impacted on how audiences have reacted, has been emboldened by contributions to Luxville Tales, has made me face the fear of being less than perfect.
Luxville is a long form art work in a time when short form art works predominate. Scarey shit for a control freak like me. Thank you for being brave enough to come along despite not really knowing what you were in for.
Luxville Delusion is about the exploration of the work it takes to make something look easy. The three channel work shows muses during preparations. Luxville Prologue playing here sets the scene for a fabled story of how the arts and artists come together to take leadership of a city once famed for its uniqueness, its difference, now a derivative where individual wealth is lauded.
Luxville Episode One shows muse Sophia Livitansis becoming Miss Nellie while the story shares her tragedy.
Luxville Photoplay was a film shoot of a scene from episode two that alludes to how Miss Nellie might react to her circumstances of being an artist in a city that pats artists on the head.
So what is to become of Luxville? Join us Nov 26th for a live storytelling event, then gather for the finale Feb 14th 2016 where the full story will be revealed… somehow, before Luxville spreads insidiously to Melbourne for installation and screening.
Thanks to Shelley & PO Gallery for their support during a difficult time. Thank you to Kat & Nadia who picked up the readings last week, to Amy for being a muse close to my heart, to Linda who will ask you a few questions one on one. Thanks to beautiful Mick for recording this and making me pizza! Thank you to all the people who donated funds and who bought works from Luxville to support this process. Thanks to Waller and Chester for their beautiful printing. And thank you so much to my muses, long may you reign.
As Queen Mary says even a cat can look at the queen, thank you for being my queens.
Thanks for listening. Luxville will return in 2016.