The urgency of failure and all the projects that never came off






This current iteration of deborahostrow.blogspot.com.au showcases a selection of works in support of a collaborative project between Jan Bryant, and myself titled, "The urgency of failure and all the projects that never came off." Our aim is to produce a creative work that arises conceptually from my artwork and Bryant's writing, which will present a conceptual synthesis between artist and writer that avoids conventional, interpretive models. 

The project is a humorous look at the various reasons for many of
my projects remaining speculative: sometimes the reason will be political, sometimes timing, sometimes the project's energy dissipates, but other projects have been sabotaged (by myself and others). Regardless of these "failures", there is still a process of development that includes works that were actualised as well as projects that were never produced. 



Ostrow transcends the Beuysean (avante-gardist) conceit of bringing art and life together, to become not a self-conscious act, but an intuitive and constant re-conceptualising of the world cast through art-making methods. JB

Bryant has submitted 2 URL's, I have submitted 1 URL with a single YouTube link to a short film that's part of this blog. The Film is a nonlinear (one act) screenplay that takes direction from my real-time lived experience undertaking a PhD awash in madness, deviation, the conspicuous appropriation of universal media and ideas already floating around.

https://youtu.be/hdZF4ORKAsw   








Example 1

"The urgency of failure and all the projects that never came off"

The first pivotal example was "In Bagdad dreaming of Cairo, in Cairo dreaming of Bagdad." Jullaladin Rumi (13th Cent Persian Mystic poet) was a performance scheduled for the P.s.1 MOMA International Studio 
"Gala Exhibition", New York 1998-99, a really big deal because the studio artists had been chosen by a distinguished panel of artists, critics, and curators, from more than 3000 applicants around from
the world.

Needless to say, Ps.1 was overwhelming, 
New York unnerving, and world politics volatile. As the Australian representative at Ps.1, I was invited with other Australians by the Australian High Commission to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra playing at Carnegie Hall, and the after party. After a few too many anxiety-driven drinks I approached Richard Butler, then Head of the Weapons Inspection Team in Iraq and Executive Chairman of the United Nations Special Commission, 
mistaking him for the Australia Council for the Arts rep, an easy mistake as he was an Australian, and he was from a Commission. When Butler handed me his UN card, the fool was unfurled. Of course, I inappropriately telephoned The United Nations the following day and spoke to the gracious-with-his-time Butler. I proposed he act as my artwork by performing a poetry reading at a podium set up on grand steps of Ps.1 for the gala international studio exhibition. I followed up with letters and verbally, remarkably, secured his participation.



Dear Richard, 

Here is a selection of Rumi (a poet revered by Butler) we spoke of. They come from “The Essential Rumi”, translations by Coleman Barks with John Moyne, and “The Rumi Collection” translations by C.B among others, edited by Kabir Helminski. I wanted a selection that touched on the mystical without being elusive; that spoke of ecstatic love, without only referencing Shams and Muhammad; that mentioned the East, without being too apparent “In Baghdad, Dreaming of Cairo: In Cairo Dreaming of Baghdad."

P.S.1 Contemporary Art Centre. 22-25 Jackson Ave at 46th Ave. Long Island City New York 11101



Aust newspaper Satire


Richard Butler is a man often linked with initials or acronyms. He’s executive chairman of UNSCOM which until recently was on the tail of Saddam Hussein’s efforts to build up a secret cache of WMDs (Weapons of Mass destruction). But Butler is really a SNAG (Sensitive New Age Guy). He will read a selection of poetry by the 13th-Century mystic Persian poet Jalaluddin Rumi this weekend at Ps.1 Contemporary Art Centre’s International Studio Exhibition in a performance designed by compatriot artist Deborah Ostrow. “Potentially charged with political meaning.” The press release says, “Ostrow’s performance combines Butler's role as a public figure representative of the West and the rational world with the writing of Rumi connected to the great Eastern religions. 



Stuart Koop, The Importance of Failing. 
Broadsheet 32 No 2.

The pair were linked by a common though dissimilar experience of Baghdad, a point emphasised by her choice of poem. Indeed, that Butler was to recite an ode to Baghdad so soon after its bombardment by the USA [and in which he may have unwittingly played a role] is quite incredible.
 
Between Butler's agreement to read and the actual recitation, a series of calamitous events unfolded ... And so Butler rang Ostrow the day before the Ps.1 opening and withdrew from the event. 
So, in this confabulation of political and cultural contexts, Ostrow's proposal did indeed bring things to a brink, precipitating an extraordinary possibility, held in store at this key moment in the recent past, which still resounds, and still amazes me. Using a poem, she held apart the massive pincers of history, for just a few seconds more, before they closed; no mean feat. Though Butler never read the poem, he was going to, and he did refuse. Ostrow's failure, Butler's knockback, is then, contra posito, a subtle indictment of international diplomacy and national interests, just as the actual reading would have measured some degree of resolution.  
... These ripples in the real world are the best measure of efficacy in art, since it's only at the moment we relinquish the notion of art that we see its consequence in the world beyond. And which is why, in failing as artists, we sometimes succeed. Butler could as well have agreed to read – and then not read – from another of Rumi's poems, this one called Desire and the "Importance of Failure." 




Example 2

A fight or flight madness saw the artist (myself) try to stage her (my) own rescue, a dramatic exit from the scene of my so-called failure by helicopter from the roof of Ps.1's Manhattan Clocktower gallery during the 2nd ISE exhibitions. 

First came the rejection letters, the anti-hovering restrictions, the lack of finances, the anxiety, and so was born, "Search and Rescue Mission". A 
crazy NY artist, living in an old Synagogue, owned a run-down 1960's chopper for hire. From above Manhattan, I filmed my stand-in on the Clocktower rooftop frantically waving at the chopper. After several unsuccessful attempts, it left. When looped, the chopper repeated the failure over & over again.





Police Department letter


Script & images. Dialogue with Butler. 
Ostrow's older works in the left-hand column. 
Butler at the UN. Police letter






Film Stills 



Perspecta 99 ‘Living Here Now-Art & Politics’, 
ACP ‘Perfect Strangers’, CCP and CCASA

Installation shot entire room CCP



S&R Postcard sent as an introduction 
to New York galleries


Example 3


The printed invitation below, printed and sent by an anonymous saboteur to friends in Australia (while I was at Ps.1), brought a barrage of frantic telephone calls about my impending exhibition at Marianne Boetsky Gallery, New York. 

A work presented itself. I tried to flush out the saboteur by taking their title "Fly Girls" as my own for the second escape from New York work.




Anonymously printed & sent 
Fly Girl invitation 



Entire wall/room screening CCP



Installation shot Fly Girl William Mora Gallery



Installation shot & 1 of 6 large photographic collages 
from S&R film William Mora Gallery




Fly Girl 1 hr photo collage selection
No.1

No.2

No.3

No.4

No.5



Example 4

Waiting for OMD-Operation MUMA


Waiting for OM (Operation MUMA): after American Operation Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, Viking Hammer, Together Forward, Phantom Thunder, Lightning Hammer I & II, Operation Neptune Spear etc.

"Waiting for OM" seized upon the climate of fear post 9/11 and successful bombings in USA, London, Israel, Indonesia, Madrid, London, Glasgow, Norway, Russia, Pakistan, India, Iraq, China, Nigeria, France, Turkey, Afghanistan, Kenya, Turkey, Germany, Spain, Australia etc., and my failed missions.



Action 1

Meeting scheduled with then Director of MUMA, Max Delaney. Interest in proposition shown from behind an imposing desk in a well-appointed office. 


The Proposal


An anonymous call is made to an Australian Bomb Disposal Unit (BDU) to investigate a strategically positioned (the doctoral candidate's) unattended briefcase 1. leaning against the newly architecturally, reconstructed all-glass-fronted Monash Museum of Modern Art (MUMA).


Bomb Disposal Robot (BDR) is dispatched to MUMA (contact was made with Police and Army prior to the meeting). The area is cordoned off and the robot maneuvers towards an unattended, strategically positioned briefcase leaning against the glass-fronted museum. Information gathering warrants the briefcase be detonated.



The briefcase is blown-up 1. The University loudspeaker announces, “The Eagle has landed. That's one small step for (a) man (artist), one giant leap for mankind (art world)2. Another doctoral candidate’s artwork realized. 

Delaney suggests after some intelligence intelligent maneuvering (much like a BDR), that he'll be in touch, Translation: The project is dumped 3. - think Sophie Calle's, "Take care of Yourself". In retrospect, I presume it might have been because of unavoidable legal costs, the obvious considerable costs, probable curatorial presentiment, lack of art world suitability, and more likely art world disinterest.


1. In December 1966, New York Times published a review by Bosley Crowther on Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up (1966). Crowther wrote, this is a fascinating picture, which has something real to say about the matter of personal involvement and emotional commitment in a jazzed-up, media-hooked-in world so cluttered with synthetic stimulations that natural feelings are overwhelmed ... there are the usual Antonioni passages of seemingly endless wanderings.
2. Neil Armstrong, American test pilot, astronaut, & commander of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission 1969 first words. 

3. DUMPED. Sophie Calle, France's best-known living conceptual artist’s work Take care of yourself, was a response to her boyfriend electronically dumping her. She distributed the missive to 107 women professionals, invited them to analyse it according to their job. Grammar and syntax were torn apart by a copy editor, lines pored over by Talmudic scholars and re-ordered by a crossword-setter, evaluated by a judge, shot up by a markswoman, second-guessed by a chess player and performed by actress Jeanne Moreau etc. A forensic psychiatrist decided he was a "twisted manipulator". Shown at the French pavilion Venice Biennale etc. 


Possible Sequel



"Monash Girl Suicide Bomber Interrupted: Girl Interrupted" after the American psychological drama film, Susanna Kaysen's memoir which the film was based on, and Vermeer's Girl Interrupted at her music. The performance would see a Suicide Bomber,(myself as Doctoral Candidate) strapped with explosives, interrupted, and arrested




Darkgovernment news: Iraqi Girl 
suicide Bomber Interrupted

Daily Telegraph Terrorism Loose Wire Saved...



Bomb Disposal Robot


BRD


Bomb/War/Army refs. 
Anchor Women/Political Correspondent




Bombs of War in my exhibition:
Anchor Women/Political Correspondent



War…what is it good for…absolutely…nothing, say it again..
Juliana Engberg(Senior Director ACCA - Australian Centre for Contemporary Art)
There is something grotesque about Ostrow’s sampling and collage of images from the war in Iraq. But then there is something grotesque about the war in Iraq, full stop. In fact war is grotesque, fracturing and dismembering, and sadly, perpetual…it seems.
... It is a complicated strategy that Ostrow pursues. It combines reality with fantasy, nostalgia for the better days of political activism with the worst of current times. It is a strategy that might potentially detonate in the artist’s own hand and collapse like the stuff on the rubble pile she uses as an exhibition prop. Or it may just be the necessary, tasteless rupture needed to break through the media rhetoric and fashion hype to activate the image as ‘something’ to grapple with.



Concrete army helicopter helmet suspended sculptures
Anchor Women/Political Correspondent


Previous fight or flight refs eg. Health, Safety & Security could not grant permission for the artist/me to break into Bld. B 6th fl. (to enter my studio/office) from the outside-in - filmed from a window platform. 


Similar to Bld. B on campus


Unmade bulldozer series


Samuel Beckett crawling with artist/myself up a mound of dirt, collaged with myself driving a real-life-machine.

Based on a secretly taken photograph of Beckett
choreographing alone onstage 
& Ostrow crawling around Uni corridor


Ostrow driving Around the World News 
(in a real tractor) 
collaged into Around the World News 




Newspaper image of the bulldozer that ran over 
young woman protestor, collaged with Teller's 
photo of a supermodel naked on a fur coat, 
on autumn leaves







Art Auction, 
Video 2003 
Made during the CCP fundraising Auction as it was underway as I submitted no work to be hung. The video was sold straight out of the camera after it had shot the last bid to buy.

CCP fundraiser






Pathology Appropriated: An ongoing series of performative video projects and postcard series


Contemporary art as a site characterised by generalised anxiety disorders, depression, melancholia, maladaptive behaviors, transference and "the appropriation of ideas already floating around" (Enwezor 2008)




1. Pathology Appropriated: A drama about a young American woman crushed by an Israeli bulldozer is sure too cause local controversy, writes Sian Powell.
2. Pathology Appropriated: Assia Wevill was young, beautiful and after meeting and falling in love with Ted Hughes, doomed, write Yehuda Koren and Eilat Negeve in a new book on the poet and the woman for whom he left Sylvia Plath
3. Pathology Appropriated: I'm sorry if I depressed you. The critics are cheering his witty new film, but a super-serious Woody Allan assure Suzi Hansen that he is through being funny
4. Pathology Appropriated: Dancers meteoric rise tragically cut short in Sydney Road accident

Limited Edition Postcards
A4 Art November 2009 West Space








Proposal Nazi Gas Van 

1. Reconstruct a 3D printer mode from blueprints or

2. Fit-out an old truck


Letter


II D 3 a (9) NI. 214/42 G.RS.

Berlin, 5 June 1942 
Only copy.

Top Secret!


I. Note :

Conc.: Technical adjustments to special vans 

Service and to those who are in production


Since December 1941, ninety-seven thousand has been processed, using three vans, without any defects. The explosion that we know took place at Kulmhof. The cause can be attributed to improper operation. In order to avoid such incidents, special instructions have been addressed to the services concerned. Safety has been a very important factor.


Previous experience has shown that the following adjustments would be useful:


1.) In order to facilitate the rapid distribution of CO, as well as to avoid a buildup of pressure, two slots, ten by one centimeters, will be bored at the top of the rear wall.


2.) The normal capacity of the vans is 10 to 10 sq. Ft.] . Saurer vans is Not so great. The problem is not one of overloading but of off-road maneuverability on all terrains, which is severely diminished in this van. It seems to me that this is the case. This can be done by shortening the compartment by about one meter. The problem can not be solved by merely reducing the number of subjects, as has been done so far. For this reason it is necessary to use the COD. On the contrary, were the cargo area was smaller, but fully occupied, the operation would take less time, because there would be no empty space.

3.) The pipe that connects the exhaust to the van tends to rust because it is eaten away from the inside by liquids that flow into it. To avoid this. The liquid will thus be prevented from flowing into [the pipe].


4.) To facilitate the cleaning of the vehicle. It will be closed by a watertight cover of about twenty centimeters in diameter, fitted with an elbow siphon that will allow for the drainage of thin liquids. The upper part of the elbow pipe will be fitted with a sieve to avoid obstruction. Thicker dirt can be through the drainage hole. The floor of the vehicle can be tipped slightly. In this way all the liquids can be made to flow.


5.) The observation windows that have been installed. Considerable time will be saved in the production of the new vans by avoiding the difficult fitting of the window and its airtight lock.


6.) Greater protection is needed for the lighting system. The grille should cover the lamps high enough to make it impossible to break the bulb. It has been a long time since we have had a lot of trouble. Experience shows, however, when the back door is closed and it gets dark inside, the load Pushes hard against the door. The reason for this is when it becomes dark inside the load. This hampers the locking of the door. It has been a long time since the end of the year. It is therefore expedient to keep the lights on. Lighting is also useful in the interior of the interior.


7.) To facilitate the rapid unloading of the vehicles, a removable grid is placed on the floor. It will slide on rollers on a U-shaped rail. It will be removed and put in position by means of a small winch placed under the vehicle. The firm charged with the alterations has stated that it is not possible for the moment, due to a lack of staff and materials. Another firm will have to be found.


The technical changes planned for the vehicles already in operation. The alterations in the ten Saurer vehicles already ordered as far as possible. The manufacturer made it clear in a meeting that structural alterations, with the exception of minor ones. An attempt is made on the other hand. One of these ten vehicles, the alterations and adjustments. I suggest that the firm of Hohenmaut be charged with the execution.


Due to the circumstances, we have a long-term relationship. It does not matter if it is not. Once it has been tested, the other vans will be withdrawn from service and will undergo the same alterations.


II. To Group Leader II D 

SS Obersturmbannf├╝hrer Rauff 
for examination and decision.