In 2008 Australian artist Natascha Stellmach installed a joint in a commercial Berlin gallery, containing hash and the alleged ashes of Kurt Cobain. An international call was sent out – via press release – inviting six volunteers to join her in smoking the ashes of the dead rock star, in a private, undocumented ritual, to explore commemoration and attachment.
Stellmach held no interviews and instead her press release to 200 selected journalists ignited a media-hype that spread across 58 countries, creating furor, public outrage and admiration, especially online. Before the term Shitstorm was coined, websites, blogs and chat rooms erupted with the news and threats were sent.
“I hope you die of the worst kind of cancer after watching your entire family die in a car fire” by Eric from Canada, or “It would truly hurt me if you are doing this only for art and not for Kurt” by Sabrina from Germany are two of the hundreds of unsolicited comments sent to the artist.
If the smoking of the ashes was the final act – then Complete Burning Away, Stellmach’s dramatic exhibition is the epilogue. The project boldly interrogates the public ownership of celebrities and critiques the role of the artist, the media and contemporary art in society. More than that, this exhibition is a reflection on suicide and tragedy and the artist’s chosen means to pay her respects.
The site-specific installation at Latrobe University’s Visual Arts Centre, Bendigo includes six of the ten works in the project and takes the form of videos, painted walls and objects.
Natascha Stellmach, 2010 Overture, 1-channel split-screen video,Courtesy WAGNER+PARTNER, Berlin
VAC | LA TROBE UNIVERSITY BENDIGO, AUSTRALIA
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 14 – October 20, 2013
2 – 4pm
As part of BIFEM, the opening features an encore performance of Mauricio Carrasco
on electric guitar, performing Fausto Romitelli’s Trash TV Trance.