Anna Crews

Aiden Morse + Anna Crews, Quiet Enjoyment (2015) exhibition photos

9 March 2015

There’s a temptation to put Aiden Morse‘s name after, rather than before, Anna Crews‘ in the title of their latest Quiet Enjoyment (photos, top right) project for the sake of subverting male privilege. Except that that would kind of defeat the purpose of the pair’s practice, which is all about not so much playing with but essentially mimicking normative gender roles in an effort to expose them. Installed and then dismantled in their shared home in Melbourne’s Barkly Place the day before moving out back in January 29, the show is viewable only via its documentation of stove tops, plush toys and heartshaped sandwiches in a rather spartan though swish-looking studio apartment.

Aiden Morse + Anna Crews, Quiet Enjoyment (2015). Exhibition view. Courtesy of the artists.
Aiden Morse + Anna Crews, Quiet Enjoyment (2015). Exhibition view. Courtesy of the artists.

It follows on from their earlier joint exhibition En Suite, with its focus on the ‘his’ and ‘her’ bathrooms, and Morse’s solo show A Soft Opening, where Crews contributed a text simply called ‘Praise for Aiden Morse’ while contenting herself with her role as simply “Aiden’s Girlfriend Anna”.

Amusing in its banality, Quiet Enjoyment comes with a framed peach and white-coloured bathroom from the duo’s En Suite exhibition called ‘Mum and Dad’s En Suite’ (2014) and text by Crews called ‘Anna’s Book‘, that’s printed and presented in a neutral gray cloth cover and propped on a dark wood wall-fixed shelf with her signature vignettes-as-observations into a comfortable suburban upbringing.

“We’ve built a life together”, notes Crews as she contemplates whether or not she’d stay together with her boyfriend if she found out they were related, among stories about feeling left out at camp and her own inner “big debate” on whether she wanted “to date an artist or a debating boy” in Year 10. There are conciliatory letters from someone signed “Dad” and interchangeable fantasies over Aiden having an affair, or him finding Crews hanging dead from a bunting after getting back from overseas: “I got caught up in decorating or it was something more sinister”.

Aiden Morse + Anna Crews, Quiet Enjoyment (2015). Exhibition view. Courtesy of the artists.
Aiden Morse + Anna Crews, Quiet Enjoyment (2015). Exhibition view. Courtesy of the artists.

There’s a strong sense of boredom to Crews’ writing, as there is to the burnt saucepan viewed through a browser window and ‘Inadequate Door Snake’ (2015) of Quiet Enjoyment. Meanwhile, various small tokens of delight come in a ‘Happy Powerpoint’ (2015), a ‘Big Biscuit’ (2015) with a footprint in it and a photo of Morse’s ‘Farewell Party at Barkly Place’ (2015) pinned to a grey pinboard (“Make the house look like Pinterest”).

Ending the text of ‘Anna’s Book’ with an “Opinion Piece” in response to criticism often laid on the misleading nature of well-lit and thoughtfully angled online documentation of exhibitions, Crews writes, “install shots help me see the paintings when I am too scared to go to the opening”. But perhaps it’s the ‘Couples’ Myki’ travel cards and ‘Compromise Candle’ (2014) that are the real-life sources of fear and desperation. **

Exhibition photos, top right.

Aiden Morse and Anna Crews’ Quiet Enjoyment, was on at Melbourne’s Barkly Place, January 29, 2015.

Header image: Aiden’s ‘Farewell Party’ at Barkly Place (2015). Installation view. Courtesy the artists.

  share news item

A glimpse into 1000 Books by 1000 Poets

18 April 2014

Because I sometimes like to ignore my emails for days and allow my eyes to flit across them absorbing no word or meaning along its path, I started reading Anna Crews’s Magnum Ego in complete, rapturous ignorance. I was sitting in my friend Jana’s café watching her work in that sultry French way she does, both reticent and ardent, as she brought me my order: a coffee served in a soup bowl and a chocolate croissant. At the exact moment I scrolled from page 12 to 13 – wherein I found the line: “Imagine a very flaky croissant made out of dry skin.” – I was easing stray pastry skin into my mouth. It was magic.

Sometimes what appears magic to one does to no one else; each of our hearts churns in peculiar ways to rhythms of our own creation. Something happened to me reading the flimsy digital pages of Magnum Ego and when I had finished, I was certain of two things: I will never again look at a croissant the same way, and Anna Crews is a genius.

The book appears like a magic show: short, explosive, seemingly effortless. I read and re-read its entirety in 10 mesmerizing minutes punctuated only by sighs and stifled laughter. When I finished, I picked up the phone and called my editor. I raved. I recited lines. When I finally fell quiet again, my editor told me Crews was born in 1995 and then we both almost cried.

Photo by Aiden Morse. Image courtesy Anna Crews.
Photo by Aiden Morse. Image courtesy Anna Crews. 

Magnum Ego stands as one of 999 other books in the publishing blowout that is 1000 Books by 1000 Poets. Brought to fruition by the collaborative efforts of the LUMA Foundation and newishly launched 89plus, the two-month long series marks the beginning of a 3-year collaboration between the two foundations. Where the non-profit LUMA Foundation gives the mooring such a massive endeavor needs, 89plus acts the part of the rebellious teen: inspired, forward-thinking, ballsy. In fact, until the creation of 1000 Books, the 89plus project had spent the previous year solely in research, conducting workshops and panels across the world, accruing and distilling information by which to launch the series. Co-founded and co-curated by Simon Castets and Hans Ulrich Obrist, the multi-platform research project sets out to investigate the innovations of the post-1989ers, looking for the stylistic and conceptual patterns in which our culture is distilled. In its description on the 1000 Books page, 89plus says:

“Marked by several paradigm-shifting events, the year 1989 saw the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the introduction of the World Wide Web, and the orbit of the first Global Positioning System satellite. Positing a relationship between these world-changing events and creative production at large, 89plus introduces the work of some of this generation’s most inspiring protagonists.”

Culled from over 50 countries and six continents, the poets of the series belong to the first international attempt to study “global poetic production of an emerging generation”. Authors of not only their books but the visual presentation, each of the teen-dreamy poets has determined the content and length of their books. In Anne Crews’s Magnum Ego, the presentation is that of short, haiku-like observations interspersed with texts closer in quality to short stories than to traditional poetry. Others include abandoned medical texts, redacted sentences, poems that slip in incessant streams down the page like water. Some make up less than a thousand words when gleaned together from the disparate pages, others are thick and weighty, their concepts spanning hundreds of pages. All are fascinating. The profundity of banality, the collapse of syntax into the seemingly syntax-less world of the internet, the patchwork lifework of which the books are made: it is the poetry of the brave new world, made by those brave enough to see there is one. **

1000 Books by 1000 Poets is a publishing initiative launched in conjunction with the Poetry will be made by all! exhibition at Zurich’sLUMA/Westbau that ran January 30 to March 30, 2014.

  share news item

En Suite @ Fort Delta, Mar 20 – Apr 29

18 March 2014

Melbourne-based Tasmanian artist Aiden Morse and alt-lit writer Anna Crews are presenting their En Suite joint exhibition at Melbourne’s Fort Delta, opening March 20 and running to April 26.

A rather suggestive pairing comes in drawing a thematic line between En Suite and James TunksThe Sky’s No Longer The Limit also launching at the space on the same night.

Where Morse and Crews explore their “potential (and terrifying) future as a couple” through the “choreographed domesticity” of the bathroom, Tunks employs an accelerationist aesthetic to explore an equally frightening forecast of late-capitalist demise.

See the Fort Delta website for details. **

  share news item