Sunday, November 4, 2012

Boneyard Repose

Would this interview be easier if I had no insider knowledge? Probably. I have been frozen by the irony of knowing the subject so well I can't tap into it.  Kneading bread yesterday morning (incidentally a favourite staple of the Kaff diet) it finally came to me.  I quickly wrapped up and rang the artist.  She greeted me with a smile in her voice.  She was happy and flustered.  The battery on her crappy phone was running flat, her new one wasn't working (I suspect user error) and she was on her way to the gallery: "I'll call you when I am plugged in" she enthused, pleased to hear that I had finally thought of something to ask her.

Early works 
 So this is Kaffeine:  She talks at pace with warm enthusiasm.  She is fiercely smart, genuine, open to discourse and comfortable with duality. When you watch her work you think what she does must be easy.  She can hammer out a masterpiece and you don't even notice because one moment she is looking at a blank piece of paper and the next she's making a coffee or rushing off to eat, justifying the urgency with: "I haven't eaten a thing since breakfast I am starving".  
Kaff-einated (between 2 sprucies)
Kaffeine 'shot to fame' because she is a combination of driven and brilliant.  For a visual account of her exponential rise go to any social forum: Flickr (my collection); Instagram, Dean Sunshine and Kaffeine's own wordpress site. There was a time you could Google her and my blog would fill the first 5 pages.  Now it's the likes of Vandalog (!!!).  She has recently joined the exceptional creative stable of Just Another Agency and holds a justified place among their artists (you can find her at signed and numbered too).

If you ask anyone who has known Kaffeine since childhood what they thought she would be, the answer would be a famous artist. From the art room of a crappy high school I recall an art teacher beaming as she held a student's work up to show her next class.  It was Kaffeine.  It blew our year 7 socks off that anyone could draw that well.  So I am not surprised she is where she is today, only that it took this long.  But then again, Kaffeine's meanderings through many and varied incarnations have probably rounded her for the better.

Enough of my postulations, I bring you my angle on the Kaffeine Boneyard interview ...(the interview eventuated the next morning- the phone issue remained unresolved)...

Q:  What is your favourite piece?
A: (she laughs, pleased with the question) I reckon it’s gotta be the one called Cradle/Repose with the horse on it's back, it's feet in the air and little boy lying between the horses hind legs.  

I was not at all surprised by this answer.  Kaffeine has an affinity with animals that has also been part of her core since forever.  She told me she likes this piece in particular because you can't really tell what is happening, whether the child is dead or alive.  The horse is lying in a position, she explains, that is very hard for a horse to get into, on it's spine.  The only sign of life is the boys hand touching the horse.  

I offered to her that this is a nurturing piece, drawing in my mind an analogy with Kaff the child and her enduring relationship with animals.  She didn't take my bait but offered that the piece was a surprise for her, she wasn't expecting to like it so much.  

Kaff: What's your favourite piece?
Flasher: (shit, I didn't think she would ask me!!??) ....ummmm...I would have to say the woman with the gloves ???? (der Flash).

We talked some more about the pieces in Boneyard and I understood a little bit that her relationship with the work is the same one she extends to everyone.  She is open to explore what she means, convey something that other's see differently, and expose vulnerability as the flipside of strength.  

Image to follow (go see the show!) 8th - 30th November  153 Greville St, Prahran