ZOE MARNI ROBERTSON
Taking the impositions of the psychologically abusive as an exercise in neuro-plasticity.


Prose poetry, painting, sculpture, video, sound.
HUMAN RESOURCES



Joint exhibition (alone together) with Andrew Haining at 107 Projects, Redfern in 2014. All photos: Andrew Haining.

Collaborative text (where I end and you begin and you end and I begin and end):

Once we were working with raw material. We list ourselves as primary producers for tax purposes, lost in the midst of the service economy… We should’ve known better than to disenfranchise ourselves, we have never known better. Raw material. How did these labour-saving devices add up to so much destruction? How were so many enslaved to serve them that save labour? For labour to be saved, labour need be saved… We are becoming more like computers. Our emotional bodies wither away, thinking rational: progress is the only way to profit. Conscripted to the production of experience… We are able to evoque sexual desires through visual display. An assimilation and ultimate editing of being, the waste of human endeavour. Though our taxes were a work of art, the work was neither itself nor of itself. Greater than simply physical transparency: a total human acquittal.




“The Suspension of Judgement”, 2014. Chewed bread (sculpture), haidressers’ (Liga’s) mirror, red wine and bird bath. Dimensions variable. 





Installation view. Wall text (architectural print and wallpaper glue) reads:

The abstract ruins of the pretenders to civilisation. I didn’t want to refer to anything else external, and not because of some pretense towards originality, but because I never believed in anyway… Didn’t have to justify myself as aware of where this is been done before, so certain am I that I might provide merely a slight variation on the theme, or the theme, as the case may be, though those are questions for other people and other times. But in order to say something about what I have done: what I here present, I would draw your attention to that last wave of artists, for him capital was still a possibility. When Marcel Broodthaers made the transition from struggling poet to sculptor, putting remaining volumes of his last book “Pense Bete” into plaster he wrote: “I, too, wondered whether I could not sell something and succeed in life. I’m 40 years old... finally the idea of inventing something insincere crossed my mind and I set to work straightaway.” Broodthaers, for me, was a revelation, but it was not until much later I came to the conclusion that physicalisation was not the way forward, as much as it was... in Broodthaers‘ time it was still possible to make an object without explaining it. Now it is not ... but indentured servitude that threatens the existence of the artist, but more than simply the existence of the artist in the artist’s person, actually threatens the art. I’m now convinced that art is nothing and requires nothing more than time. I clear my throat: I wrote: “(Art) is a bodily reaction against the understanding which generates it, it is an impassioned argument against its own existence, and also his human in the distillation of all humanity, the means that affirms the end. And I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote... referring to nothing other than what was immediate something like the opposite or full-circle of Broodthaers, poetry that that to begin with meant nothing more than itself and so began and ended as an object... So enraged, had I become that art was to live only by its description. But what matter art, anyway? It only retained a sense of itself in it’s negation: “artless”, akin to sincerity, that which is nature and not somehow against or above it, as might be assumed by the anglophone. I wrote like I longer needed to. In deference to an art that is without it. I referred mostly to the machine on which I write, which will help me to locate it in space and time, and which dictated my rhythm as others might be dictated to by spellcheck. The whole thing was a complete failure. Works exactly what they are. This lack of sophistication in the idea of acting as though the machine recorded things simply as they were, on a flat plane like a photograph, like that was things exactly like they were, but that wasn’t ... like I didn’t see things exactly as they were… Like if you play the same DVD on two different DVD players they slowly get out of sync because even time isn’t time, and the drum machine doesn’t run off a heartbeat... There are just all these things human that humans need, no one can really be sure why. I clear my throat, I wrote: “A weighty self-referential tome, published and unpublishable, autonomous and completely dependent, a formal reaction… Caught up in language and thus power, language used as justification, language used to lay down the law. And thus, this is the law. Not to speak to knowledge, not to speak to information but to speak to data because that is exactly what truly might be quantifiable, though, no one really has an idea how to process it or use it, because data about humanity is not useful… We have ended up with a vast web of obstructed details about the mundanity of existence that should ultimately provide a way to sell humanity back to itself, except that there is no market for it... And I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. And in the meantime they all wrote too, and worst were the ones who actually wanted to, who had been reduced to the narrative of the meta (which actually means after not above, but they even got that wrong)... Like the Shakespearean monkeys generating asinine writerly quotes, the fact that they might be printed on the side of the garbage trucks, without irony, re-products of the gentrifying aspirations of the city of Sydney Council, which only meant to turn the city into a museum of itself... And that was all I had to say for publishing. “I too, wondered whether I could not write something and succeed in life.”
                                                             -Z.O’MMXIV



Lectern with originals of booklet: “Record of the Present: An Object”, 2014.


Installation view, booklets “Record of the Present: An Object”, 2014. Photocopied typewritten documents, hand bound/sewn into (discarded) cardboard.

Excerpt from “Record of the Present: An Object”, 2014 (an attempt to write while referring to nothing):

Writing back into it. How can you quantify all the time spent doing nothing when you can't even qualify it? Not enough hours in the day to prove conclusively that there are any. But if I go down that track again I'm not sure what I'll be left with, like painting a flat plane of colour, an homage to a revolutionary statement. Trying to make it all happen incrementally without just starting... Without anything to refer to. The most regrettable thing is that it all goes on unimpeded without an object, or objectified without an impediment. Here I am settling into this bourgeois regime to get it all down, past the pretensions to the external, get down years of what you might call Research met by living, subtle realisations of my own invention. Unmask me at the seat of industry in the tradition of somnambulists and nothistorians... strange then to have substituted the fluorescent light for the low light of this office, simply to do as others do: regimes, disciplines, works for posterity only to be read by it, for it... equivalence, looking for it... Opposite the heteronormative and not as an opposing force, but as part of the whole, in ignorance of that invisible third, that structure bound to make us speak in useless dichotomies, humanity always defining itself as against. But now I write of nothing... But afterall, perhaps that's how it goes.

I could write like this forever: I could love like this forever: without a referent; papering the world with itself...

Essentially still sculptural in nature, not trying to divorce my words from themselves, I am writing about words with no notion of their objectivity, they predict themselves, they are their own matter, as loaded as any media, as physical. A weighty selfreferential tome, unpublished and unpublishable, atuonomous and completely dependent, a formal reaction... Caught up in language and thus power, language used as justification, language used to lay down the law. And thus, this is the law. Not to speak to knowledge, not to speak to information, but to speak to data, because that is what might truly be quantifiable, though no one has any idea of how to process it or use it, because data about humanity is not useful, hilariously, by going forward the way things have, mking the means of exchange have more primacy than that of the actual goods and services themselves, we have ended up with a vast web of abstracted details about the mundanity of existence that should ultimately be the way to sell humanity back to itself, and yet there is no market for humanity ever since we were depersonalised by the proliferation of data instead of knowledge or understanding. Late Capitalism has no use for itself and a rather optimistic title.


Marketing from “Human Resources” borrowed from my brother’s business card, adapted by Andrew Haining.