... even in an academic context I would never talk about the work of et al., still less ‘explain’ it, except to show recorded material (video, images, sound) – the process of viewing art provides the explanation, and it is invariably particular to the viewer. The artist is exactly the wrong person to explain their work, and rarely tries...
dr p mule (on behalf of the collective, et al.)
Central to et al.’s work is an exploration of the human tendency to establish truths and orthodoxies in response to the unknown. It is a concern that is reflected in et al.’s long-standing choice not to reveal their identities. The artists involved have a 20-year history of exhibiting under a variety of titles that include personal and group histories, androgynous names and gender switching; identities who in turn have been associated with discrete practices involving objects, paintings, films, sound-works, books and installations. The group is currently steered by one artist who remains anonymous outside the moniker et al., thereby protecting her own mutability, and the homogeny of the group. 2
In contemporaneous installations et al. had explored links between art, technology and areas of behaviour reformation involving political ideologies, scientific theories and fringe religious practices. If these installations seemed particularly pertinent given current geo-politics they also engaged numerous historical texts on the nature of truth and meaning.
With the fundamental practice at Venice in 2005, et al. extended their investigations into the nature of human belief with a major new installation. What this new installation appeared to present was a machine and programme for generating a belief system. Confronted in the installation space, with little guide, the viewer was placed in the position of ‘explorer’, in the poetic sense of that word. They must feel comfortable with a condition of not knowing, while finding a route through belief systems and their mechanised representatives.
Crucial to the fundamental practice were moments in which movement, sound and speech were orchestrated, seemingly autonomously, into a unified crescendo. Such harmony enveloped the space, thereby increasing the sense that the objects and voices were attempting to ‘engineer the viewer’s consciousness’. As viewers we could experience a sense of rapture, while enclosed in the programme’s totalising mind set. Ultimately the experience was one of intentional disorientation given that the fundamental practice encompassed conjecture, refutation and opposition, elements that are the very antithesis of fundamentalism.
et al. la nuova voce 819. Published in association with exhibition the fundamental practice, 51st Venice Biennale, Creative New Zealand Toi Aotearoa and the artists, p.1-136, 2005 ISBN 0-908848-47-1 essays include: Kraus, Chris (2005), et al: fundamental practice; Kremer, Mark (2005), et al; or the shadow broker; Conland, Natasha, NZ (2005), Spineless Virtue – et al the fundamental practice. Catalogue design: The Wilderness.
et al. venice document. et al., the fundamental practice: Published in association with exhibition the fundamental practice, 51st Venice Biennale Creative New Zealand Toi Aotearoa. Die Keure, Bruges, Belgium, 2006 ISBN 0-478-18552-9. Essay by McDonald, Ewen, (2006), By Way of Introduction – The Collective et al; et al. (2006) //budd load library. Catalogue Design Felix Weigand.
Edition of 500 CDs from et al Venice Biennale project from 2005: The CD is the soundtrack to the installation. 'the second of the ordinary practices', developed from 'the fundamental practice', Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2006. The CD is a limited edition audio document packaged in a limited edition poster.
et al. is a collective name for a network of artists, identities and collaborators. et al. has exhibited extensively in New Zealand and abroad. et al. elaborates the name on their website:
New Zealand's presentation at the 51st Venice Biennale of International Art was an initiative of Creative New Zealand, the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa. This initiative was a part of Creative New Zealand’s strategy to grow New Zealand arts internationally by encouraging increased audiences, markets, opportunities and professional development for New Zealand artists and arts organisations.
Rob Garrett was the Creative New Zealand Sponsoring Manager charged for the 2005 Venice Biennale project.
Artists: et al.
New Zealand Commissioner: Greg Burke
Curator: Natasha Conland
Sponsoring manager: Rob Garrett
Patrons coordinator: Dayle Mace
Publicist: Undine Marshfield
Project manager: Terry Urbahn
Project advisors: Mary Barr, Jim Barr, Howard Grieve, John McCormack, Dominic Feuchs
Venice coordinator: Diego Carpentiero
Venue attendancts: Giorgia Astori, Simone Birac, Emily Cormack, Tessa Giblen, Sharonagh Montrose, Richard Wormley
Arts Council Chair: Peter Biggs
Corporate partner: 42 Below Vodka
Supporters: Patrons of New Zealand at the Venice Biennale 2005, Montana Reserve and Lindauer Special Reserve wines, Aalto colour, Case da Abitare, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the University of Auckland
Project initiated by: Creative New Zealand the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa
In association with: Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Dates: 8 June-6 November 2005
Venue: Directly behind the Santa Maria della Pietà church (La Pietà), Riva degli SchiavoniLa Pieta, Venice
"et al to represent NZ at Venice," The Big Idea website, 6 July 2004
"from zero to ∞; the work of et al" by Rudolph Hudsucker in White Fungus, 16 August 2005
"Art Criticism by Media Proxy" by Judith Bernanke, Massey University at Wellington, New Zealand. Analysis of the news controversy that errupted in New Zealand with the selection of et al. for the Venice project
the fundamental practice – regroup, reorder, restore! The re-presentation of et al's Venice project at Artspace, Auckland, 5 May-9 June 2007
"Et al makes splash in Venice" NZ Herald news item, 11 June 2005