NOTHING COMPANS TO YOU
TIMOTHY P KERR
7 – 28 June, 2014
An artist, a humourist and a freestyle BMX enthusiast walk into a bar. The bartender, exasperated, says, “Tim I told you aren’t allowed in here anymore.” The bartender alerts the security guard near the cigarette machine, who escorts Kerr promptly from the premises.
The bar is called The Bear and Grasshopper, and is operated by the ALH Group, one of 328 venues it controls in 2014. A hospitality giant, the Group adopts forward thinking design and efficiency as primary goals, while focussing on best practices in achieving customer satisfaction through training and atmosphere development. A family operation led by Bruce Mathieson began as a small venture in 1974 before the year 2000, when a chance encounter between Bruce and the CEO of the immense retail conglomerate Woolworths generated the beginnings of a new and carnivorous venture, Bruandwo Pty Ltd. In less than four years, Bruandwo (a hilarious neologism of Bruce and Woolworths) consumed the Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group and its market share of 131 pubs, as well as its name. Soon after it absorbed MGW Hotels, the Taverner Hotel Group, the Compass Hotel Group and the Laundy and Waugh Hotel Groups. The Bear and Grasshopper was once a family owned pub: it is something else now.
A Finn, an American and a Chinese national walk into the bar. They take a seat at a table with four stools. Both the Finn and the American, without comment or eye contact, take their phones from their pockets and begin thumbing through web pages and social media screens. The Finn is using an iPhone, the American a Nokia. The Chinese national observes this, and with no remark leaves toward the Gaming room.
The bartender attends to his work in accordance with training developed by ALH. The security firm, gaming machine and cigarette machine vendor supplying the bar have all been won by tender to ALH. The Formica surface of the bar has been selected by a design team at ALH, as well as the menus and drink promotions sitting atop it. These are all examples of the decisions that give ALH venues the welcoming atmosphere that customers continue to appreciate in over three hundred almost identical venues. In fact the only items not specifically selected by ALH are those in the Lost Property box behind the bar, which on this night contains a tiny piano and a slab of asphalt.
A horse walks into the bar. He sits on the last stool, closest to the wall, which he slumps against. After a cursory glance, the bartender, polishing a polycarbonate tumbler, tries to engage.
“Why the long face?”
The horse, not moving, emits a low mumble. The bartender replaces the tumbler on the steel rack, identical to those distributed to each of ALH’s hotels and venues. He moves closer to the horse.
“Hey pal, why the long face?”
“I said,” replies the horse, without annoyance but with a much firmer voice, “that my wife just died.”
The security officer, who has noticed this exchange, has moved over to the bar. He asks, “What’s up with this guy?”
The bartender puts his hand aside his mouth, and in an exaggerated stage whisper says, “DEAD WIFE”.
Danny Ford, 2014
Nothing Compans to You consists of sculpture, found objects, and an audio component. The exhibition stems from an ongoing investigation into the complexities of humour. Language games, anthropomorphism, and literal interpretation are used to create an obscure scenario in which the ‘life’ of a frying pan is implied through its ‘death’. The work plays on the term and definition of ‘deadpan’ humour and presents the most literal interpretation in a true deadpan manner.
Timothy P. Kerr completed a Bachelor Degree in Fine Art, Visual Arts (Hons) in 2008 at the Queensland University of Technology. Kerr’s work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally in Australia, Singapore, Beijing, and America. Kerr’s multidiscipline practice focuses on humour as a potential tool for social observation, documentation and critical critique.