SOFO SO GOOD
THE BLACKMAIL, JUNE 2010
Some things are fundamentally meaningful. They don’t require didacticism or a grand narrative to make them so. Charlie Sofo, like his work, is one of these.
The Melbourne-based artist has made an extensive practice of collecting, arranging, displaying and – now perhaps more than ever – noticing. A recent update on his blog entitled ‘Contact’ is a Google map of street-side condoms. Other favoured things to observe include discarded furniture, reactions, and objects that are just as they seem.
In turn, Sofo himself has been noticed. His work is currently held in the collections of Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art and Artbank, and he has had solo exhibitions at Darren Knight and Melbourne’s Heide and Utopian Slumps.
“Simple” is a misleading word for Sofo’s art because it implies a lack of depth. If you’ve been to one of his shows you will know this to be untrue. His practice is constantly expanding in logical, natural trajectories. Sometimes works are designed to be hung on walls, sometimes to be watched or listened to. The recurring theme is a distinct lack of intrusiveness – a reminder of what can be the immense impact of the small.
What’s the first thing you’d want people to know about your work?
That’s tough because it’s always a struggle with words. I think because my practice is more about arbitrary facts, traces, sometimes it’s difficult to talk about it thematically.
Well, that can be the first thing!
Yes, that’s it: I’m more interested in talking about the things than the “work”. I’m interested in objects as some kind of connection between events and people. I don’t have a strict fetishistic approach to objects. I’m not obsessed with them, but collecting is a big part of my process.
You also collect images on your blog.
Collecting can happen in a natural way. It’s pursuing an interest in phenomena. I just [collect something] for as long as I am interested in it, or until I feel like it yields a result, and then I’ll finish. There are a few things that I’ve kept collecting for years. I have this collection of combs with my ex-partner, and we broke up about six months ago but for some reason we’re both still collecting them. I see the blog as an ongoing thing as well. I am actually putting together a book with a shitload of images that I originally thought were for research, but which turned into an artwork in themselves.
A lot of your art seems to be about a process and its natural end.
Yes, it’s like it gets to the point where there’s enough of it. A few years ago, in a different stage, I made an image by just rubbing my fingers over the paper. When I started, I was thinking about my trace, but then I wondered if I could build up enough of the material to actually create something. The natural end of it was when something actually became visible – making something small into something significant.