COMPLETE BURNING AWAY

©Natascha Stellmach, Installation view: Gone. (the ashes of Kurt Cobain), 2008, engraved silver cigarette case, 11 x 10 x 2 cm, Latrobe University Visual Arts Centre, Bendigo, 2013

Installation view: Gone. (the ashes of Kurt Cobain), 2008, engraved silver cigarette case, 11 x 10 x 2 cm, Latrobe University Visual Arts Centre, Bendigo, 2013

In 2008, Natascha Stellmach sent out an international call, inviting six volunteers to join her in smoking the ashes of the dead rock star, Kurt Cobain, in a private, undocumented ritual. Immediately hype, hysteria and intrigue spread across 58 countries, while the online world erupted with the news. Hundreds of unsolicited comments such as, ‘I hope you die of the worst kind of cancer after watching your entire family die in a car fire,’ (Eric, from Canada) and ‘It would truly hurt me if you are doing this only for art and not for Kurt,’ (Sabrina, from Germany) were sent to the artist. The public’s responses of anger, confusion and admiration, spurred the artist on to further examine what this invitation meant both to the public and herself.

If the smoking of the ashes was the final act, then Complete Burning Away is the epilogueIn a time pre ‘shitstorm’ or ‘twitter’, this suite of ten works interrogate the public ownership of celebrities while critiquing the role of the artist, the media and contemporary art in society. More than that, it is a reflection on suicide, tragedy and commemoration. (more)

Text (Deutsch)

Natascha Stellmach, Gone., 2008, engraved silver cigarette case, 11 x 10 x 2 cm

Gone., (detail) 2008, engraved silver cigarette case, unique, 11 x 10 x 2 cm

Natascha Stellmach, Still from Scream, 2010, 2-channel video projection, sound, 4:40 min

Still from Scream, 2010, 2-channel video projection, sound, 4:40 min

Natascha Stellmach, Installation view: Scream, 2010, 2-channel video projection, sound, 4:40 min, dimensions variable, Latrobe University Visual Arts Centre, Bendigo, Australia, 2013

Installation view: Scream, 2010, 2-channel video projection, sound, 4:40 min, dimensions variable, Latrobe University Visual Arts Centre, Bendigo, Australia, 2013

Commodity, (detail), 2009, smashed left-handed 1980s guitar and amp lead, 100 x 33 x 4 cm

Commodity (detail), 2009, smashed left-handed 1980s guitar and amp lead, unique, 100 x 33 x 4 cm

Natascha Stellmach, Still from Who will smoke the ashes of Kurt Cobain?, 2010, 2-channel video projection, sound, 10:06 min

Still from Who will smoke the ashes of Kurt Cobain?, 2010, 2-channel video projection, sound, 10:06 min

Natascha Stellmach, Installation view: Who will smoke the ashes of Kurt Cobain?, 2-channel video projection, sound, 10:06 min, dimensions variable, Latrobe University Visual Arts Centre, Bendigo, Australia, 2013

Installation view: Who will smoke the ashes of Kurt Cobain?, 2-channel video projection, sound, 10:06 min, dimensions variable, Latrobe University Visual Arts Centre, Bendigo, 2013

Natascha Stellmach, Artist Statement (detail), 2010, wax seal in artist’s handwriting on paper envelope with unique message sealed inside, 35 x 29 x 5.5 cm (framed), multiple 2/12

Artist Statement (detail), 2010, wax seal in artist’s handwriting on paper envelope with unique message sealed inside, 35 x 29 x 5.5 cm (framed), multiple 2/12

Natascha Stellmach, 2010, Artist Statement, wax seal in artist's handwriting on paper envelope with unique message sealed inside, 35 x 29 x 5.5 cm (framed), multiple 1/12 + 2AP

Artist Statement, 2010, wax seal in artist’s handwriting on paper envelope with unique message sealed inside, 35 x 29 x 5.5 cm (framed), multiple 1/12

Installation view, Artist Statement, work-on-paper, 35 x 29 x 5.5 cm (framed), multiple 1/12 at PICA, Perth, 2010 (as part of Stellmach’s solo show Complete Burning Away)

Installation view, Artist Statement, work-on-paper, 35 x 29 x 5.5 cm (framed), at PICA, Perth, 2010

Natascha Stellmach, still from Overture, 2010, sound, 3:40 min video loop

Still from Overture, 2010, sound, 3:40 min video loop

Installation view: Whatever Happened to Painting? (wall text), Overture (1-channel video), “Rape Me” (artist book), PICA, Australia, 2010, photo by Bewley Shaylor

Installation view: Whatever Happened to Painting?, (wall text), Media Whore (artist book), Commodity (object), “Rape Me” (artist book), PICA, Australia, 2010, photo by Bewley Shaylor

Installation view: Whatever Happened to Painting? (wall text), Media Whore (artist book), Commodity (object), “Rape Me” (artist book), PICA, Australia, 2010, photo by Bewley Shaylor

Natascha Stellmach, Installation view: Whatever Happened to Painting?, acrylic paint, dimensions variable, Latrobe University visual Arts Centre, Bendigo, Australia, 2013

Installation view: Whatever Happened to Painting?, acrylic paint, dimensions variable, Latrobe University visual Arts Centre, Bendigo, Australia, 2013

Four Framed Threats (sent to the artist), 2010, ink on photo rag, 30 x 40 cm

Four Framed Threats (sent to the artist), 2010, ink on photo rag, 30 x 40 cm

Natascha Stellmach, Threat by Crack Hitler, Greece (sent to the artist), 2010, ink on photo rag, 30 x 40 cm

Threat by Crack Hitler, Greece (sent to the artist), 2010, ink on photo rag, 30 x 40 cm

Natascha Stellmach, Threat by SpunkyDory, UK (sent to the artist), ink on photo rag, 30 x 40 cm, 2010

Threat by SpunkyDory, UK (sent to the artist), ink on photo rag, 30 x 40 cm, 2010

Natascha Stellmach, Threat by PsychoPuffin (sent to the artist), ink on photo rag, 30 x 40 cm, 2010

Threat by PsychoPuffin, Finland (sent to the artist), ink on photo rag, 30 x 40 cm, 2010

Natascha Stellmach, Threat by Mr Bell, Australia (sent to the artist), ink on photo rag, 30 x 40 cm, 2010

Threat by Mr Bell, Australia (sent to the artist), ink on photo rag, 30 x 40 cm, 2010

Natascha Stellmach, Threat by Eric, Canada (sent to the artist), ink on photo rag, 30 x 40 cm, 2010

Threat by Eric, Canada (sent to the artist), ink on photo rag, 30 x 40 cm, 2010

Installation view: “Cock & Bull Stories”, acrylic paint, 4 framed works from the Threats series, dimensions variable, at Kit Schulte Contemporary Berlin 2013

Natascha Stellmach, Media Whore, 2010, hand-bound artist book, 440 pages, digital printing on paper, ribbon, faux leather, 16 x 13 x 6 cm

Media Whore, 2010, hand-bound artist book, 440 pages, digital printing on paper, ribbon, faux leather, 16 x 13 x 6 cm

mē’diə hōr   Engl. n.
Media whores (pl.) was a term used in the early 1960’s during political campaigns and referred to newspaper publishers and editors who would not cover a candidate without an ad buy. The more money a candidate offered, the more coverage they would receive from the media whores. The buy was referred to as a little kiss.

Media Whore pages (two of 440 pages)

Media Whore pages (CAS Slovakia & The Guardian – from 440 pages of collected media)

Media Whore pages (two of 440 pages)

Media Whore pages (Rolling Stone & Liberation – from 440 pages of collected media)

Media Whore pages (two of 440 pages)

Media Whore pages (Vanity Fair & News of The World – from 440 pages of collected media)

Natascha Stellmach, Installation view, Media Whore, 2010, hand-bound artist book, 440 pages, digital printing on paper, ribbon, faux leather, 16 x 13 x 6 cm on shelf made from band posters

Installation view, Pulse Miami, 2011, Media Whore, 2010, hand-bound artist book on shelf made from band posters

“Rape Me” (detail), 2010, calf-leather hand-bound artist book: paint, pen, pencil, texta, crayon on 300 pages (drawn on the published diaries of Kurt Cobain), 28 x 22 x 6cm, unique

Installation view, “Rape Me” (artist book), PICA, Australia, 2010

“Rape Me”, 2010, calf-leather hand-bound artist book: paint, pen, pencil, texta, crayon on 300 pages (drawn on the published diaries of Kurt Cobain), 28 x 22 x 6cm, unique

“Rape Me” page (one of 300 pages)

“Rape Me” page (one of 300 pages)

“Rape Me” page (one of 300 pages)

“Rape Me” page (one of 300 pages)

“Rape Me” page (one of 300 pages)

“Rape Me” page (one of 300 pages)

Natascha Stellmach, Installation View, Gone., mixed media, Wagner + Partner Berlin, 2008

Installation View, Gone. + “the” joint, mixed media, Wagner + Partner Berlin, 2008

Natascha Stellmach, Gone., 2008, mixed media, 11 x 10 x 2cm

Gone., 2008, mixed media, 11 x 10 x 2cm + “the” joint

INSTALLATION VIEWS 
PICA Australia | Latrobe University VAC Australia | Kit Schulte Contemporary Berlin | Wagner + Partner Berlin (Set me free)

SELECTED ESSAYS & PRESS
The Australian | Raking the ashes of a creative conundrum – Review by Ted Snell
Bendigo Weekly | Stellmach’s Dramatic Impact – Review
Marcus Canning  – Complete Burning Away | PICA 2010 speech
The West Australian | Smoke and Mirrors – Review by Stephen Bevis
Studio, SBS Australia | Natascha Stellmach – Video Interview by The Apiary
Complete Burning Away | PICA catalogue 2010 – Essay by Aaron Moulton
Lip Magazine | Review by Audrey Hulm
Troublemag | Gone – Video Interview by Steve & Melissa Proposch
The Observer | Resting in Peace? That’s just for wimps – Krissi Murison
The Guardian | Kurt Cobain’s stolen ashes to be smoked in a spliff? – Sean Michaels
Welt am Sonntag | Eine Schwarze Messe: Die Asche des Popstars Kurt Cobain wird ausgestellt – Review by Alan Posener (Deutsch)
Der Tagesspiegel | Schauerstunde – Review by Vinzenz Weidner (Deutsch)
Monopol Magazin | Kurt Cobain – (Deutsch)