Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Vanishing cream

If you've followed OTN for a while you'll know its position over the use of Gordon Walters' version of the koru has gone from astonishment through resignation to whatever. As a design it has been slapped on just about everything but now that the digital is putting copyright itself under such pressure all this WTFing is starting to feel rather old school. But there are always exceptions. And you do have to laugh when you see Walters basic design revamped into a clumsy identity for a product called ‘Come Clean’. Their killer by-line? “Clear skin with a clear conscience.” Not until you've talked to the Walters Estate you won’t have.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Light touch

Now that Michael Parekowhai’s Lighthouse sculpture featuring a super-sized chandelier is all go, you might be interested to check out this video of a couple of guys actually making one. Just how the Parekowhai version is going to look is still obviously in the planning stages although there are hints that it will include NZ imagery. Looking at the skills required, getting something like this made in New Zealand is going to be a challenge. Still we are talking about a guy who had a full-sized bronze elephant cast in Henderson so there you go.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Brilliant or nonsense, you be the judge

One set of entrails that hasn’t been considered in the Venice Binnale selection process for 2017 is Speeculation. This was the 2007 what-you-send-to-Venice-when-you’re-not-sending-anyone-to-Venice publication spearheaded by Brian Butler, then director of Artspace. NZ's continuing participation in the Biennale was seriously in doubt at the time so the book's proposition was a plug for the depth of talent available asking 'Which New Zealand artist now or in the future could be sent to the Venice Biennale and exhibit in the New Zealand pavilion?' Chosen by eight NZ-based curators, the list of 27 artists was Auckland centric (81 percent), but it did include all the five artists who got the call to go to Venice in the subsequent years: Francis Upritchard, Judy Millar, Michael Parekowhai, Bill Culbert and Simon Denny. So maybe somewhere in the rest of the Butler list is another name with a chance although of the artists who are generally considered to have applied for 2017, only Apple and Mitchell are on the list. Maybe curators can only see a decade into the future at a time. The rest of the Butler artists are: Fiona Amundsen, Eve Armstrong, Andrew Barber, Stella Brennan, Judy Darragh, Bill Hammond, Ronnie van Hout, Sean Kerr, Jae Hoon Lee, Saskia Leek, Andrew McLeod, Daniel Malone, Ani O'Neill, John Reynolds, Jim Speers, Sriwhana Spong, Yvonne Todd, Yuk King Tan and Rohan Wealleans.

Image: Bultler and his team search for clues to future choices for the Venice Biennale (thanks for pointing the way B)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Turned on

Martin Creed lights up the Christchurch Art Gallery

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Fit for purpose

The Gormley sculpture limbers up and gets some rest in preparation for its stint in Christchurch's Avon river

Friday, September 25, 2015

Down sizing

With public and dealer galleries building bigger and bigger spaces it’s hard to figure how artist are going to be able to fill them with enough art to keep things going? Will we see a return to tiny art? Photographer and art director Tatsuya Tanaka obviously thinks so. You can see more of his work here.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

By the numbers: international

0       the number of stadiums designed by architect Zaha Hadid that will be built for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo

2       the number of life-size steel  figures gone missing that were made by Antony Gormley for Western Australia’s remote Lake Ballard

3       the times Anish Kapoor's sculpture Dirty Corner in the Versailles Palace gardens has been vandalised with anti-Semitic and other slurs

15      the number in millions of flowers used to create a giant head of Vincent van Gogh for the Bloemencorso Zundert parade in the town of Zundert in the Netherlands

10      the number of new stories that will open in the Tate’s ever expanding building extension.

60      the percentage of new display space Tate Modern will get with its new $NZ637 million building

75      the age in years of Auguste Rodin when he was filmed by Sacha Guitry in 1915. You can see it here

120    the number of art works made by British artist Damien Hirst owned by collector Jose Mugrabi

800    the amount in millions of dollars that auction house Sotheby’s has guaranteed the sale of the Taubman estate, the contemporary and modern art collection of former Sotheby's chairman

2000  the number of art works in the Broad collection whose new museum opened this month in downtown LA

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Ex machina

Simon Ingram is New Zealand’s painting machine guy and he’s the one who got OTN interested in them. Over the years we've looked out for machines that paint, or rather machines that are programmed to paint as they can't quite yet casually pick up a brush as part of their own personal practice. Progress is being made though and a recent machine invented by Professor Simon Colton from the University of London has software that allows it to be influenced (a phase artists, including machine artists, seem to have to work through). Colton’s machine checks out newspaper stories and makes works based on the words it gathers from them.

The three laws of painting machines for those who don’t remember them are:
1. A painting machine may not kick up at the 50 percent commission charged by humans or, through inaction, fail to pay it.
2. A painting machine must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would prevent it producing the sort of art that is demanded by local collectors.
3. A painting machine must protect its own painting style in so far as such protection does not infringe the copyright of other painting machines.

Image: portrait by one of Prof Colton's machines

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Best bets

The proposals for who's to represent NZ at the 2017 Venice Biennale are all in. Now it's up to a panel to choose the lucky winner and made an announcement in around three weeks.  Then it will be off to Venice for the chosen team to check out the current Biennale and get into the endless, stressful search for an NZ venue.

Maybe you remember that for the 2015 outing we asked for a list of who'd applied and after a year of wrangling were refused it. This time round we'll forgo the wrangling bit and offer a list based on gossip, horse's mouth, second, third and even in one case fourth-hand information. In general we have to hear something from three different sources to think it has a chance of being true. Some of the combinations here are common knowledge; Auckland has been in awe watching Auckland Art Gallery director Rhana Devenport’s campaign for Lisa Reihana's wide-screen spectacular In pursuit of Venus, recently on show at the Gallery. In general terms the male/female balance runs slightly against selecting another guy, especially as three of the four women selected previously have had to share the space. There are probably a few more proposals being put on the table but we reckon this list is getting close.

Billy Apple with curator Adnan Yıldız, Artspace

Ruth Buchanan curator Axel Wieder(Director of Index - The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation, Stockholm

Alicia Frankovich with curators Abby Cunnane, St Paul's St Gallery and Chiara Giovando, Disjecta, Portland Oregon

Group show (involving McCahon) Simon Rees, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery

Kate Newby with  curators Natasha Conland, Auckland Art Gallery and Nicolaus Schafhausen, Kunstshalle, Vienna

Seung Yul Oh with curator Andrew  Clifford, Te Uru

Dane Mitchell with curators Zara Stanhope, Auckland Art Gallery and Mami Kataoka, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan

Fiona Pardington with curator Aaron Lister, City Gallery Wellington

Lisa Reihana with curator Rhana Devenport, Auckland Art Gallery

Other possibilities include another group show from Te Papa Senior curator Sarah Farrar (last time she put up five young artists from Michael Lett and Hopmos) or something from Lara Strongman, another Senior curator who'll be looking to make an impact as the Christchurch Art Gallery reopens. There's been chatter about a proposal putting Rohan Wealleans together with Sarah Lucas, last year’s Venice hit and past co-exhibitor with Wealleans, a stunning idea but probably too good to be true. Still waiting for someone to propose Shane Cotton. He could do a terrific show as our first painter but not a murmur on that front.

We’ll make changes and additions if they come to hand.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Listing badly

By their lists shall you know them. This one is from the Ilam School of Fine Arts in Christchurch. It’s an advert that aims to promote the school by highlighting their 75 most illustrious former students. As with all lists, however, it tells its own story that is probably not the one intended. While it's not so surprising that an art school with only has one female on a teaching staff of nine only includes women as just 31 percent of its alumni, some of the omissions verge on the bizarre. Ok we hear you Ilam, you couldn’t include everyone, but no Jim Allen (the Arts Foundation's most recent Icon)? et al.? Jacqueline Fahey? Boyd Webb? Really?  
Now, over to all of you for a game of who’s in and who’s out. Here’s the full list and our first go at it. Have fun.
IN      OUT
Arts administration 
John Coley                                        Rodney Wilson
Hamish Keith

University Lecturers
Andre Hemer                                Jim Allen
Jim Speers                                        Doris Lusk
                                                            Richard Reddaway

International reputation
Bill Culbert                                       John Panting
Vincent Ward                                   Boyd Webb

Mark Adams                                     Margaret Dawson

Allen Maddox                                   Philip Clairmont
Tony Fomison

Walters Prize winners
Dan Arps                                            et al.
Peter Robinson
Francis Upritchard           

Quentin MacFarlane                        Jacqueline Fahey

Paul Cullen                                        Chris Booth
Anton Parsons                                  Andrew Drummond
                                                             Molly Macalister
                                                             Pauline Rhodes

And, to add to the female-out total, alongside Margaret Dawson, Jacqueline Fahey, Doris Lusk, Molly Macalister and Pauline Rhodes you can add Evelyn Page, Rata Lovell-Smith, Rosemary Johnson, Elizabeth Kelly, Rhona Haszard and Alison Duff.


Saturday, September 19, 2015

'New' Christchurch sculpture?

"The abstract roadwork signs also reminded Atkins of a series of works by New Zealand artist Colin McCahon.” 
The Press reporting Australian artist Peter Atkins about his road sign inspired work Under Construction - Chaos and Order

Yes, well while you're busy associating well known NZ artists with the work, how about some credit to Rosalie Gascoigne who kind of owns the idea. 

Images: top,  Peter Atkins Under Construction - Chaos and Order and bottom left Siesta 1997 and right Banana yellow 1998 by Rosalie Gascoigne

Friday, September 18, 2015

Southern comfort

Jenny Harper of the Christchurch Art Gallery has come out fighting. 'We may open next year but I can’t tolerate the thought of that at the moment so we all focus on this year.' In a recent radio interview Harper told art critic Andrew Paul Wood that reports of the Gallery not reopening before Christmas were greatly exaggerated and all going well, the pre-Christmas date will hold. Plans for the opening are focused on showing off the collection old and new. Harper also mentioned the Christchurch Art Gallery's  ‘Five Great Works’ scheme. The first of these was Michael Parekowhai’s Chapman’s Homer, the second Bill Culbert’s Bebop with both lined up for foyer spots opening day. The third will be the Martin Creed neon. And then it’s two more to go.
Image: Justin Paton’s prescient exhibition of architectural deconstruction De-Building, closed when the quakes shut down the Christchurch Art Gallery in September 2010

The gift that keeps on giving

Christchurch leading the field. Who knew? Just as private collectors building their own museums is starting to be a big thing (see the media frenzy over the opening of the Broad in Los Angeles), Christchurch is going to have its own private collection based art museum. It's thanks to collectors Jim and Susan Wakefield via their Ravenscar Trust. The house that once held their collection was wiped out by the quake and they decided to use the insurance money plus some to create their own museum in the Christchurch Arts precinct. It's to be called the Ravenscar House Museum. The collection headlines with Colin McCahon (five), Rita Angus and Frances Hodgkins (ten) but we can assume there are probably other less known names in there as well. A professional appraiser rather carefully described the collection that has been assembled over ten or so years as ‘far greater than the sum of its parts’. Also, rather curiously, the art is to be displayed chronologically in a series of period rooms. Given the Wakefields have been prominent supporters and the fact that the collection includes 110 paintings it’s more than likely it was first offered to the Christchurch Art Gallery and declined (the period room thing would be enough do it). The out-moded approach didn’t hold back the Canterbury Museum though which has announced plans for the new $13 million building to be designed by Len Lye Centre architect Andrew Patterson. It will display what it describes as a collection of art, sculpture (that’s art too folks), modernist furniture and classical antiquities. The Canterbury Museum plans to support the operation of the house museum from its existing staff and resources and expects it to be self-funding via ticket sales (at the moment they’re thinking $20 a pop), car parks and ‘other income’. Well, good luck to everyone with that.

Images: two works from the Ravenscar collection, left Colin McCahon’s 1943 painting Taylor’s mistake and right Frances Hodgkin’s Still life self portrait. You can download the Christchurch Council's pdf with background on the new museum here.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Here we go again

The panel to select the next New Zealand artist (or artists) for the Venice Biennale has been announced. Who are they and what can we expect?
Dr Dick Grant is Chair of Creative NZ and also chairs the panel. He's an enthusiastic supporter of NZ’s participation in Venice. He can be counted on for a straight up selection process, not something that has always been a feature in the past.

Alastair Carruthers is the Commissioner for the 2017 Venice Biennale and a past Chair of Creative NZ. As chair of Creative NZ he was hot on transparency and focus on artists. He values his independance and we can expect leadership from him as Commissioner. He'll be after an artist who can make a major international impact. He was on the panel that selected Simon Denny for 2015.

Aaron Kreisler is the Head of the Ilam Art School in Christchurch with a curatorial background, especially at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. He submitted a proposal to a previous panel so he’s familiar with the process, and the importance of curation to the project.

Dr Caroline Vercoe is a Senior Lecturer in Art History at the University of Auckland. She specialises in contemporary Pacific artists, particularly those based in New Zealand.

Dayle Mace is a long-time Patron of the Venice Biennale. She's served on every art-related board you can think of from Te Papa to the Auckland Art Gallery patrons and the Auckland Art Fair. She’s an effective arm-twister, especially in Auckland, and an excited supporter of artists. She was on the panel that selected Simon Denny for 2015.

Heather Galbraith was the Venice Commissioner for 2015. She has long been an insider in NZ’s presence in Venice including as curator for Francis Upritchard in 2009. In her day job she is Associate Professor at Massey University's art school in Wellington. She was on the panel that selected Simon Denny for 2015.

Judy Millar is the only artist on the panel. She represented NZ at the Venice Biennale herself in 2009 so she certainly has seen the game from both sides. She is also known for her opinionated writing and thinking around current art issues and brings an international perspective as she is based in both Auckland and Berlin. She was on the panel that selected Simon Denny for 2015.

Leigh Melville is a partner in the Auckland auction house Art + Object. She was chair of the Patrons group in 2015 and is back for more in 2017. Her input will be significant as the Patrons are responsible for coming up with a big chunk of the funding for NZ at Venice and they have had enough experience now to be clear about what works.

Michael Prentice is Managing Director of Designworks in Christchurch. He has had a long involvement with the performing arts including founding then Trust Board for Black Grace. He is on the panel as an Arts Council member.

Rose Evans is a conservator with a long history in the NZ Museum business. She is on the panel as an Arts Council member.

Charlotte Huddleston is Director of ST PAUL St Gallery in Auckland

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Robot news

Good news. Some academics with time on their hands have worked out which professions and jobs are most likely to be taken over by robots. You can use this handy tool to see how your job fares. Readers will be pleased to know that artists (and those artists who teach artists to be artists) are considered 'Quite unlikely to be automated', a 4 percent chance in fact. As to the jobs hopeful artists might take up to survive those lonely years before the first sell-out show, the prospects are not so good. Bar staff have a 77 percent, gardeners a 67 percent and library assistants a 97 percent chance of being automated.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Cash for art

Something for nothing anyone? That seems to be what's on offer by My Art. It's a scheme that loans you money at no interest to fit you out with art works. You find the work, they pay for it. OK, not quite. You do have to pay 10 percent up front and pay the rest back over nine months but it’s all interest free! Given that My Art is operated by a finance company (not usually given to interest free loans) how is this even possible?

The idea comes from the UK where the same idea runs under the name of Own Art which started up 11 years ago. There's the similar Art Money scheme in Australia - how do they manage to come up with these funky name? So far the UK's Own Art have forked out over $69.5 million covering 35,000 art purchases, the average loan being around $2,000. As with the UK scheme, the NZ one will no doubt include some small admin fees and penalties but essentially the purchases are financed via a cut in the dealer commission. So all good for everyone: the artist gets paid, the dealer doesn’t have to chase the money and the collector gets the work on the wall or the floor where it’s wanted. Getting galleries on board will obviously be vital. The UK version has around 250 participating galleries although most of them are well down the market as the average loan size indicates.

NZ's My Art is ‘brought to you’ by Avanti Finance whose major shareholder is Glen Hawkins. Glen and Sonja Hawkins are keen art collectors and are both known as major Auckland art supporters. Glen is a trustee on the Auckland Art Gallery Foundation and both appear on the Auckland AG honour board.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Said and done

To entertain you on your way to the latest batch of OTNSTUDIO photographs, we've looked around for some studio quotes. There's quite a range:

The portentous: The studio is a laboratory, not a factory. An exhibition is the result of your experiments, but the process is never-ending. So an exhibition is not a conclusion. - Chris Ofili

The optimistic: 'I used to empty the studio out and throw stuff away. I now don't. There will be a whole series of dead ends that a year or two down the line I'll come back to.' - Anish Kapoor

The impressed: 'Bill's studio was just one painting on his canvas or maybe a few others. But Gorky overwhelmed me with the sense of profusion. There were paintings all around. Overwhelming, I thought, I have come as the crow flies to the real artists in America.' - Elaine de Kooning 

The hard core: 'An artist's studio should be a small space because small rooms discipline the mind and large ones distract it.' - Leonardo da Vinci

And the idiotic: 'We allow no geniuses around our Studio.' – Walt Disney

Meanwhile, on OTNSTUDIO we've added some recent photos of Kate Newby’s New York studio from earlier this year,  et al. in January, Peter Robinson in July getting ready for his recent Hopkinson Mossman exhibition, Peter Peryer taken a month later and jeweler Warwick Freeman seen yesterday in his Devonport studio.

Image: Kate Newby at here New York home and studio, 13 April 2015

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Being cagey with the kids

Here’s a question for Saturday morning. What has this photograph got to do with Colin McCahon? Answer. Fresh air. That’s why the baby is in the cage and that is why the McCahon house has a bunk room with no wall between it and the Titirangi bush. Like many parents bringing kids up mid last century and before, the McCahons believed that breathing in fresh air was literally a life saver for children. Now, go outside and play.
Via: Vox. More baby cage pics and story here

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Empire strikes back

The University of Auckland wasn’t too impressed by our evaluation of that unfortunate Rembrandt poster show or our suggestion that it was associated with it. They made it clear that Auckland is not the only university involved and the two cash prizes (sorry, scholarships) are available to any NZ art history or fine arts students in the country. OK, we guess that spreads responsibility but doesn’t really avoid it. 

They were also pretty hot on pointing out that the Art History Department of the University of Auckland was 'not administering the scholarship but only publicising it'. Well, that was of course the point we were making all along. 

As a side note, we got it wrong when we said the students had to pay $15 to get into the show so they could write their ‘motivating 500-word letters.’ The U of A tell us there was a special student rate of $5.  You will be pleased and proud to know that, as tempting as it was, at no time did we reach for the ‘only haggling over the price’ joke.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

My big fat art fair

Funnier than a sitcom and with more twists and turns than a soap opera, art fairs in Australia deserve their own reality show. As Sydney Contemporary aka 'Australasia's International Art Fair' opens, the company that runs it and the Melbourne Art Fair Single Market Events has just announced it will no longer be involved with the city down South. That didn’t last long. Single Market Events only managed one outing in Melbourne and that was last year. Melbourne Art Fair chairwoman and gallery owner Anna Pappas told reporters, 'We found our objectives were different.' Whoops that meant breaking a 20-year contract with Single Market Events with only one year on the clock. 

So now SME really needs to deliver a big success with Sydney Contemporary at Carriageworks in Redfern this year. Creative NZ certainly believes in them shelling out $117,000 to get nine NZ dealer galleries into Sydney Contemporary booths. 

Across town in the CBD a bunch of NZ galleries (Hamish McKay, Michael Lett, Robert Heald, Ivan Anthony and Hopkinson Mossman) have opted to show in the breakaway fair Spring 1883 at the Establishment (#deeplyironicname) Hotel. They get to hot-bed in their ‘galleries’ keeping costs down while at Carriageworks booths go from $10,000 to $50,000 a pop plus shipping etc. Even on 50 percent commission you’re talking around $100,000 worth of sales to go home smiling. 

But win or lose, the cocktail specially designed by artist Fiona Lowry for Sydney Art Week will offer comfort. The Pink Frost involves Hendrick's gin, blood orange liqueur, rose water and (the art bit) an orchid sealed in an over-sized ice cube. Cheers

Wednesday, September 09, 2015


NZ curators whose names end with the ‘a’ sound: Lara, Laura, Lisa, Zara, Rhana, Tina, Emma, Rebecca, Julia, Ioana, Natasha, Sarah, Sara and Sarah. 
 TE URU ADDS: Ema, Leafa, Ngahiraka and Tessa

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

You tubes

The sight of design chipping away at art’s domain is a familiar feature of our world, but here's a major leap forward. Artists like Bruce Nauman, Claire Fontaine, Joseph Kosuth, Tracey Emin and Martin Creed (and there’s a lot more where that came from) who've kidnapped neon lettering from the commercial world may have to think about letting it go. Now there's an art/design neon kit available that you can use to construct your own words, letter by letter. Suggested are ‘Light’ (at $650), ‘Love’ (sorry Martin), ‘Home’, and, inevitably, ‘Art’ (the cheapest at $395). And where do you buy one of these art destabilising machines? The Auckland Art Gallery shop, Corner Kitchener and Wellesley Streets.

Image: left Martin Creed Work no. 374 and right the less attractive DIY version made by Seletti on display at the Auckland Art Gallery shop

Monday, September 07, 2015

Muddy Waters

Anyone who believes that the experience of looking at original artworks can never be replaced by reproductions will be in full sneer mode if they visit the exhibition Rembrandt remastered currently on show at Smith & Caughey in Auckland. It is billed as a once in a lifetime opportunity to see 'Rembrandt as never before' which is sort of true. The exhibition turns out to consist of 57 badly-lit, colour prints pasted onto boards. The boards are without frames and presented on cheesy trade-show exhibition display units. 

But the exhibition’s promoters sure know how to play the PR game. For $6,000 they managed to get the University of Auckland’s Art History Department on board to help spruik the enterprise. The cash was put up to offer two students a one-week visit to Amsterdam. All they had to do was front up with the $15 entry fee ($20 on weekends) and check out the show. To win the trip required ‘reflecting on their engagement with Rembrandt’s artworks in a motivating 500-word letter.’ The fact they will not be engaging with ‘Rembrandt’s artworks’ at all seems to have passed the University of Auckland's Art History Department by. Presumably the 500 word promotional pieces will be ‘motivating’ future visitors.

Image: Smith & Caughey, Rembrandt to go

Friday, September 04, 2015

Counter attack

You do have to wonder why public art museums keep using numbers to justify their existence and their funding. As Richard Pierce, a spokesman for the Brooklyn Museum, once famously said, 'The whole attendance figure game is just that - a game.’ For all the electronic devices, hand-held counters and surveys, audience counting is an art not a science. As anyone working in a busy institution knows the only real count is a paid-for ticket but you do to have to feel a twinge of sympathy for Simon Rees, the director of the Govett-Brewster. He invested in the usual electronic people counters used by museums internationally beefed up with some staff using manual clickers and the figures have been suitably impressive: 30,000 through the new complex already. But wouldn’t you know it. One of the G-B's chief detractors has an office overlooking the building and by looking out his window he's making his own assessment. Rather predictably it is somewhat lower. Of course the opening months of any new building can be expected to pull the crowds but even if, allowing for initial attendances settling down, you halve that first month's 30,000 as your base the G-B would be indicating an annual attendance of around 180,000. Now that's a stretch as we've discussed before. And that's the problem with figures; today’s success is the rope they hang you with tomorrow.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

By the numbers: International edition

.5  the percentage of sales that made up 48 percent of the global art market in 2014

1   the number of days it took to dismantle Mark di Suvero’s public sculpture Proverb. You can watch it on time lapse here

8    the number of individual works of modern art that have been sold at auction for more than $100 million since 2010

15   the number of minutes for which artists participating in the Istanbul Biennale plan to suspend presentation of their work ‘in recognition of the violent breakdown in peace talks between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish government’

21   the area in thousands of square metres occupied by a mural in Norway painted by French artists Ella & Pitr

27   the number of women included in the latest edition of H W Janson’s classic History of Art

282  the dollars in millions paid this year for Picasso’s 1955 painting Les Femmes d'Algers (Version ‘O’)

472    the number in thousands of dollars the Rodin bust is worth that was popped into a paper bag and stolen from the Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum in Copenhagen

123.9 the number of art objects in thousands in the MoMA collection (let's face it that's everything) that are now available online

4635  the number of square metres available for exhibiting contemporary art in LA’s new contemporary art museum The Broad

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

One day in the Creative NZ offices

A: We need to come up with some rules so the Trustees of the arts organisations we fund can keep their Chief Executives in line.

B: Sounds like a plan.

A: We’ve going to give them some high powered ammunition. So they can show them who’s who.

B: …and what's what.

A: I’ve been talking to some consultants who reminded me of a brilliant idea I had a couple of weeks ago.

B:  I don’t even know why we pay them when all the ideas we use are yours.

A: True. Anyway we’ve decided to focus in on what “cannot be done, rather than what can or should be done.” It's basically a DO NOT policy, a bit "like the Ten Commandments or the Road Code".

B: That’s totally brilliant but what about all that stuff about collaboration and partnerships we’ve been going on about all the time? (thinks) I guess we could slip it into the introduction.

A: (laughing maniacally) let’s see how clever the Art Org CE's are after we’ve taught their Trustees how to “constrain their freedom to act”.

B: You don’t think it’s a bit negative?

A: No. No, not at all. In fact we’re going to call it the “Thou shalt not” approach.

And that is what they did.

You can check it out for yourself here (section 7.7 page 44)

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Power play

The selection of Dieneke Jansen, Maddie Leach and Peter Robinson for the Jakarta Biennale in November is further proof of how well NZ does from inviting international curators to check the place out. For instance, Peter Weiermair (Germany), Charles Eldredge (United States) and Nicolaus Schafhausen (Germany) among many others were all invited to NZ as official visitors and each in turn delivered selection in international exhibitions and other projects for some NZ artists. It's a great medium term investment.

This time it’s English curator Charles Esche who's doing the business. He was the judge of the 2014 Walters Prize who controversially took his curatorial stick to finalist Simon Denny at the dinner before awarding the prize to Luke Willis Thompson. While in NZ Esche also got the chance to visit studios and meet with artists including Robinson (one of the Walters Prize jurors) and finalist Maddie Leach. We can tell you (thanks to Twitter) that Leach has already shipped what looks like two 40-gallon drums of water from the Blue Spring in Putaruru to Jakarta. Putaruru is where most of NZ’s bottled water comes from and the use and abuse of water is a Biennale theme.

The selection of Leach, Jansen and Robinson fits with Esche’s belief in art’s role in political activism. He wants to show “how people in different cities and environments live with and take responsibility for the present through their actions.” It's a position that will be tested to the limit in Indonesia. This is a country with a very grim recent history as anyone will know who saw Joshua Oppenheimer’s gruelling documentary The act of killing last year or its follow-up The Look of Silence this year.  If you can't make it to Jakarta, check out the movies.

LATER: As one of our readers has mentioned Esche also invited Tina Barton to do a piece on the Headland's exhibition for the influential Afterall magazine. That too was unlikely to have happened without Esche coming to NZ and meeting Barton

Image: Maddie Leach H2O to go