Month: December 2014

The Back-Patting Society: Letter from the Editor 

There’s something about the smallness of New Zealand arts that breeds a culture of gossip. Inner-city Auckland: next level. Critical distance is impossible, with our one degree of separation. Outwardly, we are a network of back-patters, who don’t dare voice criticality in public forums. Inwardly, we are small cliques who retreat for positive reinforcement. I was recently told that I don’t ‘belong’ to an art community, sitting in the middle of the venn-diagramed Auckland art scene. I certainIy have a posse, exhibiting mostly within ‘Pacific’ arts circles. Meaning I exhibit with my friends, for my friends. Translated, I use what little privilege my culture affords me to advance my career. Some people  perceive this ‘Pacific’ circle as a tight knit group of similarly cultured artists and curators. In fact, this ‘community’ has divergent attitudes, and encompasses distinct cultural identities. This reality was made clear to me during a row on EyeContact earlier this year, although admittedly I thought I was back-patting at the time. If arts discourse happens privately within disparate communities, should we still write about …

WWKD? In Conversation with Karl Bayly

WW..D? Is an interview segment where we get to know awesome people that are a part of the creative community in New Zealand. This week we spoke to  Karl Bayly – curator and gallerist of PILOT, Free Parking Space Project and Casbah. Based in Hamilton, Karl is a key player in the vitalisation of the local art landscape. Read more for What Would Karl Do? Within only a few years you have become integral to the Hamilton art community. What is the current state of Hamilton arts and what needs to happen? Its been rather bleak of late. You could name the galleries on one hand for awhile, and probably still could. For a small city, Hamilton has lots of artists and creative people here, but limited spaces in which to participate in. I don’t think Hamilton has established itself yet as an attractive city for artists to come to work in. When I moved back to Hamilton at the beginning of 2013 I think the only gallery not associated with an institution was Draw Inc, which stood alone for at least …

Gloria – The Dame of Wynyard Quarter

After nearly three years on Wynyard Quarter, Gloria Knight is closing its doors. While it seems like a writer’s indulgence, I would like to refer to Gloria as ‘she’. Art Dame of the maritime district, Gloria has earned her persona. The impulse to personify Gloria isn’t entirely unfounded. In 2013, Gloria Knight presented Werk, a domestic setting perpetrated by the woman herself, Gloria. Initially I was affronted and perturbed by the scene, the artistic caretakers were playing coy and refusing to acknowledge their ruse, “it was Gloria, not us!”. Looking for clues amid the mid-range hotel setting, I found an unmade bed and a towel strewn on the couch. Perhaps she’s still here… maybe in the shower? What a tease, leaving signs of her ease but refusing to grace us with her presence. What a tease… Gloria. Over the years, this piece of theatrics has warmed on me. Why of-course! Gloria is a woman, much more than four walls and a mailing list; she is the physical incarnation of her founders. As only the dragon balls could …

Poly Typical at Fresh Gallery Otara

Anchored by a very simple and no doubt overlooked statement, the strength of its conviction is in the detail. Described as ‘Reframing the Pacific experience for a new generation’, Poly Typical  is never once described as an exploration of Pacific gender and sexual identities. Colonised by language, there is power in silence. This is the most important statement of the show. A gesture that allows the works to hold their own truths; something they do so well. The honesty is overwhelming and their presence speaks volumes. As an audience we are offered a space to contemplate and room to breathe. At the same time we are held accountable for our prejudices. A beautifully executed balance. I found myself with the portraits lining the gallery walls, familiar faces in an unfamiliar space. Never quite able to escape my own presence in the room, the glass that sits within these frames divides us yet at the same time bonds us. I am haunted by the reflection that stares back at me. A subtle reminder of the importance …

Natasha Matila-Smith on dicks: Where are all the dicks?

Part Two Where are all the dicks?  I was looking around a prominent auction house, trying to be cultured or something and I realised there were no dicks in any of the art.  There were only aesthetically pleasing and/or honestly revealing renditions of the female nude. This lack of male nudes within the auction house represented a supply and demand market flaw to me.  I’m so familiar with the female body now, seriously, I would like to see a dick now and again. I scanned the room for anything that my eyes might recognise as phallic.  Of course, the World is filled with phallic symbolism but in this case, there was nothing overtly penis-like.  Sure, there has been more than a fair share of male genitalia in art – see antiquity, Vito Acconci, Robert Mapplethorpe, Louise Bourgeois, etc.  Indeed, the way the nude has been approached wthin art has been closely tied to its treatment in the media.  However, particularly within Auckland art galleries in recent times, there seems to be a notable absence of …

WWVD? In Conversation with Vinesh Kumaran

WW..D? Is an interview segment where we get to know awesome people that are a part of the creative community in New Zealand. This week we spoke to freelance photographer Vinesh Kumaran. Vinesh works both as a commercial photographer and as a photographer in a freelance capacity for artists. Read more for What Would Vinesh Do? How long have you been a freelance photographer and how did it all begin? In my final year in the Bachelor of Visual Arts at Manukau Institute of Technology, we had a guest speaker come in to talk about commercial photography. It was there I discovered what commercial/advertising photography was and the role of the photographer’s assistant. I realized this was what I wanted to do. I started working in the photography industry straight after art school – so since 2004. At first I was working as a photographer’s assistant for about 8 years. Within the last two years I have been freelancing as an independent photographer shooting for my own clients. What does the day of a freelance photographer look like? …

Poly Typical at Fresh Gallery Otara

I have an uncle called Sione, the family calls him Son-jane. Well really he’s like my dad’s second cousin, but I call him uncle. When my dad sponsored his migration over from Samoa he lived with my grandparents in the back house. One night he tried to wake up my Nana. Sione was dressed in full drag, so proud of himself he wanted an audience. “Aua oi, go get changed before anyone wakes up”. Poly Typical at Fresh Gallery Otara is concerned with the depiction of the Pacific LGBT community. The Pacific has a unique relationship to LGBT discrimination. While the role of the fa’afafine is pivotal in the Pacific community, more often than not our community’s lack of acceptance is prescribed by the lasting missionary influences on the culture. It’s easy to judge this movement as pigeonholing itself when you’re not victim to this cultural expectation. At a time where marriage equality is on the forefront of media coverage this exhibition very much typifies a movement bigger than its self. Uncanny then is how …

WWID? In Conversation with Ioana Gordon-Smith

WW..D? Is an interview segment where we get to know awesome people that are a part of the creative community in New Zealand. This week we spoke to curator Ioana Gordon-Smith, of Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery. Before her time at Te Uru Ioana was the curator of Object Space and the Artspace Tautai Education intern. Read more for What Would Ioana Do? Your career consists of both independent and institutional curation. How do you balance your own curatorial motivations within an institution?  There are projects where I’ll take a leading role and others where it’s more about facilitation. I like that though, because it means I get to be involved, in some capacity, with a wide range of projects that go beyond what I would have thought up on my own. A key difference working within an institution though is a bigger responsibility to the public, whereas I probably have a much narrower group of people in mind when curating independently. Wall texts, labels and opening hours become more of a factor. What are your curatorial motivations? My …

On panic attacks in gallery bathrooms: Farewell to Papakura

I think I had a panic attack yesterday, I can’t be sure because I’ve never had one before. In my new role as an intern in a gallery that everybody knows I had this horrible moment. I felt like this huge waste of space in this intellectual bubble that was the gallery’s shared office, that of course is filled with very intellectual beings. My chest felt tight, I stood up walked to the bathroom and cried. When public programming goes array it can happen in the most meaningful way. This happened at the recent film night for the exhibition ‘Urban Drift’ at Papakura Art Gallery. A total of three people came to the film night, which might seem like a huge failure, but they were great company. We watched the films, ate popcorn then had an engaging conversation, which wouldn’t of been able to happen with a group any bigger. When we were wrapping things up Henry the cleaner (who I have never met before in my time at Papakura) came in with his staff …