Year: 2014

The Creative Inhabitants of Public Institutions – Sadness, Prison, and Metal

The vast majority of artists sustain themselves through some other labor. Artist’s commonly disguise these day-jobs, attempting to be seen solely as ‘professional practitioners’ miraculously buoyant on impossible financial waters. Within these necessary vocations, artistic labor becomes a clandestine activity, a moonlit enterprise that generally has little to do with the day-job. Public institutions are key employers of wage-dependent artists. The community-ethos of art school, as well as a traditional allegiance to The Left, seems to make artists ideal public servants. Campbell Patterson is emblematic of this scenario, exhibiting regularly while working as a Librarian at the Auckland Public Library. Represented by Michael Lett, the artist has exhibited recently at Dog Park Art Project Space and FUZZYVIBES, and published his first book, Campellfrieda. Wage-dependent artists may recall employers trying to make use of their more ‘creative’ staff members; “Perhaps you’d be interested in doing the companies Christmas tree?” “Or maybe you could spice up the bosses business cards?”. These are momentary invasions of the day-job onto the clandestine. Normal reactions to this scenario would include …

Alain Badiou, live at the Fisher & Paykell Appliances Auditorium

Figure 1: Drawing of Badiou. #tupacaput I sat in the middle of the Fisher & Paykell Appliances Auditorium, half wanting to catch the man himself, and half wanting to witness the spectacle around him. Searching the crowd, I saw artists, writers, activists and poets, all of whom had come to see “the greatest living Philosopher”, Alain Badiou. A flurry of whispers and shrill excitement had preceded Badiou’s visit. In the metaphorical “tea cup” of Auckland’s intellectual community, a storm was brewing. Badiou had invaded my news feed and was competing with inane pictures of pugs, the two entities, momentarily taking on an equivalency. In the Auditorium, the crowd began to hush and prepare itself for the Philosopher. When Badiou entered, he came flanked by two Professors of the University of Auckland, an honor guard for the luminary’s passage through the Owen G. Glenn Building. The silver-haired Philosopher wore a functional outfit; his polo embellished with a simple white collar. Badiou’s pants had large military-style pockets, filled presumably with the articles of academic labor. His belly was spherical, …

WWLD? In Conversation with Leafa Wilson aka Olga Krause

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 Leafa Wilson aka Olga Krause, of Waikato Museum. As well as being a curator Leafa is an artist with a very multifaceted practice. Read more for What Would Leafa Do? You are the Curator of Art at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato. Working within a national institution, how do you balance your own curatorial motivations with those of the institute? I’m not sure if it is possible to balance my own curatorial motivations, and I say this purely because I work in a regional museum which has a number of criteria to which I am subject to. Museums or galleries that are funded by local government have a responsibility to serve the needs of the public (stakeholders in museum-speak) and therefore I do feel an obligation to the people to try to curate exhibitions that involve them somehow or other as well as endeavouring to make it as curatorially …

Making Visible at Franklin Arts Centre

Still Making Visible There are many blindspots in New Zealand’s acknowledgement of the Pacific. Overlooking the hard work of labourers, intrumental in the daily operation of this land we call home, is nothing new. A long standing premise for Pacific artists, Making Visible curated by Ioana Gordon-Smith is another take on this well researched area. Knowing this show would be in an unexplored gallery; Franklin Arts Centre, in farming suburb Pukekohe, left little excitement. It’s too easy for exhibitions to be plonked into these spaces with no audience ever being considered. And it’s too easy for the curators not to give a damn. Portfolio building I call it. However determined to make the 1hour+ drive, curator Ioana Gordon-Smith quickly proved me wrong. The power of curation is a beautiful thing. Teaming up established artists with younger ones, academically focused versus practice orientated, the artist selection was flawless. Adding to this was the variation of media. Large wall works were interupted by larger scultpural works, the entire space was utilised. It was slick and compelling. Salome Tanuvasa …

Natasha Matila-Smith on dicks: Everyone don’t be a dick

Part One Everyone: Don’t be a dick   The artist’s ego is complex.  It is usually tied to notions of self-importance and inflated self-righteousness which is sometimes justified, but more than often not.  One might think that I am addressing the “WMA” or White Male Artist, which stems from a position of privilege, though this illness of the artist’s ego is turning into a semi-epidemic that stretches across all archetypes of artists. There is always at least one person who makes life a little bit difficult.  Their work is allegedly so important and revelatory that it requires ample conceptual and physical space, often to the detriment of other people, no, other artists, who are working within close proximity.   I’ve seen grown adults throw tantrums; crying and refusing to complete their works if their demands weren’t met;  particular artists who are somewhat protected by their connections issuing throwaway accusations and insults as a result of an immature response to a suggested compromise.  Artists of all different walks of life are acting like divas, like bullies. …

WWMD? In Conversation with Mark Amery

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 Mark Amery, of Letting Space. As well as being a curator Mark has been an instrumental art writer over a wide variety of platforms. Read more for What Would Mark Do? How did you first get into the art industry and how has that developed over time? Back in the day: through music and alternative media. All I ever wanted as a teen in the 80s hanging out in K Road and back in suburbia was to play music on bFM, really. With an interest across music, art and theatre I got really excited when I got involved in radio and then in an independent crossartform art mag Stamp in all the things my contemporaries were doing – thinking about it through discussion and commentary felt important. That led to a lot of work as a radio and print arts producer and editor, and amongst it the interesting arts community crosspollination that …

Mo’ui Tukuhausia at The Auckland Art Gallery

Blindspots   I have returned from Biel/Bienne, a small town caught between lakes and hills in the part of Switzerland that from French speaking becomes German, hence the double languages in the signage. I never thought using two languages could have been so confusing, when trying to order at the bakery I think I managed to use four languages in one sentence. I was there to follow the time based performances constituting the 2014 Swiss Sculpture Exhibition. Bodies rather than objects, interacting or reacting to the city, its public constituted by amused, confused or blind passerbys and art professionals, prepared to witness anything and following a strict time schedule. Almost concurrently I was receiving updates from the Walters Prize and in particular news in regards to the endurance project Kalisolaite ‘Uhila has undertaken : Mo’ui Tukuhausia. Being in Europe, I am reliant on other people’s physical interaction with the project or chance encounters with Ite, on the perimeter around the AAG in Auckland’s CBD. Natasha Matila Smith in a response on the prize finalists she …

WWED? In Conversation with Ema Tavola

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 Ema Tavola, of PIMPI (Pacific Island Management, Production + Ideas). She was an instrumental figure for Fresh Gallery Otara, Associate Curator for HomeAKL and major advocate for Pacific arts. Read more for What Would Ema Do? How did you first get into the art industry? When I lived in Suva, I got involved with the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies at the University of the South Pacific. I started painting there and discussing Oceania and art making with the late Professor ‘Epeli Hau’ofa. It was there that I participated in a painting workshop with the New Zealand Niuean artist and writer, John Pule, who told me about Manukau School of Visual Arts (now MIT Faculty of Creative Arts) in Otara, and that’s where I ended up studying. I moved to Auckland and lived with friends in Central Auckland in 2001 before moving to Manukau to study full-time. From those Fiji mates, I …

Reels, knights and other tomorrows at Christchurch Art Gallery

Reels, knights and other tomorrows. Edwards and Johann. 23 August – 02 November. Christchurch Art Gallery.   Encountering Reels, knights and other tomorrows by Edwards and Johann at the Christchurch Art Gallery asks more questions than it answers. These questions aren’t inquisitive, but have become stale and recursive.  It is a show which is both accessible and features Christchurch based artists, but lacks any critical integrity and cohesive curation. The exhibition consists of a series of brightly coloured sculptural works made from rubble from a former church’s organ. This rubble sits as a constellation atop a metal poll. In each room is a series of  wall works; a sound work made in collaboration with Seth Edwards Ellis permeates softly and often un-noticeably through the space. Upon entering we were taken aback by the cold and austere reception by gallery staff, the inconsistent nature of the lightning and the insensitive use of materials, which inherently harbours a sense of place and memory. The first room of works was incredibly dark and had three sculptures and a wall …