Month: November 2015

I’ve only read the book

Art relies on time and wrestles with it in the same breathe. Unstuck in Time was a reaction to the Reeves Road flyover that was scheduled to begin construction in 2015, resulting in the temporary closure of Te Tuhi. Looking to continue the gallery programme throughout the closure Te Tuhi curator Bruce Phillips then commissioned a number of offsite projects. With the delay and eventual cancellation of the construction project, Bruce was then charged with additional programming inside Te Tuhi itself. I never saw any of Unstuck in Time. I’ve only read the book. When I saw Wunderūmma at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, I was instantly attracted to a moment. A blue and white tablecloth roughly attached to the gallery wall by Simon Denny sat beneath a landscape painting by Teuane Tibbo (the first Samoan painter to exhibit in a dealer gallery). The pairing was a conceptual revelation. The slacker styling of Denny, and the ‘naïve’ instincts of Tibbo formed a dynamic relationship between two unlikely companions. The impact upon me was immediate, …

Disneyland

It’s a bit full on being in a city who’s modern economy is almost solely built on tourism. The first description of Venice I’d heard from an Italian was in conversation with a student in Bologna, she simply described it as ‘Disneyland’. I took this as a reference to the reduced spectacle, the disposable, factory-made entertainment set out for people who have the money. This sentiment hung around as I experienced my first (and realistically, only) Venice Biennale. The Biennale is broken into three sections. It began as one: The ‘Giardini’, which is the most historic, generally seen as the most important area of pavilions, and was where the Biennale began. The other two sections have been subsequently added over the years. There is the ‘Arsenale’ which is sort of the B team, another ticketed area, and then there are other participating countries strewn about the place in different venues that you can see, generally for free. The Giardini has all the big players; Germany, the States, the UK, France etc. Now, I didn’t expect …

Inside Outside Upside Down at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Inside Outside Upside Down brings together the work of five New Zealand contemporary artists – Kate Newby, Simon Denny, Ruth Buchanan, Fiona Connor and Ronnie van Hout. Housed on the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki’s first floor, the exhibition is made up of work from the gallery’s own collection. Connecting the works is a shared appreciation for the everyday, a conflation of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ within the confines of a gallery. The exhibition is arranged as a series of five rooms, each dedicated to one of the aforementioned artists. The first room belongs to Ronnie van Hout’s No Exit II (2003), a strange space of sights and sounds. Van Hout’s work explores the boundaries of interior space, applying the simple inversion of bringing the outside in or the inside out. A small video monitor flickers within the hollows of a van Hout tree trunk, the artist repeatedly fights and argues in a room with his alter egos – Monkey Man and Dog Man. The indication of multiple personalities links to the artist’s focus upon …

WWYD? In Conversation with Yang Fudong

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 we spoke with Yang Fudong who is one of the worlds preeminent moving image artists working out of Shanghai, China. Filmscapes currently on exhibition at The Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki includes three works and is Yang’s first survey exhibition in New Zealand. Read more for what would Yang do? People often put the words ‘important’, ‘influential’ and ‘pre-eminent’ before your name, but how would you describe your own work? I don’t have much concern about how people view my work, or how they look at me. To experience the life as an artist through creating genuine and original work is the main focus of mine.  In the Pacific the idea of the ocean and oceania is very important. Theorists like Epeli Hau’ofa believe that the Pacific Ocean is a moving mass connecting hundreds of islands rather than a sea separating them. I know in the past you have also spoken about a metaphor of …

Your Body is Yours at the National Museum of Art, Osaka

Particularly noticeable on the train, in Japan everyone appears to maintain their outward appearance to a very high degree. Almost everybody, regardless of age, has at least one carefully considered aspect to their style, be it a new season jacket or sneakers, flawlessly made up face / hair, or slender arms placed either side of a spotless sleeveless blouse. It seems like everyone’s (makes themselves) beautiful here, like it’s a given that all surfaces be cared for and are inherently (worthy of being made) (to look) beautiful. Or perhaps it’s more just an outsiders view of a strange uniformity or order. Genetic ties to Japan may be why I have this impression, which continues to be childishly wide eyed as it is searching and cynical, although Japan’s refined aesthetic sensibility is no doubt a hugely prominent part of the culture. How this aesthetic concern or care has actually practically taken shape – how and why the many amenities that are overly abundant in Japan today came to be so meticulously considered and designed – while …

Death Workshop at Enjoy Public Art Gallery

Contingencies It will be quiet. All of my friends will be there. I’ll take an innocent looking pill on the morning of my 40th birthday and slip away peacefully. My friends will drink cheap red wine and smoke in my honour. By this point cigarettes will have to be ordered on the darknet, paid for in Bitcoin, and imported inside small bags of ecstasy which is now very legal and deeply uncool. I will have achieved everything I set out to achieve and I will no longer be afraid of anything. This is how I have decided to die. This is also a misinterpretation of the task at hand. In Hiroharu Mori’s Death Workshop, students are asked to imagine and rehearse the circumstances of their own deaths, rather than how best to make themselves comfortable with dying. It is an exercise in probabilities, in ordering disasters both big and small according to how easy they are to imagine. There is an earthquake, a sudden death in an office building, a stereo stands in for a …

Woollaston: The Wallace Arts Trust Collection, 1931 – 1996 at Wallace Gallery

Toss Woollaston along with Colin McCahon are old enough and dead enough to be regarded as the grand old men of modern New Zealand art. McCahon always got the lion’s share of recognition and adulation, mainly because he was the more innovative and conceptually daring. He was forgiven his religious obsessions from a largely secular and disbelieving public on the grounds of his pioneering, evolving style and inventive means of addressing his audience. His influence lives on, even in the form of parody. Michel Parekowhai, for one, had a go at the famous, I AM.  No such legacy lingers around the work of Woollaston, perhaps because it lacked any existential or intellectual angst to provide academic leverage or traction to serve ongoing interest. What the artist served up was essentially a visual feast to do with colour, form and composition. No angels of annunciation hover over Woollaston’s landscapes. No finger wagging biblical text waves in front of the foothills.        What Woollaston presented us with was essentially bravado with the brushstroke, the manipulation of a …

These stories began before we arrived at Te Tuhi Offsite

The accompanying publication for These stories began before we arrived tells me that this exhibition has honest beginnings. Combine an opportunity from the 2015 Taipei International Book Exhibition, three curators who went on the Asia New Zealand Foundation/Creative New Zealand curator tour together and New Zealand’s recent aggressive move to the inclusion and exchange between us and targeted Asian countries and art communities. Voilà — there you have it — a narrative heavy exhibition of New Zealand and Taiwanese artists structured on the connector of Austronesian migration. I turned up to the silos on a friday afternoon. The show looked good. It was conceptually tight. The install was slick. The custom-built projection suspenders and screens — the perfect size for each silo — were impressive. Chang En-Man’s Arena is entrancing. The smooth panning and image quality draws you in and the subtitled narrative keeps you there. A focus on the effects colonisation and industrialisation have had on Indigenous Taiwanese parallels our local interest spike in Indigenous empowerment. Picking up on the odd chicken walking across …

VOODOO Halloween TIKI Party

Tiki mug, tiki mug My face, my mother’s face, my father’s face, my sister’s face  Tiki mug, tiki mug White beachcombers in tiki bars drinking zombie cocktails from tiki mugs The undead, the Tiki people, my mother’s face, my father’s face  The black brown and ugly that make customers feel white and beautiful  – Tiki Manifesto. Dan Taulapapa McMullin. Unpublished Poem, 2011. On Friday morning shit got real. People got wind of Rebel Soul Records Voodoo Halloween Tiki Party and the people didn’t like it. I was one of them. Rebel Soul Records is a newly opened record store situated in the same building as the Samoan Consulate. The store specialises in Jazz, Blues, Soul, Afro, Ska, Reggae, Dub, Punk, Alternative, Hip Hop and Electronica and also stocks collectibles including tiki kitsch.  Their event page tells us that “hidden within Samoa House is a beautiful Fale and is one of K-Rds hidden gems”. It continues to tell us that the Voodoo Tiki theme will include Fire and exotic dancers galore, Samoan BBQ with fire and …