Year: 2015

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 …

Dinner Party Politics 

FADE IN LANA, MĀORI, SAMOAN, TONGAN ONE, TONGAN TWO with his wife AUSTRALIAN, TONGAN THREE and TONGAN FOUR sit around a table on the rooftop in central Sydney. It’s 4pm and 28 degrees. TONGAN ONE hands TONGAN FOUR another cider. AUSTRALIAN starts talking to SAMOAN… AUSTRALIAN Yea, they’re [Aboriginal peoples] just brought up with such hate. SAMOAN slightly not interested nods. They must be talking about the results of colonial oppression, yea I’m into this.  LANA leans in to start listening. AUSTRALIAN They’re taught to be that way though, like no ones showing them hate, but they just hate everyone around them. Oh shit she’s talking about hate as in the Aboriginal people are the ones who hate the world. Does she mean that they’re like oppressing themselves? She must have no clue about what I do.  LANA calms herself, conscious this is a social situation. TONGAN ONE gives LANA side eye. LANA sees this. I know he’s read my writing on Decolonial Curatorial Practice. Is he telling me disengage?  MĀORI looks away. She’s my …

Backbone at The Banff Centre, Canada

At the end of August this year The Banff Centre in partnership with Red Sky Performance showcased the premiere of Backbone (2015) is an Indigenous dance piece crafted to depict the idea of the mountains being the spine of the Americas. With a troupe of mostly Indigenous dancers, the show unfolded brightly with a Fijian dancer  placing the South Pacific on stage. I felt right at home. The lights lowered, the atmosphere changed and movement began immediately. The choreography poured through intense and high energy technical pieces that favoured the male dancers. The muscular physiques led into fast sequences, dramatised within the theatre environment and moving effortlessly from one excerpt to the other. Backbone was dreamt up by the Director of Indigenous Arts Sandra Laronde and was produced in collaboration with Jera Wolfe (Co-Choreographer) and Thomas Fonua (Faculty/Co-Choreographer). With a strong presence annually in Banff, Fonua is featured in many of the photographs that advertise the Banff Indigenous Dance Residency and his role as faculty and performer has allowed him to form strong relationships with …

Inês Valle in conversation with Jimmy Saruchera

THE REAL CHANGE HAS JUST STARTED* | an interview with the Zimbabwean gallerist Jimmy Saruchera by the independent curator Inês Valle October is without doubt one of the most vibrant months in London, from food and film festivals to outstanding art exhibitions and international art fairs that keep drawing the world’s most influential art buyers to the UK. This year and once more coinciding with Frieze, we have the third edition of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, that proclaims its focus on the Afrikan Continent, offering in both London and New York a profitable and a discursive platform to Afrika and its art players. Apart from the exponential increase of Afrikan based art galleries at 1:54 [more than 40% in 2015] and the remarkable visibility that it has been giving to Afrika’s art in the Western world, we should have an open discussion about the legitimacy of this fair since it is yet to itinerate on the Afrikan continent itself. Whether we like it or not, the enormous curiosity about Afrika is still drawn by …