Year: 2015

Wunderūmma at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Assorted small things In a room full of perspex cases and salon-hung paintings at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, there are two modest works sitting quietly side-by-side. Wunderūmma: New Zealand Jewellery showcases so many works that it appears overwhelming. In this particular case a fascinating piece from Te Papa Tongawera, titled Randell Cottage Jewellery, 1850-1910, makers unknown, rests alongside Kate Newby’s Most Naturally from 2013. Both works involve a collection of small items carefully arranged, and seeming to promise a good story. You can find them for yourself in case ‘L’. It took me several inspections of Wunderūmma to get to know this pair and the fascinating story behind the Randell Cottage Jewellery. Long forgotten, the objects were found in a hidden cache of the Randell Cottage in Thorndon, Wellington. A bloom of turquoise oxide now covers the small collection of keys, brooches and other miscellaneous items. No one knows the collector, where the objects came from or why they were chosen. Kate Newby’s work on the other hand consists of a number …

The Theocracy of David Bowie

Theo Macdonald is an artist that publishes a regular comic series called Theocracy – an excruciatingly simple pun on the artist’s name. The autobiographical and mock-scholar tone of Theocracy suits, as with each new release, Macdonald outlines another adventure of embodied cultural critique. The latest issue titled Go Out – Stay In – Get Things Done, outlines the artist’s fourteen-week conversion to David Bowie circa 1983 (one of the musicians most maligned periods). As Macdonald explains on page one: “The project is thinking about how certain parts of an artist’s career are canonised and the transitional phases glossed over.” The comic format is a surprisingly intuitive guide to the conceptual performance piece. The necessary context of the work is made illustrative, and each intricacy repurposed as a twist in the story. A map of Macdonald’s experience during the performance; the comic is a personal record of what might otherwise seem a deceitful exercise. While Go Out – Stay In – Get Things Done feels like the definitive guide to the performance, Macdonald’s shape shifting found …

Decolonisation is so hot right now – ST PAUL St Curatorial Symposium 2015 – Random Thoughts 

Note: I could not cover everything in this article nor was I trying to, this is just some thoughts that I had post the Symposium on my experience over 2 days of talks and manākitanga. This years ST PAUL St Curatorial Symposium was centred on alternate ways of being and knowing. It’s a social event for New Zealand’s curatorial community, really. There were talks by Julia Moritz, Cassandra Barnett, Léuli Eshraghi, Peter Brunt, Misal Adnan Yildiz and Marysia Lewandowska and manākitanga by Public Share and Local Time. The first four talks where led by speakers qualified with or on their way to a PhD. Despite the academic heft present, much of the time was spent considering alternate (non-academic or university sanctioned) ways knowing, often involving a process of unlearning. Learning, then unlearning. It can all be a bit of a vortex if you think about it for too long. Much of the energy seemed to be spent theorising what could otherwise be seen as instinctual. A common thread of the symposium was the use, redefinition …

Mother’s Ruin: PPS How come you have never heard of me?

This is an on-going series that investigates Bella Horlor’s new role as a young mother. An artist and poet, Horlor shares the banal quandaries that exist between artistic and maternal labour.  ________________________ He is old and grey and barely put together. I think he is wearing a zany hand knit jumper and loafers. I’ve seen him laughing amicably at my reading and nodding along. I’m standing here holding a paper cup of pop. Well at the moment it’s probably 60% pop. It’s rapidly becoming a spittoon filled by his manic anecdote about Susan Sontag. He’s never heard of me but he likes my work. I’m not pretentious- I’m easy. I have very pretty eyes. Stunning. So round. Warm. I’m awfully lucky as a pregnant woman; I don’t appear to be very large at all. Have I ever heard of an epidural? His wife had one of those. He recommends it profusely. Is it a boy or a girl? Are we going to try cloth nappies? You need about 36; 12 for the day, 12 in …

Loverdose Tattoo at Pilot

What do you do with an empty pink gallery space, (Pilot, in Hamilton) courtesy of a previous exhibition, called, Hey, Cutie! There’s only one thing you can do and that’s make love in it. It cries out for such employment. And that’s what artist, Lauren Burrow did. Well, almost. By proxy. What you see when you walk into the gallery painted in three shades of gorgeous pink, is nothing. You’re simply surrounded in soft cherry reds: flushed, rosy, glowing and blushing: and then you hear, if you listen carefully, the slightly muffled voice of the artist on a recording reciting her poem, while at the same time involving herself in self-pleasure. The poem is entitled, Full Body Msg (Massage) and was recorded during the artist’s residency at the physics room, Christchurch.  It lasts for 4 minutes 30 seconds and plays on loop. Here are some of the lines randomly collated from the poem. Things are more real if you say them out loud. Slow motion water falling mirror cage. Keep on going. When I was …

Game of Two Halves: Simon Denny

This is part three of a series that investigates Simon Denny’s Secret Power, the project representing New Zealand at the 56th Venice Biennale. The exhibition addresses the intersection of knowledge and geography in a post-Snowden world, and is split between two sites: the Marco Polo Airport, and the Marciana Library. Venice is strange. I looked across the canal to see the newest addition to the Biennale headquarters, the Australian Pavilion. The steel clad structure loomed on the water’s edge like a dark modernist beast, and the iron ore surface left no illusions about where they’d got the money for the eleven million dollar pavilion. Amidst plenty of pomp, Cate Blanchet cut the ribbon for the venues inaugural exhibition. Accurately titled ‘Wrong Way Time’, Australia takes the prize for big money flop of the 56th Venice Biennale. Perhaps strangest of all, the New Zealand representative at Venice has a German accent. In this fairground where nationalism is the binding oil, New Zealand backed a Berliner. Good call I reckon. The strongest pavilions at Venice are those …

Game of Two Halves: Biblioteca Marciana

This is part two of a series that investigates Simon Denny’s Secret Power, the project representing New Zealand at the 56th Venice Biennale. The exhibition addresses the intersection of knowledge and geography in a post-Snowden world, and is split between two sites: the Marco Polo Airport, and the Marciana Library. There is a long bridge that connects Marco Polo Airport to Venice. Crossing the bridge on the airport shuttle bus, I could see the dome of Santa Maria and the tower of Saint Marco. Familiar sights, though not due to any art historical training (I got a C in 104 Renaissance Italy). Instead, I’d spent hours scaling Venetian rooftops in Assassin’s Creed II. This kind of knowledge that was once privileged, difficult to attain, can now be acquired in some surprising ways: for the price of the water-bus up the Grand Canal, I’d already scaled 16th century Venice and killed the Doge. Walking off the wharf at Saint Marco, I noticed a Simon Denny banner draped over the big marble building to my left. I’d …

An Area of Darkness, Child Trafficking in Mumbai

The statistics on child trafficking in India are staggering. But, this is a small portrait of one person, Nazim. He was thirteen years old when his parents sold him to the overseer of a work gang on a construction site here in Mumbai in 2010. This construction site happens to be part of our apartment complex. I first met Nazim when I saw him eating alone in the stairwell by our apartment. I would see him there everyday and we started to chat. It took three months of casual small talk before we actually communicated in any depth. As it turned out, my mother was from the same economically deprived part of India as Nazim, Uttar Pradesh. Only a few months earlier I had been talking to a police constable on the ins and outs of Mumbai life when he’d warned me about the morally low people of Uttar Pradesh or U.P as people call it here. This advice came from the same policeman who had happily taken my money to get an official piece of paperwork processed without causing “tension in the system”. His warning …

Living in an alternative daily life: the #unrealcityestate project

What is it like to live in an imaginary city? Through IOWA I was involved in a project called Unreal City Estate, created by Jun Kitazawa and curated by Sara Black. This was a satellite project as part of the 2015 International Award for Public Art conference (IAPA 2015), hosted by the Elam School of Fine Arts, the University of Auckland, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and the Shandong University of Art & Design. The Unreal City Estate in Albert Park, Auckland was a place “where people get together and create ‘an imaginary city’ that could exist alongside the real city we live in today.” Anyone is able to lease out their own plot of land on Albert Park and respond to their chosen site how they wish. It was a city within a city, in the public context of a park between 11 am and 3 pm on Sunday 5th July. Kitazawa’s practice primarily involves working with small communities and revolves around the idea of the small festival, following studies by scholars such …