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In conversation with Georgie Johnson

Georgie Johnson is an emerging artist based in Wellington who has just had her first ‘official’ gallery show (as she called it) at Brunswick Street Gallery (BSG) in Melbourne Australia. The other first show-ers I have known have been with a local gallery where they have had the support of their friends and often family to help them navigate, or had at least met the gallery staff before opening day.  I caught up with Georgie about the experience of having her first show offshore and her thoughts about how she will move forward with her practise. Meredith Leigh Crowe: Was this your first time visiting Melbourne? Georgie Johnson: Yeah, I have been to Australia before, but never Melbourne, so it was a bit of an adventure. M: How did you come to show with BSG? G: I’ve shown before but it was in more causal locations and set ups.  This is my first official gig with a gallery which was a pretty cool thing! I’ve been doing a few commissioned pieces recently and selling to people overseas, and …

Briefly on the Precarity of the Emerging Artist

Precariousness is the new contemporary condition of the emerging artist. Even the very words ‘emerging artist’ — that is towards some sense of stability or establishment within the art world — are words that are now intermingled with the notion of precarity. To be an emerging artist, more often than not, is to be in a state of precariousness, meaning to live with an insecure and unforeseeable future especially through the corrosion of state support systems and privatisation of almost every realm of life. Now emerging artists are increasingly dependent on “something outside themselves, on others, on institutions and on sustained and sustainable environments.”(1)  To be an emerging artist today is to be dependent on many facets of the art world, more so than it ever has been. And because life is already precarious, under the current neoliberal agenda, artistic labor of the emerging artist is increasingly undervalued by the state. The precarity of living itself; the paying of bills, food, rent, power, internet and clothes etc., all impact artistic production. The harder it is to …

Breathing in Beijing at Wallace Gallery

The world of residencies is a curious thing. The old saying, a change is as good as a rest probably operates here, but it’s become, it seems, something more than that these days. It’s morphed into a career move, the must have for all aspiring artists making their convoluted way inside the mysterious arena of professional advancement in the art business. China seems to have become the “it” place to be. One can speculate about why that is the case. Is it the attraction of the strange and slightly exotic, the challenge of that which is foreign, unorthodox, transgressive, the other? Or is it something to do with being on site of an emerging new world power and witnessing culture in major social ferment, change and flux? Whatever it is, it has attracted a growing number of New Zealand artists in recent years, one of whom is Bevan Shaw, freshly returned from a residency near Beijing. He was domiciled in a small town just out from the big city on the north-eastern outskirts, a place …

Waiver Flash Deviate at Eastern Art Express

waiver · flash · deviate took place on the inaugural Eastern Art Express – a free bus service to Malcolm Smith Gallery in Howick and Te Tuhi in Pakuranga, departing opposite Artspace on Karangahape Road, Tāmaki Makaurau. Bridget Riggir-Cuddy and Taarati Taiaroa commissioned three new works from artists Hana Pera Aoake, Matilda Fraser and Olivia Blyth to take place throughout the journey. The following is an account of the event from one of the passengers who took part in the journey. I drove to catch this bus Wearing a red jersey. Late, feeling anxious Only wanting to sleep   The last on I make my way down to the back where I spot a familiar face and say some breathless hellos before being instructed to put on the blindfolds we were greeted with as we boarded.(1) It was a hot winters day and the prospect of working up a sweat making idle sightless conversation amongst that small crowd had me move away to an empty seat. People don’t stop talking. Within earshot they’re musing as …

Creep!!! at Skinroom

Fear and Loathing Creep!!! at Skinroom came about from a casual conversation between two artists; Abigail Jensen and Eliza Webster — the director of Skinroom Gallery. Eliza had been receiving borderline stalker texts from a man, and the two stumbled across his page online, listed on FetLife.com, a social media platform like Facebook, but kinky. Aside from his continued unwelcome advances, they found themselves finding out more intimate details about his life and personal preferences than they ever wanted to know. Jokingly, they laughed about making an exhibition about this experience: Creep!!!  Centred around creepiness, unsolicited attention from men, and general undesirable smut, their works follow this theme. Although most works in the exhibition are flat works on paper or board, there are several installation pieces. In the first room, a yellow sheet of plastic cut with metal stud punches and rings hangs. Translucent and thin like stretched, pierced skin, this work by Jensen recalls Eva Hesse’s latex and canvas hung works. In the second room, Webster installed a dentist chair from the 60s, the …

Emanations at Govett-Brewster Art Gallery

The Art of the Cameraless Photograph. Ask a few people what a cameraless photograph is, and you’ll most likely be met with blank stares. Our experience of photography is manifestly entwined with the camera, the lens, and the act of looking through a device to see what is out there. The notion of a photograph made without a camera seems paradoxical. But the camera is ultimately a tool which causes light to fall on a light sensitive surface in a particular way – and if we remove the camera from the equation, what remains is the interplay of light, surface, and time. These are fundamentals every photographer engages with in the production of work. Yet on their own, they challenge our understanding of what photography is, or might be. Emanations at the Govett-Brewster has a breadth of material that will appeal to the photographic community and a general gallery audience alike. There is a wide scope of national and international practitioners, historic and contemporary work, and the variety of aesthetic and conceptual investigations afforded by …

43 things I have learnt while working in an art museum.

1. When it’s raining it’s generally busier. 2. Video is the new black. 3. More and more shows are for entertainment. 4. Curators tend to pack exhibitions with as many artists as they can, more is more apparently and I think this is a bad idea.  5. I see a lot of couples, it seems to be the perfect place for a date, perhaps I will go on one too, but I won’t cause I work there. 6. Sometimes the architecture is more impressive than the art according to visitors. 6. People don’t like paying for art exhibitions but it’s the norm in many places. 7. Kids can say the best things about art; we forget to take art at face value sometimes. 8. People hit on the gallery assistants all the time, remember we are paid to be friendly, emotional labor is no easy feat. 9. People generally look at the wall text first; for once it would be nice to have none at all. They are so prosaic, but for good reason. I …

Writing about writing

I’ve reverted to writing about writing.  And fair warning, I have nothing conclusive to say. Almost a year ago now I left Wellington. I bummed off my parents for a bit, went travelling and eventually moved to Australia. Up until that point I was writing regularly, for #500words, Design Assembly, the Wellington City Council, and a few other smaller artsy publications. I had been working at Enjoy Public Art Gallery for almost two years, and was in my fourth year (on and off) tutoring in the design programme at Victoria University. Without really appreciating it I was constantly surrounded by extremely talented creative people. Curators, artists, writers, photographers, designers, illustrators; world-view-altering over-coffee musings were weekly (I lie, sometimes we drank beer). 1. Working for Enjoy was — to put it simply — a very cool experience. I met amazing people, people who I still look up to and work with, and wish happy birthday on Facebook. I hope I appreciated it at the time, but I certainly appreciate it now. The most remarkable thing about …

Blonde Maiden series 2016 at ALL GOODS

When I was young, up to 14 we were still walking around with our skirts and with no tops, we went to school and the only time we wore tops or a whole dress was when we went to church but at my age we were still running around topless and there was nothing wrong with that. We went to Samoa college and I remember one guy said come and look at our photos and we went to his house and his father had all these nude paintings of girls just in their skirts going to school and it made me think ‘oh’, it made me feel it’s dirty and I realised, I said ‘are we doing the wrong thing?’ But then it made me really angry. Interview with Pusi Urale, 2013 (1) Pinks, peaches, yellows, blues and whites blend together in the 10 paintings of the Palagi female figure. Blonde Maiden, a solo exhibition by Pusi Vaele Urale, forefronts societal norms of beauty and measure. I heard grumblings from fellow visitors to the gallery …