All posts filed under: Articles

The Transactional Practice of Mordo Barkley

The following text completes an agreement of exchange between Emil Dryburgh and Mordo Barkley, for the painting Collection of E. Dryburgh, swapped for Five Hundred Words, 2015. I’m pretty sure this kind of stuff happens all the time. Nepotism is the oil that greases the art world’s wheels, and everybody likes to be nice to their friends. Admittedly, the transaction is not usually as literal as this, but the principles of reciprocity and mutual gain are the same. It could be said that Mordo Barkley is using me as a hired gun, a means to inflate the brand through the written medium by which art is traditionally assessed. At-least we’re conducting our bargain in broad daylight, better than the smoke and mirrors of many a ‘critical reception’. I’m not the first to strike a bargain with Barkley. The artist has already bartered transactions with writers, designers, gallerists, and even a constructions manager. While trading art works is in itself not uncommon (McCahon constantly bartered his paintings), the method is rarely used to access the knowledge …

Locating the Asia Pacific in Brisbane

As a fairly recent migrant to Brisbane, I’ve recently become aware of a quaint Fortitude Valley exhibition space called Media Art Asia Pacific (MAAP).   I assumed from the name that this space specialised in Asian and Pacific arts.  Indeed, the organisation is a staunch advocate for contemporary and historic Asian arts (and rightly so).  Interestingly enough they also advocate some European and non-indigenous Australian artists.  But from what I gather, there are very few, if any, Pacific heritage artists associated with MAAP. Frequently listing themselves as supporters of Asia-Pacific art, this blanket term is  problematic.  By using this, they commit a disservice to Pacific voices which are often overlooked.  Most importantly, they also evade the responsibility to specifically represent artists of Pacific heritage. The ever-shifting Shangri-la* or the concept of the ‘Asia-Pacific’ can hardly be held responsible for a lack of representation in a gallery that boasts itself as a supportive organisation for ‘unmapped media art activity from Australia, Asia and the Pacific.’  AND THE PACIFIC.  The description of MAAPs ambitions are further unravelled …

Flagging the Debate

With so many issues of political importance – the TPPA, sale of state housing, child poverty, and charter schools – considering the nation’s drapery seems almost immoral. The flag debate is political distraction par-excellence (as illustrated by our patron saint of topical comics, Toby Morris). Nothing will absorb the nation’s scant interest in politics like a debate over national aesthetics, and our media landscape simply isn’t capable of supporting a meaningful debate. The powers-that-be know this; the flag debate is carefully crafted political anathema. The flag debate is an aesthetic ploy, not a deeper meditation upon the meaning of New Zealand nationhood. The flag could have been tied to a larger conversation around Crown-sovereignty and the possibility of establishing a republic. The process might have taken ten years, but at-least substantive issues would have been propelled into the public domain. Instead, the terms of the flag debate have been kept strictly aesthetic, and the nation re-purposed into an unruly focus group trying to agree on a favourite colour. There was one problem right from the …

Mother’s Ruin: Being Cool

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.  ________________________ I wasn’t always the mother with the mum-bun and the muslin cape. I remember existing as a singular creative person, doing things as decadent as drinking a bottle of Fat Bird for a creatively inspirational breakfast. The other week my baby girl suddenly started to poo frothy dark green explosions. Her ass became a little saagwala paneer cannon and I was terrified. She was vomiting and suddenly the coziness of her skin felt a little too warm and I was sure she was sweating, she was definitely sweating and were her eyes glassy? Her head floppy? Was she cross-eyed? Was that a rash?  Oh my bloody Jesus. Sierra. Hotel. India. Tango. Briefly I had a flashback to a night of drinking red wine, smoking out the window, and watching Bridget Jones’ Diary in my underwear. For Inspiration. It’s not like I could just …

So hot right now? What about next week? – Saving decolonial practices from tokenisation and ephemerality.

As Lana’s recent article read, there is no denying that ‘decolonial discourses are so hot right now.’ She raises some critical points about how decolonialism is being viewed with regards to wider criticism and practice in Aotearoa. Let’s elaborate on this. What is the potential detriment of this ostensibly sudden but enthusiastic pique of decolonialist movements? Imma be straight with you – I’m not bagging this charged-up movement – I too am a bandwagoner, hence me seizing this opportunity to write about it. For one, the popularity of these movements have apparently been successful in democratising decolonisation narratives. The exponential growth (measured from my Twitter and Facebook newsfeed) of mentions, hashtags and general awareness regarding race relations in (primarily) the USA, and New Zealand is evidence that decolonial narratives are making their way into the mainstream, even if they are sometimes misinformed.  Yet what concerns me is the potential decline of this boom – like pop culture fads: yo-yos and bindi-wearing – I fear that the ‘so hot right now’-ness of decolonial discourses risks the …

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 …

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 …

Te Taniwha and the East: Establishing the Malcolm Smith Gallery

Let’s be honest, Howick can be terrifying for a young person of colour. Everything about me is West Auckland, which is a community I feel very comfortable in. I blend in, and anyone would, really. Howick, however, feels like another world. Regardless of diversity, across our supercity is evidence of our council’s love of multi-purpose arts facilities. These hubs of creative activity have mandates to appeal, serve and reflect their local community. Maybe that’s the reason my West Auckland self never ventured to Uxbridge —perhaps I was not the desired audience? Walking into the once Presbyterian Church, turned gallery space and theatre, we are greeted by the black and white analogue photography of Joyce Campbell. Te Taniwha and The Thread are two series created by Joyce in collaboration with Ruakituri historian Richard Niania. Through photography, Joyce captures various sights across Wairoa exploring local mythology, history and ecology. This exhibition is a significant mark for Uxbridge (soon to be called Malcolm Smith Gallery), reflecting the turn of a programming era headed by the newly appointed curator Balamohan …