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Archive for March, 2008

This takes the cake

A friend sent this in today (hat tip Helen)

Art  – where has the fun gone

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Artist Inez Crawford’s Bouncy Marae piece, a bouncy-castle style wharenui (meeting house), part of the Land Wars show at the Te Tuhi Galleryin Pakuranga. 3 March 2008. Someone obviously thinks I have a thing for inflatable art.

Something I’ve been wondering about lately is that most galleries advertise that you can hire them out as a ‘venue’. Even Te Papa – “the galleries on Levels 5 and 6 offer unique opportunities to hold private functions surrounded by treasured artworks and artefacts.” and this from Auckland “The Auckland Art Gallery is much more than just another venue. Hold your next function here and join your guests in experiencing some of New Zealand’s finest traditional and contemporary art. Like the works of art we display – your event will truly be a masterpiece.” So I could get married in front of a McCahon? Have a cocktail party in the gallery? So ummm, what happens if someone spills the bubbly? I just find it scary.

I am taking questions from the floor by the way. For those who asked..

– Yes, I do know Ricky Swallow is Australian but the Blanket Shark work was in a sale here and he is from ‘the ‘hood’.
– No, I can’t sneak in more kitsch – even in a design entry.
– No
– No
– 42

and so in lieu of Vogon poetry

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Cyclic Events  (1971) – Rudi Gopas

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One of those days

Overheard in a department store today “Well I guess there’s nothing else to do on a wet Sunday but shop“.  That statement annoys me on so many levels. If rain defines you (as per Tuwhare), then maybe the fact that rain makes these people shop, defines them? At least I had a reasonable excuse for being there. However the day didn’t improve much from then, but I’ll spare you the details.

My head hurts so I am going to eat some more chocolate and just bring you some things that have caught my eye this week.

I found an excellent article from Ali Bramwell “Occupying the Pavement: Public Art” While the subject dates back a bit, I have fallen HARD for this type of art.

“…the Dunedin Beautification Project (2006) by Matt Gillies. Without warning or any discussion with council the artist had gradually replaced a number of existing functional aluminium plates (part of the city’s water and gas infrastructure, designed to allow maintenance access) with image and message bearing alternatives. The process Gillies followed was to ‘liberate’ a single plate at a time, melt it down, then recasting it to his own satisfaction and replacing it where he got it from.”

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Matt Gillies, Dunedin Beautification Project (installation detail), Dunedin City, 2006.

On the same theme, the Wooster Collective always has interesting stuff, I loved these inflatable sculptures on subway air vents (yes I know animal art again).

The Art Life came up with this work by Mai Yamashita + Naoto Kobayashi, Paths are made by walking. “In order to determine whether the above phrase was actually true, Yamashita and Kobayashi kept running in a park for 5 days”. The video is really good.

Today there was to be “Mass Cloud Watching – Human Art Work:  watch clouds as a mass while I photograph you”. I am asuming it was rained out but looks like something interesting if you are in Auckland when they try next time (April 22).

I’ve also been spending some time on Flickr, where there is lots of fun stuff.  The Banksy group is good and I found some excellent photography of ‘Wellington – abandoned’ which I may follow up to get some local ‘industrial rust’ photos. The whole flickr site is kind of a weird concept though to my mind. Its life on display. .. to the extreme.

I’ve realised just how much the internet is my window to the world but I do need to get out more and see.more.art. I’ve come to the conclusion that its all about planning. I have one morning a week that’s mostly free so I’ve decided that I will go into Wellington once every 2-3 weeks, otherwise I will miss all the things I’m wanting to see. So I will forgo every 2nd long black to acheive this aim (yeah right). Sometimes delays bring good things though. I hadn’t got around to seeing “Reboot” at the City Gallery but I noticed that a special collectors tour is happening on 4th May, so I’ll go then.

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One Wet Sunday  – Barry Payne

I love this picture of The Terrace. It also shows 2 buildings I worked in when I was Ms Corporate IT person too (a whole different life).

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I bought a book yesterday. OK, that’s not very remarkable except I am on a strict budget and buying books is a bit of a luxury so the library usually does good business out of me. The book is “The Wide White Page” edited by Bill Manhire. What took my interest is that it is a collection of writing about Antarctica by people who mostly have never been there and so have “imaginatively explored” the continent in fiction. I am currently taken by the fiction/non-fiction cross over in literature so I am hoping this book holds some great examples. As a bonus, it also includes Monty Python’s “Scott of the Sahara”.

I own a lot of books, a hangover from more affluent (childless) times. A friend who is a librarian once told me I was the only non-librarian he knew who organised their non-fiction books by the Dewey decimal system – I’d done it unconsciously! My fiction isn’t alphabetically arranged, but by the authors origin and then chronologically. Interesting configurations appeared recently when I moved house and someone else unpacked my books, just throwing them anywhere onto the various bookcases. I have mostly got them back in order but I couldn’t bear to break some up. Peggy Salinger is beside Joyce Maynard, while Catcher in the Rye is in a whole different bookcase. Lauris Edmond sat beside John Irving for a while, now Annie Proulx is next to him. Pat Barker’s Regeneration trilogy sits between two WWI history books. You get the idea.

I had a bad day blogging yesterday when I couldn’t access wordpress at all. It suddenly didn’t like my user name and then several accounts and IDs got mixed up on gmail, blogger etc. I sort of wonder if it was a platform issue or the problem of having several differing accounts. It got me thinking about anonymity as I was also party to some discussion about John Hurrell’s blog requiring ‘real names’ which probably is one reason why there aren’t too many comments on it – its sort of a pity when his blurb says “I want the site to be welcoming as an educational resource so it can increase its audience.” I don’t think its sinister having various identities either as I personally am involved in web and real life projects that have no overlap. Why not just use my real name? – Stalkers – :-)

Hmmm – sealing wax? Ok I have nothing, but yesterday I saw a painting I absolutely loved with very thick application of oil paint. It was one of those WOW! moments that I am happy to still get. The artist was Sue Lund, trained in Sydney but now living in Wellington and the picture in question was a landscape called “South Coast” and at a small gallery in Kapiti called “Beaut”.

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Islands– Sue Lund

Actually the gallery sells all sorts of stuff and I indulged my ‘mild obsession’ for retro kitsch kiwiana (some would say junk) by buying a small Delware copper and enamel dish with a Maori rock art design. I believe these designs were based on Theo Schoon’s drawings.

I was hoping to find some sort of contemporary vegetable installation to end with, that was not garden show related. However this will do…

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Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor, as a “Vegetable Man” (Roman God of the seasons Vertumnus), by Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1590-1)
 

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Hard art

Some things I’ve reading lately have been rather ‘sneering’ at the notion of the artist starving in his garret for his art and that in today’s world of professional artists “wild eyed romanticism has been replaced with teaching jobs and curatorially orchestrated pr campaigns.” (apologies – I lifted that quote from artbash). Toss Woollaston’s ‘cinderella’ story is also bandied around as “it couldn’t happen today”.

I do wonder how much effect the Pathways to Arts and Cultural Employment (PACE) Scheme, where you can now list yourself as an artist of some sort and claim the dole if you are out of work or not receiving a sustainable income has had. Maybe that is why there are so many ‘artists’ about?

Do artists need to struggle to be ‘serious’? Has art just become a job or a commodity? Think about Van Gogh and the story that he only sold one painting while alive.
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Red Vineyard, Arles (1888)

It just struck me how Woollaston worked in horticulture in the Nelson area (maybe too early for vinyards) and now his son runs the Woollaston Vineyard in Upper Moutere (any one tried the wine??).

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The Red Shed.

To me an artist should be passionate about their work – but passionate enough to endure hardship? Does hardship temper them? Affect the art? Is art too ‘easy’ nowadays?  Or was it too difficult in the past?

Personally I feel sorry for the wives (and husbands?). You only need to flick through Partners in Art too see what some had to cope with in the name of art. How did it effect the kids?

Alternatively, look at people who chose a solitary life so they could dedicate themselves soley to their art – Rita Angus springs to mind.

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Rita – photo by Theo Schoon

Again, so many questions but its about the journey, right?

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My day in the sun

Don’t expect to read anything mind expanding here today!

A friend today said they thought my theme here is “what is art?”. I have given up trying to solve that one, but its fun  exploring. I don’t actually agree with the following sentiment, but here’s one point of view…

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Stencil art – Brisbane 2007 (and I think better than the original Warhol poster)

Today my faith was also restored a little in “the art world”. I had an incredibly productive and enlightening conversation regarding some research information with an art writer. People have been so generous and approachable helping me out. So it led me on a tour to find some artists homes. I don’t know why I thought having the addresses would enable me to drive up and see these houses. (Sub)urban development hasn’t stood still for 40+ years. I guess my excitement in locating a local Plischke house relatively intact over Easter made me think it would be easy. Still I have a lot to go on for the next phase…so thanks again :-)

Its been really hard to get anywhere to see anything lately (still considering that ‘donate’ button) so I also stopped back in to the Mahara Gallery to look over the Hodgkins/Pick exhibition again. Mark Amery wrote a review in today’s DomPost that really summed up the Hodgkins work well – but hardly a mention of Pick. Personally today Summer Joys (1916) struck me. It seemed so vibrant and full of movement and what was really weird was that they way it was painted (post-impressionist?) meant that it could equally be a modern scene. I was thinking about becoming ‘involved’ with the gallery in some way but I can’t really see that I’d be much use.

I was also thinking about doing some ‘real’ art history study. I see Vic offers a graduate diploma which would be good but I haven’t really go the time right now to  go in and attend lectures so I guess I’ll stick to my self-education programme and continue to stumble along blindly. The only big advantage right now would be to give my research some ‘legitimacy’.

On that note I am still struggling with finding software to basically keep a catalogue raisonné. I have developed my own little app to do this but I hate the thought of the “perfect” software being out there all ready to go. Mind you mine is cheaper :-)

So lastly a picture relevant to today’s expedition and how I would have ideally liked my day to have been.

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Art Transformation Zone

You may have seen this advert

Well I’ve been thinking that this may also apply to some more ‘conceptual’ artworks. If I was very clever I would make my own video version…but for now picture this. Find this object within a few hundred metres of a gallery or public artspace and its ART…

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Peter Robinson (title unknown – anyone?)

Further away than that and it becomes…a big lump of polystyrene.

art, art, art, art…polystyrene    OR

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Kah Bee Chow & Finn Ferrier For F & F, 2008

art, art, art, art…sand

NOTE: I have nothing against these artworks. I was just thinking about what would happen if you encountered them in a space not ‘designated’ for art.

In other news I am ridiculously excited to find a Plischke house just down the road from where I live.

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Art Shark

I finally got around to listening to Kim Hill’s interview with Don Thompson about his book “$12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art and Auction Houses”. The title comes from the Damien Hirst’s artwork The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living which is/was essentially a stuffed shark in a tank of formaldehyde.

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Its interesting because of its conceptual nature and also because of its mythology. The shark was poorly preserved and started rotting and then apparently the Saatchi gallery skinned it and put it over a fibreglass mould which changed the work. Even curiouser is that when it was sold to Steve Cohen in 2004, Hirst replaced the shark with a whole new one which was about a foot shorter, and supposedly better preserved. Cohen said he was buying (for the aforementioned $12 million) the concept not the art. I have Thompson’s book on order so I am really looking forward to reading about the workings of art economics but this does raise a whole lot of questions about what is art and for me if collectors/galleries are actually buying simply the concept? An entry on Overthenet a while back, got me thinking about this too. I can see why public galleries would have difficulty buying (and storing) a concept. I struggle with conceptual art myself and for example, while I like Inanga by Finn Ferrier (oh look more fish art…) , how does someone buy or “own” that? At least a big rotting shark is tangible. I have to admit if I had a few billion lying about (which would make $12 million seem like smaller change) I don’t think I’d be buying a Hirst but you never know. He had this to say:

It’s a big dilemma. Artists and conservators have different opinions about what’s important: the original artwork or the original intention. I come from a conceptual art background, so I think it should be the intention. It’s the same piece. But the jury will be out for a long time to come.”

There is an thought-provoking (and funny) commentary here too.

too reminiscent of Monty Python’s “Dead Parrot” sketch…Conjuring images of John Cleese indignantly reeling off a stream of euphemistic invective: ‘this shark has expired, passed away, snuffed it, kicked the bucket, gone the way of all flesh, shuffled off this mortal coil’

We have our own shark art example here in NZ too in Blanket Shark by Ricky Swallow (snapped up for the bargin price of $38,000 in 2007).

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From the Art + Object Catalogue: “Blanket Shark, sculpted in 1996 is a work that seemingly effortlessly brings together the art historical and the personal that characterizes Swallow’s stunning work. It makes a nod both to Damien Hirst’s iconic 1991 tiger shark pickled in a glass tank of formaldehyde, which ushered in the uber-cool of the previous generation; and the carpet sharks – such as the spotted wobbegong – reeled in by the artist’s father.”

Personally I’d much rather have Blanket Shark. I have this weird mental image of a school of little toy sized ones though. What is the word for baby shark?

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