Archive for September, 2009

A Kind of Blue

I have thought long and hard before writing a post about this exhibition (Kind of Blue: new acquisitions and loans). You see I don’t ‘get’ art sometimes, or don’t get the nuances anyway and this exhibition has me stumped even though I have visited three times.

The DPAG spiel on this exhibition says “Over recent years the Dunedin Public Art Gallery has been strategically collecting, through acquisition as well as loans, a number of significant artworks by a range of contemporary artists from New Zealand and overseas. Kind of Blue provides an opportunity for a select group of these stunning photographs, sculptures and paintings by a range of emerging and established artists to be exhibited together for the first time.

This small selection (only 19 works) appears to be made up from the gallery’s collection and the Barr loan collection. I was very keenly looking forward to it after my contemporary art revelation of 2008 at Reboot at the City Gallery, Wellington. It was a mixed bag and I was a bit confused by the labelling/layout in the catalogue (no labelling in the actual gallery). Like I said though, I don’t ‘get’ things sometimes. I very much like Ben Cauchi’s photos and it was interesting to see  Yvonne Todd’s Founding CEO, 2008 which I thought might have been from the Wall of Man series but is dated earlier. A touch of lightness (but yet…not) was found in Campbell Patterson’s Lifting my mother for as long as I can series. The highlight for me was seeing in person the Peter Robinson polystyrene works. I have seen lots of photos online but to see them in person was amazing. Measure of disorder with its delicate chain links was wonderful, but oddly rearranged the second time I visited – although for the better.

At the floor talk I attended for reboot, Jim Barr talked a bit about Martin Creed’s work 88 so I was excited to see that too. Visit one – couldn’t find it and dumb old me couldn’t work out the blurry photo where I expected the Creed work to be (it turns out the photo was part of  Roman Signer’s Fireman’s glove with photograph). On my second visit, I damn near stepped on  Work 88: A sheet of A4 paper crumpled into a ball as it sat on the floor, albeit with a large DO NOT REMOVE sign beside it. Today, the ball of paper was there, with no sign. I am very suspicious though, as it looked nothing like the ball of paper from last week. Yeah ok I am nit-picking, but I found it disturbing.

 Work No. 88: A sheet of A4 paper crumpled into a ball
1995 – 2008, Paper, Approx. 5 cm diam
Unlimited edition
(Image from Martin Creed website)

For me , the catalogue hits the nail on the head with “it is difficult to discern what they [the artists] represent or are contemplating as a group“. I liked individual works, but as a group “they are only remarkable for their aloofness“.

The catalogue also says “there is a distinct coolness to the works” and I am thinking perhaps they were going for a gloomy atmosphere as they say the works address “aspects of absence, melancholy, loss“.  The show is dedicated to artist Julian Daspher who died in July 2009, so I guess that is fitting.

My plan is to go to the floortalk with Jim Barr and Mary Barr on 11th October (3pm) in hope of further clarification.

A Kind of Blue at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery runs from 29 August to 6 December 2009.

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Ok I am not just promoting me so it’s not so bad right??

The latest issue of JAAM  literary magazine, JAAM 27: Wanderings, has just been released. edited by Ingrid Horrocks and with brilliant cover design by Anna Brown, featuring artwork by Rachel Walker. I am told it is in Unity Books in Wellington today and should be in other independent bookshops around the country in the coming week.

Cover of JAAM 27

It is a beautiful looking book and has some wonderful writing inside. And me.

I submitted a short essay about a literary/art journey ‘Up the River’ – the first time I’d submitted anything anywhere and WOW, I got accepted. I am quite stunned to be alongside such illustrious company.

Happy Dance

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Art is everywhere

In the spirit of Art, Life, Tv etc I transcribe a recent conversation with my kids.

Me: (looking at a pile of cut up cereal boxes, sellotape and glitter) “Can you clean up that mess please?”
6-year-old: “It’s not a mess, Its ART”
4-year-old: “It’s an installation”

Goodness knows where they get this stuff from.

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I Noticed

Is the new logo for Te Papa?

Photo lifted from Dunedin Streets blog

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A Spotless Mind

Some recent events have got me thinking about, well, thinking.

Firstly this:

Pic shamelessly stolen from David Cauchi’s Pointless and Absurd blog

The Ian Curtis memorial wall in Wellington is no more. More about it at the afore mentioned blog (and I agree – arseholes) and on Stuff which aptly calls the council’s buff squad, the ‘killjoy division’. My problem with this is not so much that its gone, although that is sad – it will surely rise again and hopefully with some version better than this (at least get the dates right guys). It’s that this piece of graffiti has been there on and off for 28 years and has significant meaning – to those of us Joy Division fans at least. Some nice writing around Joy Division and significance can be found on Philip Matthews blog here and here and here. To me what has happened here is ‘cultural vandalism’ *- council sanctioned vandalism.

And as Component susinctly puts it:

Pic not so shamelessly stolen from Component’s website

Is this what they are aiming for – grey minds? But it got me thinking about the quote from Alexander Pope’s Eloisa to Abelard:

“Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d;”

Maybe its easier this way? Not thinking or questioning or remembering? Recently I have been finding it increasingly difficult to equate my day-to-day domesticity with my thinking and aspirations. Also with the seemingly exciting lives of various unencumbered friends seem very desireable. Maybe that’s what Valium was to the 50s/60s housewife – keeping the mind spotless, in order to keep the house the same? Maybe a certain amount of greyness is required to live this life. Maybe the art and the writing (and the ukulele playing) is simply bashing  against the bars? Or maybe its more universal and that the powers that be want everyone greyed out and drone like in every endeavour?

Lets not , eh?

* although some have accused me of cultural vandalism myself for playing ‘Love Will Tear us Apart” on the ukulele

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Stuff (NOT the website) has taken over my life. I am feeling a bit like the Junk Lady from the film Labyrinth, overwhelmed by things. Which has led to a reduction in blogging – and other writing projects.

Several interesting things have come my way though. Firstly I was sent a great MP3 of Dave Hickey speaking (audio file here – its big!) He made some excellent points and I felt they were very relevant to the New Zealand institutional art scene. [Hatip MC for the link]. One take away message though for me was that art is an elective, not a compulsory course, so to speak. Art is a luxury. As my twitter followers will know, I can be a bit whiney about my relatively comfortable middle-class existence. Art (in its broad sense) is my luxury and I should probably appreciate that more instead of moaning that I can’t get to see more exhibitions or buy more books. Deviating a bit from Hickey’s view, and whatever their state, I am very appreciative of public galleries (and libraries!) as I get to see so much at very little cost.

I have also been very lucky to meet with some extremely interesting people of late and to read some great poetry. It’s been awesome to be able to help out a little by scrounging for knitting needles for the binding of my good friend Helen Heath’s forthcoming chapbook Watching for Smoke. This is being published by another wonderful Helen (Rickerby), at Seraph Press. Its very energising to be around people who are passionate about what they are doing and how they are doing it. In this vein, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Dean Havard at Kilmog Press, who produces beautiful handcrafted books and have had great discussions with poet Michael Steven. Kilmog has just published his chapbook Centreville Springs and its a good one!

All the literary talk prompted me to have a hunt for Fernado Pessoa books in Dunedin’s excellent 2nd hand book shops (reuse!). I had a great conversation with one ‘bookshop guy’ which went something like this:

“I am looking for anything by Pessoa”
“Oh, the Portugese chap? No sorry not at the moment”

I was so impressed that ‘bookshop guy’ knew Pessoa (and on my last visit taught me how to pronounce ‘Camus’ properly) that I ended up walking away with Rimbaud’s prose poems which was at the top limit of my budget. As this flying bookshop visit was on the way to a family outing to the Botanical Gardens I also ended up carrying Rimbaud and a copy of Edmund White’s ‘The Flaneur’  with me around the park which felt a tiny bit surreal.

The park has some interesting Peter Pan statuary. Apparently you can find these all over NZ but I found the detail in the base of this one a tad creepy. The statue is of Peter standing on a tree stump. In the tree roots are all sorts of creatures – and babies. It hadn’t occurred to me that the ‘lost boys’ were once ‘lost babies’ which I find a little disturbing and reminiscent of The Importance of Being Earnest where a baby was left in a capacious handbag “in the cloak-room of one of the larger railway stations in London.”

This baby looks quite forlorn in it’s tree root ‘cage’

On the recycle front so much has been happening but probably only of interest to me. But in the spirit of ‘recycle’ , here is a cover of Word Up – played on the ukulele. Yes, I have also been neglecting my ukulele fetish even though I am actually taking some lessons. WORD


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