Posts Tagged ‘Blogging’

The Blog Life

I was so busy for a while focussing on a project that when I finished it felt like my brain had turned to mush and I really didn’t have much to share to here. Then today I read this wonderful post by one of the Helens and it was very familiar territory for me.

What I have been doing though, has culminated in a catalogue essay for a Jeffrey Harris exhibition which opens this Friday.

 Jeffrey Harris Untitled #5, 1980-1981

The artist has described these scenes as actors in a series of dramas, their players are often trapped, often provided release. It has been noted that Harris, in these works, has the power “to communicate through a literal meaning, the opaqueness of the non-literal. The three paintings on exhibition at the Brett McDowell gallery are from a series of seven completed in 1981, two have never been exhibited before.”

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The experiment

Well, I almost blogged every day for the month of May. It turned out to be all about quantity not quality of course. Maybe I should stick to a more realistic regime like Giovanni.

One observation has been that social media like Twitter and Facebook detract from my blogging and when I am doing frequent blogging any of my more serious writing suffers. So I’m thinking about doing something a little different with this blog in future. Wait and see….

I will do a separate post about the Sèraphine Pick show that opened here last night at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, but I do want to note that indeed there were women wearing Doc Martens and, although just a bit of fun, the horse was the escape route.

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Rules of Engagement

This last week I have been thinking a lot about engagement of public institutions with their audience. This partially stems from some research that I’ve been doing, where I have looked at the relationship between a curator and the perceived viewer of an exhibition – specifically the distance between the two.

I have had cause to talk to a variety of curators of late and their views on my research topic and curatorship in general covered a broad spectrum. It also became very apparent that their engagement with an audience varied hugely as well. This led me to the bigger idea of how institutions regard their audience. For a start do they really know their demographic? Are they interested in widening it? Publically funded institutions are generally measured by numbers of real people coming through the doors and only just now in some places is the virtual visitor becoming important.

Museum2.0is a wonderful blog by Nina Simon on the topic of interactive institutions. She writes “I believe that every museum can grow its audience as long as it is willing to grow with that audience by taking risks, trying new things, and communicating openly.

I see evidence of this with several New Zealand art institutions successfully blogging and twittering including Te Papa, and the  Auckland and Christchurch Art Galleries. I guess I am most impressed with CAG, but that might be because I won a competition :-). A summary of what they are doing with their Brought To Light blog can be found here. I agree , its a smart move. Engagement on many fronts seems to be the key though.

There are also some wonderful initiatives about such as Digital NZ, and NZMuseums who are encouraging digitisation of collections. The National Digital Forum Conferencein November is doing more to spread the digital word and even has a subsidies available for small community organisations who would otherwise not be able to attend. Digitisation goes part way to help with the issue of collections of works and artifacts that don’t ‘get out much’, so I think its important. It also transcends geographical barriers.

New Zealand is a small country and it seems to me that there could be more happening in the form of collaboration between public art institutions. In many ways we have a distributed national collection through all the public galleries rather than the ‘official’ one centred in Wellington. The recent Rita Angus exhibition is an example of how this could work and also showed up a few pitfalls. Although Rita was free to other galleries, the (rising) fees normally charged between galleries sometimes prevent works from getting about and also smaller galleries can have trouble meeting stringent requirements that are often required. Obviously works need to be protected but a more liberal, generous attitude could have us – the audience – seeing more of our visual art treasures. Digitisation is all very well (ok more than that) but seeing art ‘in person’ can’t be beat.

Personally I’d like to see more of this getting around so people can see it rather than it being sold off to private hands.

Queensbury Rules – perhaps not the best set for the art world

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Time and attention

About time I put some attention into this blog. I have been frantic with assignment deadlines and forced writing which is no fun at all. Anyway I’ve got a week’s break (or so) to relax a little.

Some fun things have been happening in the mix. For example I was watching bad American TV on Tuesday night (only redeemed by Hugh Laurie) when I got a text from an unknown number saying “Can u get Maori TV? There’s a Frida Kahlo doco on atm.” I immediately changed channels to watch “Between Ecstasy and Pain” which was excellent. I did find out who sent the message, but for a while I liked to imagine the universe sending out random text messages (makings of a short story there maybe).

The Wounded Deer 
(1946) Frida Khalo

Which reminds me, I noted during my weeks research that there is a tendency to refer to female artists by first name “Frida”, “Rita” but not so much male artists. Go figure.

I have also been annoying on twitter by perhaps over-frequent tweets. When you are a shut in and can go a whole day with an adult conversation, the temptation to blurt in the 140 character format can be too much. On the plus side people sometimes reply!!! I noticed the frequency on my tweets increased with the desperation with my writing. In the end I did get an essay finished that a friend suggested might be ‘Miss Jean Brodie meets Russell Crowe’, which is ok I guess (although Rita and Colin might not think so). Oddly, in other forums I simply ran out of words.

An interesting thing I’ve found on Twitter is following galleries, museums and libraries. For example, a little gem from the Christchurch Art Gallery this week was a Doris Lusk I hadn’t seen before. Things like this brighten the day no end.

When I’ve been tearing my hair out at home, battling deadlines, illness and domestica, the ‘net in its many forms has also been an amazing source of support, generosity and kindness – thanks guys!!!!

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