The freakin Horrror, the new bit.
at Adam Art Gallery
5 Aug 2006 - 2 Oct 2006
I went to the opening of this show, for the booze and the local gossip, specifically I wanted to see what me old mate Simon Denny was up to, I feel a like mindedness with this guy and wanted some of my buttons pushed. It was a glamorous affair for some reason, I remember over hearing whispers of someone saying something about some one being notable, and there were dresses and a range of ages.
Simons brought a smile to my face, I immediately recognized or colonised his sense of scale as my own. the banded need to burst out and exceed expectations with good old formalism meets intuition... that he got the window spot I thought was justification for a good work and the lingering identity issues were lovingly able to be left unresolved. he is so not needy, a brilliant charm, for something that looks left by your genius five year old.
So I felt buoyed, had another glass, chatted with the help, saw Dane Mitchell was there, a great guy, better check out his work. I was left a little dry, some parallels with the first Massey Rita Angus Artist in Residence, a Brit who blew up pictures of spores collected in the wind at various NZ locations and displayed at Te Papa like some kids board game. Dane's were a million times more beautiful, deep cosmic compositions with exciting juxtapositions between labels, i.e. Famous gallery and identified dangerous fungal growth, but the whole joke to me left me looking somewhere else for the new bit. Since we may all be inhabiting an epoch of rather less than dazzling highs, remakes of the classics are quite the norm (I have my hand up) but after Danes cursed corner of the room at Starkwhite, which I thought had lovely cross cultural over tones, this exercise in institutional name calling just felt like boring old dust. Of course I said something a little different to his face, I remember it going something like, " nice frames, very vacuum packed " and fretted had I over emphasised my feeling of the works redundancy, but have since got to know him a little better and any way his new work with psychics takes my cake. (see Litmus project) Which brings me to the Mexican part Italian visiting artist/ fire ball whose name I should look up but for the sake of flow and informality I'll leave.
On the way to the bath room I shifted my head to the typical screen where after watching for a few seconds I knew I did not want to watch any further. I think you are what you eat. While I am zealous about this I am a victim of it, and if my food diet is to go by enough said. If a movie or a documentary is about to show some gore that I just don't need to see, I exercise the right to close my eyes. Sophisticated censor machine. This work made by the "visiting artist" was causing a stir, upstairs I caught another glass of wine, and listened in on the description of what I missed. Hearing the horror of the content shown on the screen, my first thought was shit, this is good curating! Why cause they had wrapped this stinking dog turd in sophisticated and conventional contemporary art. I don't think I had ever really experienced out side of books and media how a gallery can really function as a container for dangerous experiments, that can not and should not be in the "public" realm. The galleries or arts closed system of language actually served in this case a work that by design sucked so severely that its problem became fascinating. Writing this is the cliché that I have seen work, which brings me to my criticism of the work, internet footage taken infer-red from a military helicopter killing people with cute video game music, if he'd had just left the music off, avoided the cliché and emphasised the medias availability, it's choice by the artist, it's location in the gallery. and of course its content I think is enough, more than enough, the music just ensures that it is a desensitising machine and having gone back down to see for my self, groups of people watching, you can see the artist at the wheel of this crash repeating perpetually to attentive children, but we're adults and this is what a gallery can do, let me be one and behave like one. What happens if a mob, a general culture gets hold of this, is the gallery prepared to defend its rights. et.al right, please do a brilliant job, so far so good.
It would be good to know more about
this 'container for dangerous experiments' .....if that is the case. afterall this generation scares easily. [isn't the govett-brewster doing a performance series called 'mostly harmless' with some of the same artists]
are there any images available we can squizz at? has the curator written any essays she can post for us to ruminate over? something that can ferret pplx and ab out of their burrows and get publicly agitated!
it looks like emily has taken over the adam? i thought she was the public programs officer. has she taken over as director now? she seems to do a lot of inhouse curating.
I hope they reply
my own feeling is tat both of these shoes show a certain display of intuition even if it is from within the supermarket. as for mostly harmless, show me a public institution that can hold a dangerous performance from an unsanctified, non cannonised, etc artist. they're not interested. and do we want to see this type of work with an accompanying glassy brochure and a write up droping references like a plasterer. hell no.
When you say 'dangerous' Flake you mean physically or psychologically?
Osh rules in all NZ public galleries, so curators' hands are tied. Visitor safety is paramount.
As for psychological - well some American museums have counsellors on site if the art is too 'difficult' and traumatising for their audiences.
Mmm...You are participating in 'Mostly Harmless? So your work is harmless huh? Do you make 'goodie-two-shoes' art? Or conversely are you the fly in the ointment that makes it 'mostly'?
What of SCAPE in Chch? What sort of signals will 'Don't Misbehave' as a title give out? I'm puzzled that curators now seem keen to reassure their public that all is well, and sort of pat them on the head as if it were a concerned parent/child relationship [or primary-school teacher/child] that they have with their audiences. 'Its all right dear..now, don't do anything silly' etc. Strangely maternalistic isn't it?
But you think 'Archiving Fever' goes the other way? In that it has threatening work like that infra-red war video you mention? Is the rest of the show 'dangerous' too? Back to seventies confrontational art perhaps?
Lastly, these complaints of yours... are you saying you hate art historians because they drop art historical references into everything they write? That bugs you? Most artists love that stuff.
And do you hate glossy publications for some reason? Hell, what do you want exactly then? Gestetner or photocopies? Typewritten texts as neo-seventies chic? Potato prints, Gutenberg woodblocks? Individual sheets handwritten by a fountain pen? What would you have?
everything has its place
each for its own effect for gloss versus photocopy, i agree with the new smug institutions are exhibiting.. a new marketing angle, "we're in this with you, this stuff is weird" kinda thing... but yeah i think the adam show is different, it some how has slipped through.. or more likely gone under the radar of what is normal, (like bartons excellent billy bates. hodgkins show, same gallery) and gone and revealed a more tradtional norm, an art landscape for real excercise....as the rest of the show is mostly in contrast, but with potential civilised bridges, et.al's/ denny, the formalism of mitchells, it has a sense of composure (music like, highs and lows). and the art refrences bit it is easy right to read a book and most say this or that, this stuff is off the cuff and is noticable.... which is great but i think it would be better to build a litle more of our own structural language bits with a regional colluquial dialogue more substantially before we go and drop x into it..... generally premature. as for do i make goody two shoe art.. (i am well and truly bated) my complaint with you critical types is that your obssessive historical view obilterates the subtlty of new poses of resistence, specifically for me areas around slacker art production and other clumbsy gen x out puts... you just keep looking for smoke.. that might be a sign that you missed it, not that there is something happening...
and then I realise
that i am not talking about anything in particular and it would help a lot if i was but i am not and all of this might not really be helping.
whilst not wanting to bring these commenst back to the facts, as it was taking a vague yet potentially interesting tangent, i just wanted to mention a few things.
fisrtly, the fact that some of the material in this exhibition includes violence, and there is even some nudity, is not at all an attempt to incite shock and awe (scuse the pun) in a sensationlsit vein.
it is rather a cross section of archival material, reconfigured by contemporary artists. the necessarly eclectic naure of archival material means that it is likley to include the entire spectrum of humanity, including death and sex (god forbid!!)
it is not really intended as a dangerous experiment, though certainly is intended to bring up our reactions to, and the treatment of archival material within the construction of history and collective memory. so tao's response is awesome and very welcome.
the work in question is clearly sign posted with a warning at the entrance to the gallery.
secondly, the relationship 'archiving fever' bares to charlottes fascinating and timely performance series is extremely remote. tenuous in fact. charlotte's project will be well worth some serious attention i reckon.
and congratulations to her for her new job!!!
thirdly, should anyone wish to read more or look at the pics and they can't get to welligton. there is a small and moderatley priced catalogue, which i will not advertsise for the sake of keeping this converstaion commercial free. but you know how to get me.
i've got this feeling
that mayby why south america is so hot right now, not to mention practically any other african, indian, etc is that they have their local practices grounded in local speak, yes it might relate to bla bla, but that is for the historians later on...
"later on" was suppose to be in upper case
leave my spelling alone.
'Mostly Harmless' will be a great event to follow if you had the chance - esp if you attend every weekend. I'm surprised there aren't more performance festivals. SPARK 06 at Wintec for example could have planned something innovative like that, but I guess you need somebody passionate about the subject to put the energy into it. Curators with that particular performance interest are rare.
I think those other issues I raise about the titles of certain shows are important. Jean is trying to be curatorially collegial - sweeping them under the carpet a little i think - for I did use your comments on a 'container for dangerous experiments' to bring them to the fore. Cultural Safety is more than just a clever metaphor. Agonistic values seemed well and truly frowned on everywhere.
Did anybody see David Cross's 'Bounce' work in
New Plymouth on Saturday? It was the first performance in Charlotte Huddleston's 'Mostly Harmless' series. Wonder if it was the same as the City Gallery version? No artist's nose broken this time?
Aaron Kreisler's Listener review of this show
reminded me of Priscilla Pitts and Robert Leonard's wonderful 'Exhibits' exhibition of the mid-eighties.
There seem to be similar themes being examined in as 'Archive Fever.' Museology, gallery epistemologies, knowledge structures etc.
A reworking perhaps?
what reminded you of Priscilla and Roberts show? the review? or how the show sounded?
What Aaron said 'Archiving Fever' consisted of.
ie. '..a selection of artists who share an interest in the processes of collecting, preserving, classifying and mediating information and cultural artefacts - the mainstay of galleries and museums.'
See below http://www.listener.co.nz/issue/3459/artsbooks/6864/winging_it_.html
Now for anyone interested, the 1988 NAG and Artspace show put together by Priscilla and Robert was called 'Exhibits: The Museum Display and the Encyclopaedia Plate'. Artists included Laurence Aberhart, Christine Hellyar, Richard Killeen, Andrew Drummond, Megan Jenkinson and Julia Morison.
The catalogue is quite wonderful.
Flake, I'm just wondering about the structure of
'Archiving Fever'? Can you tell us how coherent is this show? I can see the commonality of Patrick Pound, Dane Mitchell and Frederick Butler [disguised as Ann Shelton] but to me, from looking at the list of artists and their work, it then seems to go wonky.
Simon Denny for example, is not a collector like these others. He has a different mind set. He transforms the objects that he gathers, as does Helmut Kandl and Popular Productions.
As for Gaston Ramirez Feltrin - his work seems to be a madcap, unconnected digression, with very little to do with taxonomy [subjective or otherwise] at all.
Or is the show really a lot tighter than I realise? Is there a lot more that binds the components together than what I suggest?
Interesting observation from afar John...
...I have seen the show, and I would concur that Pound, Mitchell & Shelton tie in with the "title" of the show and its general premise (like chapter titles?)...both Denny and Feltrin works are like quirky tangents (footnotes?), but they are interesting works (whether within the theme of the show or in isolation). I don't judge the success of an exhibition purely on the basis that all works/artists strictly conform to the concept (pigeon holed?). If this was the prime motivation of all curators (maybe it is and is that why I am disappointed so often), exhibitions would be very mundane indeed (like the "Bird" show at Pataka?, not that I've seen it). I enjoyed Archiving Fever. Possibly because it is an exhibition where the the artwork is good (worth considering on a number of levels), there isn't curatorial domination and it isn't driven by external concerns i.e. marketing objectives, political correctness etc. It can be a rarity these days to wake up the next morning and reflect on an exhibition as a whole...I did with this one.
Great to get your succinct comments Spider You
You are right, I think, in that we judge shows not only by their success as packages, but also by the psychological impact of individual works.
One can happily forget an overall lacklustre exhibition if there is one memorable work that makes you dance out of that space, overwhelmed with excitement.
However, it is still important to analyse, is it not?
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I have read with interest this thread., as I studied for an MA in Curation in Melbourne with Emily Cormack and she had then (as she appears to have now) a strong 'curatorial sense' (by that mean she tells her stories loud and clear), but it sounds as if the work get's a fair chance to speak over the curatorial din.
Shame I can't see the show.
I will keep abreast of things on this site - it's very interesting indeed. I live in London now and work at one of the national museums so it's great for me to see what's happening back in NZ.