Friday, July 31, 2009

Julian Dashper 1960-2009

et al. that's obvious! that's right! that's true!

et al. that's obvious! that's right! that's true! is showing at the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu to 22 November 2009. You can visit the artists' website here and mail them at
Images: et al. that's obvious! that's right! that's true!, installation views, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, NZ, July 2009. Photographs by David Watkins and courtesy of the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu

Thursday, July 30, 2009

What is Contemporary Art?

Art fairs on our side of the world are engaged in a tussle to become the Art Basel of Asia. We're less interested in whether there is a clear winner - we hope several emerge in the Asia/Pacific region with the potential to rival the great fairs of Europe - than the moves they make to raise the stakes. 

What is Contemporary Art? is the subject of a conference organised by Anton Vidokle for ShContemporary09. The conference will be structured as a four-day series of short lectures and contents will be published in e-flux journal. The lineup of speakers includes: Hu Fang, Hal Foster, Boris Groys, Jeorg Heiser, Raqs Media Collective, Carol Yinghua Lu, Cuauhtemoc Medina, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Martha Rosler, Gao Shiming and Jan Verwoert. The lecture series takes place as part of the special section Discoveries, an exhibition curated by Wang Jianwei and Mami Katoka that includes artists such as Marina Abramovic, Heman Chong, Joseph Kosuth, Susan Norrie, Shinji Ohmaki, Martha Rosler, Anri Sala, Fiona Tan, Xu Zhen and others. The conference programme description and schedule is published here.
Image: Shanghai Exhibition Centre and venue for ShContemporary09

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Barber Wall Painting #3

Andrew Barber's Wall Painting #3 is currently showing at the Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts to 27 September 2009. This work follows wall paintings presented in Country Painting, Starkwhite (2007) and HEADWAY: New Artists Show, curated by Laura Preston and Brian Butler, Artspace (2006).
Images: Andrew Barber, Wall Painting #3, linen on stretcher, installation views, Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, Pakuranga, Auckland (2009)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Escape artists

Today's issue of Canvas in Auckland's Weekend Herald has a story on artists living and working overseas. The lineup of artists featured in the story includes Martin Basher (New York), Alicia Frankovich (Berlin) and Dane Mitchell (Berlin).
Image: Canvas cover (Martin Basher), Weekend Herald, July 25, 2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Screening at Blue Oyster

Boris Dornbusch is one of three artists presenting work at Dunedin's Blue Oyster Project Space "that explore lives lived through, constructed by or remembered because of the screen." (Blue Oyster website). Dornbusch's single channel video Paviljon Marinum depicts a chance meeting in a former Yugoslavian Children's camp. The video was recorded on an island off Croatia during the artists visit to his home country in 2008. Paviljon Marinum runs to 8 August 2009. 
Image: Boris Dornbusch, Paviljon Marinum, 2008, video still

Dark Water heads south

In Cho Duck Hyun's Dark Water project, a container is fictitiously transported through the Earth, hoisted up from the ground or water and opened to reveal its treasure of the artist’s photo-realistic portraits and other images on canvas. It is a Wunderkammer, revealing and reflecting on the history of individuals as well as general patterns of migration.

The original container was unearthed at the 1994 São Paulo Biennial after seemingly having travelled from Seoul. After featuring in Living Room 09: My heart is where my home is (curated by Pontus Kyander) and then Starkwhite's Project Space, Dark Water: The Antipodes Project is travelling to Dunedin. (Watch the Dunedin Public Art Gallery website for further information on the Dunedin leg of the journey.) Later it will continue its journey to another antipode, Liverpool, UK. Click here for shots of Dark Water surfacing at Auckland's Princes Wharf.
Images: Cho Duck Hyun, Dark Water: The Antipodes Project, 2009, Princes Wharf, Auckland. Photographs courtesy of the artist

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

40 years on

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is the latest recipient of an Arts Foundation Governors Award. The Award recognises a person or organisation that makes an extraordinary contribution to the arts in New Zealand - in this case the gallery's unwavering commitment to working with contemporary art over a period of almost 40 years. (The Gallery celebrates its 40th anniversay in 2010.) The previous recipients of the Governors Award are Otago University for its commitment to the Robert Burns, Frances Hodgkins and Mozart Fellowships and Radio New Zealand Concert for its support of New Zealand Music.

Later in the year the Arts Foundation will announce the recipients of the 2009 Laureate Awards. Five Laureates are selected each year with each one receiving $50,000. You can find out more about the Arts Foundation here.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Alicia Frankovich at the Kunsthalle Fridericianum

Alicia Frankovich's SEMPRE MENO, SEMPRE PEGGIO, SEMPRE PIÙ was performed today at Kunsthalle Fridericianum in Kassel with Oliver Vogt, head organiser of the exhibition Rundgang 09 Spaziergang, which includes a performance programme.

Rethinking public art

Like many international cities, Auckland has a lot of public art - some good, some bad, some very very bad. The city's public art programmes are administered by the Auckland City Council which proudly proclaims: "Throughout central Auckland city there is an extensive collection of public art works including sculptures, statues, monuments, fountains, water features, mosaics and murals." Not a very promising start. Nor is there much comfort to be gained from other aspects of the ACC's public art positioning statement on its growing collection of over 200 works "reflecting the city's unique identity, its cultural heritage, telling its stories." 

Storytelling about place, culture and identity is now associated with Te Papa The Museum of New Zealand and the privileging of social history exhibitions over contemporary art, so the art world gets jumpy whenever it encounters this kind of Te Papa-ish rhetoric. However there is a new broom in the Council's public art locker and things are about to change. Recently Pontus Kyander took up the position of Manager of Public Art for the city, supported by an advisory committee of artists and independent curators/writers chaired by art consultant Trish Clark. Kyander's background as an art critic, independent curator, editor of FORMAT (a contemporary arts programme for Swedish Television) and guest professor at EWHA University, Seoul suggests we can look forward to a less pedestrian art commissioning programme in the future. We'll keep an eye out for Kyander's public art interventions, but in the meantime Neil Dawson's Echo at the Christchurch Arts Centre continues to provide a great benchmark for NZ artists and commissioners working in the public art arena.
Images: Neil Dawson, Echo, 1982, installation views, Christchurch Arts Centre

Thursday, July 16, 2009


You can read a review of Seung Yul Oh's current exhibition Oddooki here. The show runs to Saturday 25 July.
Image: Seung Yul Oh, Oddooki, 2009, installation view, Starkwhite, Auckland

Coming up at Starkwhite

Sydney-based artist Grant Stevens is next up in our downstairs space (3-29 August 2009). This is Stevens' second exhibition with us (the other being Going Steady, 2007) and he was one of four artists we presented at ShContemporary 08.
Image: Grant Stevens, Crushing, 2009, digital video, 4 min 13 sec

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Teststrip (1992-1997)

With the proliferation of artist-run spaces in Auckland, along with occasional offshore extensions (see our previous posting on HIRSCHFELD), it's timely to look back to Teststrip, the great artist-run space that continues to influence the development of publicly funded contemporary art spaces as well as artist-run spaces in New Zealand.  

In 1992 eight artists (a mix of recent graduates and more experienced artists) frustrated with the lack of exhibiting opportunities from public institutions and dealer galleries took on the lease of a modest floor at 10 Vulcan Lane in the heart of Auckland's CBD and opened Teststrip gallery with a group show of their work. The collective followed this with a series of solo shows and short-run publications. Encouraged by the response they resolved to extend the programme by inviting other artists to exhibit in exchange for a nominal fee to help pay the rent. At the end of 1994, due to the growing gentrification of the CBD, Teststrip was forced to move to a new building at 454 Karangahape Road, Newton, which gave the opportunity for the collective to reconsider opportunities. With funding from Creative New Zealand the group upgraded the two-gallery space, formalised the publication series - the Teststrip micrographs, employed an administrator and worked with a designer to develop a graphic identity. Teststrip broadened the kind of projects they undertook in particular working with Australian artists and curators and holding a series of shows by Los Angeles artists. In their final year the collective strengthened their connection to the wider arts community with the inclusion of music, theatre events and exhibitions of work in jewellery and ceramics. The Teststrip model has influenced subsequent artist-run spaces around New Zealand and several members are still part of these collectives. From the introduction to Teststrip: a history of an artist-run space (1992-1997), published by Clouds  (The book can be purchased from Clouds. Price: NZD50)
Image courtesy of Clouds 

Saturday, July 11, 2009

HIRSCHFELD Berlin: a new art project space

Along with Genevieve Allison and Justus Kinderman, Boris Dornbusch (a recent addition to Starkwhite's lineup of artists) has started HIRSCHFELD, a new art project space located in the former archive of the Magnus-Hirschfeld-Zentrum, which was part of the Institute for Sexual Research of the Humboldt University in East Berlin. HIRSCHFELD is committed to developing a critical programme with primarily early-career artists. Exhibitions will take place intermittently for the length of the opening night only. We'll post further information on the space and the programme as it comes to hand.

"Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935) was the founder of The Institute for Sexual Science, first of its kind worldwide. The Instititute was established under the more liberal atmosphere of the newly founded Weimar Republic and was oriented towards progressive social and scientific developments." (HIRSCHFELD press release.)
Image: HIRSCHFELD art project space, Berlin

Friday, July 10, 2009


Seung Yul Oh's installation Oddooki is showing in our downstairs gallery to Saturday 25 July 2009.
Images: Seung Yul Oh, Oddooki, 2008, installation views, July 2009, Starkwhite, NZ

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Man in the Hat

Luit Bieringa's documentary on legendary art dealer Peter McLeavey will screen at cinemas around the country in the 2009 New Zealand International Film Festival. This is Bieringa's second film with producer Jan Bieringa and follows ANS WESTRA: Private Journeys/Private Signposts, which premiered in the 2006 New Zealand International Film Festival.

"There's an airy spirit of existential enquiry running through Luit Bieringa's lovely portrait of Wellington art-dealer Peter McLeavey. A fundamental biographer's question - what makes this guy tick - is quietly turned back on us: McLeavey seems to live a highly ordered life in a state of perpetual curiosity about what makes any of us in this corner of the world tick, himself included. Starting out as an a dealer from his bedroom flat in 1966, McLeavey was already championing Toss Woollaston, Colin McCahon and Gordon Walters as purveyors of vision informed by New Zealand experience. Forty years and 500 or so exhibitions later, he's still there. Cinematographer Leon Narbey follows the dapper man in a hat from his home in Hill Street on the circuitous scenic route he takes each morning to work. Bieringa intersperses this lyrical picture of McLeavey's Wellington with readings from his correspondence and frank, revealing conversations with the man himself." New Zealand International Film Festival
Credits: Luit Bieringa (Director), Jan Bieringa (Producer), Leon Narbey (Photography), Lala Rolls (Editor); Plan9 (Music); Sam Neill (Narration)
Image: Film still, The Man in the Hat


With Matt Keegan, DAAD-based artist Dane Mitchell is presenting a collaborative work in THE PERFORMANCES on Saturday 25 July 2009. THE PEFORMANCES is a series of events that are taking place at a storefront in the neighbourhood of Tiergartern throughout July 09. THE OFFICE has invited artists who are currently living in Berlin or passing through the city to present new or already existing projects sharing a focus on sound/music and language. Every evening has a different format; the site is used differently on each occasion. It becomes a stage, a venue for a lecture, a music hall or playground.

Based in Berlin, THE OFFICE temporarily occupies empty spaces throughout the city. The goal is to rediscover Berlin, to channel and transmit information, and provide space for discursive thinking around the arts. THE OFFICE is a collaboration between Katharina Fichtner, Maribel Lopez and Kathrin Meyer. Founded in May 2009, it explores different models of cooperation between curators, writers and artists outside of the institutional context. You can go to THE OFFICE website here for the schedule of performances.
Image: Matt Keegan & Dane Mitchell, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

China in four seasons

On Saturday night the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery launched its series China in four seasons with an exhibition of Jin Jiangbo's vast photographs, including a new series of works created during his residency in New Plymouth. It's a must-see show and worth a trip to New Plymouth to catch it. China in four seasons is a year long project comprising 4 residencies and exhibitions that present the singualrity and insight of selected artists working in China today. The orther artists to be presented in the series are Guo Fengyi (curated with The Long March), Song Dong and Yin Xiuzhen. 

Saturday, July 4, 2009

China watch

As reports circulate on the Internet about the emerging, new-generation Chinese collectors more interested in contemporary art than antiquities, it's interesting to see how art fairs in the region are positioning themselves in relation to this development. ART HK worked Hong Kong's history as the financial hub of Asia and gateway to modern China, presenting the 09 event in the Oltmanns designed Convention and Exhibition Centre on Victoria Harbour. Despite the gloomy international backdrop of a global recession combined with a Swine flu pandemic, the fair was a success featuring heavy-hitter galleries (Gagosian, Kukje, Lisson, White Cube and others), attracting 28,000 visitors and delivering on its pre-fair promise to access Chinese collectors from the mainland as well as Hong Kong. Big-ticket sales of USD1m+ were achieved with galleries also reporting strong sales for more accessibly priced works. ART HK says it is in the process of emerging as one of the key international platforms for contemporary art.

Next on the calendar is ShContemporary. The fair will be staged once again in the historic Exhibition Centre playing up Shanghai's history as the Paris of the East as well as its current position as a global super city. The messaging out of Shanghai focuses on: the emerging collectors in the region; Asia is the future; and an art fair with a fresh vision. They say: "This year ShContemporary returns with a new artistic director and initiatives to engage with emerging collectors from the region. A unique curatorial team consisting of Wang Jianwei, Mami Kataoka and Anton Vidokle is working with Fair Director Colin Chinnery to give SHContemporary an experimental and daring art vision." Clearly SHContemporary also has its sights set on becoming the first truly international art fair to emerge in the Asia/Pacific region.
Images: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and Shanghai Exhibition Centre

Friday, July 3, 2009


Aotearoa Digital Arts, New Zealand's only digital artists network, held its 6th annual symposium in Wellington recently with a line up of contributors that included Stella Brennan (a co-founder of ADA) and Phil Dadson. You can find updates from the symposium here. And those interested in the digital arts should check out The Aotearoa Digital Arts Reader co-published with Clouds. In this comprehensive anthology editors Stella Brennan and Su Ballard present essays, artists' pageworks and personal accounts that explore the production and reception of digital art. Ranging from research into the preservation of digital artworks to the environmental impact of electronic culture, from discussions of lo-tech aesthetics to home gaming, and from sophisticated data mapping to pre-histories of new media, the book presents a screen grab of digital art practice in Aotearoa New Zealand. You can purchase the book from Clouds. 
Images: Phil Dadson presenting at Critical-Digital-Matter: The 6th Aotearoa Digital Arts Symposium, 26-28 June 2009, Victoria University School of Design, Wellington; and the cover of The Aotearoa Digital Arts Reader  

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

China Watch

Guy Ullens, the Belgian industrialist and collector of Chinese art since the mid-1980s, has sold 18 works from his collection to Chinese collectors. Proceeds from the sale (reported to be over USD20m) are to go towards financing the operations of the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art in Beijing and to fund future acquisitions. Housed in a Bauhaus- style former arms factory, the UCCA is a non profit art centre funded by Guy and Miriam Ullens that "...presents exhibitions of established and emerging artists and develops a platform to share knowledge through education and research." The sale shows the rise of mainland Chinese collectors with an eye for contemporary Chinese art rather than antiquities. Meanwhile the international art world watches for signs of another shift in focus, this time away from Made in China towards art that is created in and/or presented in China.
Images: Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art, Beijing