Sunday, August 30, 2009

A walk of art

Titled The Mine, Gavin Hipkins' outdoor installation of nine 6 x 3m billboards was commissioned by Starkwhite for a park in East Otago, which is being developed as part of a post-mining rehabilitation strategy. The park also includes works by John Reynolds and Jae Hoon Lee.
Images: Gavin Hipkins, The Mine, installation view, Macraes Village, East Otago, New Zealand

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Breath of life

Now in its 4th edition, the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial is a successful Japanese art experiment with large-scale contemporary works installed in rice paddies, closed-down schools and refurbished old houses scattered across a rural region about three hours from Tokyo. It's a region where snow falls for eight months of the year, earthquakes occur frequently and violently, and where local youth are being lured away to better jobs in big cities, leaving an aging population and a stagnating local economy. In short, the region is an increasingly depopulated disaster area.

The Triennial was established as a last-ditch effort to save the region by revitalising it with contemporary art. More than 250,000 visitors are expected to attend the 4th edition, which runs to 13 September 09, bringing with them fully-booked hotels, invigorating all types of business in the local economy and helping to put the rural region on the world art map.

The abandoned houses of the region with their noble wooden structures and links with the past seem to offer the greatest source of inspiration to the artists. The Triennial has saved and restored 50 of these heritage buildings over the last four editions. "Here the artists work with time and memory and they are happy to do so because it rekindles their inspiration" says Fram Kitagawa, curator of this year's event. For instance, visitors to the Triennial can sleep in a House of Light, a traditional house transformed by James Turrell into a lightbox with a roof that opens up to allow guests to contemplate the changing sky. Or they can curl up in another old house redesigned by Marina Abramovic as a Dream Hotel, complete with crystal pillows.
Images (from the top): Christian Boltanski & Jean Kalman, The Last Class; Chiharu Shiota, House Memory; Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller, Storm Room; Qiu Zhijie, The Thunderstorm is Slowly Approaching; Cai Guo-Qiang, Dragon Museum of Contemporary Art. All images from the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial website

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A novel way to wind up a collection

Over the past decade we've seen a growing interest in art co-ops - groups of art lovers forming collections purchased collectively and rotated around their homes. When the collections are wound up they generally go to one of Auckland's auction houses to be sold into the secondary art market. Recently the Auckland-based group behind the 2nd Collection took a more novel approach to the dispersal of their collection of 32 works formed over a 10-year period. The works were appraised by an independent valuer giving an estimated value for the entire collection. The sum was divided by the number of members in the art co-op giving each member credit they could use to bid for works at a silent auction held at Starkwhite. Through a process of paper bids and rounds that allowed each member to get a work before moving to the next round, the entire collection was picked up by members who were all delighted to have a work or two that they couldn't bear to part with.
Images (from the top): works by Neil Dawson and Julian Dashper, dispersed from the 2nd Collection, Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Coming up at Starkwhite

Matt Henry's exhibition Flatline opens in our Project Space on 7 September and runs to 3 October 2009.
Image: Matt Henry, Duochrome No. 3 from the series "16:9, 2008, oil on linen

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fazed from the street

Grant Stevens' exhibition Fazed closes this Saturday (29 August '09). You can contact us at if you'd like more information on Fazed or images of works in the exhibition. 
Image: Grant Stevens, Fazed, installation views from Karangahape Road, Auckland, New Zealand

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Featured Work

As a masters student at Auckland University Lee began using a flatbed scanner to record changes in his skin. He documented sore, pores, freckles and hairs in gross detail, pressed up against the glass, then collaged the scans to create sheets of skin, deranged diaristic bodyscapes, which he presented as photographs and videos. The work combined the organic and the technological in a way that was surprising at the time. Simultaneously beautiful and repulsive, intimate and abject, it unsettled one's familiar sense of the body. Over the next few years Lee made numerous works expanding on his idea of the skin portrait, increasingly using scans of other people's bodies. By fusing different people's skin he played off the assumption that our skin defines us as individuals, separating us from others.

From this base of concerns and strategies, Lee's work has expanded in the last few years, into a range of video and photographic works, including lightboxes, that embrace pornography and religion, the abject and the spectacular; that engage the natural sublime and the technolgical sublime; that conflate high-tech artifice and monstrous bodily organicism; and that fuse vernacular experience with a sense of the religious or spiritual. The work continues to hint at new forms of visual experience as he combines a photographic logic with the isometric perspective-free gaze of the scanner and the 'planiverse' collaging tools of the computer.

If you want to know more about these works, including price, or others by the artist you can contact us at
Images by Jae Hoon Lee (from the top): Becoming (2003), Salvation #2 (2006), Two Holes (2008), all digital prints, editions of 8

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rethinking arts journalism

A National Summit on Arts Journalism is a project of the USC Annenberg School for Communications and the National Arts Journalism Programme. The Summit organisers say there are many new projects in the US aimed at reinventing arts coverage. Journalists, arts organisations and media entrepreneurs are trying to create interesting new models of arts journalism. They have gathered up some of the best of these projects to see what looks promising and bring them to a wider audience. The five best projects will be announced on the summit website on 28 August 2009. 

Arts journalism in the New Zealand media has been in decline for a while (there are no visible signs of rethinking/remodeling) and is being superceded by on-line projects that are expanding the field of possibilities. The new entrants are bringing different interests and perspectives to arts news, stories and reviews. We are also seeing more artists' blogs that provide entry points to their practices and projects. Here are a few blogs that are worth checking out: Art, Life, TV, Etc; Best of 3; eyeCONTACT; Outpost; over the net and on the table; Peter Peryer; et al.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Out with the old and in with the new

Recently the Christchurch Art Gallery moved the last remaining work from their collection galleries to storage. The departure of van der Velden's Otira Gorge marked an important moment in the Gallery's history - the end of the old and arrival of a new approach to collection shows. All will be revealed in the forthcoming exhibition Brought to Light, but at present it is under wraps. Expectations are high as a new crew at the Gallery has been ringing in the changes, notably with an edgier programme of contemporary art. The current exhibitions include: Seraphine Pick; Ronnie van Hout: Who goes there; et al. that's obvious, that's right! that's true!; Gary Hill: Up Against Down; and Subsonic: sound art in the bunker. You can track progress on the new exhibition at the Gallery's aptly named blog site Brought to light.
Image: Courtesy of Brought to light, Christchurch City Gallery

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Underground cinema

We are pleased to announce that we will be working with Jim Speers, an Auckland-based artist with a long and distinguished record of projects and exhibitions staged in New Zealand and internationally. Rather than running with what he has done so far, we thought we'd open with an outline of one of his great unrealised ideas - a proposal for an underground cinema dedicated to the constant screening of Sam Peckinpah's classic western Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia. Starring Warren Oates, Kris Kristofferson and others, the film represents a weird 70s moment when American cinema went to Mexico - a foreign movie staged in a foreign landscape.

Speers wants to build his cinema in the great outdoors - the kind of landscape we often refer to as cinematic - creating a series of adventures: first to the location (one that is foreign to the idea of cinema) and then, having been drawn to a minimal, modernist folly (sitting somewhere between art and architecture), below and into the ground for the cinema experience. Here visitors would encounter Peckinpah's Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia in a home theatre-scaled cinema connected to the surface by a transparent roof allowing a view of the cinema's internal space and the activities of the cinema-goers. 
Images: concept drawings for Jim Speers' Underground Cinema

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Phil Dadson's BREATH OF WIND has its first outing at the Tauranga Art Gallery from 22 August to 15 November 2009. You can see a video clip here.
Images: Phil Dadson, BREATH OF WIND (2009), 17 hotair balloons and a brass band, video/sound installation

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Featured work

This artwork is from Gavin Hipkins' Empire series, started in 2007. This body of work takes as its starting point the appropriation of line illustrations from children's Empire and Commonwealth annuals dating from the 1950s. The original images were used to illustrate stories of adventure and historical drama in accord with the formation and ideological sustainability of the British Empire and Commonwealth including New Zealand. The illustrations also record a post-war nostalgia for colonial discovery and adventure, as well as a sense of the unifying spirit forged by the war effort, coupled with the optimisms for the shared rebuilding of Commonwealth nations in the wake of World War Two. The backdrops have been overlaid with scanned patches purchased in music store and markets creating photographs that sit somewhere between history painting and t-shirt art. If you would like more information on this work, or others by the artist, please contact us at
Image: Gavin Hipkins, Empire (Track) 2009, C-type print, 1200 x 1650mm, edition of 3

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Wall painting reviewed

John Hurrell's review of Andrew Barber's Wall Painting #3 at the Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts is published here. Barber's project runs at Te Tuhi to 27 September 2009.
Image: Andrew Barber, Wall Painting #3, installation view, Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, Pakuranga, Auckland, New Zealand, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009


More from LA - this time a video of ART LA 09 where we presented a solo exhibition by Peter Stichbury. You can see video footage of our show here.
Image: Peter Stichbury, Zach Klein, 2008, acrylic on linen, 650 x 850mm

Reframing the recession

Over the past months the art market news from Los Angeles has been pretty grim so it's good to hear that even in these difficult times some in the LA art world remain optimistic, saying they are in for the long haul.

"Earthquakes, riots, fires," says art dealer Thomas Solomon, ticking off challenges of doing business in Los Angeles. Now a global recession has deflated the international art market sending auction house prices into a downward spiral, shuttering galleries, squeezing collectors' confidence as well as their budgets. Recently, against all odds, he opened a new gallery in a storefront on Chinatown. "I've been through these ups and downs," he says. "I'm not going away. Art is in my blood. This is what I do."

In an article published in the Los Angeles Times Suzanne Muchnic says art prices may be weakening, yet opportunities exist amid the challenges, Indeed, she says, a surprising number of galleries have been able to grow. You can read the article here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Glass Stress Review

The Collateral Events Programme for this year's Venice Biennale includes Glass Stress. The exhibition, which includes work by Hye Rim Lee, has been reviewed in the International Herald Tribune. You can read Contemporary Reflections in Glass by Roderick Conway Morris at the New York Times/Herald Tribune website. The exhibition runs at the Istituto Veneto di Scienze Lettre ed Arti to 22 November 2009.
Image: Hye Rim Lee, from the Crystal City series, 2008

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Snow Tussock

Described by the artist as New Zealand's slowest artwork (it will take decades to reach maturity), Snow Tussock (2003) was commissioned by Starkwhite for a heritage park in East Otago. The work by John Reynolds comprises 854 tussocks planted in a 70 x 70 metre grid in a field situated between an historic church and a small cemetery that traces the post-contact history (farming and mining) of Macraes Village and its surrounds. Reynolds chose to work with the species Snow Tussock because it is a native plant under threat from annual burn-offs carried out by the local farming community. 
Images: Snow Tussock (2003), Macraes Village, East Otago, New Zealand

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Looking back to Wonderland

Those with an interest in the history of New Zealand photography should visit Outpost, the Auckland Art Gallery staff blog. Curator Ron Brownson has posted a selection of photographs by Alfred Burton - some from a journey he took through the King Country to Wanganui in 1885 and others from The Wonderland Album - New Zealand, which Brownson considers to be one of our most important assemblages of 19th century topographical photographs. The photographs and Brownson's informative notes are published here under Alfred Burton - the man who makes likenesses and The Wonderland Album - New Zealand (Pt 1 and Pt 2).
Image credits:
Alfred Burton, Our canoe and crew, Ranana, Whanganui River 1885, silver gelatin print, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, purchased 1999 (1999/5/3)
Alfred Burton, Gigantic cabbage tree, Papakai, King Country (1999/18/63); Lake Taupo from Motutere (1999/18/66). From The Wonderland Album - New Zealand, circa 1898-1899, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki. The Ilene and Laurence Dakin Bequest, purchased 1999

Sunday, August 9, 2009

VVORK Collection

Boris Dornbusch's Involving All Members features on VVORK, a daily website that offers a curated collection of contemporary art. You can visit VVORK here.
Images: Boris Dornbusch, Involving All Members, 2008, aluminium blinds, box of panadol, dimensions variable

Around the Water Cooler at THE OFFICE's Far-Flung Performances

Throughout the month of July the curatorial team of Ellen Blumenstein, Katharina Fichtner, Maribel Lopez and Kathrin Myer - known collectively as THE OFFICE - staged a series of 11 performances in Berlin. The last one in the series was a collaborative work by Matt Keegan and Dane Mitchell. You can read Kari Rittenbach's review of the project (Around the Water Cooler at THE OFFICE's Far-Flung Performances) on the Art in America website.
Image: Matt Keegan & Dane Mitchell, 2009

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fahrenheit window project

Matt Henry's Fahrenheit window project is showing at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery to 31 August 2009.
Image: Matt Henry, Fahrenheit, 2009, installation view, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, New Zealand

Review of Fazed

John Hurrell's review of Grant Stevens: Fazed is published here at eyeCONTACT and Nicola Harvey's review of WORD at the Anna Schwartz Gallery, Sydney (which includes a video work by Stevens) is published here in Frieze magazine.
Image: Grant Stevens, Flow (2009), lambda print, 290 x 410 mm, 1/8

Friday, August 7, 2009

Experiments in Celluloid

Experiments in Celluloid screens at Artspace, 300 Karangahape Road, on Thursday 6 August from 7.30pm. Curated by Derek Gehring and Nova Paul for Floating Cinema and The Film Archive, it provides an opportunity to see some rare and groundbreaking films by Phil Dadson, David Blyth, Gregor Nicholas and Alex Monteith.

Phil Dadson's EARTHWORKS is described as a simultaneous performance / recording event - co-incident with autumn and spring equinixes - to be realised at 1800 hours G.M.T, at 15 diverse locations on the 23/24th of September 1971, aiming to capture a temporary instant in the continuum of universal ebb and flow. Eight of the fifteen recipients of invitations to participate responded and performed the instructions to shoot stills and make a synchronised audio recording. The New Zealand part in the 10 minute event, at 6.00 am sunrise, on the volcanic plateau, was filmed continuously onto 16mm film, into which stills from other locations were later edited. The audio track is an unedited mix of tape-recordings.

You can visit Phil Dadson's website here.
Images: Phil Dadson, EARTHWORKS, 1971/72, 16mm film (also available as video version)

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Three works from Grant Stevens' Fazed exhibition. For further information on these works and others by the artist you can email us at
Images (top to bottom): Grant Stevens, Blow Out (2009), lambda print, 1510 x 950 mm, edition of 8; Dormant (2009), lambda print, 760 x 1010 mm, edition of 20; Crushing (2009), digital video, edition of 9

Grant Stevens: Fazed

Grant Stevens exhibition Fazed runs to 29 August 2009. The show includes blue fluorescent tubes and audio, guitar by David Cretney.
Images: Grant Stevens, Fazed, installation views, August 2009, Starkwhite, Auckland NZ

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

21st-Century Art History

The latest issue of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art considers the future face of historiography addressing questions such as: What will the discipline of art history look like in the 21st century? What will its subjects be? With the decline of Eurocentric models of art history and the end of postcolonialism, what ways of writing art history will be possible? What would a non-national, international, or even transnational history look like? Is it a 'global' art history that we should be aiming for? 

The issue opens with Curating the World, a conversation between Rex Butler and Okwui Enwezor, who is recognised as one of the major contributors on and thinkers about art in the world today. It closes with Reviews Etc, a section that includes Robert Leonard's no-punches-pulled review of The Big Picture: A History of New Zealand Art from 1642, a six-episode TV series and accompanying book by cultural commentator Hamish Keith.

The Journal of The Art is published by the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand and the Institute of Modern Art (IMA) Brisbane, with managing editor Robert Leonard. More information on the 21st-Century Art History issue is published here.
Image: Cover of Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art/21st-Century Art History, Volume 9 Number 1/2, 2008/9. Available from the IMA, price AUD20