Saturday, October 31, 2009

World Music Days, Beijing

Phil Dadson's BODYTOK (human instrument archive) is featured as one of three video installations during WORLD MUSIC DAYS in Beijing from 1 - 4 November 09. Hosted by the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, the festival/conference this year focuses on New Zealand and has 25 NZ artists/musicians/academics in the lineup.
Images: video stills from BODYTOK by Phil Dadson

Friday, October 30, 2009

Coming up at Starkwhite

Derrick Cherrie's exhibition of recent collaged works on paper runs in our Project Space from 2 to 28 November 2009. You can read the exhibition release here.
Image: Derrick Cherrie, King (2009), mixed media on 300gm Fabriano paper, 1000 x 705mm

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pacific 3 2 1 zero

The top image is of  a circular dome on Runit Island in the Pacific. According to theBrookings Institution, 111,000 cubic yards of radioactive soil and nuclear test debris from Bikini and Rongelap Atolls lie beneath this dome. Built between 1979 and 1980 at a cost of USD239m, it covers the 30ft deep 250ft wide crater created on 5 May 1958 by the Cactus test. 

The image below is of From Scratch, the legendary percussion group founded by Phil Dadson, performing Pacific 3 2 1 zero. First performed at the Paris Biennale in 1981, the work was a protest against nuclear testing and waste dumping in the Pacific. A film of Pacific 3 2 1 zero was made with Gregor Nicholas that won the Grand Prix at the Cannes/Midem Visual Music Awards in 1984.
Image: Phil Dadson, Pacific 3 2 1 zero (one of three images collectively titled Triads - ground plans, From Scratch 1980-1983), C-print photograph on metalic photographic paper, 1200 x 1200mm, edition of 3

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Artists test limits in China

In a recent article Ian Johnson and Sky Canaves look at art and censorship in China. While most cultural activities in China are limited by censorship, contemporary art appears to have more leeway, a topic they explore in the article published here.
Image: Qiu Zhijie, Tattoo II, chromogen print, image from China Institute website

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Richard Orjis installation views

Richard Orjis' exhibition runs in our downstairs space to 7 November 09.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Frieze reviews

Reviews of Frieze 09 are published here and here.
Image: John Baldessari, Beethoven's Trumpet (with Ear) OPus #133. Photograph Nils Jorgensen/Rex Features

Last ride in a hot air balloon

Last night the Auckland Art Gallery announced the theme and lineup of artists selected for the 4th Auckland Triennial curated by Natasha Conland. The exhibition, scheduled for 12 March - 20 June 2010, will once again be spread over several venues including the NEW Gallery (Auckland Art Gallery), St Paul St (AUT University) Artspace and the George Fraser Gallery (Auckland University School of Fine Arts). 

Located towards the end of the recent global economic recession, the 2010 Auckland Triennial explores the ongoing possibilities for risk and adventure in art. The exhibition uses the thematic territory of adventure as a cue to examine the capacity art has still to be broadly explorative of form, mind, body and vision, and does so alongside the traditional mode of geographic exploration with its hints of colonialism.

Throughout modernity's global expansion, and in recent market driven democracies, adventure has held a particular association with risk. Despite the collapse of the modern era, risk taking is still regarded as a necessary strategy for those in pursuit of the rewards born by adventure and exploration. For instance, in the economic practice of 'venture capitalism', 'adventure tourism', and 'survivor' style popular television dramas, risk-taking is broadly speaking, assumed as a necessary component of achieving personal and financial growth.

The theme of the Triennial investigates adventure and risk as productive tools in their own right within the field of art. However in so doing it moves beyond modernity's taste for expansion and at the moment of global economic contraction, to leave us with adventure and risk suspended as possibility. 

The artists exhibiting in the Triennial are: Nick Austin (New Zealand), Richard Bell (Australia), Martin Boyce (Scotland) Shahab Fotouhi (Iran/Germany), Shilpa Gupta (India), Marine Hugonnier (France/United Kingdom), Laresa Kosloff (Australia), Jorge Macchi (Argentina), Tom Nicholson (Australia), Philippe Parreno (France), Bundith Phunsombatlert (Thailand), Walid Sadek (Lebanon), Michael Stevenson (New Zealand), Bo Zheng (China/Hong Kong), Mahmoud Bakshi (Iran), Johanna Billing (Sweden), Gerard Byrne (Ireland), Alicia Frankovich (New Zealand), Robert Hood (New Zealand), Shigeyuki Kihara (Samoa/New Zealand), Learning Site, Alex Monteith (New Zealand), Mike Parr (Australia), Garret Phelan (Ireland), Olivia Plender (United Kingdom), Tino Sehgal (United Kingdom/Germany), and Tove Storch (Denmark).

Exhibition details from the 4th Auckland Triennial information pack.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Richard Serra's Te Tuhirangi Contour

In our final post on commissioned art we look at Richard Serra's 257m long Te Tuhirangi Contour. Commissioned by Alan Gibbs for his property (known as The Farm) on the Kaipara, it is the finest piece of site-specific sculpture in the country and one of many remarkable works situated in his art park. The lineup of international artists at The Farm includes: Daniel Buren, Andy Goldsworthy, Anish Kapoor, Sol LeWitt, Tony Oursler and George Rickey. 

You can read more on the art at The Farm in a conversation between Rob Garrett and Alan Gibbs published in Art World AUS/NZ edition.
Image: Richard Serra, Te Tuhirangi Contour, 1991-2001, weatherproof steel, 6m x 257m x 5cm, The Farm, Kaipara, NZ

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Following our post on John Reynolds' environmentally savvy work Snow Tussock and an earlier post on the 10:10 campaign to slash carbon emissions by 10% during the year 2010, here are two striking images -  one of an iceberg spotted from a New Zealand shore for the first time in living memory (November 06) and the second of the recent dust haze that turned the Sydney sky red in September 09. 

John Reynolds' Snow Tussock

John Reynolds' Snow Tussock provides another good example of adventurous commissioning in the private sector. Described by the artist as New Zealand's slowest artwork (it will take decades to reach maturity), Snow Tussock (2003) was commissioned for a heritage park in East Otago which is being developed as a part of a post-mining rehabilitation strategy. The work is formed by 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. He highlights the need for a stronger environmental focus and more conservation programmes in a rural area where the landscape and its native flora and fauna play second fiddle to economic exploitation. And things are going from bad to worse in the East Otago region with more sheep and cattle farms being converted to dairy farms. The diary industry is one of the biggest contributors to the country's greenhouse gas emissions and under the Kyoto Protocol New Zealand must limit emissions to 1990 levels during the period 2008 - 2012. So far there are few signs of the dairy industry responding to the challenge. 
Image: John Reynolds, Snow Tussock (2003), Macraes Village, East Otago, New Zealand

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Billy Apple's Credit Held

After looking at some of the best examples of public art in the country we decided to present a a few works commissioned by private and corporate collectors. First up is Billy Apple’s Credit Held, a wall work in the reception foyer of Minter Ellison Rudd Watts’ Auckland offices. With this transaction work (art for legal services to the value of $100,000) Billy Apple re-brands the MERW brand, adding value to it by making it over as an artwork, creating a space where the art of business meets the business of art.
Image: Billy Apple, Credit Held, installation view, MERW foyer, Auckland NZ. Photograph by Richard Orjis

Dane Mitchell: Minor Optics at the daadgalerie

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

John Baldessari in conversation with Matthew Higgs

The subject of a major retrospective at the Tate Modern, London, John Baldessari answered questions put to him by Matthew Higgs at the recent Frieze art fair. You can access the Frieze podcast here.
Images: John Baldessari in conversation with Matthew Higgs at Frieze

Calm after the storm

Last year bad news stories circulated around Frieze as dealers faced an art market in free fall and commentators predicted even tougher times ahead for those in the art fair business. You can read a more upbeat account of the 09 edition of the fair here.
Looking before Leaping: Luc Tuymans, Wonderland, 2007, at Zwirner for E1.4m. Photograph: Katherine Hardy, The Art Newspaper

Sunday, October 18, 2009

2009 Power 100

Art Review's 2009 Power 100 is published here.

Featured work

For the past few years Grant Stevens has explored the languages of popular culture through his text, images and sound videos. His works appropriate and de-contextualise a range of cultural cliches and conventions that seem to surround us every day. Whether it's through the over abundance of mixed metaphors or the incessant onslaught of predictable plotlines, his works seem to disrupt and challenge the way we read mainstream culture.

Stevens' video In the Beyond is a mandala-like circular display of people's self-descriptive words from internet MySpace pages - a work exploring notions of spirituality and self-reflection. For further information on this work or others by the artist please contact us at
Image: Grant Stevens, In the Beyond (video still), 2008, digital video, edition of 9

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bible Studies

Gavin Hipkins' Bible Studies (New Testament) series is one of five exhibitions forming Source Material: 5 conversations with the past at the Adam Art Gallery, Wellington. Bible Studies (New Testament) runs from 17 October to 19 December 09 / 8 January - 4 February 2010 . For further information on this new body of work please contact us at 
Image: Gavin Hipkins, Loaded Haze, from the Bible Studies (New Testament) series, 2008-2009, C-type photograph, 1200 x 1400mm

George Rickey's Double L Excentric Gyratory

We end our posts on public art high points with George Rickey's Double L Excentric Gyratory. Like Len Lye's Wind Wand in New Plymouth, Double L Excentric Gyratory is activated by wind and the play of lightThe perfectly balanced L-shaped vanes of this elegant work move lazily in response to the slightest breeze or dive and whirl with stronger gusts. It reflects the mood of the day as the austere geometric shapes, with their randomly patterned reflective surfaces, describe perfect arcs and planes in space and when the wind dies, return to the symmetry and equilibrium of the vanes vertical station.

Previously sited in the courtyard of the Auckland Art Gallery, Double L Excentric Gyratory was decommissioned recently to make way for a new extension, but it will be reinstalled when the Gallery reopens in 2011. 
Images: George Rickey, Double L Excentric Gyratory, 1985, gifted to the Auckland Art Gallery by the Edmiston Trust

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Armory Show

Following our group show at Art Los Angeles Contemporary in January 2010, we'll be presenting 1001 Nights by John Reynolds at The Armory Show, NY. The fair runs from 3 - 7 March 2010.  

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Neil Dawson's Ferns

In our fourth public art post we put the spotlight once again on Neil Dawson. Situated in Wellington's City Square, Ferns floats like a celestial body above the surrounding buildings and pedestrians alike. 
Image: Neil Dawson, Ferns, Wellington City Square, 1998

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

ShContemporary reviews

You can read reviews of ShContemporary here and here.
Images (from the top): Shanghai Exhibition Centre, Discoveries exhibition, East Wing

THE MAN IN THE HAT screenings

The Bieringa's portrait of Peter McLeavey, THE MAN IN THE HAT, screens at Auckland's Academy Cinemas from 15 October 09.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Modern Physics at Te Tuhi

Phil Dadson's video Breath of Air is showing in Modern Physics at Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts to 29 November 09. Curated by Stephen Cleland, the exhibition also includes work by Bas Jan Ader, Shaun Gladwell, Alex Monteith, Hanna Shwartz and John Ward-Knox. You can read more on the exhibition here.
Image: Phil Dadson, BREATH OF WIND (2009), 17 hotair balloons and a brass band, video/sound installation

Michael Parekowhai's Atarangi II

Our third public art post features Michael Parekowhai's Atarangi II, a scaled-up stack of cuisenaire rods situated near the entrance to Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, the public art gallery for Manukau city. Originally developed by Belgian teacher Georges Cuisenaire in the the 50s as a method of teaching number relationships to children, the rods are also used in New Zealand to teach te reo Maori. The Te Atarangi method of teaching has been instrumental in the revitalisation of Maori language in New Zealand. While Parekowhai's work references these educational usages, it also offers a wry comment on indigneous v. imported culture in New Zealand's bi-cultural landscape.
Image: Michael Parekowhai, Atarangi II, installation view, Te Tuhi Centre for Contemporary Arts. Image courtesy Te Tuhi website

Monday, October 12, 2009

Neil Dawson's Echo

In the second of our posts on public art we look at Neil Dawson's Echo. Displaying a subtle orientation and reverence for site, Echo is one of the best pieces of public art in the country. Suspended 8m above the centre of the north quadrangle of the Christchurch Arts Centre, Echo appears to be drawn in the sky. As you walk around the quadrangle and look up the perspective reverses itself. At one moment the front of the building is seen from below and the next instant the view changes and the building is seen from above.

While Dawson is arguably our most experienced maker of public artworks, he is rarely consulted by the agencies that provide policy frameworks and funding for public art. Go figure.
Images: Neil Dawson, Echo, 1981, installation views, Christchurch Arts Centre

Saturday, October 10, 2009

White House Art

The White House has released a list of 45 artworks that the Obamas have selected for the mansion. They include: Ed Ruscha's I think I'll ... Against a glowing sky the painter has superimposed words that epitomise the agony of indecision: "I think I'll ..." "Wait a minute ... I ... I ...", On second thought, maybe" "Maybe ... No ..." You can read an article here on the White House choices.
Image: Detail from I think I'll ... by Ed Ruscha, 1983. Photograph: National Gallery of Art /AP

A move in the right direction

In a recent article published in The New York Times Carol Vogel says: "Between the sagging economy and the proliferation of competitors, the organisers of art fairs have to shake things up continually to make sure collectors keep coming back."

When Art Basel Miami Beach opens in December visitors will find the main exhibition floor has been reorganised, giving dealers larger booths. Emerging artists who had previously occupied shipping containers along the waterfront, will move inside to the middle of the hall. The space formerly occupied by the containers will be used for a three-dimensional environment designed by artist Pae White, that will include piazzas and a performance platform, along with a series of scrims that change the appearance from day to night. Within this social space the fair will present panel discussions, concerts and performances.

Interestingly, fair co-director Marc Spiegler (shown above at Art Basel, Switzerland) came up with another reason for the changes - one that will register well with galleries. He says: "We're finding that a lot of galleries are doing fewer fairs, and those that are participating want better spaces." Everybody knows fairs need great collectors, but they also need galleries willing and able to participate in fairs in boom and bust times. Positioning Art Basel Miami Beach as a gallery-responsive fair, tuned to troubled economic times, is a timely move on Spiegler's part. 

You can read Carol Vogel's article on Art Basel Miami Beach in the New York Times.
Image: Marc Spiegler (righthand panel, centre), co-director, Art Basel. 

Friday, October 9, 2009

Len Lye's Wind Wand

Our recent post on Pontus Kyander's end-of-year move to an art museum in Norway left us wondering about the future of public art in Auckland. (Kyander currently manages the city's public art programme.) So we decided to put the spotlight on some of the best examples of public art located in cities around the country. Over the next week we'll post some high points, beginning today with Len Lye's Wind Wand located on New Plymouth's Coastal Walkway.

Wind Wand is a 45ft high kinetic sculpture, strong enough to stand upright but flexible enough to bend and sway in the breeze by up to 20m. By night the globe on top emits a soft, red glow. When it first appeared on the waterfront it generated a storm of controversy. The fact that New Plymouth is home to the Len Lye Collection and Archive (housed at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery) didn't cut much ice with residents. However, with the passing of time, public opinion has changed and Wind Wand has become a much-loved icon, often featuring in marketing campaigns promoting New Plymouth as a creative city and tourism destination. 
Image: Len Lye, Wind Wand, installation view, Coastal Walkway, New Plymouth

Thursday, October 8, 2009

2009 frieze Writer's Prize

frieze has announced the winner of this year's frieze Writer's Prize, which was judged by critic and art historian James Elkins, novelist and critic Ali Smith and co-editor of frieze magazine Jennifer Higgie. You can read the prize winning entry by Jessica Lotts here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Grant Stevens awarded Australian Emerging Artist Prize

Sydney-based artist Grant Stevens picked up the Blake's Emerging Artists Prize for his In the Beyond video. You can see images of his most recent exhibition at Starkwhite here. Stevens is also one of the artists we will be presenting at Art Los Angeles Contemporary (the new art fair replacing ART LA) in January 2010.  
Image: Grant Stevens, No Bad Days (detail), 2008, digital print, edition of 20

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Showing during exhibition changeover

This week we are installing a new project by Richard Orjis, which opens on Monday 12 October, but our upstairs spaces will be open for viewing. On display are works by Stella Brennan, Glen Hayward, Matt Henry, Gavin Hipkins, Layla Rudneva-Mackay, James Speers, Grant Stevens, and Peter Stichbury. 

We are also presenting excerpts from et al. that's obvious! that's right! that's true! currently showing at the Christchurch Art Gallery. The excerpts titled production_outposts 2009 & production_turning unit 2009 with sound by Simon Cumming et al. You can visit the artists' website here.
Image: James Speers, Outdoor Cinema series, LED prints, edition of 3

Sunday, October 4, 2009


CINEMA of the WOBBLY PIVOT pt3: a five-hour continuous, live performance by improvising trio EARS (John Bell, Phil Dadson, Paul Winstanley) at the Kenneth Meyer Centre, Auckland CBD, Sunday 4 October from 5-10pm. Mattresses provided, entry by koha donation.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

7 things you should know about Chinese contemporary art

AW Asia recently announced the publication of the Chinese-language version of Chinese Contemporary Art:7 Things You Should Know, by Melissa Chiu, director of the Asia Society Museum, NY. The book is tailored to the emergent Chinese collectors we hear so much about. As the demand for luxury and lifestyle goods among wealthy Chinese continues to rise, crystal ball gazers are predicting a parallel rise in collecting.

Topics covered in Melissa Chiu's book include the early history of the avant-garde in China, the rise of museum culture and collecting there, and the return to China of artists formerly living abroad. Among the artists featured are: Cai Guo-Qiang, Zeng Fanzhi, Zhang Xiaogang, Cao Fei, Zhan Wang and Rong Rong.

Melissa Chiu was the founding director and Vice-President of the Asia-Australia Arts Centre in Sydney and curator of Paradise Now? Contemporary Art from the Pacific, an exhibition that included several New Zealand-based artists, notably Shane Cotton, Bill Hammond, Michael Parekowhai, Peter Peryer, John Pule, Lisa Reihana and Ruth Watson.
Image: Melissa Chiu, author of Chinese Contemporary Art: 7 Things You Should Know

Friday, October 2, 2009

Moving on

Auckland city's manager of public art, Pontus Kyander, leaves at the end of the year to take up the directorship of the Sorlandets Kunstmuseum in Kristiansand, Norway. He'll be missed by the people who backed him to revitalise the city's public art programme. We're left wondering whether the rethinking carried out over the past year by Kyander and his advisory committee will deliver the new types of public art he envisaged, or whether the new appointee will start the process all over again.

Kyander has a few moves to make before he leaves, including the selection of national and international artists for the next Living Room project scheduled for 2010. This follows the 2009 edition titled Living Room: My home is where my heart is, which took place in Auckland's Central Business District earlier this year. One of the 09 artist's projects - Cho Duck Hyun's Dark Water: The Antipodes Project - was subsequently shown in our Project Space in April/May.
Image: The Sorlandets Kunstmuseum, Kristiansand, Norway

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Coming up at Starkwhite

Richard Orjis will present a new project in our downstairs space from 12 October to 7 November 09.
Image: Richard Orjis, Smoke, press image, 2009