Saturday, November 28, 2009

Art & Patronage: Laureate Award

In our second posting on arts patronage at work in the New Zealand art world we look at the Arts Foundation of New Zealand's Laureate Award. Each year the Arts Foundation hands out five $50,000 awards across art forms, including the visual arts.

The award is not open to application giving it a point of difference over many other art prizes in New Zealand. A panel of peers is appointed to select suitable awardees and the recipients receive an unexpected call inviting them to accept a no-strings-attached award of $50,000. They can choose to do whatever they like with it and they don't have to report back to the Foundation on how it was used.

The Arts Foundation administers a number of awards, including the New Generation Award (every two years five artists are awarded $25,000) and an annual Award for Patronage recognising exceptional contributions to the arts as patrons. The recipients of this award are given $20,000 to distribute to artists, arts projects and arts organisations and all recipients have chosen to add another $20,000 of their own taking the distributed funds up to $40,000.

The full repertoire of Arts Foundation Awards is financed through an endowment fund built up by large donations from benefactors and smaller ones from a growing base of supporters. The multiple benefactor/supporter entry points remove wealth as a necessary precondition of patronage and allow more people to experience the pleasure to be gained by supporting artists.
Disclosure: Starkwhite co-director John McCormack is a member of the College of Governors of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand
Image: European Hare by Peter Peryer, the Arts Foundation's first visual arts laureate. You can visit Peryer's blog here

Friday, November 27, 2009

Art & Patronage: Walters Prize

As the debate on the alleged conflict of interest between the New Museum and billionaire super-collector Dakis Joannou continues to polarise opinion (some see the Museum's Koons-curated exhibition as a breech of museum ethics, while others see it as the Museum doing whatever it takes to get more great contemporary art on view) it seems timely to look at the relationship between art and money, patronage and public art galleries, and public good v. private gain in New Zealand. Over the next week or so we'll look at a few examples of patronage in play in our art world starting with the Walters Prize.

In a comparatively short time the Walters Prize has taken its place as the country's preeminent visual art award. Founding benefactors Erika and Robin Congreve and Jenny Gibbs established the Walters Prize with the Auckland Art Gallery in 2002, positioning themselves as patrons with ideas about how to support artists, not just art gallery benefactors with deep pockets. They were joined in 2006 by art patron Dayle Mace whose contributions ensure that each of the shortlisted contenders receive a finalists prize.

Named after one of New Zealand's greatest artists (Gordon Walters) the Prize is awarded every two years to an artist who has made an outstanding contribution to contemporary visual art in New Zealand. A jury of New Zealand curators and critics select four finalists who present their work in an exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery. On the basis of this presentation an international judge selects the winning artist. The previous judges have been Harald Szeeman (2002), Robert Storr (2004), Carloyn Christov-Bakargiev (2006) and Catherine David (2008). And the Prize has gone to Yvonne Todd, et al., Francis Uprichard and Peter Robinson.

In addition to the $50,000 prize the winner receives an all-expenses-paid trip to New York to exhibit their work in the exhibition space at Saatchi & Saatchi's world headquarters. (Saatchi & Saatchi are corporate supporters of the Walters Prize.) And thanks to Dayle Mace each of the finalists receives $5,000.

The Walters Prize has many great attributes: the four patrons behind it are motivated first and foremost by a desire to support artists; it delivers a biennial exhibition of four new artists projects at the Auckland Art Gallery - one that places the spotlight on the artists' work rather than on the money (the winner is announced towards the end of the exhibition); the shortlisted artists are selected by an independent jury of curators and critics; it brings high-profile, international curators to the country; and it is all done with transparency. It is in many ways a great model for budding benefactors to look at as they consider what it means to be an art patron.
Image: New Museum, New York

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Perfume release and workshop at the daadgalerie

Working with perfume maker Michel Roudnitska, Dane Mitchell developed a synthetic scent that corresponds closely to the smell of an empty exhibition space. Mitchell is trying to analyze the difficult-to-describe world of smells and thus provide information about what was previously unnamable or invisible.

The perfume will be presented to the public at the daadgalerie, Berlin on Saturday 28 November at 7.00pm, following a workshop by perfumer Michel Roudnitska on the topic of the sense of smell and the creation of perfumes. Further information on the workshop programme is available here.

Mitchell moved to Germany earlier this year to take up a one-year residency in the Berliner Kunstlerprogramm DAAD. His current exhibition, Minor Optics, closes at the daadgalerie on 28 November 09.  

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Crystal Spirit installation views

Jim Speers' exhibition Crystal Spirit runs in our downstairs space to 24 December 09. You can see images of works in the Crystal Spirit series here.
Images: Jim Speers, Crystal Spirit, Installation views, Starkwhite, Auckland, November 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gavin Hipkins at ICAN, Sydney

Gain Hipkins' exhibition The Island opens at the Institute of Contemporary Art Newton (ICAN) on Friday 27 November and runs to 13 December 09.

ICAN is a contemporary art space in Sydney directed by Carla Cescon, Scott Donovan and Alex Gawronski who say they "seek to deploy their combined experience as practicing artists, writers and curators to exhibit a range of local and international practices that are conceptual, experimental, architectural and/or non-object based and to address a perceived gap in the contemporary art terrain of Sydney". You can visit the ICAN blog here.
Image: Gavin Hipkins, The Island, 2009, C-type print

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Crystal Spirit Preview

We'll be hosting a preview of Jim Speers' exhibition Crystal Spirit tomorrow from 4.00 to 7.00pm. You can read the exhibition release here.
Image: Jim Speers, Mystery Writers of America, 2009, screen/digital print, 940 x 1370mm

Friday, November 20, 2009

Climate change goes on the backburner

Hopes of a legally binding treaty at the Copenhagen summit next month have gone up in a puff of smoke. Key negotiators say that a global treaty to fight climate change will be postponed by at least six months, possibly a year or more. Now it seems the best hope is for a politically binding agreement that has all the elements of the final deal, including specific targets and timetables for greenhouse gas emissions cuts.

In the meantime, New Zealand has been called out by British correspondent Fred Pearce. Writing in the Guardian Weekly he says: "New Zealand was a friend to Middle Earth, but it's no friend to the Earth". In a no-punches-pulled article he describes the "greenhouse wash" that followed the promises made by countries 12 years ago when the Kyoto protocol was signed, identifying those that failed to deliver. After lining up the worst offenders he says: "But my prize for the most shameless two fingers to the global community goes to New Zealand, a country that sells itself around the world as clean and green." He might have added that New Zealand is one of the countries that is not sending its Head of State to Copenhagen to sit alongside others including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Brazilian President Lula Inacio da Silva. You can read Pearce's article here.
Images: Milford Sound, New Zealand; detail of Rachel Whiteread's Embankment (2005), Turbine Hall installation at the Tate Modern (the Tate Modern is an influential backer of  the 10:10 campaign)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Starkwhite & BLACK

Each issue of Auckland's BLACK magazine includes Gallery, an arts section featuring pages by New Zealand-based, and occasionally international artists, selected for the magazine by Starkwhite. The current issue features pages by Robert Hood, Peter Robinson and Clinton Watkins.
Image: Robert Hood, Joseph Goebbels Teleplasmic Mass, 2009, Album Cover & Plastic Shopping Bag

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New publication: Gavin Hipkins' Bible Studies (New Testament)

The Adam Art Gallery has produced a publication to accompany the exhibition Bible Studies (New Testament) by Gavin Hipkins, which runs at the Gallery to 19 December 2009 and then again from 8 January to 4 February 2010. The publication includes contributions by Christina Barton, Director of the Adam Art Gallery and Rex Butler, Reader in Art History at the University of Queensland, along with a conversation between the artist and Allan Smith, a Senior Lecturer in Fine Arts at Auckland University. The publication can be purchased on line at Adam Art Gallery Publications
Image: Gavin Hipkins, Pictures Black, from the Bible Studies (New Testament) series, 2008-2009, C-type photograph, 1200 x 1400mm

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Featured work: Stella Brennan's Cities series

These video stills are from Stella Brennan's Cities series where the artist examines the language of manifestos and grand concepts of the urban. Theme for Great Cities uses text by Situationist Raoul Vaniegem and Citizen Band incorporates extracts from Friedensreich Hundertwasser's Mould Manifesto. The final work in the series, Envoy From Mirror City, reworks an extract from that posterboy of architectural post-modernism, Rem Koolhaas. His text Whatever Happened to Urbanism? laments Modernism's command and control approach to the city, while pointing to subsequent failures of imagination.

If you would like more information on these works, or others by the artist, please contact us at
Images: the video stills (from the top) are from Stella Brennan's Theme for Great Cities (2003), Citizen Band (2004) and Envoy from Mirror City (2007)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

RCA Secret

Click here if you want to know more about RCA Secret where you can buy an original piece of art by the likes of John Baldessari, Julian Opie, Grayson Perry, Gerhard Richter, Lawrence Weiner and Bill Viola for £40. 

RCA Secret was the brainchild of an RCA student in 1994 to help raise funds for the fine art students. The idea was simple - ask famous artists and young graduates to submit an original piece of art with just two rules - the artwork must be completed on a postcard and it must be signed on the reverse, keeping the artist's identity a secret until the work is purchased.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Coming up at Starkwhite

Jim Speers' exhibition crystal spirit runs in our downstairs space from 23 November to 24 December 09. We'll post the preview date and link to the exhibition release later next week.
Image: Jim Speers, White Meadows, 2009, screen/digital print, 940 x 1370mm

Friday, November 13, 2009

German Film Festival opens in Auckland

Timed to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first ever German Film Festival in New Zealand opened at Auckland's Rialto Cinemas last night with November Child (Novemberkind). Directed by Christian Schwochow, the film is set against the backdrop of reunification which continues to be a rich source of inspiration for German filmmakers quarrying the past for stories about people whose lives were changed by the rise and fall of the Wall. November Child screens again at Rialto on Sunday 15 November at 4.30pm. It's a must-see film.
Image: Still from Novemberkind, directed by Christian Schwochow, German Film Festival brought to New Zealand by the Goethe-Institut, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany (Wellington) and partners, November 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

eyeCONTACT review

A review of Derrick Cherrie's exhibition is published here. The show runs in our project space until 28 November 09.
Image: Derrick Cherrie, Distribution of equivalents, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A new space for art from Over The Net

In one of the more interesting moves we've seen in a while, Over The Net is opening On The Table, a new space for contemporary art in Wellington. Over The Net and On The Table are part of the Jim Barr and Mary Barr project—one that encompasses collecting, curating, art writing, blogging and now running their own art space. Details of the first show, which opens on 19 November 09, will be announced on their new blog for the space. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Charity art auction fatigue

In the latest issue of artnews Sue Gardiner looks at the Art for a Cure auction held in Auckland arranged by the Breast Cancer Cure Trust. While it was successful, she says: "It was one, however, in an increasingly packed calendar of charity art auctions being held in Auckland, prompting discussions that, with so many options, perhaps the charity art dollar is being spread too thinly. Is there charity art auction fatigue out there?"

We also think it's time to look at the impact of charity art auctions on artists. Many, and especially those who are asked time and again, are tired of being the first port of call whenever there is a need to raise funds for a worthy cause. It's not because they don't support the cause or buy into the culture of giving, but rather because they believe charity auction organisers could ask others to stump up for a change.

An Auckland-based artist with a long history of willingly donating artworks to a local primary school for its annual art auction (his children attend the school) believes the organisers could also target parents to donate other forms of expertise to be auctioned. For example: a lawyer could donate the expertise and otherwise billable time required to set up a family trust; a dentist could offer a year's dental work; a landscape architect could donate time to design an inner city garden or courtyard; and so on. There are many services that could be auctioned and sold to the highest bidder on the night. And let's not forget that in the case of the school's annual art auction the organisers could invite parents with art collections as well as artists to donate a work to the fundraising campaign.
Image: Peter Stichbury, Bic Runga, 2009, acrylic on linen, donated to the Cure for Cancer auction, Auckland, October 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Derrick Cherrie's collages

Derrick Cherrie's exhibition of collaged works on paper is showing in our Project Space to 28 November 09. You can read the exhibition release here.
Image: Derrick Cherrie, stacked & packed dark days poster, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Post-recession art practice

While back-to-business-as-usual articles on the end of the recession and art market recovery are everywhere in the media, less column inches are being dedicated to making sense of the biggest shakeup the art world has experienced for a long time and what it means for the future. So it's refreshing to find an art journal addressing post-recession art practice.

In an editor's note to the current issue of Yishu|Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, Keith Wallace says: "It has been repeatedly proclaimed that the economic crisis of the past year changed everything in the art world, yet Sotheby's October 2009 art auction in Hong Kong witnessed prices rebounding, and even on the increase, for contemporary Chinese art. In spite of that, the blip that did give rise to a much-needed reality check about what is genuinely important in contemporary art, resulting in artists and thinkers embarking on a journey in search of other realms of art that are less submissive to the market than they were in the past decade and more focused on exploring what it means to be making art in society today."

Each of the first four texts in issue 35 of Yishu address this historical moment relative to contemporary art in mainland China.
Image: Gao Shiqiang, Red, 2008 HDV, sourced from Yishu website

Friday, November 6, 2009

A new kind of boom

Jerry Saltz reports on the rise of a "don't-settle-for-business-as-usual dynamic" in New York Magazine. His piece was prompted by a series of events that included listening to Explaining Pictures to a Dead Bull, a send up of art history by a loose collective of young artists known as the Bruce High Quality Foundation. He says: "These human bullshit detectors aim to provide an alternative to everything—their mission is to call out an art world mired in irrelevance." You can read Saltz's article here.
Image: The Bruce high Quality Foundation's Explaining Pictures to a Dead Bull, sourced from the New York Magazine

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dane Mitchell: Minor Optics at the daadgalerie

Dane Mitchell's exhibition Minor Optics is showing at the daadgalerie, Berlin to 28 November 2009.

"Mitchell's investigations are primarily concerned with the marginal phenomena and transitions that largely escape ordinary (visual) perception. Using methods of scientific logic and experimental demonstrability, Mitchell leaves clues to these marginal areas and invents forms for making them visible and displaying them.

"The exhibition Minor Optics at the daadgalerie consists of two new works by Mitchell, both of which, in different ways, refer reflexively to the art space. Several electrostatically charged metal plates placed in the gallery space accumulate over the course of the exhibition dust particles, which can be seen on the glossy surfaces of the plates. In the study of the environment of art and the art space, dust represents all the things, organic and inorganic, that can occur, since almost nothing is free of dust.

"Working with the perfume maker Michel Roudnitska, Dane Mitchell developed a synthetic scent that corresponds closely to the smell of an empty exhibition space. Mitchell is trying to analyze the difficult-to-describe world of smells and thus provide information about what was previously unnamable or invisible.

"On the one hand, the exhibition Minor Optics draws attention to the spaces in which art is stored and presented and their conventional effects—very much in the spirit of a critique of institutional 'customs and pathologies'. At the same time, in the light of the exhibition's title and with Deleuze and Guatarri's concept of minor literature in mind, it introduces a tendency
to deterritorialization that blurs the boundaries and expands the limits of perception."
daadgalerie press release, 22 October 2009
Images: Dane Mitchell, Minor Optics, 2009, installations views, daadgalerie, Berlin.
Photographs: Kryzsztof Zielinski/DAAD

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

FEEDFORWARD - The Angel of History

Stella Brennan’s video projection South Pacific (2007) is showing in the exhibition FEEDFORWARD, The Angel of History curated by Steve Dietz and Christiane Paul. The exhibition runs at the LABoral Centre for Art and Industrial Creation, Gijon, Spain from 22 October 2009 to 5 April 2010.  

"The projects in FEEDFORWARD create a complex picture of the global political and social forces that drive us forward. The exhibition features both problematic aspects of the present and future, and the potential for collectivity and responsible action. At the nadir of the current economic crisis FEEDFORWARD is in effect about cleaning up after the 20th century and asks the question, what is progress now." From the LABoral release which you can read here.
Image: Stella Brennan with David Perry, South Pacific, 2007, Single Channel DVD, Stereo Sound, 10 minutes

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

ART HK 2010

Earlier this year we presented John Reynolds' table-based installation Table of Dynasties at ART HK 09. We'll be returning to the fair in 2010, this time with a group show including Shanghai-based artist Jin Jiangbo.
Images: ARTHK website masthead

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Richard Orjis: last week

Richard Orjis' installation in our downstairs space closes on Saturday 7 November 09.