Tag Archives: visual art

2014-02-028

Wellington roundtable: Giving art away

Drawing from Wellington Roundtable

Drawing from Wellington Roundtable

On the morning of Thursday 27 February, 24 people gathered in Wellington to discuss how we can give art away. This roundtable was part of Kete, a biannual craft fair organised by the NZ Academy of the Arts. It was also the first in a series of meeting in South Ways, a project to identify and develop forms of creative practice that have a particular home in the South.

Wellington was an important place to begin this discussion (see background of the key word Bestow). It is the location of Te Papa, a museum whose brief involves the care for precious taonga, Māori treasures deserving special respect for their connection with ancestors and tribal life. It is also the site of vibrant artistic scene, including a community of contemporary jewellers who operate outside the gallery system. The roundtable was a space to stories from both sides about the dynamics involved in gifting art objects. Emerging from this are ideas for platforms that might support this practice.

Artist badge from the Free Time (Sarah Read) toolkit by Jhana Millers, 2012 (Visa Prezzy card, bronze)

Artist badge from the Free Time (Sarah Read) toolkit by Jhana Millers, 2012 (Visa Prezzy card, bronze)

Art that is given carries a meaning that is different to art that is bought and sold. How can we make a space for this while acknowledging our dependence on money to survive in the current world?

Here is a summary of the discussion:

The art of give and take

Gifting is an important means of creating relationships, particularly in Māori culture. The practice of koha cements relationships within iwi and between generations. For koha and other gifting practices, much depends not only the attitude of the giver, but also on the way it is received.

For contemporary jewellers, gifting and exchange has become an important means of sustaining its community of fellow artists. Newly emerging social practitioners are seeking to expand the circle of gifting to include the general public. This offers a counterpoint to the process of commodification that continues to deplete the public domain.

The issue they face is the potential lack of control over the disposition of the public. The danger is that these gifts are seen as ‘freebies’. A challenge is to find frameworks in which objects might circulate into the public domain without too quickly being absorbed into private consumption. It is important to create spaces that involve mutual respect between audience and artist.

Jacqui Chan, Host A Brooch, urban jewellery project, Christchurch 2011, participant's photograph.

Jacqui Chan, Host A Brooch, urban jewellery project, Christchurch 2011, participant's photograph.

Proposal for a Festival

One way of framing the event so that strangers might be open to a gift is to declare a certain number of days when people are encouraged to give and receive gifts. These gifts would be tokens of connection rather than consumer goods. This has potential to enliven a city, making inhabitants more aware of each other. They can also create solidarity for particular causes or groups. This Festival could be supported by a city such as Wellington so that artists would be paid to set up participatory projects in which:

  • members of public would wear items of jewellery walking through the city
  • jewellery that was made from the city
  • jewellery made for the city

Some general points from the roundtable:

Gift

  • A gift can involve extreme honesty. They can be loaded with meaning from the giver and responsibility from the receiver. Sometimes they can even stand in for the person who gave them.
  • Gifts have a ripple effect.

Huhana Smith, Senior Curator Māori Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and Associate Curator Joe Horse Capture from Minneapolis Institute of Art. Curators kindly allowed the perspex to be removed from the poutokomanawa. It was an unforgettable experience, because no Māori visual culture scholars to the best of my knowledge then, knew where this taonga had ended up.

Huhana Smith, Senior Curator Māori Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and Associate Curator Joe Horse Capture from Minneapolis Institute of Art. Curators kindly allowed the perspex to be removed from the poutokomanawa. It was an unforgettable experience, because no Māori visual culture scholars to the best of my knowledge then, knew where this taonga had ended up.

Taonga

The receiver can have important responsibility. For example, in 1922 the Prince of Wales was given a  Mere Pounamu presented with the blade first as a sign of kaupaki to establish an ongoing relationship.  The idea was that it would be given back, which the Prince failed to appreciate.

There is the money market and Māori market. Less important things are made for money.

Koha Kilohertz "My Te Reo (Maori language)classmates organized a koha for me to make a koha for Hoani, our tutor. I organized a koha for Ewan Duff (local Maori stone carver)who kohad the pounamu to me." Andrew Last

Koha Kilohertz "My Te Reo (Maori language)classmates organized a koha for me to make a koha for Hoani, our tutor. I organized a koha for Ewan Duff (local Maori stone carver)who kohad the pounamu to me." Andrew Last

Koha

  • Māori are very generous.
  • Koha cements relationships. It helps keep the relationship a living one.
  • It isn’t the object, it is the spirit in which it is given.
  • The word koha relates to oha ti, or someone’s last words. This is a message of generosity as part of our very being.
  • Koha is reciprocal.  There’s a message that goes with it, an instruction of some sort
  • It can’t be too small or too big.
  • Gifts are ways of marking a particular moment.
  • They can wait for a long time before reciprocation.
  • Gifts mark connection to this place. It can be important for new-comers to feel at home here.
  • The principles of koha are now taught in New Zealand tertiary institutions, involving a visit to a marae.
Joanna Zellmer 8 portraits from a jeweller’s point of view, From the series “signs in a state of change”, archival satin fine art paper, box framed, each 520 x 390 x 45mm

Joanna Zellmer 8 portraits from a jeweller’s point of view, From the series “signs in a state of change”, archival satin fine art paper, box framed, each 520 x 390 x 45mm

Contemporary jewellery

  • There is a very strong sense of community in New Zealand’s contemporary jewellery scene.
  • But there is a need to challenge this by broadening its audience to include people outside contemporary jewellery.

Social practitioner

  • The social practitioner is an artist who develops connections between people through art works and objects. A number of contemporary jewellers could be seen to be working in this way now too.
  • It involves making art available to everyone. Support for this is gained from both museums and social agencies.
  • It can be informed by Buddhist principle of being effective in the world
  • Sometimes it is important to lend rather than give objects. In that way there is less focus on the object itself and more how it opens up the world around you.
  • Given the lack of saleable product, for some it can involve going to the path of a monastery. This could be living on home-grown vegies in the Coromandels.
  • But there is a danger of an audience that doesn’t respect the art offered as gift. This is sometimes encouraged by the ‘art as fun park’ attitude encouraged by recent biennale culture.
The alternative career path: Coromandel NZ (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/dd/Coromandel_Peninsula.jpg)

The alternative career path: Coromandel NZ (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/dd/Coromandel_Peninsula.jpg)

Other proposals

Existing projects in New Zealand
  • Cuckoo a New Zealand artist collective that organise events in other institutions according to a principle that no money is ever involved
  • Host a Brooch
  • See Here
  • Organisation that brokers spaces for artists to work in vacant shopfronts
Other possible
  • Crowd-funding not so relevant in New Zealand because people aren’t as wealthy as in Australia
  • Cooperative where members would pay an annual fee to borrow works by artists and jewellers

Voices:

Andrew Last; Birgit Moffatt; Carol Mayer; Deborah Donnelly; Elsa Krasniansky; Helen Donnelly; Huhana Smith; Jacqui Chan; Joanna Mere Branthwaite; Johanna Zellmer; Katheryn Yeats; Kevin Murray; Kohai Grace; Laura Porterhouse; Matthew Wilson; Megan Tamati-Quennell; Owen Mapp; Peter Deckers; Richard Reddaway; Sandra Alfoldy; Sarah Read; Tiffany Singh; Vivien Atkinson; Yenji Chen.

Ping Pong: Colombia – Australia Cultural Connections through Visual Arts

Ping Pong: Colombia – Australia Cultural Connections through Visual Arts

7-30 November at RMIT Design Hub

The Embassy of Colombia in Australia, Multicultural Arts Victoria (MAV), and RMIT University are proud to present Ping Pong, a pioneering international cross-cultural visual arts project where visual artists in Colombia partner up with artists in Australia, China and India.

This project is part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ “Plan de Promoción de Colombia en el Exterior”, which promotes the country overseas through its cultural expressions.

The Ambassador of Colombia in Australia, Mrs. Clemencia Forero, looks forward to this project that will lead to a cultural exchange between Colombia and Asia Pacific countries: “Projects like Ping Pong strengthen cultural bonds and raise awareness on drawing, one of the most outstanding expressions of Colombia’s current artistic scenario. We are very proud of presenting this project in Melbourne.”

Exhibition 7-30 Nov

Opening: Thursday 7 of November at 11.00 am. Everyone welcome but RSVP is essential to events@rmit.edu.au
Exhibition dates: Thursday 7 November – Saturday 30 November
Venue: RMIT Design Hub (Bldg 100), Design Research Institute Long Room, Level 9, Corner Swanston & Victoria St

Conference Colombia – Australia: Cultural Connections in the 21st Century.
Everyone welcome but RSVP is essential to events@rmit.edu.au
Date: Friday 8 November
Time: 9:30-4:00pm
Venue:RMIT Design Hub Level 3 (Bldg 100), Lecture Theatre

Presented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia in partnership with RMIT University and Multicultural Arts Victoria. Supporters: Arts Victoria, City of Melbourne

Image: Jorge Julian Aristizabal, Bathos/Trivialidad 2013, image courtesy of the artist

Installation shot of documentary projection in Nicholas Mangan 'Progress in Action'

Nicholas Mangan–recreate the past for the future

Installation shot from Nicholas Mangan 'Progress in Action'

Installation shot from Nicholas Mangan 'Progress in Action'

Nicholas Mangan is a Melbourne artist with a strong interest in the material histories of the Pacific. His previous show at Sutton Gallery Nauru, Notes from a Cretaceous World concerned the history of phosphate mining in the remote Pacific island, which had become a processing centre for asylum seekers (see article). His recent show, Progress in Action, concerns struggle in 1988 by the Bougainville Revolutionary Army to close the Panguna Copper mine which was polluting their island.

Copper plate from Nicholas Mangan 'Progress in Action'

Copper plate from Nicholas Mangan 'Progress in Action'

Mangan’s strategy is to re-stage the BRA’s attempts to cope with the blockage of food and energy by developing new modes of self-sufficiency. Locals took to the ubiquitous coconut as a resource to sustain their existence (as told in the film Coconut Revolution). Mangan learned how to extract oil from the coconut which could then be refined as a fuel to power a generator. This energy was then used to project a film documentary montage from the time. Alongside the installation and performance were copper plates, reproducing publications such as the Bougainville Copper annual report.

Mangan’s work follows that of others who seek to re-enact past struggles, such as Tom Nicholson. What’s particularly interesting here is the contemporary relevance of the energy system that he re-creates, showing the way in which the necessity of deprivation can lead to the invention of renewable energies. As Mangan says,

Beyond the politics or history for me it always comes back to the core materials that are formed or sculpted by an ideological determination, like copper being used for capitalist extraction or the coconuts being used as the agency for an eco-revolution.

In Australia, this has particular meaning as a challenge to the way neighbouring Melanesian region can be dismissed as an ‘arc of instability’. It ranks alongside the television series Straits as a way of imaginatively connecting the continent to the oceanic web in which it is embedded.

Installation shot of documentary projection in Nicholas Mangan 'Progress in Action'

Installation shot of documentary projection in Nicholas Mangan 'Progress in Action'

Mangan’s work also opens up a particularly southern strategy for art making, in revealing the means of production. Exposing the supply chain works against the commodification of art by revealing the process that lies behind the product. It sociology it demonstrates the kind of creative potential in the ecological knowledge outlined by Boaventura de Sousa Santos.

Of course, it could go further. The exhibition itself is lacking a relational dimension. There is no active role played by people in Bougainville today. If only Mangan had the opportunity to visit Bougainville himself, and find ways in which they might like to become actively involved in his work.

Fortunately, the project is far from over. Mangan is in the process of shipping the installation to Brazil, where it will feature in the Mercosul Biennial at Porto Alegre. According to the curatorial statement, the biennial

gathers works together that explore different kinds of atmospheric disturbances propelling travel and social displacement, technological advancement and world development, vertical expansions in space, and transversal explorations through time.

This seems a perfect fit for Mangan and an important opportunity to have an Australian artist represented in this key South American event.

Talk – Modernism as a local phenomenon: the art of Artur Barrio and Helio Oiticica

María Elena Lucero, Universidad Nacional Rosario, Argentina
11 August 2011 7:30pm, Institute of Postcolonial Studies, North Melbourne

María Elena Lucero

María Elena Lucero

Visiting Argentinian art theorist presents a paper on influential Brazilian artists Artur Barrio and Helio Oiticica in relation to recent ‘decolonial’ thinking in Latin America. In this, she tracks a particular local modernism that drew its materials from the margins. She makes reference to the tropicalia movement, which endures as a quintessential southern way of thinking and creating. Her paper reflects a ‘decolonial aesthetics’, as found in Latin America writers such as Ramón Grosfoguel and Walter Mignolo. Broadly speaking, such an approach advocates a system of meaning that is located in Indigenous forms of knowing that are independent of imperial ideology. This paper is a unique opportunity to consider the relation between the Latin American ‘decolonial’ and the Anglo ‘postcolonial’.

Dr María Elena Lucero is Director of CETCACL (Centre of Critical Theoretical Studies of Art and Culture in Latin America), Universidad Nacional de Rosario. She is the author of many publications on Latin American art movements and artists, including Eugenio Dittborn, Cildo Merilles and Adriana Varejão. She has also written widely on pre-Columbian cultures. María Elena Lucero is coming to Australia exclusively to speak at the Southern Perspectives series at the IPCS.

Southern Panoramas

A call from Videobrasil

Southern Panoramas: accepting submissions until March 10
With a new name, focus, and format, the 17th International Contemporary Art Festival SESC_Videobrasil is accepting submissions for the Southern Panoramas competitive exhibition up until March 10, 2011. Open to all artistic manifestations for the first time, the exhibition is accepting submissions of installations, performances, book-objects, and other experiments. Visual artists from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia (except Japan), Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania may submit artwork produced from May 2009 onwards.
View the regulations and entry forms for the 17th Festivall here.

And from Tokyo:

South by Southeast: Australasian Video Art
SJ RAMIR | Patricia PICCININI | Steve CARR | Angelica MESITI | Swirhana SPONG | Daniel CROOKS | Shaun GLADWELL | Damiano BERTOLI | Ronnie VAN HOUT | Daniel VON STURMER | David ROSETZKY | Richard BELL
10.30 – 12.30 Sunday 20 February 2011
16.00 – 18.00 Thursday 24 February 2011
Australia and New Zealand exist at a point somewhere between the eastern and western worlds, maturing away from British colonialism to become progressive modern countries with specific indigenous heritages. South by Southeast operates as a broad survey of recent single channel video works by Australian and New Zealand artists, reflecting the complex diversity of artists living in these countries and their unique approach to art making. The works emerge out of the specific cultural and geographical conditions of these isolated countries while reflecting the pervasion of, yet irrefutable distance from, the centres of global cultural influence.    
The works within the screening program seek to introduce a selected survey of current art practice from these countries, marking a shift from the documentation of the performative – prevalent in the early employment of the medium of video within an art context – as well as the narrative format prominent within conventional cinema works. This selection of single channel video works often foresake a stringent narrative linearity, instead creating drama that operates outside of a defined temporal sequentiality. These works are for the most part produced with a gallery and museum framework in mind, operating more within the realm of the moving image, rather than as films intended for a cinema context.
Many of the works evoke a strong sense of isolation, depicting singular figures within various situations or against the backdrop of almost undisturbed landscapes, be they urban, suburban or rural. This alludes to the distant position of these countries in relation to the rest of the world, whilst also referencing the relative expansiveness of their respective topographies and comparatively sparse populations. To this end, the Hitchcockian title refers to the idea of locating oneself, both physically and psychologically in relation to our geographic and cultural differences, and in particular, on the occasion of the Yebisu International Festival for Art & Alternative Visions, to the geographical location of Australia and New Zealand in relation to Japan.
For more information on the program please go to:
Yebisu International Festival for Art & Alternative Visions
Daydream Believer!!
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
17 – 27 February 2011

A Southern way of showing art?

There’s long been a hunger in Western art galleries for the creativity of the so-called ‘margins’. Whether its Picasso gazing at Dan African masks in the Trocadero or Jean-Hubert Martin curating outsider artists for Magiciens de la Terre, there has been fascination for the seeming more unconstrained, primitive creativity that emerges in distant continents like Africa.

Yet while the gaze of Western art extends well beyond its borders, the business of art itself seems very much confined to the metropolitan centres. There is an assumption for any culture to realise its potential in art that it will be manifested in spaces like the Venice Biennial, Tate Modern and the many museums of contemporary art throughout the transatlantic.

What if a community in that other world decided to host its own art event? Rather than spend millions setting up a satellite biennale, jetting in the art world, what if they sold tickets for a virtual presence? The outside audience would enable the event by their purchase, and in return obtain restricted information about the kind of world that emerges.

The Chilean architect Claudio Torres, who has been working in the Nairobi ghetto of Mathare, has developed a project with the locals to host a competition for a painted mural on a rented ghetto wall. You can see him explain the project here:

 

More than that, tickets are still available. They are limited, so book soon.