There's been a growing trend at exhibition openings at public institutions I've attended lately to have unbelievably bad speeches. Last night's opening was no exception, with 4 speakersthat made a veritable plethora of mistakes. Each.
We had the host gallery director, lending gallery director, principal sponsor, and local mayor - all of whom got up with almost rehersed syncronicity, read the speech notes that I suspect had been prepared and circulated well in advance by the gallery's marketing manager.
Reading from notes is fine, particularly when you're a new sponsor coming on board, or a mayor with 80 other public events in any given week. But all 4 spoke as though they were addressing a room full of art world imbiciles - a total misreading of an audience that was one of the most substantial gatherings of art world names, faces, and figures I'd seen in years.
All 4 introduced the show - particularly Trekka - as controversial, substatial, and thought provoking. In repetitive monotony that made me think it was more futurist repetitive sound poetry than a reflection of the sponsors, gallery staff and supporters, and concepts that had made the show come together.
And the mistakes. There's a golden rule about public speaking that dictates that even if you're only getting up to say thank you - reherse it. Clearly this had been somewhat overlooked by all. Even the title of the exhibition was ballsed up by at least one speaker - not exactly a stunning look or reflection on the validity of the argument presented by the show. And these are the leaders of the art world?
All of this picks up on a crusade New Plymouth based artist Peter Peryer is on regarding art writing. His argument is that art writing has degenerated to the lowest rung of the New Zealand literary ladder. I would add that art speaking - in an introductory/opening capacity - is buried somewhere well beneath that ladder.
On a plus the food wasn't bad - the show was pretty good in places (although made me think of Dream Collectors at the old Te Papa, and WHY THE HELL DOESN"T TREKKA HAVE IT'S OWN EXHIBITION!), and caught up with a bunch of great people.