29 May 2007

1 > 18

I'm in the throes of forgoing my 18 speed road bike for a single speed, possibly fixed gear, track bike to get to and from work and around town on. The few people I've let on on this little anti-technology project have had mixed responses - from support to calls of suicide, namely due to fixed gear bikes lack of brakes.

There's a great article, and the cool picture above, on the appeal and infinite cool of fixed-gearers on the New York Time site

Why thank you citizen modern.

So the story goes

The shelves of Unity et al are littered with the stories and histories of artists – the great, the good, and the not so good. We can read what they wrote to their friends, where they lived, how they lived, and what they created. Even what they liked to cook.

But there’s a whole other story about New Zealand art that I’d love to read – one that’s glimpsed through the artist’s books, but only fleetingly.

It’s the story of the 18 year old who attends his first exhibition opening and is instantly hooked; the 30 year old suburban couple who forgo a new car, shoes, plasma tv, and instead choose to support a handful of artists whose company and ideas they enjoy; the pensioner who is putting off downsizing their home because the thought of shifting the 50 year collection is too much to bear.

It’s the stories of the dealers, the collectors, the patrons, and the advocates who have helped make NZ art so interesting, have been integral to its becoming so accessible, and have enabled the artists to focus on doing what they do best.

Names that spring to mind are Elva Bett, Helen Hitchings, Peter McLeavey, Les and Milly Paris, Jim Fraser, the Barrs, Hamish McKay…but there are countless others. The history of the quite remarkable Monica Brewster, for example, is currently being researched from the sunny hills above Oakura. It’s a brilliant place to start.

Pic: Hamish McKay's editioned book from the Auckland Art Fair, slected to mark the occasion of the opening of his new gallery space.

28 May 2007

Cat, meet pigeons.

So a return to working in the arts may not be so far off after all. Be afraid - oftentimes I am. (okay, so 'oftentimes' is not the right word in that context, but I'm just getting my hand back in, as it were, by using a regular art essay term, even though I'm not entirely convinced it's even a real word...).
Image courtesy of threadless.com

Business is booming

The splintering of Webbs and subsequent rising of Art+Object have seen a hell of a lot of press recently about the art auction scene. The main thrust has been the strength of the auction market, with some trickledown to the wider sector, including a stunning piece in the DomPost last week about how all our artists are going soft because they no longer have to wait tables or teach to pay the bills. Is anyone else worried how similar DomPost is to ComPost?

But spare a thought for your friendly neighbourhood art dealer. A couple I've spoken to recently have remarked that this current media frenzy has almost totally ignored the crucial link in the process - the primary sales dealer. The art industry cover story in next week's Listener, for example, features only a passing comment from John Gow - not so very long ago the public face of the art market.

And the whole Resale Royalties discussion is also apparently "anti-dealer", and "ignores what dealers do to further an artist's career by cutting off income from secondary sales". Oh.

Hats off to Art+Object's PR people though. Stunning job - they're everywhere. But for the sake of my keeping of an orderly bookcase, how about we shy away from the wild and crazy A3 sales catalogue format. Strong brands are built through repeated repetition.

27 May 2007

Guided by voices

In breaking news, the ubiquitous Girl Guide Biscuit is now officially known as the Guide Biscuit. This, evidently, reflects that Girl Guides are now officially know as Guides.
This, evidently, reflects the fact that boys can now join.

18 May 2007

Second bedroom

Ever since we moved in I've been trying to solve how to incoorporate a second bedroom into the apartment. While there's loads of space for it, natural light and flow present some interesting challenges.

Option one was an old Kombi van in the space - it could double as an office space, while converting easily to camper mode for those unexpected guests. I suspect this idea was partly in response to Micheal Parekowhai's Te Papa Sculpture Terrace efforts, and partly my own (very) early experiences of living in a Kombi van in Europe. While there would be certain logistical issues - like dropping oil on the carpet, and having to dissect it to the point of getting it into a goods lift, then through a smallish door, I'm really keen on this option.

This morning I discovered another option that gives the kombio idea a run for the money - Dan Hzel's Z-Box.

17 May 2007

When technology attacks

I rediscovered today that my office printer has its very own website, which it updates every 15 seconds. While it hasn't yet fully embraced Web 2.0, it did give me a brief moment of panic that the machines were finally taking over.

It is the mother of all printers though: double sided A3 colour. Every home should have one.

15 May 2007

Would-be political statement

I'd like to say I'm boycotting the Auckland Art Fair for a bunch of reasons - that I'm anti the sensationalism and showmanship that this forum promotes, that buying art is a personal and rewarding experience that need not be subjected to such public scrutiny, it's elitist past, brutal restrictions on exhibitors, and particularly considering it's promotion of a devastating rodent through its pre-match communications.

In reality none of these are the case - sure the marketing was occasionally suss, and exhibitor restrictions limiting for those galleries (and artists) who believe a work of art might just extend beyond its frame, but I'd still trade 4 back issues of Wallpaper, a half-filled coffee card for Coco cafe (RIP) and maybe even a signed Scanner CD to get there, which I would if it wasn't a ridiculously busy period at work.

Still, there's always 09, eh?

07 May 2007

Discourse is better than dat course

It's always refreshing to see someone make the leap from talking about it to actually doing it. Witness the stellar growth of Vorb from fridge-mounted phone list to multi-thousand member global online community. Or Babylicious' explosion from a couple of printed shirts to the front page of the Dom, on an almost weekly basis.

A couple of cool ideas to further the contribution of the humble freelancer have made it into real life lately, Kim’s Freelance Market, home of hope for the freelance journalists amongst us, and proving successful despite having a 5-minute-logo by the OMC design team, and Best of Three’s burgeoning wiki Free Tools for Free Lancers. Top work them.

Bookmark these:

The sound of noise

Probably by virtue of its tentative position half way up a steep hill, I’ve never really felt like the Adam Art Gallery is part of the Saturday Morning gallery walking circuit. So it was great to see it descend into town last Friday for a one-off screening of Philippe Parreno and Douglas Gordon’s Zidane, 21st Cnetury Portrait., fairly accurately billed as “Halfway between a sports documentary and a conceptual art installation.”

It’s a rare playing field where art and sports mix (the list of NZ artists I can name who have dealt with rugby culture for example don’t even fill one hand), so it was great to see such a capacity crowd of both soccer fiends and art-world a-listers. This may have been a result of a clever marketing – I liked the group discounts for teams of 11 (and would be fascinated to know how many art groups organised themselves as such).

There was a tense moment when both the young guy in front of me, (with Zidane screen saver on his cellphone) and the strip wearing supporter next to me (who slept through the second half) simultaneously realised they were at an art event. Fortunately they countered this by making a swift trip to the bar, rather than a full-scale riot. This was during the opening credits.

I’m looking forward to seeing more of the Adam, in a cityscape that’s been largely crowded out by Team Massey of late. Still not a huge fan of the 9,000 pixel wide website though.