Thursday, February 11, 2010

Very select

Creative NZ has just announced the advisory panel to recommend an artist to represent New Zealand at the Venice Biennale in 2011. It is a predictable line-up of institutional directors and curators. 

Jenny Harper: Commissioner; Director of Christchurch Art Gallery
Elizabeth Caldwell: Director of Dunedin Public Art Gallery
Rhana Devenport: Director of Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
Heather Galbraith: Senior Curator, City Gallery, Wellington and curator of 2009 Venice Biennale artist Francis Upritchard’s exhibition
Charlotte Huddleston: Curator, Contemporary Art at Te Papa
Jonathan Mane-Wheoki: Professor and Head at Elam School of Fine Arts

Why do CNZ restrict their selection to people working in art institutions? If you look at the record of their institutions it is not as though they are major supporters of the artists who have been selected for previous Biennales. Think about how many major public museum exhibitions our Biennale artists et al, Jacqueline Fraser, Judy Millar, Peter Robinson, Michael Stevenson and Francis Upritchard racked up before they were selected. Doesn’t take long. The people who do support these artists on a regular ongoing basis are dealers, other artists and collectors. None of them are represented on the selection panel. CNZ needs to consider more carefully the difference between having a stake in the visual arts and having a career.

Image: A closed shop