Monday, August 09, 2010

Pay and display

Auckland Art Gallery's New Gallery, as one of the few galleries in New Zealand to charge an entry fee (is it the only one?), has bumped up against a problem for a number of years now without coming up with much of a solution. The thing is that when floor talks are given, the gallery insists that anyone who turns up has to pay to get into the talk. The current solution is to hold the ‘floor talk’ in a room away from the pay-to-see-section. That might do if you don’t need the actual work to serve as an illustration for your discussion, but a real problem if you do. This was the situation of P Mule last weekend slated to talk about the work of Dan Arps, Walters' Prize contestant.

Having made a big effort to have the talk held in the show, P Mule came up with a distinctive solution: to sponsor the admission ticket of anyone who came to listen to the talk. Having purchased a fistful of tickets, P Mule and Dan Arps were able to take the twenty-odd members of the audience up to the show and finish off the talk surrounded by the work. You would think the prospect of an artist stumping up for tickets to take people into the gallery to listen to one of the Gallery’s own events would embarrass an institutional into paying up but in this case, not a bit of it. AAG Director Chris Saines by all accounts enjoyed the talk and the gallery's event organiser congratulated the Mule on its entrepreneurial spirit. Mother was right, you really can’t win.