Friday, March 18, 2011

First the good news

Now that the Board of Te Papa has decided against a new building for a National Art Gallery, they're probably not so interested in what a high quality art museum could look like but, for the sake of argument, let's say they are still engaged with the idea. 

To pursue it they only need to make the short hop to New Plymouth and check out the current bunch of exhibitions at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. Stealing the senses, curated by Rhana Devenport, is an eclectic mix of installations that gives a smart take on current trends in contemporary art. 

In particular, it gives you a good handle on the new surge of interest in breaking down the barriers between design, art and craft in a playful installation by Karl Fritsch, Francis Upritchard and Martino Gamper. Whether you think it is diversionary, iconoclastic or virtuosic, it is bound to give new energy to New Zealand's strong craft traditions and inspire a multitude of imitators. It is an important exhibition so the big question is whether it will be shown in Wellington (aka the Cultural Capital… sorry, cheap shot) or at the Dowse. Past experience suggests not. 

What is going on? All that time, all that energy, all those resources in a country this size should not be limited to one public institution and one audience. Stealing the senses has CNZ's logo stamped on it and how often do we hear that CNZ likes to 'send signals' about what it expects of the organisations it funds. OK, here’s one: if we fund it, you will share.

(We have since been told that the Fritsch, Upritchard Gamper section of the show will be exhibited at the Hamish McKay Gallery in June)

(And the Govett-Brewster tells us that it was Dr. Gene Sherman, Director, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation who opened the show rather than CNZ's chief honcho Wainright. But CNZ was involved in funding at least two of the big installations so we'll stick by the fund-it-if-they-tour-it angle)

Images: Clockwise from top left, installation by Karl Fritsch, Francis Upritchard and Martino Gamper, Brook Andrew’s inflatable The Cellone channel from Sonia Leber and in the back stairwell David Chesworth’s video Almost Always Everywhere Apparent (II), Various solid states one of Dane Mitchell’s installations and Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan’s Passage (The Eighth Fleet). (Click on image to enlarge)