Thursday, June 19, 2014

J is for Joker

If you want to see contemporary nz art, come to Berlin. Probably not since Hotere, Peebles, Hanly and the others went to live and work in London in the sixties has there been such a concentration of NZ artists beyond the Pacific. OK there are NZers working away in other cities but in Berlin they are a real presence. Well, to us anyway. Look at the list (and this is only top of mind) Ruth Buchanan, Ben Cauchi, Simon Denny, Alicia Frankovich, Richard Frater, Judy Millar, Michael Stevenson. It's partly the residency effect. Dunedin has enjoyed it for decades with a significant number of artists deciding to stay on in the city after being brought there as Frances Hodgkins Fellows. In the same way Berlin's NZ population is often given a boost by CNZ's K├╝nstlerhaus Bethanien visual artists residency.

And these NZers are visible in the city too. We posted Monday on Mike Stevenson's participation in the Berlin Biennale, Simon Denny has an exhibition coming up at Portikus in Frankfurt and yesterday we saw Ruth Buchanan's project at the Hamburger Bahnhof working with the Collection
Marzona. This collection concentrates on conceptual work from the sixties and seventies and tends to the archival. In response the presentation is arranged alphabetically. Ruth is the contemporary presence and has been assigned the letter J for Joker. We saw what is to be the first of four parts that will be on show at the HB for around two and a half years, so big exposure. Of course you can also see Ruth Buchanan’s work without all the flying at Hopkinson Mossman in New Zealand.

Images:  top, video presentation which is part of Ruth Buchanan’s work in the exhibition A-Z: The Manzoni collection. Bottom, detail of one of the shelves in Ruth Buchanan’s contribution.