For most of the sixties and seventies (and, let’s face it, the eighties too) if people in NZ involved with art wanted to go overseas to try things out they headed for the UK. More recently this Brexit has diversified reaching out to Australia, the US and Europe with a small contingent getting to Asia. Throughout Europe these days you can pretty much find an NZ artist or writer or curator in every port.
Over the years we've mentioned some of our connections in Europe - people like Ruth Buchanan, Simon Denny, Alicia Frankovich, Richard Frater, Daniel Malone, Michael Stevenson - but hundreds more have now established themselves for the long-term - on the Continent, as we used to call it.
So in Zurich we caught the number 31 bus out of the city centre and went off to visit Matt Hanson. He’s one of a new wave whose transplantation has been made possible by educational opportunities. With fellow curator Ludovica Parenti he has made an exhibition space by converting an apartment (as in mattress-stored-in-the-kitchen during the day converted) with a pink front door, pristine white walls and a very pale mint (or is it washed-out avocado?) floor. Their exhibition The buttocks of a steel mill includes Robert Ashley’s opera for TV Perfect lives and a poem of complex rhythm and wordplay by Australian Astrid Lorange. The internet claims Perfect lives as a comic opera about reincarnation and it’s inspiring to imagine the meeting at BBC4 back in 1984 when director John Sanborn got the go-ahead to produce it.
One window of the Hanson apartment gallery space overlooks an idyllic park-like courtyard while the other confronts a motorway on-ramp. We got through our whole encounter without once saying ‘nature/culture’ #sophisticated.
Images: Top, curator Matt Hanson. Bottom left, Astrid Lorange and right (on the screen) Perfect lives. You can read Lorange’s poem here and view Perfect lives here.