Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The share market

Artspace’s exhibition Moment making includes three single channel videos by Bruce Nauman. As the earliest works in the show they kick off the story, but they are not given special treatment – they’re just part of the show. The works are on loan from the National Gallery of Australia and they raise a question. Why aren’t more loans like this made more often? After all, international video doesn’t flood into New Zealand, the Australians have a good collection and are happy to lend (The curator Laura Preston told us the process was not at all demanding). A quick flick through the video in the ANG’s online catalogue reveals nine by Dennis Oppeheim, two by Tony Oursler, seven by Bruce Nauman, two by Jonathan Borofsky, ten by Gary Hill, two by Nam June Paik, one by Chris Burden and many more. It is hard to understand why a special relationship hasn’t been developed between the Australian National Gallery and our own art museums. If it had we might have been closer to the development of contemporary work over the last 20 or so years.

And today partnerships are being taken a long way from straightforward lending and borrowing to making joint acquisitions. Shared purchases of contemporary works were being made as early as 2002. That was the year the Whitney purchased Bill Viola’s Five Angels for the Millennium in a landmark deal with the Tate and the Pompidou. This year the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo have jointly acquired Rachel Whiteread’s staircase sculpture Untitled (Domestic), 2002. These sorts of museum partnerships seem a smart way to keep art museums in the game, show commitment and, with a bit of luck, convince our art institutions to be better about sharing exhibitions.
Images are from the Artspace exhibition Moment making curated by Laura Preston. Left: Bruce Nauman Manipulating a fluorescent tube 1969. Right: The Nauman in situ with Pretty mortar 2007 by Simon Denny