Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Shake on it

In New Zealand we have come to expect that everyone’s a handshake away from everyone else. In specialist fields conflicts of interest aren’t worth the paper they aren’t written on. Too few people to do too many jobs. ( a reader has since noted that this should be "too many people to do too few jobs" - weirdly, thinking about it, both are probably true. Thanks rdn) A good example is the Christchurch Art Gallery’s scramble to put together a show to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the University of Canterbury’s School of Fine Arts. Why something that has been inching along for 125 years is done at the last minute is a puzzle, but it’s not the first time and won’t be the last. If it can happen to Katherine Mansfield (and it did) it can happen to anyone.

The celebration exhibition comes at a tough time for the Art School. Budgets are being cut, the organization seems in disarray. Who’s surprised that current students (better known to the university as funding units) are considering a boycott of the exhibition? In a key position in the funding chain is Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Kenneth T Strongman, who heads the College of Arts. Strongman …. sound familiar? It should do. Ironically, he’s the father of contract curator Lara Strongman who’s assembling the celebration show. Still, given her record, there’s a chance she will come up with something more interesting than a work from everyone who went to Ilam who has been published in an art magazine.

Image: More irony. From the Art School’s home page, this shipwreck imagery by Nathan Pohio called Spectre Echo Landfall. It is on exhibition at the SOFA Gallery from 10 October to 4 November 2007