Thursday, September 25, 2008

Heaps of praise

Artspace has published its first book in a proposed series on its exhibitions since Brian Butler took over as director. It features Daniel Malone, Francis Alÿs, Mark Adams, Eve Armstrong, Fiona Banner and Ann Veronica Janssens and is published by Clouds. Probably more than any other New Zealand based publication this one effortlessly integrates New Zealand artists alongside others with international reputations. In fact, looking at the illustrations and reading the essays it’s hard to understand why so many public institutions find this role so problematic.

A highlight is Allan Smith’s ‘short history of heaps, stacks and piles’ a wonderfully poetic essay on the world of things crushed, wedged and balanced. The essay, Stacks on the mill, more on still, places Eve Armstrong’s work in an exotic context of obsession fired by necessity. Also of interest to OTN readers Smith, in describing an attic room belonging to Czechoslovakian bookbinder turned photographer and pack rat, Joseph Sudek, pauses to give this warning to collectors.

Each packet or handful of paper, each thick envelope, each shallow box lid, and closed or half-opened box, manifests a spatially coded history of how it got to be stuffed, lent or propped where it is now part of an incrementally climbing landscape of mutually adjusted pressures. In its semi-coherent confusion Sudek’s study demonstrates the horror vacui of the unrepentant collector and hoarder.