Monday, May 04, 2009

Meanwhile, across town…

The Auckland Art Fair was its now traditional smooth-running self with reportedly lots of sales right through the price range. It is still a mystery why dealers, who spend most of their time running discreet personal businesses, fall into step so publicly to present art as commodity. The descriptor we most often heard for the atmosphere of the Fair from dealers? "Collegial." It’s the same internationally where art fairs have also achieved what years ago would have seemed impossible - convincing the high, the low and the medium to muck in together.

Across town in Artspace a very different take on art was in play in a performance by Alicia Frankovich. We were greeted at the door of the main gallery space by Artspace director Emma Bugden. After a brief pause she opened the door to let us in. To get to the door she had been pulling Frankovich up to the ceiling of the gallery with an abseil harness and ropes hooked over the rafters. As our group moved into the gallery she went back into the gallery lowering the artist to the floor. As more people assembled in the foyer, Bugden had to raise Frankovich in order to get to the door, welcome new spectators and let them in. For most of the performance there were about 70 people watching.

For us, along with Frankovich’s ongoing examination of stamina and the body in architectural space, it was a smart look at the relationship of artists and institutions. The director was ready and willing to lift the artist above her and by proxy lift above her weight. A kind of mutually respectful partnership. In a word. Uplifting.
Images: Emma Bugden in the service of art.