Monday, December 14, 2009


The Taste: food and feasting in art exhibition currently showing at the Auckland Art Gallery isn’t subtle. It’s the sort of show you put together by feeding taste-related words into the collection database. “How about ‘fruit’? Let’s try ‘eat’ and ‘meat.’ What do we get with ‘dine’?” Given the small amount of space the Gallery has available until mid-2011 when the major rebuilding is completed (that’s at least another 18 months), you’d think the plan would be to make a serious effort with smart, credible exhibitions that build its reputation as New Zealand’s leading art institution rather than undercut it. And what's with entry to this exhibition (mostly from the collection) costing $7.50 while the more substantial collection show Picturing History downstairs is free?

Still, we coughed up only to find art and life weirdly merge as we sat down to watch the Ed Ruscha early seventies video Premier. The soundtrack was disrupted by a high-pitched and insistent electronic alarm beeping which was definitely not part of the work. Nearby was an open door, and through it we could see a small table with a plate of biscuits. ‘Taste!’ we thought and checked it out. As we approached we could also hear the clanking of knife and fork which we traced to a guard eating his lunch. We asked if he could turn off the door alarm. Without looking up from his meal he said, “I’m working on it.” Turned out he meant his salad.

Meanwhile, up on K-Road we saw a work made from Raro and spit at Artspace and a bronze lemon tree at Michael Lett, two works that escaped the Taste net. The artists Campbell Patterson and Michael Parekowhai are no doubt relieved.

Image: staff room as installation