Monday, March 01, 2010

Solo show

If you believe you can find art anywhere, your conviction would have been confirmed on Friday outside Te Papa where a small blue painting was propped up against one of the mirrored sculptures by local artist Peter Trevelyan. It looked political – “I Believe IN John Key. He Wouldn’t Lie to US” – the sort of thing you might see on the end of a stick in a political rally. A half -hour later there it is again, this time under one of Judy Millar’s Giraffe-bottle-gun paintings on Te Papa’s fifth floor.

There’s a precedent for this sneaking-my-art-into-a-public-museum action. The English graffiti artist Banksy famously exhibited a fake cave painting for a few days at the British Museum and someone calling themselves Cartrain managed to insert a Damien Hirst "portrait" into a National Portrait Gallery hanging. So we hung around for 20 minutes or so to see what would happen.

The audience for Millar’s work seemed to take the addition in their stride, and the Te Papa guides either thought it was part of the work or didn’t sweep that low on their walk-throughs. As we were about to go a young guy with a camera came into the gallery, looked around and took a couple of snaps. Turned out he was an art student (not so surprising) doing a performance installation course. No one had stopped him bring his art into Te Papa and no one had tried to put an end to his short term display. Picking his art up from the floor he tucked it under his arm, gave us a smile, and wandered off down the stairs.