Friday, May 20, 2011


There’s a lot of New Zealand artists in Germany and most of them are in Berlin. What can the Germans be up to? Over the years New Zealand has been wooed by a number of sources of art funding, most forcefully by the United States back in the Cold War days (they even ordered Clement Greenberg, not a man to leave home at the drop of a hat, down to the bottom of the Pacific in 1969). 

America schmoozing us just post-Korea and pre us getting bolshy over the nuclear thing, made perfect sense, but Germany? With generous support for exhibitions, artist residencies, language courses and other goodies, the Germans have put a truckload of funding into New Zealand art. What can they want?

There’s probably no simple answer to explain this wave of cultural diplomacy, but who’s complaining? Certainly not Alicia Frankovich who is in Berlin on the Creative New Zealand Berlin Visual Artists Residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien. We caught one of her performances the other night and the next day found her filming a performance in Kottbusser Tor. The bits we watched appeared to be based on an old boxing movie and the cast spent a lot of time ducking and weaving. 

A few passers-by paused, but that morning the people of Kottbusser Tor were all busy doing something else. Perhaps if they'd known they were helping to pay for it, and that it’s all part of Germany’s master plan, more of them would have stopped to catch the action.
Images: Top left and right performance pieces at Salon Populaire. Bottom filming in Kottbusser Tor, Frankovich in pink trousers