Tuesday, July 31, 2012

It's probably meant to be a drawing of a pork bun, but as we drove past this cafe, it made us think of Karl Fritch

The artifact previously known as prints

If you look at a lot of art exhibitions something you will have noticed recently is how many reconstructions of sixties and seventies installations are being made. In New Zealand the Len Lye Foundation has been into this (and making new works from Lye’s sketches and notes) for a while now, Auckland artist Jim Allen has been reconstructing his own past over the last few years at Michael Lett, Billy Apple has a reconstruction on at Hamish McKay at the moment and there are a few seventies reconstructions in the Adam Gallery's latest Duchamp exhibition too. 

And here's a spectacular video of Gagosian staff in Los Angeles reconstructing a 1968 work by Barry Le Va. The title defines the installation Set I A placed B placed; Set II A dropped. B dropped.; Set III A placed. B dropped.; Set IV placed 1968. Le Va might have been at Gagosian when the work was installed in June but there was one big difference between when he made it in the sixties and this time round: the blue conservators gloves that everyone is wearing. 

 Did that affect the work? Sure it did. There wasn’t a finger print to be seen anywhere when we saw it. Each sheet of glass was polished clear and sparkling. It looked kind of creepy. All end result and no process.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Toot Suite

Ans Westra’s images hit the road in Wellington thanks to a bold branding effort by Suite Gallery who have a stand alone Westra Gallery on Oriental Parade.

The rumour mill

Here’s a good rumour for you. It comes complete with an A++ feels-right rating, but no publishable source, although some talk a few months ago make it ring true. 

A rich person (or persons) has signed a cheque that will pay for the construction of a new standalone National Art Gallery next to Te Papa if the Government agrees to pick up all operational and staffing costs. 

In most fields this possibility would start a storm of speculation, media blitzing of Te Papa execs and lobby pressure on ministers. In the arts we tend to have a more let-sleeping-possibilities-lie approach. You know this already from the Walters Prize debacle. The allegation that hardly any of the jurors saw any of the exhibitions they had proposed didn’t even cause a ripple, let alone a statement from the Auckland Art Gallery (which makes you think it is probably true). Hard to imagine the selection of four new All Blacks being based on games none of the selectors had seen not creating a nationwide debate of WTF proportions in the media, in the pubs and in the office. Face it, families would be at war. In the arts anyone under challenge simply says 'no comment' on the reasonable assumption that tough questions will go away. 

This passivity is probably part of the reason why the arts get so little media interest. When journalists can't get a comment from anyone and are overwhelmed by boosterism, who's surprised we are relegated to the entertainment pages. And all this at a time when there are so many opportunities to move up a notch with the Auckland Art Gallery facing a fundamental shift in direction, Te Papa requiring 30 senior managers to apply for only 15 available jobs in a restructure and now the whisper of chance to see a new National Art Gallery. That's a lot to talk about.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bus boy

Here is a video of a double-decker bus doing push ups. (YouTube won't let us put this clip up for some reason but you can see it here if you can be bothered watching a lame advert first. Sorry about that) What other field of endeavour, apart from art, would let us say that and allow you to see it? It’s Czech artist David Cerny at it again.

Friday, July 27, 2012


...you're out there walking the burbs and you think you have found the king-hit When-artists-become-brands of all time... and then you haven't.

Head job

Fabricators are among the unsung heroes of the art world. They're like the film crews who climb the mountain first so they can get shots of the heroic mountaineer scaling the peak. We've featured some of these people before but this time we can combine it with an art-at-the-movies twist. 

American Kate Lang was a fabricator and props maker for the Young Hercules franchise of the late 1990s. Among the props she created was an over-scale head of Ares, the character played by Kevin Smith. The head was carved from polystyrene and bronzed for use on the set. Much later the head was discovered by Rohan Wealleans. With a paint job and further modifications it now features in his City Gallery exhibition

You can see more of Kate Lang’s work here. If you want to create your own art work from a West Auckland movie prop, you can get a nifty giant hand with torch going for the asking if you rush on over to TradeMe

Images: left, the head of Ares as originally created for Young Hercules and right, Rohan Wealleans' transformation at the City Gallery

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Go for gold

"It's solid bronze. It's far too valuable an asset to just give away."
Property developer James Young on the statue of Keith Holyoake his company inherited with the States Services Commission building in the DomPost

When art goes to the movies: Edward Hopper

The New York Times did another of those intriguing match-the-painting-with-the-real-subject stories on the houses in the paintings of Edward Hopper. It reminded us of Hopper’s profound influence on the movies and particularly a favourite house - the Psycho residence. 

It's impossible to believe that Hitchcock’s set designer didn’t use the 1925 Hopper painting House by the Railroad as a model. The movie's screenwriter Joseph Stefano was certainly a Hopper fan and once told Anthony Perkins that he felt that "Norman Bates, if he were a painting, would be painted by Hopper.” And then there's the mansion in Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven. Got to be another homage to Hopper. 

Images: Top, Edward Hopper’s House by the Railroad. Bottom left, the Psycho version and right as portrayed in Days of Heaven

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

After the rash of entertainment adverts plundering The Last Supper nice to see Seurat's Grande Jatte getting some work.

Show them the door

As we’ve mentioned before, one of the first challenges for the new director of the City Gallery will be dealing with pressure for a door charge. City Gallery Overlords the Wellington Museums Trust are hot on the idea and have commissioned a report to give it some heft.

The report on both the City Gallery and the Museum of Wellington City and Sea is based on face-to-face interviews with 112 people visiting from outside Wellington and 95 people visiting from overseas. Another 1,119 were also consulted via an online survey: 313 from the city, 304 from the region and 502 from rest-of-NZ (unfortunately the all important questions used were not attached to the summary report made public). Also, to sweeten the deal it's proposed that locals (with id) will still get in free.

 Of the total respondents just under 30 percent were from Wellington City itself and 6.5 percent overseas visitors. So what did the rest-of-New Zealand (RON), the ones who are going to take the hit, have to say about paying for admission to the City Gallery? The door charge suggested in the survey was set rather high at $10. You can figure they will probably settle on a charge of $5 or under which was what 71 percent of the RONs thought it should be if there was to be a charge at all. Only 11 percent thought $10 was a reasonable amount to pay at the door although later in the report 39 percent thought $10 was a ‘fair price’ which doesn’t make much sense. More importantly for the City Gallery’s future, 56 percent said an entry charge would affect their decision to visit and with the all-free attractions of Te Papa just down the road, it’s not hard to figure out where they will be headed instead.

Chances are, in spite of the evidence world-wide that door charges stunt cultural institutions like art museums and the warning signs in its own report of decreased visitation, the Museums Trust will insist that the City Gallery initiate door charges.

A year into the future, when attendances have plummeted and the pressure is on to come up with more crowd-pleasers, let’s all remember that it was the Wellington Museums Trust that was responsible and not the director and staff of the gallery. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fair appraisal

With the Melbourne Art Fair and New Fair just around the corner here is an artist and an art critic on art fairs in general.

"It’s like seeing your parents have sex. Even though you know it happens, you just shouldn’t be there"
American artist John Baldessari 

"Anyone can walk up to dealers and button-hole them with the four-work profanity 'How much is that?' Curators, critics, and artists complain, but few stay away.” 
New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl

Card sharps

What wouldn’t you give to see a deck of cards designed by Julian Dashper, et al., Kate Newby or, for a truly challenging poker set-to, Allen Maddox? There's a long history of artist-designed decks and individual cards (with a stand-out being Simultané, the deck created by Sonia Delaunay in the early sixties) and with so many artists working on the borders with design it's no surprise that the card thing is back in play. 

If you're after a deck by British artists there’s one available now. You get to have one of the limited edition cards framed and a full deck to play with or change out in your frame. You can check out more of the cards at the Guardian

Images: Top, cards from Simultané by Sonia Delaunay. Bottom left to right, cards by Donald Sultan, David Hockney and Damien Hirst 

Monday, July 23, 2012


We were going to launch a new competition along the lines of ‘Worst collage of public sculpture in print’ but the Dominion Post went and did this unbeatable version for their special booster edition Our city, our people, our success on Wellington today. Damn.
Click on image for full horror

Walters Prize judge announced

Mami Kataoka, Chief Curator at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo will be the judge for the Walters Prize this year. Kataoka curated the groundbreaking Roppongi Crossing: New Visions in Contemporary Japanese Art exhibition in 2004. She also curates for the Hayward Gallery in London. Great choice.

Best bets

The best guessing game in town is who-will-be-allowed-to-do-what for the Walters-Prize at the Auckland Art Gallery. It seems that the AAG continues to insist that the four jury-selected artists should re-present as closely as possible the exhibition they were nominated for or (at least) present something that is closely related to it. As we have mentioned before, this is not part of the written rules (or not the original ones anyway) but has been part of the mix from 2002 when the prize started. 

But before you step up to place your bets on who'll get closest to a clone presentation, here’s how we see the odds. 

Sriwhana Spong will probably get the closest with her selection based on a film presentation in Melbourne (10-1 for). Simon Denny’s Sydney exhibition can probably be reassembled with some help from his dealer Michael Lett and a few collectors, although knowing Denny straight re-presentation is probably a long-shot, still (7-3 for). Is the AAG going to allow Kate Newby to pour cement on their wooden floor or give her even a third of the space her work originally occupied (unlikely) and how do you replicate a site-specific work anyway? (7-1 against). The biggest odds are against Alicia Frankovich re-presenting her nominated work which was a one time only performance involving an orchestra (10-1 against). 

So we’re betting that people who visited the original shows (not you jury members) will find Spong closest to what they saw followed by Denny with Newby and Frankovich probably presenting something completely different.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Arms wide open

Our first post in the series of artists posing with their work mentioned that for some artists posing is a way of life. Damien Hirst is one of them and here, as you can see, Jeff Koons is another. The weird thing about Koons is how often he poses with his arms outstretched. There doesn’t seem to be a single word in English to describe this action (OTN reader Andrew Wood has since suggested "Jazz Hands"), but you get the message.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Look, up there in the sky. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a public sculpture

Richard Wilson's contribution to the ‘Cultural Olympics’ in the UK continues a global theme of large sculptural objects that might fall on your head. 

Images: Top Richard Wilson’s Hang on a Minute Lads, I've got a Great Idea. Bottom left, Ice cream cone by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen at the Neumarkt in Cologne and right, Erwin Wurm’s House Attack at the Museum for Modern Art in Vienna.

Pic one

Yesterday we had a strange experience taking photographs in LA’s Hammer Museum. 

Thinking OTN readers would be interested to see what Fiona Connor had produced for the Made in LA exhibition we fronted up camera in hand. The work comprises a set of stairs placed against one wall of the foyer and mirroring the flight you actually use to get to the main exhibition floor. 

First we took a shot of the original stairs. No problem there. Then we moved across to Connor’s set only to hear as we raised the camera, “I’m sorry you can’t photograph that set of stairs. It’s an art work.” Perfect. 

Images top Fiona Connor, bottom not Fiona Connor

Thursday, July 19, 2012

On the road

More evidence of homage to visual artists by the Transport Department and local bodies


The Simpsons has just screened its 500th episode in New Zealand and we’ve never mentioned the most unusual guest star ever to appear on the show: American artist Jasper Johns. Now Johns isn’t exactly known as one of the art world’s blabber mouths and the Simpsons kept him right on brand. He got only 11 words including “Yoinks”. Here’s what he had to say.

Astrid (voiced by Isabella Rossellini): Congratulations, Homer. You're now a professional artist. 

Homer: Woo-hoo! Look, Marge, my first sale! In your face, Jasper Johns! 

[Jasper Johns, interrupted in stealing a light bulb from a fixture, runs away]

Astrid: [floating on a log] I love it, Homer! You've turned this town into a work of art! I just wish Jasper Johns hadn't stolen my boat. 

Johns (voiced by Johns): [speeds by on a motorboat, splashing Astrid] So long, suckers! … 

Homer: Lisa, all great artists love free food. Check out Jasper Johns. 

Johns: [stuffing food in his jacket] You squeal on me, I'll kill you. 

 Johns: [approaches on his boat, climbs on the Simpsons' roof and steals Marge's painting] Yoink! 

 Image: Homer makes art in episode 222, April 1999 featuring Jasper Johns

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Don Driver being channeled in Berlin 
 Images: Left Berlin does Driver. Right Don Driver Untitled 1976

By the numbers

1.05    the number in millions of dollars that Creative NZ is giving to people to teach people to give to the arts

3    the number in millions of dollars that the Government gives Te Papa each year to purchase work for its collections

3.03     the number of minutes it takes to demolish the apartment block next to the Christchurch Art Gallery in stop-motion

13    the number of commissioned works in the Auckland Art Gallery’s Pacific Island exhibition Home AKL

16    the number of people who applied to be director of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery

32.4    the percentage of Te papa staff who are unionised

49,636     number of air-kilometres flown by Walters Prize artists getting to Auckland to set up the exhibition 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sculpture rules

Outside the V&A Museum in London, a living sculpture of a dead painter… right.

Man in a box

We’ve already played ‘what’s in that crate’ this month but when we saw the Mother of all crates sitting in the Neue Nationalgalerie our resolution crumbled. 

Even in the enormous ground floor space this was a monster, towering above the two guards assigned to its care. Around the edge of the gallery was a small city of smaller (in the loosest sense of the word) crates some of which had the initials McC on them. Please make it Paul McCarthy we said to ourselves. And a week later, it was so. 

The crate, or The Box as it is titled, is the size of McCarthy’s studio c.1999 and that is exactly what it contains: all the stuff that was in his studio at the time, just as it was, frozen in place. 

But wait, there's more. 

The box is set on its side with the studio floor ending up where one of the walls would have been. With no sign of computers or the digital world (it’s all old video cassettes, tape recorders and ring binders) McCarthy’s box is a crazy gravity-defying time capsule.

Images: top the crate (box) ready to be filled and right the crates containing the fillings. Bottom left a guard looks into The Box as exhibited and right what she sees

Monday, July 16, 2012

Magolles gets an airing

As part of the Invisible exhibition Teresa Margolles had installed two air conditioners. It turned out that both were recirculating the same kind of morgue water (used for washing the bodies of murder victims) that had her installation closed in Lower Hutt recently.

Image: Teresa Margolles installation Air at the Hayward Gallery in London

The even more anxious object

No one loves objects more than we do but it’s hard to avoid the thought that their domination of the visual arts might be on the decline. Invisible: art about the unseen 1957-2012 is an exhibition of absences at the Haywood Gallery in London curated by Ralph Rugoff. It feels like another twitch in this growing anxiety. The re-examination of the subject of objects (starting with whether more objects should even be added to the world’s load) is definitely heating up.

 It was in the breeze that wafted through four almost empty galleries in a work by Ryan Gander at Documenta, in Bruce Nauman’s sound piece Days at the ICA in London, and has been heralded for some time by the renewed fascination for non-object conceptual art of the seventies. It is also apparent in the growing concern of public art museums about storage overload in the face of their expanding collections i.e. objects as a management problem. And then there is all the talk about what objects mean to a generation living in its laptops.

We do live in an analogue material world of course surrounded by objects (shoes, buildings, forks and yes laptops) and there will always be artists who won't, or can’t, let the object go. (“I’m trying to capture the individual’s desire for the object” – Jeff Koons). While you can certainly count on the auction houses and dealers not going down without a fight there is a rising tide. Too many artists are challenging the centrality of objects, and the boundaries between subjects and objects, to think that we will avoid these traditional relationships unravelling.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Action man

No sooner had we put up the skateboard post than we came across a Parkour team blocking out a routine that included this public sculpture in Berlin.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Bird watcher

Illustrator Brian R Williams goes all W D Hammond on it

Ceci n'est pas une demi-pipe

When we posted recently about judder bars being attached to a sculpture to make it skate proof, we were illustrating what we thought was an example of local council overkill. 

Not so. Two OTN readers R and F (thanks) pointed to the artist Raphael Zarka who has worked with skateboarders and their assertive relationship with public sculpture. A skateboarder himself, Zarka suggests that the interest of a sculpture to this group is the "variety of movements that it recommends.” Try telling that to Richard Serra. 

More here and here

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The spirit of Allen Maddox

Lives on in Berlin

Future shock

As most art museums strive to pull tourists, you’d think that they’d have their exhibition schedules available far enough in advance for outsiders to make plans to visit. Not always so. Mind you, they may well feel that with the length of most exhibitions now being around 93 days on average, the future is well enough covered. 

Here’s a sample of what we could find from the ‘future exhibition’ sections of art museum websites for your planning pleasure. 

Auckland Art Gallery The Walters Prize 4 August – 11 November 2012 

Christchurch Art Gallery Phantom City: Doc Ross’s Christchurch 1998–2011 14 July – 30 September, Stereoscope: Jason Greig 18 July – 29 August 

City Gallery Julia Morrison exhibition from Christchurch (no dates given) 

Dowse Art Museum: Lynley Dodd: A retrospective 21 July – 28 October, Dynasty: works by Octavia Cook 28 July – 22 October, Jeffrey Harris: by definition 11 August 2012 – 27 January 2013, Inspite of ourselves: approaching documentary 8 September – 2 December 

Dunedin Public Art Gallery: Yvonne Todd's: Wall of Seahorsel 1 September - 17 February 2013) 

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Sub-tropical heat: new art from South Asia 14 July – 4 November 

Te Papa Walter Cook: a collector's quest Opens 21 July

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Art at work

Bike security and billboard, public sculpture multi-tasking in Berlin

Spitting image

As it happened we were discussing the recovery of divers suffering from the bends with a German search and rescue expert and had just remarked that we hoped the decompression chamber we were looking at wasn’t used too often when he tapped the table and said, “toi, toi, toi.” That sounded familiar.

It was in fact the title of a contemporary New Zealand art exhibition that travelled to the Museum Fridericianum in Kassel back in 1999. That’s the same museum that features the keystone exhibition at the current Documenta and also where Tobias Berger came from in 2003 to direct Artspace. As art people know Toi is a Maori word for art and Toi Toi Toi was particularly smart as the title of an exhibition because it was also German for good luck. Nice word play. And true.

But toi is also a Yiddische inflection of the German word for the Devil, Teufel. Theatre performers say it three times usually at the same time as spitting three times (or for the more refined making the sound of spitting) to ask for protection from bad luck. It’s a German variation of ‘break a leg’.

Google, can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

Image: Ludwig Leo’s Centre for the German Life Saving Association opened in 1971

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The truth is out there

Now, thanks to Converse, you know

It’s only words

The hunt is on. The Auckland Art Gallery search for senior staff. 

Deputy Director, Auckland Art Gallery, Regional Facilities Auckland 
"To be considered for this outstanding opportunity, you will have considerable experience in a senior management or operational role, proven leadership, and hold a strong affinity with the arts." 

Principal Curator, Auckland Art Gallery, Regional Facilities Auckland 
"You will already be a highly regarded Curator, at the top of your field with extensive experience in exhibition and collection processes." 

You can throw your ‘affinity with the arts’ hat into the ring here and your ‘extensive experience’ hat here

Monday, July 09, 2012

In Berlin

Thinking about Ronnie van Hout at the Dowse

Fur real

A while back we picked up a tiny blue felt jacket for a taxidermied rabbit. The original jacket had faded and the question arose of whom you get to replicate something like that. In case you are ever stuck with the same problem, the answer is someone like Flo Foxworthy who designs burlesque costumes for circus and show people around the world.

Fact is The Barefoot Potter Boys Brigade by Michael Parekowhai has spent a good deal of its time in traveling exhibitions and over the years the lighting has faded the fugitive blue of the felt on one jacket (the brown jacket on the other rabbit still looks like new). Mark Amery suggested when reviewing the Dowse Art Museum's show Critical mass a few months ago that “without the attentions of public conservators how many of these works would have survived?”

He went on to say, “Left to private collection could we quickly bring together celebrations of the work of the recently deceased?” Well, yes of course you could. And in the case of loans the private collectors we have met are a good deal (and we mean a good deal) more obliging and fast to respond than the average art museum.

When it comes to a work's survival getting a new jacket made is part of the price of owning an artwork that wears one. After all, the boys need to look good when they’re out there on loan to public institutions.

Images: Top left, the workshop where the coat was made. Bottom left the new pattern, middle the new and old coats and right Michael Parekowhai’s Barefoot Potter Boys in their original regalia. 

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Can we just see a little more of the zebra?

Anyone who has been photographed for a magazine or newspaper knows that moment when you suddenly find yourself cross-legged on a dressing table or wearing a silly hat. No matter how hard you try to present a serious face to the world the photographers always seem to get the silly shot. To kick off this new series here’s a trio of photographs of artists who probably tried and then gave up. More of this from time to time. Submissions welcome. 

Images: Top left, Claudio Abate at the 6th Biennale of Rome in 1968, right, Vincent Ward promoting his Govett-Brewster exhibition in 2011 and bottom, Damien Hirst any old time.

Friday, July 06, 2012

And continuing the artist palette theme ...

... this handy palette found in French junk shop

This image wants to be your friend

Photography sure has undergone dramatic changes over the last couple of decades and even its traditional role of recording memories is buckling under the onslaught of imagery. When a bunch of school kids came into Yan Lei’s Limited art project at Documenta they quickly demonstrated the point. 

As soon as they were in the room they began running round the collection of 337 paintings looking at the works, photographing their favourites, then showing the pics to their friends who in turn rushed over to get their own snap. 

The photographic image is moving into the Facebook phase. Drifting away from its role as a personal record, it is being transformed into the LIKE.

Thursday, July 05, 2012


A bit self referential possibly but seriously where do McDonald's get their ideas from?

One day at the Japanese sex toy manufacturers

[translated from the Japanese

Exec 1: These egg-shaped things are kahwaai [cute or scary tr

Exec 2: And they work like a dream … 

E1: [pause] 

E2: …so they say. 

E1: Well they certainly look nice and they don’t leak which is a good thing 

E2: The Cup is a winner too. Smart insertion mechanism 

E1: So, what’s your packaging strategy? 

E2: I’m thinking artist branding 

E1: OK, but don't tell me it's Pollock. We can do without bringing up that dripping problem we had last year 

E2: I was wondering about Lichtenstein. You know, ‘WHAAM! Use the egg’ 

E1: Nice, but maybe a bit frightening for first-time users 

E2: How about Damien Hirst? We could cover them with sores [could also be spots tr

E1: [silence] 

E2: Or Richard Serra? 

E1: I don't think so I've heard he’s too hard [both execs blush] to get on with

E2: OK. Let’s do Keith Herring and just go with the fish theme 

And there we must leave them. 

You can find out more about Tenga Haring sex toys here 

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Boxed in

The representation of an installation from the 1959 Documenta by artist Julio González shows how much things have changed. The original display of the three works was simply presented on a long table. Fifty-three years later, even when committed to replicating the original display, the curators felt compelled to cover the three sculptures with an anachronistic Perspex box. 
Images: Top 1959, bottom 2012

Jeff in Frankfurt

The American artist Jeff Koons caused a stir when he exhibited his works in the halls and grounds of the French King’s Chateau at Versailles in 2008. Koons bet those fabulous surroundings would add to the charisma of his own work. Judging by the response for and against, he was right. 

 We saw another attempt by Koons to mash history with his own often historically charged work at the Liebieghaus Sculpture collection in Frankfurt. At the same time Koons introduced us to an outstanding historical collection of sculpture. Koons was certainly bold inserting himself into this rich mixture

In the event the combination was entertaining (Koons pairing his life-threatening bronze aqualung with an armless, legless and headless roman torso), instructive (Koons's glazed porcelain Woman in tub created by craftspeople in a direct line of descent from those who made the sixteenth century glazed wall panel nearby), head-turning (Koons's famous porcelain sculpture of his ex-wife hugging a Pink Panther soft toy across the corridor from a nineteenth century marble sculpture of Dionysus' wife Ariadne sitting on a Panther) and heartbreaking (Buster Keaton aboard his wooden donkey riding away from a stunning polychromed crucified Christ). 

Then there were pieces not so easily distinguished from each other like the Koons bust of Louis XIV alongside a marble bust of the Pope he helped elect, Alexander VIII. And when we saw the circular flower gardens with wicker borders set into the lawns of the Liebieghaus the Koons / not-a-Koons game became irresistible . 

Images top to bottom left to right: Koons, not, not, Koons, not, not, Koons, not, Koons

Tuesday, July 03, 2012


To join the NBAOG go here

What’s in that crate?

This time it’s a work by Picasso (Buste de femme 1943) on the occasion of the first display of the artist’s work on the West Bank around this time last year. But who made the crate we hear you ask. It was fabricated by the German firms Hasenkamp Holdings and the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics, and weighed 200k as it happens. 

It turned out that the biggest hurdles to bringing the painting from its home in the Van Abbemuseum in the Netherlands to the West Bank wasn't museum politics but ‘Palestine’s ambiguous legal status as an occupied nation’. Try that as the starting point for negotiations with your insurers some time. 

The painting was seen by 4000 people over three weeks (only two people were allowed to view the work at a time) in the International Academy of Art Palestine (IAAP) in Ramallah. The crate was exhibited in an adjacent room for people to pass as they queued to see the painting. The whole event was organised by the Academy's artistic director, artist Khaled Hourani. At Kassel Hourani presented a short video documenting the painting being prepared for its trip to Palestine with the news coverage. 

Last words to Hourani the expert negotiator, "Picasso in Palestine is an art project that aims to probe mechanisms, procedures, obstacles and requirements in getting a painting of this kind to Palestine. By doing so it sheds light on [Palestine’s] contemporary reality."

Images: Top the crate in Holland and Palestine. Middle hanging Buste de femme and a billboard ad for the exhibition. Bottom Buste de femme on display. You can read the full story here (part 1) and here (part 2), an account of museum negotiations here and a short clip of the painting being hung and displayed here.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Piece of string

American artist Ida Applebroog asks the big questions at Documenta (13)

Walk with me

It took ages for museums to incorporate large video screens into their exhibition programmes and now darkened rooms (hopefully with a bench to sit on) have become an art museum staple. Having just seen Alter Bahnhof video walk by Canadians Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller in Kassel you can guarantee the small screen of the phone or media player will be everywhere, and the pick up is bound to be a lot faster. 

Cardiff's work was a 20-minute tour of the Kassel railway station that you followed with headphones and a media player. You retraced her footsteps through the building guided both by her video and by her voice. The effect was startling. Orchestrated events on your screen synched with your own experience of the walk or abruptly broke the connection. A dog runs past you on your screen and then barks behind you. It's weirdly impossible not to look round and wonder for an instant where the dog has gone. For us the work had another surprise in store when two dancers we had met via Lisa Densem in Berlin turned up on the small screen to perform for us in the waiting hall at the end of the piece. 

There's been a lot of discussion about what makes an immersive experience (often in the context of games) but this was the first time we had seen sound and video successfully used to navigate a real world space and respond to it at the same time. This has the potential to knock video right off the big screen. 

Images: Top and bottom left, taking the tour through the Kassel railway station. Bottom right, Laurie Young and Grayson Millwood performing at the end of the piece