Monday, September 22, 2014

Four on the floor

It was full on Walters Prize at the Auckland Art Gallery in the weekend. If you want to talk strange demographics, most of the 60 strong audience for Simon Denny were male and under 40 while upstairs at Maddie Leach’s talk it was almost wall to wall women over 50. Go figure.

Denny made a nice point that we’d previously missed: it was his fascination with the timeline format that drew him to the controlled maze-like walk in his installation at the AAG. When you get to the end and look back, all you see is the blank back of the canvases.  “That’s timelines for you,” said Denny. “They only see into the future. Turn around and look back and time is erased.” There were also some pretty interesting questions, one from fellow Walters Prize nominee Luke Willis Thompson and another from a tech industry guy about the uncertain impact of robots on the future. Reminded us of that great joke from organizational guru Warren Bennis: “the factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment.”

Then it was upstairs to where Maddie Leach was in conversation with Jonathan Bywater. Looking out onto Albert Park we could see Kalisolaite ‘Uhila hunched over a pile of clothing out on the terrace as Leach detailed the development of her project. This included how she discovered that the whale oil (as someone remarked, a phrase with added resonance today) she had secured wasn’t. As she said, a lot of her work was about determination and “not being deterred by what seems to be a full stop.” For those of us there we got to see a film clip of the whale oil infused concrete block being tipped into the ocean, and all four Walters Prize finalists in one day.

Images: Top Denny and Leonard. Bottom Leach and Bywater