Monday, August 31, 2015

Some grist for the rumour mill

After the selection of Simon Denny for the last Venice Biennale we tried to get a list of the curator/artist teams that had put in proposals to be considered. Two years later the Ombudsman finally told us that as Creative NZ had confidentiality agreements with all concerned, this information could not be released. So there you go. If you want to keep your selection processes secret all you need to do is put a gag on the participants. For now, it’s back to rumours, guesses and stabs in the dark. We’ll come up with a list of who we think has applied (you’re welcome to put in your 10 cents worth) shortly after 16 September when proposals have to be with Creative NZ. By that time Creative NZ will have announced who's on the selection panel. In the meantime, after scanning the proposal form, what will they be looking for?

A new work made specifically for Venice. As in the past, the work shown at Venice will have been made for Venice. “The artist(s) will be responsible for the preparation of new work within the nominated timeframe.” That is “suitable for the Venice Biennale context.” Nothing new there, apart from the work.

Agreement to the et al. clause. Creative NZ never recovered from et al’s refusal to talk to the media in 2005 and since then specifically requires the artist to “participate in publicity and promotion activities, which includes media interviews, media launches”.

Funding opportunities. The last Biennale made it clear that Creative NZ expects significant funding via the artist’s dealers. The last Venice outing saw Denny’s dealers make significant contributions to the production of the work, the publication, administrative support and entertainment in Venice. It's also hard to imagine a successful proposal that did not bring with it (probably via the curator) major institutional backing. The usual suspects include Auckland Art Gallery, City Gallery Wellington, Christchurch Art Gallery, Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Te Papa. Untapped so far but definitely a possibility is the tertiary sector via one the art school universities

Looking at the pool of likely contestants it's interesting to ponder on how these requirements will impact on the panel’s final decision when they are applied to specific artists.

Image: Rumour mill, operating model