Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Power play

The selection of Dieneke Jansen, Maddie Leach and Peter Robinson for the Jakarta Biennale in November is further proof of how well NZ does from inviting international curators to check the place out. For instance, Peter Weiermair (Germany), Charles Eldredge (United States) and Nicolaus Schafhausen (Germany) among many others were all invited to NZ as official visitors and each in turn delivered selection in international exhibitions and other projects for some NZ artists. It's a great medium term investment.

This time it’s English curator Charles Esche who's doing the business. He was the judge of the 2014 Walters Prize who controversially took his curatorial stick to finalist Simon Denny at the dinner before awarding the prize to Luke Willis Thompson. While in NZ Esche also got the chance to visit studios and meet with artists including Robinson (one of the Walters Prize jurors) and finalist Maddie Leach. We can tell you (thanks to Twitter) that Leach has already shipped what looks like two 40-gallon drums of water from the Blue Spring in Putaruru to Jakarta. Putaruru is where most of NZ’s bottled water comes from and the use and abuse of water is a Biennale theme.

The selection of Leach, Jansen and Robinson fits with Esche’s belief in art’s role in political activism. He wants to show “how people in different cities and environments live with and take responsibility for the present through their actions.” It's a position that will be tested to the limit in Indonesia. This is a country with a very grim recent history as anyone will know who saw Joshua Oppenheimer’s gruelling documentary The act of killing last year or its follow-up The Look of Silence this year.  If you can't make it to Jakarta, check out the movies.

LATER: As one of our readers has mentioned Esche also invited Tina Barton to do a piece on the Headland's exhibition for the influential Afterall magazine. That too was unlikely to have happened without Esche coming to NZ and meeting Barton

Image: Maddie Leach H2O to go