Friday, October 16, 2015

Water world: the adventure continues

For the pedants among you (and given some of the responses we get we know you’re out there) today is the middle of the month of October. Ok. midday today will be. So given that Creative NZ announced it would announce the artist/artists to represent NZ at Venice in 2017 in mid October, we can expect that to happen today or maybe Monday. We figure that at this moment probably about 50 or so people know who's been selected (that's counting Creative NZ board members, selection panelists, best friends, staffers and maybe artists) so we're counting down on your behalf. Whatever happens the choice can’t have been easy. Simon Denny highlighted some factors that were essential to his success that Creative NZ will have noted as new must-haves.

•   A dealer/ dealers who can stump up with some serious cash (which makes group shows a problem).

•   An NZ art institution to take up some of the admin and servicing (something that has only come from institutions in Wellington and Christchurch so far).

•   An overseas curator or someone with international pull to validate and promote the NZ presence (a factor strongly favouring artists with a major career outside New Zealand)

Which artist of those we suggested have thrown in their hats could deliver all three? Kate Newby probably and Dane Mitchell, Alicia Frankovich, Ruth Buchanan, but it makes it hard for NZ-based artists. Maybe the selection panel will take a chance and break away from the successful international formula and push NZ's own agenda which would help open up the game for artists like Lisa Reihana and Fiona Pardington.

As for the suggestion of a group show, it's difficult to imagine how the sort of show that would turn heads in Venice will ever get past first base. An isn’t-NZ- art-interesting exhibition isn’t going to do it nor is an isn’t-NZ-art-interesting-seen-alongside-non-NZ-art. In 2011 Denmark presented an exhibition of 12 international artists on the theme of censorship in the context of its own major controversy over the publication of cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. It's hard to see NZ taking such a strong curatorial line, but you never know.

One thing we do know is that for everyday we have to wait for an announcement after midday today, the more likely a group show will be.