Category Archives: Institutions

‘Revolting’ images defended in Tauranga

Fiona Clark

Photograph by Fiona Clark, causing a stir almost 40 years on

Some Tauranga locals are up in arms over two images taken by NZ documentary photographer Fiona Clark in the early 1970s.  Included in the current group exhibition Now and Then at Tauranga Art Gallery, the photographs were shot at a 1974 University of Auckland gay liberation dance and feature hand written ‘captions’ containing sexual references generated by the sitters.  “This is not a good look for Tauranga” says resident Jocelyn Winwood, who is “disgusted that such exhibits can be viewed by the public” and has asked Bay of Plenty councillors to remove the works from exhibition.

The same images caused a stir when they were first exhibited in the seminal ‘Active Eye’ exhibition (New Zealand’s first survey of local contemporary photography) in 1975.  Public outcry against Clark’s work was so strong that the show never opened at Auckland Art Gallery and the photographs were eventually removed from the touring component of the exhibition.

Nearly 40 years on there’s significant institutional support for Hall (she was the subject of a major exhibition, Go Girl, at Govett Brewster Art Gallery in 2002) and despite these renewed complaints, Tauranga Art Gallery is standing by the works. “We would not consider withdrawing any works as they are very much part of the exhibition” said Director Penelope Jackson.  “Art often challenges us, both in good and bad ways.  Given recent events with gay rights in New Zealand, the [Auckland University gay liberation] dance was part of our country’s history.”

It’s a shame that the same level of gallery support for ‘controversial’ work is lacking here in Melbourne, as the current Paul Yore furore attests.  Rather than stand behind the work of the artist, Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts has simply closed its doors.

Breyer P-Orridge at Warhol Museum


Visual artist and Psychic TV front wo/man Genesis Breyer P-Orridge is about to have h/er first solo institutional exhibition at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.  S/HE IS HER/E contains over 100 works made by the artist from the 1970s to the present.  Created in collaboration with his late wife Lady Jaye, P Orridge’s ‘Pandrogyne Project’ is the focal point of the exhibition. In an ongoing proposition, the couple sought to combine their two identities (through surgeries, cross dressing and hormone therapy) into one pandrogynous being; ‘Breyer P-Orridge’.  The video above, included in the exhibition, addresses this collapsing of gender.  Following the death of Lady Jaye in 2007, Genesis continues the project by occupying Breyer P-Orridge completely.

S/HE IS HER/E opens on  June 15th.

A New Director for QAG/GOMA

Chris Saines

Chris Saines outside Auckland Art Gallery (pre-development)

Chris Saines is the new director of the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane.  Saines has been the Director of Auckland Art Gallery since 1996 and oversaw its recent redevelopment.  He replaces QAG/GOMA’s former Director Tony Elwood, who became Director of the NGV here in Melbourne in August.  Saines will replace Acting QAG/GOMA Director Suhanya Raffel at the end of April.

3 Curators for 2014 Whitney Biennale

The Whitney Museum of American Art

The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Next year’s Whitney Biennale – the last to be held in the museum’s Marcel Breuer-designed building – is taking a different tack.  The survey of contemporary American practice will be curated across three different floors by three different curators; none of whom are based in New York.  The curators are Stuart Comer (film curator at Tate Modern), Anthony Elms (associate curator at Philadelphia ICA) and Michelle Grabner (professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago).

Rather than collaborate, each curator gets a floor of their own, thus allowing for three diverse perspectives on contemporary art in the US.  Chief curator of the Whitney Donna De Salvo says: “By flinging open the Museum’s doors metaphorically, we hope to create a platform in which voices from outside the Whitney can enliven the conversation around contemporary art in the United States.”  (As an aside, all of these ‘voices’ happen to be white…).  The exhibition opens in March.

The World Turns Arrives at GoMA

Michael Parekowhai’s commissioned sculpture ‘The World Turns’ arrives at GoMA in Brisbane

Two years ago Michael Parekowhai won the Queensland Premier’s Sculpture commission (run by the former State Government) and a cool million dollars for his design ‘The World Turns’, an enormous bronze sculpture of an upturned elephant eyeballing a water rat.  The 5.5 tonne work was delivered by barge this morning and installed on the eastern corner of the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane.

Embarrassingly, it was unveiled by current Queensland Arts Minister Ros Bates who last month described the work as an “appalling waste” and questioned why the commission hadn’t gone to an Australian artist.  She’s changed her tune however, recently stating “I never criticised the sculpture itself or the artistic benefit of it or the artist. In fact I’m very proud of GoMA and I’m very proud that we have wonderful facilities here in Brisbane, that everyone can appreciate the artwork.”  Awkward.

Ono at MCA

The New South Wales government has secured an exhibition of work by Yoko Ono to be exhibited at the MCA in Sydney.  The show will be part of the 2013/2014 Sydney International Art Series; an initiative that each Summer brings the work of ‘big name’ international artists to NSW (this year’s iteration features works by Francis Bacon and Anish Kapoor at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and MCA respectively). Taking its name from a series of billboard works that Ono made with her husband John Lennon in 1969, the exhibition ‘War is Over! (if you want it)’ will be opened by the artist next November.

Above: footage of Ono performing ‘Cut Piece’ in New York in 1965

A New Director for The Dowse

Courtney Johnston, New Director of The Dowse Museum

Courtney Johnston has been announced as the new Director of The Dowse in Lower Hutt.  Currently the General Manager of web agency Boost New Media, Johnston is also a distinguished visual arts commentator.  As well as corresponding regularly on Radio New Zealand, she runs art blog Best of 3 and tweets as auchmill.  Johnston is replacing current Director Cam McCracken who leaves to take up the Directorship of Dunedin Public Art Gallery in September.  Describing her appointment, Johnston blogged; “What a privilege it is to be part of the constellation of artists and gallery professionals and dealers and historians and writers and critics and collectors and vast Milky Way of fans and visitors and visitors-to-be that art brings together.”

Curators of New Museum Triennial Announced

Ryan Trecartin and adjunct New Museum curator Lauren Cornell are curating the New Museum’s third Generational Triennial, which focuses exclusively on the work of emerging artists from around the world.  Cornell was part of the curatorial team for the first triennial, ‘Younger Than Jesus’, that included an installation by Trecartin, and the 2015 event will be the artist’s first project as curator.

Above: excerpt from Ryan Trecartin’s Re’Search Wait’S, which featured in the first Generational Triennial in 2009

Mike D, Curator

Mike D., a.k.a. Michael Diamond

Beastie Boys member Mike D is trying his hand at curating thanks to LA MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch, who has invited the rapper to curate an exhibition called Transmission L.A.: AV Club as part of a larger cultural festival at MOCA this April.  And who is Mike D keen on showing?  Word has it that he’ll be working with Swedish artist Klara Liden and the Brooklyn-based collective Still House, with further inclusions to be announced.  One thing’s certain for the hip hopper: “I want a place where people can come and hang out” he says.  “Not some button-up white walls gallery with people to match”.

A pile of seeds for the Tate

Ai Weiwei, 'Sunflower Seeds', 2010

The Tate has bought 8 million of Ai Weiwei’s ‘Sunflower Seeds’ with the assistance of the Art Fund.  The pile, that can be installed as either a flat square or conical pile (as above) contains just under a 10th of the total number used in the artist’s installation in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall as part of the Unilever Series in 2010. While the cost of the work hasn’t been disclosed, 100 kilograms of the seeds were sold at Sotheby’s last year, with each seed from this sale fetching the equivalent of £3.50.