So long, Betty Churcher

The late Betty Churcher

The late Betty Churcher

Arts administrator Betty Churcher has died aged 84. Churcher made history three times during her career: she was the first female head of a tertiary institution, the first female director of a state gallery and the first woman to be appointed director of the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.  You can read more about her life and work here.

Some recent work by Alan Vega

Untitled, 2014

Untitled, 2014

Alan Vega, Battleship, 2013

Battleship, 2013

Untitled, 2014

Untitled, 2014

All works are from Welcome to Wyoming, Alan Vega’s recent exhibition at Invisible Exports in New York.

Biesenbach Slammed Over Bjork Show

Smile, Klaus!  Selfie from Biesenbach's instagram account

Smile, Klaus! Selfie from Biesenbach’s instagram account

MOMA Chief Curator at Large Klaus Biesenbach’s current Bjork show is getting viciously panned.  It seems that the narcissistic curator has lost the confidence of MOMA’s board, with only two of the 66 board members attending the opening of the exhibition, which was described by one of the gallery’s trustees as looking like “a nightclub in Ibiza.”  Ouch!  (You can read more takedowns of the show here).  Perhaps it’s time for Biesenbach to stop spending so much time staring at himself (his Instagram is out of control), step away from the pop programming and concentrate more closely on the integrity of his shows.  Or alternatively, he could continue on his downward spiral and curate a James Franco show – surely that would be the final nail in the coffin.

Yeezy <3

Portrait of Kanye West by George Condo

Portrait of Kanye West by George Condo

“My goal, if I was going to do art, fine art, would have been to become Picasso or greater.”

So says the ever modest Kanye West, in his recent guest lecture at Oxford University.  Read the whole rambling thing online here, including the rather juicy revelation that the video for Kanye’s next single, ‘All Day’  has been shot by none other than Steve McQueen.

I don’t care what anyone says, Kanye is a genius.

Some KLF

$10K in the Shredder

Artist Dustin Yelling, shredder of money

Artist Dustin Yelling, shredder of money

Artist Dustin Yeller and art collective Bazaar Teens are shredding $10,000 and using the remnants to create 10 paintings, that will sell for $10,000 each at this year’s Spring/Break Art Show in New York. Yawn.  Oh, but that’s not all!  According to Yeller, the profits from the sold works will “go toward the creation of eight grants for high school seniors interested in pursuing art.” Ok.

Yeller says; “The piece raises a lot of questions. “What happens if these paintings are failures aesthetically? Are they beautiful because of their intention? Will they still get sold?  You can view it as a painting, or as potential for a graduating senior.”  How incredibly tired and gimmicky and empty.  This project is about as interesting as Francesca Eastwood’s destruction of a $100,000 Birkin bag in the name of art.

None of this even touches the KLF’s incineration of of one millon pounds in a disused boat house in Scotland in 1994, and these guys did it just for the hell of it.

Wall of Man

Ervon Todd’s show closes at City Gallery Wellington on March 2nd (well, the bit including her 2009 Wall of Man series does anyway), so if you’re in Welly, make sure you check it out if you haven’t done so already.  And here’s a short blog post I wrote on the Wall of Man blokes for the City Gallery blog.

Yvonne Todd, Founding CEO, from the 2008 series Wall of Man

Yvonne Todd, Founding CEO, 2008

Men don’t appear often in Yvonne Todd’s work. The first was Founding CEO (2008), a large, standalone portrait of a silver haired gentleman exuding a powerful sense of paternal authority. A year later, a whole troop appeared – 12 in total – including Family Doctor, who I first encountered at Ivan Anthony’s stand at the 2009 Auckland Art Fair, peering out, hand on chin, in a position of contrived benevolence. Todd fans build up an appetite for certain things – kitschy costumes, buck teeth, bad wigs. Family Doctor was different. He was so ordinary.

Todd had been interested in creating a body of work featuring actual male accountants arranged into a large-scale montage but decided that “the idea and the reality would not necessarily align and I was limiting myself by being too specific”.[1]  Instead, she placed an advertisement in her local newspaper The North Shore Times, calling for mature male models between the ages of 65 and 75. Her criteria were simple – they had to be “reasonably well groomed and socially functional”.[2]

We’re all familiar with the visual language of the corporate portrait, featuring confident ‘experts’ with steely gazes and assertive body language, and Todd encouraged her resulting sitters to play the part. She clad them in formal shirts and jackets selected from local op shops and bestowed them with impressive titles like International Sales Director, Company Founder and Agrichemical Spokesman.

In front of the camera, Todd’s male models knew what to do. Retired Urologist squints smugly through his piss tinted glasses, Chief Financial Officer brandishes a fancy pen and Senior Executive smiles so calmly that we almost don’t notice his missing segment of finger. Part board room posturing, part amateur acting roll call, Todd’s blokes enact a strange form of mimicry.

The artist destabilises their authority through artifice. What at first glance appears to be resoundingly familiar slowly unravels as the sitters’ authenticity is called into question. Perhaps this is why I managed to convince myself, after looking at Founding CEO for too long, that his entire face was actually a rubber mask that could be peeled away at the edges, revealing the true subject beneath.

[1] Email correspondence between the writer and Yvonne Todd, Tuesday the 7th of February 2015.

[2] Yvonne Todd, ‘Yvonne Todd in Conversation with Serena Bentley’, Wall of Seahorsel, ex. cat., 2011