Tuesday, 31 March 2015


This lengthy piece on Artnet by Christian Viveros-Fauné eviscerating MOMA curator Klaus Biesenbach, his current critically-panned exhibition on musician Björk, and his "dangerous obsession with pop stars, as well as a growing compulsion to share in their limelight" is one of the most gobsmacking pieces I've ever read on the visual art world.

It's also a slightly worrying indication that soon reporting isn't just going to be based on embedding random tweets, but plundering people's Instagram accounts ...

Sunday, 29 March 2015

The Promised Land

Having regretted for years now not investing in travelling to Sydney for Michael Stevenson's show at the MCA, this weekend I made the call to go to the opening of Michael Parekowhai's The Promised Land at QAGOMA (until 26 June).

I'm so glad I did. I think it is a truly stunning show: an exhibition that subverts the usual tropes of a survey of retrospective while remaining incredibly generous to the viewer.

I am still processing what's going on in this show: the importance Parekowhai places on ideas of navigation, both in his works and in his exhibition design; the concept of the memory palace and time travel explicitly evoked by the exhibition; the way Parekowhai has mashed up and remixed his own career here, both juxtaposing works from disparate series, and remaking older works to display with new ones; the works that have been left out, as much as the works that have been left out.

I'll work this through in time to talk about the show on the radio on the Wednesday after Easter, but in the meantime, here's my favourite thing I heard Parekowhai say in the talks QAGOMA yesterday

And a whole bunch of snaps from the show, which is incredibly inviting to the photographically inclined visitor.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

On the radio

On the radio today I talked about museum/visual art podcasting, the move to have the land around Michael Heizer's massive work City declared a monument to preserve it from development, and briefly about Tungaru: The Kiribati Project by Chris Charteris and Jeff Fox at Pataka.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Selfie selfie selfie

One of the topics I've returned to frequently over the past nearly five years I've been doing my Nine to Noon slot is visitor photography in art galleries. Over that time it's gone from no-no to near normal.

Over the last few months I've spotted an ample handful of articles discussing the great selfie-stick ban of 2015. Most museums and galleries ban tripods and other camera equipment that's bulky and has potential to accidentally damage work or obstruct other visitors, and selfie-sticks are the same. I've avoided talking about this 'new development' in the camera wars because it feels like a beat-up.

Now Koven J. Smith has done a great job of articulating that feeling in this blog post for the Blanton Museum:

But “museums liberalizing photography policies” isn’t a great story for the media, because that story doesn’t make conspicuous use of the popular search term “selfie.” 
I seriously doubt that any of the reporters covering The Ban truly think this is big news. But they (and their editors) do know that any article with the word “selfie” in the title is likely to have waaaaay more page views than an article that doesn’t. And page views and clicks are what matter—the actual story being told is largely irrelevant. It didn’t matter if the real story was “museums are finally allowing photography,” because the hook that would get users to click the link was the word “selfie,” and that’s the quote-unquote angle most of the media went with.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

On the radio

On the radio today I'll be talking about the Trends Watch report (futurists predict six important trends for museums in the coming years) and, if we have time, visual arts podcasts.

UPDATE: We ran out of time for podcasting, so enjoy the links below, and I'll cover it next time round.

Download the 2015 Trends Watch from the Center for the Future of Museums

The Circuit podcast

The Dowse podcast

A History of the World in 100 objects

Modern Art Notes podcast

Te Papa channel

Art Critics Love Us On Yelp - On the Media

Sunday, 1 March 2015

I've been to the moon

I've been wondering for a while now whether the massive uptake of digital photography and photo sharing (Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram ...) has/will increase people's interest in and enjoyment of what I will call, for the lack of a better word, "art photography" - the kind of photos we see in galleries, the pieces (Peter Peryer at The Dowse last year, Anne Noble at Bartley + Company just recently) that to me are still differentiated from the motivation and execution of the (often very skilled) everyday photographer.

My gut feeling is - no, not yet. Maybe 'no', full stop. And this article on the sale of a chunk of vintage NASA photographs tickles up that feeling:
At a time when the International Space Station has an Instagram feed, it’s easy to forget the profundity of these pictures and their vistas, and tempting to dilute their impact by re-contextualizing what they represent in today’s terms (see: Buzz Aldrin’s “first space selfie” of 1966 above).

Saturday, 28 February 2015

State of the blogosphere

Look. I'm old, okay? I'm old and I still haven't really figured out tumblr (because I can't search the damn thing from google) and I like Instagram because it's elegant and specific (i.e. lets me lazily like goodlooking photos) and I'm sad about what feels like the demise of Twitter (because my stream is full of advertising and people policing other people's supposed crimes against humanity) and I'm still keeping the hell away from Snapchat (since meeting my first real life person who sends dick pics - though not to me) and I miss the days when people (including me) blogged. Yup. I'm old.

So it's in that context that I really enjoyed this piece by Robinson Meyer on the release of Medium's* new features:
Medium’s new product bets that there’s some juice left in the old voice-driven web. It’s a testament to how much the Internet has changed that I can’t tell if that’s a solid tactic or middle-aged nostalgia.
And in the same context that I've been delighted over the last few months to see Matt Webb's Interconnected popping back up in my feedreader (yet another thing that underlines the I'm old refrain).

*Yeah. I don't fully understand Medium either, but at least this article made me feel better about that.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon

I have vastly enjoyed our summer project to write entries for New Zealand craft artists on Wikipedia. In addition to getting over the beginner's hurdle with the site itself, and learning a tremendous amount about this facet of New Zealand's art history, I've been able to geek out on research and use all those semi-dormant art history skills I painstakingly gathered (and paid for) at uni.

But most of all I've found satisfaction in just being able to make things. For example, creating entries for New Vision Gallery and Barry Lett Galleries. At the start of the day these galleries - which were really important to how art developed in New Zealand in the second half of the 20th century - only existed in a scattered way on the internet. And then at the end of the day, I'd been able to sew that all together into a coherent - not complete, but at least findable and usable - narrative.

With the passion of the converted, I now of course want to spread the love. As part of this, on Saturday 7 March The Dowse is taking part in the international Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon events. We're hosting a free all-day event that starts with a crash course for brand new editors, and then moves into an afternoon of communal editing.

While the focus is on improving the information available about New Zealand women artists on the site (here's a list of artists who don't currently have page, or only have the most minimal of entries), we welcome anyone who wants to learn to edit on any topic, or who'd like to share their skills, or even just hang out.

We're taking RSVPs to help us plan, so if you're interested, all the info you need is up on our website.

On the radio

Today on the radio I'll be talking about artists getting agents as an intro to Billy Apple's forthcoming survey at Auckland Art Gallery.

UPDATE: We ran out of time to talk museums trends, so we'll save that for March.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Around the web

Clearing some tabs this afternoon ....

I am utterly in love with the architectural renders for Ellsworth Kelly's proposed 'chapel' for the Blanton Museum of Art (not to mention the notion that the various great modernist chapels around the States might end up in a transcendence-off). Who would make a great NZ chapel? You've got to say Kate Newby, I think - a outdoors structure strung with bells and windchimes, with careful, meditative placements of sticks and stones about the place.

NPR has been experimenting with what makes for shareable audio, and have struck on four archetypes - some crunchy ideas their for our embryonic podcast at The Dowse.

What if Kanye had never interrupted T-Swift? 

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Sunday, 8 February 2015


The returning ritual: unpack, throw on washing, re-stock fridge, clear the compost of the feedreader ...

Tyler Green interviews Melissa Chiu, recently arrived director of the Hirschhorn Museum (The Washingtonian)

The process by which the US National Gallery is absorbing (part of) the Corcoran's collection (New York Times)

Kim Knight on 'Implicated and Immune' at Michael Lett Gallery (Sunday Star Times)

Shelley Bernstein on teething problems with installing iBeacons in large gallery spaces (Brooklyn Museum tech blog)