Saturday, 11 January 2020

Reading list, 11 January 2020

Germany's parliament has approved  €41 million (pending regional co-funding) to establish a new institution in Dusseldorf to preserve, archive and publicise the nation's photographic cultural heritage

ArtNews's Biggest Art World Flops of the 2010s

Hyperallergic's 2019 Most Powerless People in the Artworld list

Michael Edson's Pantheon of Reads 2019

Cultural Competitors: What Are Likely Visitors Interested In Doing Instead? American data on likely visitors to cultural institutions shows a sharp increase in the desire to stay home on weeknights and weekends

Amanda Hess for the New York Times on the mall-as-experience: Welcome to the Era of the Post-Shopping Mall, and accompanying commentary and context from the Gray Market Weekly

Two online readers of essays related to Mana Wahine, featuring writers such as Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Leonie Pihama and texts written between 1987 and 2019. Developed with Te Kotahi Research Institute and supported by Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga

A book recommendation - for fans of beautiful world building, Frances Hardinge knocked it out of the park again with Deeplight (and also interesting for her collaboration with the Young People's Advisory Board of the National Deaf Children's Society to create the 'sea-kissed' characters and culture)

North & South does a 30-year follow-up of a feature written in 1989 by Rosemary McLeod, of 31 women 'shaping our lives and the country's future', including Helen Clark, Suzanne Snively, Sian Elias and Hekia Parata.

Saturday, 28 December 2019

Reading list, 28 December 2019

The 11 Biggest Controversies That Rocked the Art World in 2019 and The Art Controversies That Defined the 2010s - from Artnet, so the American view. The increased scrutiny and publicity around the ethics of patronage, sponsorship and governance was my #1 trend for the artworld in 2019.

And The Biggest Cultural Moments of 2019 from Art Agency Partners

50 years of the museum in the community - a write-up from a symposium held at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum and jointly hosted by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (more a list of the talks held than insights generated but still handy)

Open storage is back - profiling the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum's new building project in Rotterdam

"An exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Art shows the limits of “soft power” at a time when museums are being transformed by hard activism" - Soft Power at MOMA

Kent Monkman at the Met (NYT)

A group of American historians challenged the NYT's 1619 project: The Atlantic covers the discussion/dispute, and the NYT responds to the criticisms. Interesting for when academic imperatives and perspectives meet journalistic and activist ones.

The five stages of an art world scandal - how the banana made it

Things I missed earlier this year: a two-part interview with Glenn Lowry on the revamped MOMA, succession planning & more (part one, part two)

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Reading list, 15 December 2019

The Art World Really Is Unfair: 9 reasons why, from Artnet

Seema Rao reflects on museum work in the 2010s

The V&A have released their updated exhibition interpretation guidelines (the post has a link to download, plus 10 top recommendations)

The Guardian has launched a public appeal to track down Benin bronzes in smaller museums

Mark Amery and Megan Dunn run down 10 top moments from the past decade of New Zealand art for The Spinoff

Also in The Spinoff, Jim Barr and Mary Barr report on Ruth Buchanan's full-gallery 50th anniversary collection hang for the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. 

Jesse Green for the New York TimesHow Today’s Queer Artists Are Revising History

Roberta Smith for the New York TimesA Sea Change in the Art World, Made by Black Creators

Maui Solomon for E-Tangata: Moriori: Still setting the record straight

The State of Museum Digital Practice in 2019: A collection of graduate essays and responses

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Reading list, 23 November 2019

The Open Society Foundations, funded by George Soros, has launched a 4 year, US$15M fund to aid restitution of taonga to Africa:
The Open Society’s initiative will support African lawyers, scholars, archivists, and grassroots organizations campaigning for the return of artifacts taken during the colonial era. It will also fund meetings between cultural leaders and work to promote partnerships between museums, governments, and other organizations. 
A report from the Happy Museum with case studies on how six Welsh museums have responded to the Welsh Wellbeing of Future Generations Act

At 88, Agnes Denes Finally Gets the Retrospective She Deserves

Psychology researcher Muireann Irish was one of the speakers I heard at the Big Anxiety conference a few weeks ago: The self in dementia is not lost, and can be reached with care

The Efficiency-Destroying Magic of Tidying Up - a system that looks like chaos to you might simply be complicated.

A number of New Zealand and Pacific voices in this NYT article: Is It Time Gauguin Got Canceled?

On the Dora Maar survey exhibition at Tate Modern: Dora Maar: how Picasso's weeping woman had the last laugh (with the Guardian's reliably bad headline-writing for these kinds of revisionist stories)

On Dread Scott's slave rebellion reenactment in Louisiana: With a Slave Rebellion Re-enactment, an Artist Revives Forgotten History

A couple of reports from this month's MCN conference in San Diego:

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Reading list, 9 November 2019

Zadie Paul on painter Celia Paul's memoir: The Muse at Her Easel and a response as well from Rachel Cusk in the New York Times: Can a Woman Who Is an Artist Ever Just Be an Artist?

I've just started digging into RNZ's Now We Are Five (Million) on Aotearoa's population growth

Ditto, I need to set some time aside to dig into the NZ Herald's series Land of the Long White Cloud: Pākehā New Zealanders reflect on their colonial past and future.

Amy Qin for the New York Times‘Museum Diplomacy’ as New Pompidou Center Opens in Shanghai

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Reading list, 2 November 2019

"So why not monetize the intangibles?" Punting the idea of paying admission for popular book stores.

The latest Gray Market: Why Ethical Vetting of Collectors Won't Reshape the Art Market, responding to Brian Boucher's In the Post-Warren Kanders Era, Artists and Dealers Wonder: Should Collectors Be Vetted? for Artnet

Age and readiness are not the same thing: Museum Directors Under 40: A Brief History of 20 Young Leaders Who Helped Shape Their Institutions (American context)

Ngarino Ellis, New Zealand's only Māori art history lecturer, interviewed on RNZ

Teenagers, boomers, and intergenerational critique via merchandise #okboomer

Australian arts activists The Countess have released their latest report on gender representation in the visual arts 

My October Nine to Noon appearance (the Kaldor Public Art Projects exhibition at AGNSW; Renaissance Bologna's unusual support of women artists and The Countess report's data on the not-unusual gender imbalances in Australia's visual arts; the Adam Art Gallery's forthcoming 20th anniversary shows)

Paula Bray on the process of using BookSprints to collaboratively write a book on setting up, running, and shutting down labs in cultural institutions, all in 5 days.

Have been a bit ho-hum on the MOMA opinion pieces, but will always make time for Maura Reilly - MoMA’s Revisionism Is Piecemeal and Problem-Filled: Feminist Art Historian Maura Reilly on the Museum’s Rehang

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Reading list, 27 October 2019

Nathan Mudyi Sentance reviews Natalie Harkin's Archival-Poetics for the Sydney Review of Books: "poet Dr Natalie Harkin (Narungga) knows what many First Nations people know, that official archives are a powerful colonial weapon as well as a site of mourning".

Talia Marshall's River monster: My elusive and charismatic father, for North & South

The Whitewashing of “#WhitePeopleDoingYoga” by Chiraag Bhakta: "My artwork was about appropriation. San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum tried to appropriate it".

Improving records for First Nations collections at the National Library of Australia

Nina Siegal rounds up decolonising efforts in Dutch museums: A Dutch Golden Age? That’s Only Half the Story

Shelley Angelie Saggar's The Decolonial Dictionary

Miriama Aoake's Making sense of Tuia 250 through Barry Barclay’s prescient work for The Spinoff

Karin Chernick for Hyperallergic: How Women Artists Flourished in Northern Italy During the Renaissance

Robin Pogrebin and Zachary Small on the complexities of overhauling NYC's racist and sexist public monuments, for the New York Times: New York’s Race to Build Monuments Runs Into Friction on the Ground

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Reading list, 19 October 2019

I'm at the Anxiety, Culture, Future conference this weekend, so a shorter round-up than normal.

Speaking of anxiety: it's not a condition I live with, but like everyone I get overwhelmed and stressed on occasion. At Te Papa, this happens a bit more than I've been used to previously (I think I feel a deeper sense of urgency and responsibility here than I have in any previous job). I had a really thorough wig-out a couple of Sundays ago, and this advice about working through a stressful leadership patch would have been a helpful intervention at that time.

A run down on accessibility initiatives in art and other museums on Artsy

The science Nobels were announced recently. In their history, only 20 have gone to women. A common argument is that as more women enter science, over time, the percentage of women awarded Nobels will rise - the same lag effect we use to explain, for example, the representation of women artists in pubic art collections. Liselotte Jauffred, an associate physics professor at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen,and her colleagues used historical data and modeling to find out if the smaller number of women in scientific fields fully accounts for the low number of female Nobel laureates. They called bullshit.

Nesrine Malik reviews the British Museum's Inspired By the East: How the Islamic World Influenced Western Art and Kathryn Hughes reviews the National Gallery's Pre-Raphaelite Sisters (about the women artists, models, makers and managers of the movement) for the Guardian

Lodged last month with the Waitangi Tribunal: WAI292, the Māori Arts Equity and Wellbeing claim

Following on from the large report on women artists, public collections and the secondary art market, Art Agency Partners have released their podcast Why Gender Progress is a Myth

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Reading list, 12 October 2019

New Scrutiny of Museum Boards Takes Aim at World of Wealth and Status - yet another report from the New York Times, this time with stats on the 536 trustees of America's 10 most-visited museums, the sources of their wealth

I didn't know that the Victoria & Albert provided career and skill development opportunities for young people as part of its public programme offer. They've just published Let me in: Getting young people into the Creative Industries, a report on the audiences they've serving through these programmes, which they break down into profiles:
  • The Selector: Starting to make decisions that will affect their career path 
  • The Multifaceted Creative: Talented and interested in more than one field 
  • The Decided: Chosen a career, looking for relevant opportunities in that field 
  • The Switcher: Transitioning into a creative career 
  • The Explorer: Looking for new ideas, spends time critically thinking to form new opinions.
 The New MoMA Is Here. Get Ready for Change, by Jason Farago for the New York Times:
“We as institutions are so trained to treat our temporary exhibition program as the main tent,” said Glenn D. Lowry, MoMA’s director. “And we made the commitment, financially, programmatically and intellectually, that we’re going to shift that. That our main tent is our collection.” 
"Manchester Museum, which is part of Manchester University, is the first UK institution to return sacred artefacts [to Aboriginal people] under an Australian government-funded project to repatriate items of cultural heritage to mark 250 years since Cook’s voyage in 2020."

In funding:

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Reflecting on Paul Reynolds (1949 - 2010)

A short speech given at the National Library Te Puna Mātauranga on 4 October 2019, when Gareth Seymour was awarded the Paul Reynolds ‘No Numpties’ Award. The award, administered by LIANZA, was set up following Paul’s death in 2010; it has been awarded 5 times, and expires in 2020. The 2019 recipient is Gareth Seymour, of Ngā Taonga.

* * *

Paul's blog, People Points, is still alive on the internet. His quizzical face still looks out at you from the top right hand corner of the Blogger template.

In his final blog post, published on 19 May 2010, Paul updated his readers on a lecture series he'd just delivered around the country for the New Zealand Computer Society. He wrote:

The presentation opened with a speculative challenge as to whether we - that's anyone involved in boot-strapping the next phase of the Internet as an open digital public space - are in touch with the historical parallels of the 18th Century Enlightenment and of how the subsequent gold seams of science and technology came about in part, in addition to the long march to democracy, by embedding public education and literacy as a key public good? 

Turning to current challenges, my thesis is that the current definition/policy frameworks around open data - especially around government-owned or managed data sets - needs to radically expand to include all the cultural/heritage data assets contained in the myriad of cultural institutions - libraries - galleries - archives - museums, which in turn are one of the great products of, and containers for, the inheritance of the 18th century Enlightenment. 

And that, not only were these rich cornucopias of assets and opportunities key ingredients to the development of a 19th and 20th century public literacy, in turn they are key contributors to the development of 21st century digital public space, and its mystic twin - public digital literacy. 

Over the previous 18 days of May on his blog - while travelling to present in Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Hamilton and Auckland, mind you – he had …

  • recapped an appearance on Jim Mora's National Radio programme 
  • touted the call for papers for the National Digital Forum conference scheduled for November 
  • written about Tuhoe's settlement under negotiation with the Crown at that time, 
  • shared a video on the concept of Web 3.0 
  • referenced Derrida 
  • shared a campaign to save Middlesex University Philosophy School (Middlesex was his alma mater) 
  • shared a TED talk 
  • noted that France had adopted a law change enabling the return of toi moko
  • and posted a video of a 2 and a half year-old handling an iPad for the first time. 

I hope that single extract and that quick list - all from fewer than 20 days in 2010 - will give you, if you didn't have the good fortune of knowing Paul, something of an insight into the breadth of his interests, his erudite and capacious mind, his twinkling curiosity, the role he took as a communicator and connector, and his dedication to causes he felt that would uplift and connect people, allow them to learn the lessons of our histories and make a richer future together.

Paul died on 24 May 2010. Today would have been his 70th birthday.

Preparing for this presentation, I read back over the tributes people posted when news of Paul's shockingly sudden death reached us all - fittingly, largely through the internet channels he himself used. He was remembered for his humour, his emphasis on community access and contributions to knowledge, his work with libraries and the wider GLAMs sector, his passion for collaborative action, for being the best kind of friend and colleague: funny, smart, supportive and challenging.

And a word that got used a lot was "visionary". The older I get the more I realise what a rare and special characteristic this is, and how hard it is to maintain over a lifetime. Experience is a wonderful thing but it has a tendency to narrow you down a bit. Paul was always, always expansive, always asking you to think bigger, be bolder.  

That's why I find it so fitting that the No Numpties award was established after Paul's death, donations from National Library, Internet New Zealand, and friends of Paul’s, namely Penny Carnaby, John Truesdale and Sue Sutherland. Sue contacted me in advance of this afternoon - she's very sorry she couldn't make it - and the way she spoke of Paul in her message reminded me what an example that group of friends and colleagues set for me and my group of friends and colleagues: of people excitedly united in a vision of creating benefits for all of Aotearoa by joining the wealth of our collections and taonga, our knowledge and mātauranga, with the communities they all ultimately stem from.

Gareth - congratulations on your award. Very best of luck for your travel to Canada, and your work and connection with First Nations projects there. Paul would have been thrilled to see your nurturing of mātauranga and kaitiakitanga supported through this initiative.

* * *

Giving this speech yesterday caused me a lot of reflection. I felt somewhat hypocritical to start with. Paul (along with that whole coterie - him, Penny, Sue, John, the dreamers and doers of a connected and collaborative GLAM sector) was very influential on my early career, those years when I was working at National Library under their leadership. I'd seen Paul around the Library regularly, and had the odd beer with him in Auckland, and was briefly on the National Digital Forum board with him. But I feel like I didn't know know him, not like (I whisper inside my head) not like the grown-ups did. Not like the people who could talk about Paul as a dear friend, who knew him in the round rather than in the faceted way that I did.

And yet. What it also made me reflect on was a thing I've mulled over a lot in the past 5 or 6 years. The National Library environment at the time I was there (2006 to 2010) felt like a golden age: all the best qualities of libraries (the value of connecting people with information and knowledge that benefits their lives in multitudinous ways; the creation, care, and accessibility of collections that reflect Aotearoa New Zealand) being souped up by the digital revolution; the relaxing and expanding effects of Web 2.0, giving collecting institutions a new role in people's lives; the atmosphere of innovation and experimentation driven by Penny Carnaby, who as National Librarian and Chief Executive brought all her knowledge and love of the library sector to the role, and drove the organisation into the future (with much energy, love, and bullheadedness).

It was also a time of real focus on collaboration: EPIC, the Aotearoa People's Network Kaharoa, Digital New Zealand, the National Digital Forum. Today tt feels like our cultural institutions (my own included) are so busy keeping our own hamster wheels turning, battling resourcing that feels like it's being chipped away (or just is being chipped away) as costs and expectations rise, that we've lost our collaborative muscle tone.

But, reflecting more: it's just time and priorities, isn't it? And leaders and staff who want to work together, are willing to accept the lag that accompanies collaboration because they see the wider benefits it creates. And people like Paul, who challenge us to think bigger than we currently are. If we can't wait for another catalyst to come along, perhaps we just have to shoulder his mantle ourselves.