Saturday, 24 September 2016

Reading list, 24 September 2016

Moana Jackson, Facing the truth about the wars, on E-Tangata (seriously, if you're not reading this site's new articles every Sunday, you should be)

Jenna Weiss-Bermann, co-founder of production company Pineapple Street Media, on a new business model for making podcasts.

Sometimes it's fun to read a good old old sector-specific nitpick: Google Cultural Institute and The Natural History Museum

Blake Gopnik for the New York Times: Virginia Dwan, a Jet Age Medici, Gets Her Due (and called out for not supporting women artists). The NYT must have had an editorial meeting because you also got Roberta Smith's Museums Embrace the Unfamiliar (by which they mean "not white male artists") and Holland Cotter's In Art This Fall, Women Win in a Landslide (really, Holland? Do they really?).

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

On the radio

Today on the radio I'm going to talk about Doris Lusk's centenary, the Peter Doig identity case (he had to go to court to prove a painting signed 'Peter Doige 1976' was definitively not by him) and the Italian government's culture fund for 18 year-olds.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Reading list for 17 September 2016

Colleen Dilenschneider with data on audience access (aka charging and outreach) across likely visitors, unlikely visitors and supporters.

Toronto International Film Festival introduces surge pricing for tickets.
Big assumptions were immediately tested — visitors are great at spotting where a problem has already been solved (e.g. “well I’d just read the labels!?”), where they would expect this problem to be solved (“why would this be on my phone and not the map?”) or identifying where the value of what you’re offering is worth less than the effort of using it (“I probably wouldn’t want to get my phone out for that”).
From a Frankly Green + Webb write up of running rapid design sprints at England's National Gallery.

I frequently try to explain - mostly to myself, sometimes to other people - why I think the web industry's philosophy on sharing information and insight is different to that of most Western businesses. Marco Arment's latest post on working through business models for Overcast exemplifies this.

L.A. museums embrace live streaming - and it's not even silly.

Sarah Hopkinson of Auckland dealer gallery Hopkinson Mossman on The Spinoff's Business is Boring podcast.

MOMA is putting thousands of exhibition records (exhibition views, catalogues, exhibition checklists) online.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Reading list, 10 September 2016

Nancy Spector, chief curator of the Brooklyn Museum, and her somewhat terrifying timetable

The South Australian Museum appoints Glenn Iseger-Pilkington to their first curatorial role designated specifically to an indigenous person - which had to be externally funded.

It's hard to write a good the-internet-has-changed-photography story nowadays, but Jacob Mikanowski does a creditable job of tracking the themes of Instagram photos to moments and movements in Western art history.

Robert Irwin's beautiful design for his survey at the Hirschhorn (I also love the contrasting depictions of his Untitled (Acrylic Column) works in first that story, and second, this NYT review).

V for Volunteer – a dystopian reality - an anonymous interview conducted at a British museum where Council funding was cut and there are no longer any paid staff.

And long reads: Qatar’s oil boom created the world’s most extravagant art scene—and also led to its demise.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Reading list, 3 September 2016

In the New York Times, a remarkably detailed and accurate account of how temporary exhibitions are organised (an American-slant, as "find the money' is the key concern).

They don't write 'em like this anymore (the review I mean - I've yet to handle the book): Simon Palenski on Peter Simpson's Bloomsbury South for the Pantograph Punch.
It’s a finely tuned and self-perpetuating system: Elite collectors, galleries and museums routinely work together to maintain the blue-chip reputations of artists they’ve invested in. The present exhibition is a perfect example of the system at work — a system, not just incidentally, that for whatever reason has been benefiting male more than female artists for a long time.
Adding to the common refrain of how blue-chip donations of blue-chip collections from blue-chip collectors to blue-chip museums keeps adding the the excellent showing of art by white dudes: 51 Contemporary Artists, but Just Three Women by Ken Johnson for the New York Times.

Awwww. I'm not usually the sentimental type but this story about two American museum directors falling somewhat awkwardly in love later in life is so great.

Unveiling the history of the "Crook Cook"- an intensive piece of reporting by Kayla Dalrymple for the Gisborne Herald on the bronze copy of a marble sculpture of James Cook which has stood in Cook Plaza since 1969. Comes with an illustrated timeline.

An obituary for designer and editor Jane Thompson in the NYT led me to this piece on I.D. Magazine; established in 1954 as a journal for industrial designers, Thompson was the first co-editor, along with Deborah Allen.

The winner of this year's Tate Britain prize for a digital project that explores and showcases their collection scans Reuters photos of news events and matches them to artworks.

Using VR to capture ghost train rides before they're decommissioned - this piece feeds into a lot of thoughts I'm having about how to capture experiences of exhibitions / artworks at the moment.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Art News New Zealand column #1, September 2016

This year the team at Art News New Zealand asked me to fill in a column space for a regular writer who had pulled out; I chose to write about a phenomenon I'd noticed both internationally and very locally. The column might become a regular in 2017.


Visa Wellington On A Plate took place in August, and two associated events that happened in my neighbourhood really caught my attention.

At Thistle Hall, the small gallery at the top of Cuba Street, the Jelly Archive set up for a week: displays of brightly coloured, intricately molded jellies, accompanied by a ‘Mad Lab’ where you could buy a kit and book a session to make your own. The day I went in there were no other visitors, but in a corner three PR people avidly discussed their Instagram penetration whilst a camera-man filmed the set-up. The event was sponsored by Resene.

Across the street and down a little, in one of Cuba's charming heritage shopfronts, you could find the Whittakers K-Bar pop-up store, a 10-day nostalgia fest modelled on a 1950s milk bar, staffed by female servers in pink frocks and kiss curls and male baristas in white shirts and bow-ties. The cupcakes were wheeled over from Havana Bar's bakery in an on-theme handcart, the milkshakes took their flavours from the chewy confectionery, and the white shelves were piled with the three new blocks of chocolate with their K-Bar fillings. Over the two weekends lines stretched out the door and across the nearby carpark.

I walk along Cuba Street most days, and so these two events were inescapable. What really struck me about them though was their success as ‘immersion marketing’ - and their similarity to the work of museums.

Whittakers tapped into the nostalgia value of the K-Bar, originally launched in the 1950s, and amped that up with retro stylings, criss-crossed with bunting and sealed with scarlet lipstick. The whole pastel-toned experience seemed more reminiscent of a 1950s we've come to recognise from American movies than the real thing here in Aotearoa New Zealand, but watching the shop fit-out and operation was exactly like watching a museum display go up.

Meanwhile, the Jelly Archive (note that last word) co-opted the glass display cases of natural history specimens and called for visitors to contribute their jelly memories: “stories, handwritten recipes, vintage jelly moulds, old jelly boxes/packets, memories, photos. Basically we are after nostalgic stories around jelly to be part of one of the sections within the exhibition.” Mix in the hands-on experimentation and you've got a full social history experience.

Both projects point to a strong trend in product-driven experiential marketing, focused on getting customers to share a brand via social media. In America, the brand of ‘museums’ has been appropriated to form a framework for these ventures, a new evolution of the pop-up. Thus last December we had Glade's ‘Museum of Emotions’, a temporary structure housing a series of sensory displays, offering free entry and an exit through the gift shop, stocked with the company's new line of candles and room fragrances (the Village Voice assessed it as “a confusing mix of ambient advertising and immersive art”). It drew over 50,000 people and earned a Golden Lion in the Cannes Lions international advertising festival. More recently, Dove and Tinder were among the companies behind the ‘Museum of Ice Cream’, Hulu reconstructed Jerry Seinfeld's living room and invited people in to Instagram it, and Cheetos are taking online submissions of unusually shaped examples of the orange snack for a forthcoming offline museum.

The marketers have identified our brand potential as signifiers of desirable and worthwhile experiences and are now, you could say, eating our lunch. As SC Johnson's global chief marketing officer Ann Mukherjee said AdWeek, “How do you get people to remember a smell? Build memories around it. Create an experience. We gave the world a whole new way to look at Glade”. She sounds remarkably like a museum concept developer.

Or perhaps this trend points up an uncomfortable truth. As one visitor to the Museum of Emotions, Dayna Evans, wrote for The Awl, “When [we] tried to figure out how it was we even came to learn about the pop-up museum, we both realized that a lot of our more ‘arty’ friends had said they were attending the Facebook event. It spread virally. We trusted those people’s tastes, so we decided to go. We never really thought to check if it was worthy of praise, or even exactly what it was. This is the same principle by which the casual museum attendee learns to namedrop Cézanne and Miró. MoMA is just as much sponsored content as the Museum of Feelings - they’re just sponsored by different power structures.”

We've known for a while now that in the great competition for people's leisure time we're up against sport, hobbies, tv and the internet. Now we can add to that list a rival that looks just like us. The challenge then, it seems to me, is: how do we make sure we remain the best at being ourselves?