Thursday 6 March 2008

Best of 300

Interesting things in my feedreader this morning:

From the Guardian: 'edgy' is the new pre-eminent / innovative / significant / insert-your-favourite art adjective here

Also from the Guardian: a great article about artist's assistants, including Damien Hirst's taxidermist and Mark Wallinger's fabricator.

From Fresh+New at the Powerhouse Museum: a post by Seb Chan about social media in museums and galleries, including some interesting observations on how using social media - blogs, Facebook etc - might affect the way institutions have to approach resourcing projects, particularly in terms of staff time investment.

This was meant to be the 300th post to the Best of 3 blog - only I can't add. Thanks for reading anyway.


Anonymous said...

The Artists assistant article brings to mind Billy Apple's sign writer (name escapes me just now).

Also interesting about social media influence. I was just talking to some one yesterday who has been a "guest curator" about how exhibitions get started and were discssuing the possibility of an show we'd like to see. Wouldn't it be good if "people" could just go "we want to see XXXXX" and it actually happen? In moderation of course :-)

Courtney Johnston said...

Vote-based exhibitions?

Something I'd love to see as part of gallery redevelopment plans (not looking at anyone in particular, Auckland Art Gallery) is making collectionsmore accessible by optimising and opening up collection storage. I posted about a year ago on work the Powerhouse Museum did in this area. I think it's fantastic.

Anonymous said...

Well vote based exhibitions would be interesting. Like I said though "in moderation" or it would get pretty boring and we'd never see anything new :-) Now and again a small nod to the rate payers of whoever might be fun, I mean public art and gallery art is often presented as "this is what you should be looking at". I know the "art is NOT for the masses" argument could be rolled out here now.
Hey I'd settle for easy public access though. I was at a public gallery recently and they asked "what would you like to see from the collection?" and I just about fell over!

Courtney Johnston said...

The thing I like about easier access to collection storage is that it's the best of both worlds. People who want to see X can see it (my theory is they'll fall into 3 camps; people who want to see 'iconic' collection items, people with a good knowledge of a particular collection, and researchers). And curators can surprise us with temporary exhibitions, artist projects, or thoughtful collection hangs.

My problem with 'vote' exhibitions are that they're based on what people already know well. I'm keen to see stuff I've never laid eyes on, as well as things I'm fond of, or art that belongs to a history that I'm familiar with. Clever programming should be able to answer both needs.

Anonymous said...

You are, of course, correct. Its the 'clever' programming thats the issue. You can't totally pander to the masses (dare I say Te Papa for a lot of the time?)
The 'Select ' exhibition I just saw at Te Manawa was interesting - letting 9 of the public pick three items each from the stores and display them with reasons why they were picked. It was a crazy, mixed up collection and quite brilliant. I loved it.

Courtney Johnston said...

It's interesting that you link pandering to the masses and Te Papa. I've seen their Visitor Research team present, and I'd be willing to bet they do more to find out what 'real people' want to see, through visitor exit interviews and by testing exhibition concepts on focus groups, rather any other institution in NZ [caveat, I wouldn't be surprised if Auckland Museum was pretty active in this area too]. So where do you draw the line between 'pandering' and 'giving them what they asked for'?

It comes back to my point about people wanting to see what they're familiar with. Ask the average punter "Would you rather see this show, with work by Leonardo da Vinci, or this show, with work by Paul McCarthy", and what are they likely to say?

Anonymous said...

You'll note I wrote "TOTALLY pander to the masses". What I meant was that a bit of pandering is just fine with me. I don't think Te Papa has the mix quite right - maybe they're getting there?? I think its complicated by the fact of being a museum and an art museum. I can't condemn the place because my kids LOVE it. This getting to be a bit of a novel but we are lucky in Wellington that so much is available - McCarthy and da Vinci. I personally try to see a bit of everything. For me personally greater public access would fix most of my gripes. This is mainly because I am doing research. BTW - this discussion makes me hate the internet/blog world a little because I'd rather be debating it in person over a coffee - I learn more that way :-) Note to self: Get to Manapouri exhibition before it closes

Anonymous said...

Back to the discussion of assistance, Billy Apple's paintings are done by signwriter extraordinaire, Terry Maitland. Anyone in Auckland who has ever had vinyl lettering done for an exhibition will know Terry and what a top bloke he is. The Guardian story is one of those perrenial pieces that get periodically rehashed. They did a similar story about five years ago. And there was a piece on Tony Cragg's assistant in the NZ Herald a couple of years ago: